Illinois Democratic Women
by Jennifer Lee, Co-President, @ildemwmn

Illinois Democratic Women (IDW) is a statewide grassroots organization that works for more equitable representation and participation of Democrat women at all levels of the Democratic Party and government. IDW members are a diverse group that have shared values and one common goal – to support the Democratic Party and involve more women in the political process.

We recently held our 45th convention in Springfield this past September and I was honored to be installed as the new Co-President of the organization. I have large shoes to fill stepping in for former Co-President Pam Monetti who is a tireless champion for women. I’m excited to join my fellow Co-President Kim Savage and the wonderful board of IDW.

At the convention we were pleased to honor Comptroller Susana Mendoza and SEIU Healthcare Vice-President Jaquie Algee. These two women exemplify the best of us as Democratic women. Susana is a fierce advocate for everyone in our state as she daily takes on the challenges of being an officeholder who must make hard decisions in this political climate and prioritize those who most need help. She’s also an outspoken critic when government isn’t working for the people and shows us a way forward as we look to improve Illinois for everyone. We were grateful to her to be on hand to receive the Hillary Rodham Clinton award to thank her for her work. Jaquie Algee received the Eleanor Roosevelt award and on a personal note it was an honor to have shared such a special evening with her. Jaquie has been a mentor and example to me of how to lead with integrity and personal grace since I first met her. She’s a powerful organizer who leads with her heart, and she’s someone Illinois Democratic Women is proud to have on our side.

As we head into a new year and primary season, IDW is looking forward to getting more involved with female candidates throughout the state and helping them in their races. We’ll start by holding a fundraiser in Chicago for the Illinois State Senate Democratic candidates who are involved in their newly formed Wings program which helps promote their female candidates. This event will be the night before Women’s March Chicago holds a March to the Polls anniversary march of last year’s Women’s March. We want to continue to highlight all the ways that women have made a difference in the last year through their political activism and that the product of that must be electing more women to office.

We are also participating in Chicago Women Take Action’s upcoming Gubernatorial Forum in December. We’re excited to be partnering with more than forty women’s organizations for this event to amplify the issues women care most about.

After the election of 2016, after the grieving that was to be done, many of us realized that it was an opportunity to rebuild. With the help of our board and other stakeholders, IDW is looking ahead to how we can best serve Democratic women in Illinois by making it possible for more women to run for office, to provide resources to them once they do make the decision to run, and to continue to provide to support to the elected officials who help advance our causes. We’re excited for what the next year will bring and the increased opportunities that are opening up for women to lead. For more information on how to get involved with IDW please go to our website www.illinoisdemocraticwomen.org.