Member Networks

Getting involved in our Member Networks is a great way to learn and network with colleagues. Groups sponsor lively discussions, develop educational programs, and often create collaborative efforts to address relevant issues. 

Group composition varies. Currently, most Member Networks are comprised of grantmakers. Some also engage operating nonprofits and/or advisors, designated by an asterisk below. For information about which groups are a good fit for your organization, please email Kim Casey at

Advisor Members Network
Forefront's Advisor Members Network holds periodic programs on areas of mutual interest, and provides opportunities to learn and network with other Advisor Members.

Arts and Culture Group*
Co-chairs: Sandra Aponte, The Chicago Community Trust; and Ellen Placey Wadey, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation 
Promotes professional development and knowledge sharing about issues, policies, and emerging trends relating to the arts and culture community, with the aim of learning about one another’s work and catalyzing collaborations, deepening understanding of the arts and culture sector, and contributing to its vitality.

Partners to End Domestic Violence*
Co-chairs: Kathy Doherty, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network; and Agnes Meneses, Chicago Foundation for Women 
Multi-sector, collaborative-building collective action to address domestic violence and its generational impact on community.

Chicago Arts Education Collaborative
Co-chairs: JC Aevaliotis, Polk Bros. Foundation; and Kalena Chevalier, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Works to address inequities in the availability and quality of arts education programs for Chicago Public School students.

Corporate Committee
Chair: Matthew Pakula, Tyson Foods, Inc.
Plans opportunities for networking and educational programs that focus on trends and issues specific to corporate philanthropy.

Education Group
Co-chairs: Kassie Davis, CME Group Foundation; and  Sydney Sidwell, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation

The Education Group is comprised of these subgroups:

  • College and Career Access, Persistence, and Success (CCAPS)*
    Co-chairs: Mara Botman, Circle of Service Foundation; and Dinaz Mansuri, The Mayer and Morris Kaplan Foundation.
  • Common Core*
    Co-chair: Yolanda Knight, Steans Family Foundation; and Jim O'Connor, Advance Illinois
  • Education and Equity
  • Co-chair: Hina Mahmood, Woods Fund of Chicago; and Misuzu Schexnider, Generation All
  • Education Innovation
    Co-chairs: Phyllis Lockett, LEAP Innovations; and Woody McCally, Finnegan Family Foundation
  • Invest in IL
    Co-chairs: Denise Dell Isola, Irving HarrisFoundation; and Jason Quiara, The Joyce Foundation
  • Leadership/Human Capital
    Co-chairs: Chaula Gupta, The Chicago Public Education Fund; and Christine Herzog, Crown Family Philanthropies
  • Middle Grades*
    Chair: Suzanne Kerbow, Polk Bros. Foundation and Peter Mich, McDougal Family Foundation
  • Social and Emotional Learning
    Co-chairs: Lauren Krieg, Bright Promises Foundation; and Sabrina Tengelsen Guthrie, Tengelsen Family Foundation
  • STEM*
    Co-chairs: Matt Blakeley, Motorola Solutions Foundation; and Natasha Smith Walker, Project Exploration


Environmental Group

Co-Chairs: Heather Smith, The Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc.; and Mijo Vodopic, MacArthur Foundation 
Provides an arena for discussion of emerging issues and topics of mutual interest to environmental funders, and for identification of opportunities to partner for synergistic and collaborative giving to further environmental solutions


Executive Directors Network (Springfield)
Provides an opportunity for nonprofit executives to come together to discuss and learn more about the many aspects of managing nonprofi t organizations. Opportunities will include educational programming, networking, and peer-to-peer support. Contact Sarah Tapscott at our Springfield office to join this Member Network.

Family Foundations 
Co-chairs: Cheri Richardson, The Gorter Family Foundation; and Lois Morrison, Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation
Addresses challenges and opportunities relevant to family foundations.

Fund Development Network (Springfield)
Supports fund development professionals and helps further hone their skills and competencies. Opportunities will include educational programming, networking, and peer-to-peer support. Contact Sarah Tapscott at our Springfield office to join this Member Network.

Partners Addressing Poverty*
Co-chairs: Chris Brown, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); and Christy Prahl, Crown Family Philanthropies
Educates funders and brings together philanthropy resources, and uses the influence of Illinois' funding community to advocate for increasing funding as well as public policy changes that address poverty in Illinois.

Healthcare Affinity Group*
Co-chair: Clark McCain, The Coleman Foundation; and Kate O’Connor, Grant Healthcare Foundation.
Provides an arena for networking, discussion health issues of mutual interest to funders, and creating pathways to synergistic giving and collaboration.

MicroEdge Users Group
Co-chairs: Chindaly Griffith, Allstate Insurance Company; and Wendy Vendel, Steans Family Foundation.
Provides a forum for practical knowledge sharing and strategic discussion for users of MicroEdge's grants management databases

North Suburban Peer Network
Co-chairs: Qadira Harris, Allstate Insurance Company; and Cynthia Jones, W.W. Grainger, Inc.
Provides an open, comfortable forum for discussion of issues related to corporate grantmakers in north-suburban Chicago.

Program Professionals Network (Springfield)
Supports the growth, learning, and development of program professionals through educational programming, networking, and peer-to-peer support. Contact Sarah Tapscott at our Springfield office to join this Member Network.

*Some programs are open to all Members.