What is IWIL?

The Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership for over a dozen years has been successfully preparing and propelling women to take on elected and appointed positions to advance Democratic ideals.

IWIL is a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit that selects twelve Illinois women every year to participate in an eight month fellowship. The fellowship provides the skills to run winning campaigns for elected office. The skills developed during the fellowship include leadership development, advanced fundraising techniques, public speaking, media & communications training, digital media strategy and voter contact training. IWIL also provides extensive opportunities for networking and learning directly from industry experts and leaders.

IWIL was founded after discussions at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. In 2002, IWIL graduated the first class of fellows.

Founding Board of Directors

  • Margaret Blackshere
  • Hon. Barbara Brown
  • Sharon Corrigan
  • Ertharin Cousin
  • Hon. Barbara Flynn Currie*
  • Loretta Durbin*
  • Bonnie J. Ettinger
  • Jackie Gallagher
  • Mary Harkrader
  • Linda Hawker
  • Carolyn Brown Hodge
  • Margaret Houlihan
  • Hon. Lovana S. Jones
  • Ann Kalayil*
  • Katherine Laing
  • Hon. Lisa Madigan
  • Hon. Iris Martinez
  • Hon. Shirley McCombs
  • Iola McGowan
  • Hon. Dawn Clark Netsch
  • Billie Paige*
  • Amalia Rioja*
  • Hon. Carol Ronen
  • Anne Roosevelt
  • Hon. Jan Schakowsky
  • Linda Sher
  • Hon. Bobbie L. Steele

* Current Board or Leadership Council Members 


To ensure that qualified candidates are not excluded due to financial constraints, IWIL pays for all major expenses (e.g., hotel accommodations when needed, most meals, and out-of-state travel). Delegates need only pay for in-state transportation, some meals and a few other incidentals.

Stay Updated on IWIL News

Sign Up for IWIL's Newsletter