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  • Alejandra Garza

Dr. Helene Gayle: Dynamic Leadership During Uncertain Times

Updated: Dec 4, 2020


Dr. Helene Gayle never set out to have a career that included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, C.A.R.E., and the McKinsey Social Initiative, but fortunately, her stellar career journey led her to successfully serve communities that have benefited from her leadership. “I always focused on areas where I could make an impact,” Gayle tells Color Us Women. “My philosophy, which comes from my parents, is: We are put on this Earth to make it a little better during the time we are a part of it.” And indeed, Gayle has made a positive impact that has not gone unnoticed.


Gayle has been named one of Forbes' "100 Most Powerful Women" and one of NonProfit Times' "Power and Influence Top 50" and with her wisdom and experience navigating issues on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and social justice, she is a dynamic leader during these uncertain times.


In her role as the President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the third largest community foundations in the country, she leads a team to connect the generosity of donors with community needs to improve metropolitan Chicago. In fact, under her leadership, The Chicago Community Trust has adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region.


Throughout her career, Gayle has had the opportunity to test and implement ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. She has taken this practical experience with her to The Chicago Community Trust and is using her experience to help guide the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic. Gayle shares with us how she and her team are working to help keep communities strong during this challenging time.


"The devastating health and economic crises of COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted Chicago's Black and Latinx communities due to decades of disinvestment, systemic racism, and structural inequities. At the start of the pandemic, the Trust partnered with United Way of Metro Chicago to mobilize our city to serve communities in greatest need. We raised more than $35 million to provide one-time operating grants to nonprofits providing emergency food and supplies, rent, mortgage, and utility aid.


We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a more equitable recovery. As we look to build back better, we know it will take an unprecedented coalition, across philanthropy, business, and communities, to transform the systems that have held back communities of color for centuries. The Together We Rise initiative centers Black and Latinx communities, historically left behind, at the center of our recovery. Now more than ever, we need leadership at all levels to ensure an equitable and just recovery."


To learn more about The Chicago Community Trust, click here.


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