The Illinois Holocaust Museum Has Women All In For Poker, Raising $160,000 for Education Opportunities

On October 13, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center hosted an event, Women All in For Poker, held at RPM Seafood Chicago. This exclusive, inaugural event was an opportunity for over 160 women to experience and learn “the art of poker.” Moreover, the evening was in support of the Museum’s constant mission to fight hatred, antisemitism and intolerance at home and beyond.

(left to right) Jennifer Fabian, Rebekah Shalit, Tracey Felter and Rachel Gray

That evening, ILHMEC was joined by Poker Power — a woman-led, not-for-profit organization that aims to teach women how to play poker for the purpose of transferring those same skills into their respective careers. Poker Power walked guests through a poker tutorial and then unleashed the new players to the “poker room,” where participants could flaunt their new skills — all for a worthy cause. The evening was filled with cocktails, bites to eat, speeches and light-hearted competition at the felt tables. Guests also heard Museum highlights from Museum Senior Vice President of Education and Exhibitions, Kelley Szany.

The event — which was completely sold out and exceeded their expectation of only 100 guests — raised a whopping $160,000. The funds will directly support opportunity scholarships for low-income students to visit the Museum; teacher trainings; sending curriculem to schools in the Midwest; and more. Even more compelling to their mission, many of the women who attended the event were new to the ILHMEC community and were immediately enthralled by its mission.

(left to right) Sandy Wang McGowan, Cynthia Ballew and Liz Mihas

“The core group of guests included women who are civic and philanthropic focused and predominantly reside in the city,” said Allison Satyr, event co-chair and member of the Museum’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors — with a nod to the efforts of her fellow co-chairs. Co-chairs included: Cynthia Ballew, Laura Coy, Laura Davis, Eve Rogers, Beth Satterfield, Rebekah Shalit, Joyce Yaung and Laura Van Peenan. The program also saw support from corporate sponsors such as: Autohaus on Edens, G2 Gaming, Graff, Grund & Leavitt, Rivers Gives and William Blair.

(left to right) Blair Klein, Deb Rabin, Allison Satyr, Tammy Travis and Aylice Toohey

As antisemitism and hate crimes continue to make “regular headlines” the Museum knows that their stronghold in the Chicagoland community is as important as ever. And with the support of its members and visitors— like the Women All In For Poker cohort — ILHMEC will continue to bring education and awareness to those it serves.

(left to right) Paula Turner, Liz Xilas, Susie Karkomi and Jennine Da Pra

For more information on how to support the ILHMEC or their upcoming programs and exhibits, visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center website.


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Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.