Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) announced the appointment of Felicia Davis as president and chief executive officer.
A lifelong Chicagoan and South Side resident, Davis brings to the foundation a strong commitment to public service and community engagement. Throughout her career as a law enforcement professional, academic administrator and civic leader, Davis has worked to increase access to opportunities and build safe, thriving communities for all Chicago residents.
Following an extensive national search led by executive search firm Koya Leadership Partners, Davis was recommended to the CFW board of directors. The search committee was comprised of current and former CFW board members and was led by CFW board chair Patricia Costello Slovak. Koya is a leading national search firm with a strong Chicago presence and deep experience leading mission-driven president and chief executive officer searches.
“Felicia’s diverse professional and lived experience, commitment to public service and deep belief in the transformational power of opportunity make her uniquely qualified to grow our impact and deepen our community relationships,” Patricia Costello Slovak said. “Felicia is the perfect leader to join CFW at this critical moment to advance CFW’s mission to invest in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all.”
In the last eight years, CFW has built a strong financial foundation that has allowed the organization to double annual grantmaking, grow community-led collective giving and grantmaking and launch new, innovative programming.
“We are excited to build on those achievements with Felicia at the helm of CFW,” said Slovak. “Felicia has been an integral part of CFW’s community as a founding member of the South Side Giving Circle of CFW, as well as a member of Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative Advisory Board,” said Sunny Fischer, CFW co-founder and interim president/chief executive officer. “She is intimately familiar with CFW’s values of community-led philanthropy, collective impact and empowering women as leaders and philanthropists. Felicia will be a superb leader for CFW in this new chapter.”
“I am deeply honored to take the helm of CFW at this important moment,” Davis said. “I hope to expand the strategy to make philanthropy more inclusive…engaging committed women and men from all communities and walks of life who value eliminating the inequities women continue to face. These inequities don’t just negatively impact women and their families; they undermine the very fabric of our community.”
Davis worked as a detective in the Violent Crimes division where she also oversaw community policing strategies. As a 10–year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Davis has first-hand knowledge of the diverse array of challenges facing Chicago communities.
Davis led the creation of the Office of Public Engagement under Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2012. She served as a direct link between the Mayor’s Office, city departments, sister agencies and communities across the city and worked to make government more accessible to the people it serves.
She also served as executive director of the Public Building Commission of Chicago where she directed development projects totaling $1 billion and increased Women’s Business Enterprise participation in contracting by 30 percent. She was also commissioner of the Chicago Department of Buildings where she managed a budget of $37 million and enforced local ordinances enhancing tenant rights and resident safety.
Davis served as interim president of Olive-Harvey College, one of the city colleges of Chicago, where she increased early college enrollment by 28 percent and year-over-year student retention by 8 percent. She also served as the vice president of administration at Kendall College.
Davis was a delegate of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership in 2016 and a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow in 2014. She served as a member of the Illinois Senate Sexual Discrimination, Harassment Awareness and Prevention Task Force, and is a member of the Board of Regents of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.
Davis holds a bachelor’s degree from Kendall College and is completing a Master’s in Public Administration from Illinois Institute of Technology.
She succeeds K. Sujata as president and chief executive officer of Chicago Foundation for Women. Sujata served in the role for eight years and stepped down in March 2019.