The Chicago Area chapter typically provides four events per year in downtown Chicago that include networking and professional development.   Our chapter meetings follow a set agenda:

10:00 – Board Meeting
11:00 – Registration and Networking
11:30 – Lunch
12:15 – Program
1:45 – Committee Meetings (optional)


Upcoming Events

In 2020, all chapter events will be held at the Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Center (400 S. State Street, Chicago IL).




February 13: Advocating for grants in your development plan. Lunchtime meeting (11:30am-1:30pm)


April 21: Annual conference with Marilyn Foster Kirk of TerMolen, Watkins & Brandt and other featured speakers. All-day meeting (9:00am-4:30pm)


September 17: Professional ethics. Lunchtime meeting (11:30am-1:30pm)


December 17: Favorite books and blogs.  Lunchtime meeting (11:30am-1:30pm)



Past Events

November 8, 2019  Chapter Event 

Group viewing of GPA National Conference live stream. Free event for chapter members only.

Location: Oakton Community College
Check your inbox for the members-only invitation!


October 18, 2019  Chapter Event 

Click here to register.

“How to Share Results and Put Your Best Foot Forward”

Special guests Marcia Festen and Marianne Philbin will share their expertise on how nonprofit grant seekers can put their best foot forward to help a reviewer move their proposals through the review process successfully. Discussion will cover components of a proposal, how to help program officers quickly understand the impact of your organization, and tips to help prepare for and execute an effective site visit.

Guest speakers: Marcia Festen is an independent consultant to foundations and not-for-profits with expertise in the process of giving, philanthropy, program development and evaluation with more than 25 years in the field. In this capacity, she serves as Director of the McDougal Family Foundation and the Arts Work Fund. Marianne Philbin is Co-Director of the Pierce Family Foundation and has held leadership positions in several other Chicago area Foundations, in addition to leading the annual Institute for New Grantmakers at Forefront.  Marcia and Marianne are co-authors of Level Best: How Small and Grassroots Nonprofits Can Tackle Evaluation and Talk Results and How Effective Nonprofits Work: A Guide for Donors, Board Members and Foundation Officers. 

Location: Macy’s on State Street
Time: 11:00-11:30am (registration and networking); 11:30-12:15pm (lunch); 12:15-1:45pm (program)

This program is eligible for 1.5 GPC/CFRE continuing education hours (pending).

Meeting sponsor:




August 16, 2019  Chapter Event

“The Art of Storytelling: A Powerful Tool to Engage Funders” with Pon Angara of Barkada Circle Storytelling Studio, Crystal Robinson of Siragusa Family Foundation and Emily Dreke of Chicago Foundation for Women.

Location: Macy’s on State Street
Time: 11:00-11:30am (registration and networking); 11:30-12:15pm (lunch); 12:15-1:45pm (program)

This program is worth 1.5 CEUs toward the GPC and CFRE credentials (application pending).

GPC Competencies covered: #4 (craft, construct and submit an effective grant application) and #8 (relationship building)

Registration will open in July 2019.

Meeting sponsor:




May 17, 2019  Chapter Conference


Registration now open.

Keynote speaker: Author Beth Buelow on “How to Communicate Across the Personality Divide”

The program will also include a funder panel and break-out sessions for beginners, advanced grant practitioners, and consultants. Click here for more detail.

Location: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Center, 400 S. State St. (Lower Level), Chicago IL
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Happy Hour (4:00-5:00pm) at Plymouth Rooftop Bar & Grill, 327 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago


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February 15, 2019  Chapter Event: National Conference Round Up

Chicago chapter members provided summaries of some of the hottest topics from the national GPA conference and lead discussions on lessons learned.


2018 Events

We make every effort to plan our events around holidays and special events.  Fridays are the best day for most attendees. Our events are held at Macy’s on State Street in the Culinary Studio on the 7th floor, adjacent to the Walnut Room. Click here to read our cancellation policy.

January 15  Chicago Chapter Board Retreat

March 9  National Conference Round Up

March 9 International Grant Professionals Day

May 18  

Changing the Conversation: 

Race and Equity in Grantmaking
A Donor Panel

Race and equity issues are increasingly prominent in our local, regional, and national conversations. This donor panel discussion will explore how local foundations are developing and expanding initiatives to reflect issues of race and equity in the Chicago area. Panel participants include Arianna Cisneros, Program Officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Heather Smith, Senior Program Officer at The Field Foundation of Illinois, and Janine Hill, President of Soar Strategies. The panel will be moderated by Kimberly Casey, Director of Member Services at Forefront.   Click here for more information. 

 Register at this link.

August 17

Networking for Introverts

Elizabeth Kilbourne from Career Strategies will lead participants through a fun and successful approach to networking that draws on the individual strengths of introverts. After this interactive workshop, you will walk away with useful strategies, tools, and insights to help you network with ease, including:

  • The introverts’ advantage to networking
  • Tips for navigating conferences and large scale networking events
  • Your individual 60 second elevator pitch
  • A personalized networking plan that won’t exhaust you 

Click here for more information

Register Here

Thanks to our sponsor:


 November 7-10 2018 GPA Annual National Conference in Chicago

Click here for more information. Registration opens May 1, 2018.


Click here to review our Cancellation Policy.