Leadership in Action
As Past Chair of the Board of Chicago Foundation for Women and a member of the Western Suburbs Giving Circle, leadership and philanthropy are intertwined for Wendy K. White Eagle.
“Being a part of the Eagle Clan, we’re raised with the intent that we’ll be leaders,” she says. “But that’s not just given to you; you have to earn it. I was raised with an awareness of responsibility for more than just myself.”
Growing up a member of the Eagle Clan in the Ho-Chunk Nation, Wendy’s family and other Native people in their community routinely worked together to accomplish their goals. “In addition to giving financially, it was also important to give of our time and energy,” says Wendy. “Contribution takes many forms and giving both monetarily and with time were routinely encouraged as one grows with both forms of giving.”
“What mattered is that you were at the table and you could still give something,” says Wendy.
Wendy has carried this sense of responsibility and drive to action with her into her professional and philanthropic leadership.
“For me, it’s been [a matter of] seeing that there is something that needed attention, and then seeing what I can do to impact it” she says.
Wendy acts through her philanthropy and puts her time to work, with a focus on economic security for women and families.What matters is that you were at the table and you could still give something. #TakeActionwithCFW Click To Tweet
Wendy presided over the board during the creation of the Englewood Women’s Initiative (EWI) at CFW, which addresses how domestic violence can undermine women’s economic empowerment, and how financial insecurity can keep women trapped in unhealthy and abusive relationships. EWI brings together job training programs with domestic violence services, to ensure that women are fully supported in their efforts to become self-sufficient.
Through the Western Suburbs Giving Circle, Wendy gives back to her community. The Circle supports organizations like Mutual Ground, which helps survivors of domestic violence leave abusive relationships and begin the next chapter in their lives. The donors of the Circle also pooled their resources to invest in the next generation of leaders, through teen-led programs like the Alive Center, which empowers young women to be “impassioned, resilient leaders of tomorrow.”
As a member of the board for seven years, Wendy was one of the women responsible for leading Chicago Foundation for Women through periods of growth, re-imagining the Foundation’s mission, and pushing for a focus on the needs, input and leadership of diverse women.
As an entrepreneur and private equity investor, Wendy is committed to driving necessary conversations and action around greater diversity and inclusion. “How do we get more people at the table, that cause you to be innovative and come at problems differently?” she asks.
“At this point, I’m not saying I would like things to change — I am saying we have changed things.”