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Empowering Voices: Reflecting on CHIL's International Women's Day Panel

In a celebration of strength, resilience, and the power of the feminine spirit, Covenant House Illinois recently hosted an enlightening panel discussion for International Women's Day titled "A Celebration of the Feminine." The event brought together a remarkable lineup of local female leaders from various fields, each contributing their unique perspectives and insights to inspire and uplift our youth.


The panelists, Anette Holt, Fire Commissioner; Carolina Rotega, Chicago Police Liaison Officer; Verda Bhatti, Executive Director of Between Friends; Susan Reyna-Guerrero, CEO of CHIL; and Ahshiyah Israel, Certified Doula, embodied the essence of female empowerment through their diverse backgrounds and experiences.



Anette Holt, with her groundbreaking role as Fire Commissioner, shared her journey of breaking barriers in a traditionally male-dominated field. Her trailblazing efforts serve as a beacon of inspiration for young women aspiring to pursue careers in public service and leadership.


Carolina Ortega, as a Chicago Police Liaison Officer, offered invaluable insights into community policing and the importance of fostering trust and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Her dedication to promoting safety and justice resonated deeply with the audience.


Verda Bhatti, as the Executive Director of Between Friends, highlighted the critical work of supporting survivors of domestic violence and advocating for gender equality. Her passion for creating safe spaces and empowering survivors reaffirmed the significance of grassroots initiatives in driving societal change.


Susan Reyna-Guerrero, in her role as CEO of CHIL, shared her commitment to providing shelter, support, and resources to youth experiencing homelessness, many of whom are young women facing unique challenges. Her unwavering dedication to creating pathways to independence and stability exemplified the transformative impact of compassionate leadership.


Ahshiyah Israel, a Certified Doula, brought a holistic perspective to the discussion, emphasizing the importance of maternal health and empowerment during childbirth. Her advocacy for informed decision-making and respectful maternity care highlighted the need for compassionate and woman-centered healthcare practices.


Throughout the panel discussion, themes of resilience, solidarity, and empowerment reverberated, reminding everyone in attendance of the limitless potential inherent in every woman. From breaking barriers in male-dominated fields to advocating for marginalized communities, each panelist demonstrated the power of women supporting women and the collective strength that arises from diverse voices uniting for a common cause.


Covenant House Illinois extends heartfelt gratitude to the panelists for their invaluable contributions and to all who joined in celebrating the indomitable spirit of womanhood on International Women's Day. May their stories ignite a flame of empowerment and inspiration in hearts both here in Chicago and around the world, propelling us towards a future where every woman can thrive, unencumbered by limitations or barriers.

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