How to Start a Women’s Board

The woman who helped start Joffrey Ballet’s women’s board, Maureen Dwyer Smith of Lake Forest, honed her organizational and civic skills with more than 30 years of hard work and giving back to Chicago, her adopted (and now beloved) hometown.

She sits on boards that support the Art Institute, Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, Northwestern University, Rush Medical Center and more. That board work also taught her “humor, taste, how to listen and when to keep my mouth shut.”

Smith’s strategy for building a successful women’s board includes:

GAIN THE CONFIDENCE AND COOPERATION OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The female trustees and the wives of male trustees will likely be your first members.

CALL IN YOUR FRIENDS
Smith credits many with incredible support, including but not limited to philanthropic luminaries such as Kay Kraeble, Shirley Ryan, Christina Gidwitz, Bonnie Deutch and Renee Crown.

GIVE IT ROOTS AND WINGS
Start with a small group that loves giving back. Expand the board to accomplish high-flying dreams. The original 60-person Joffrey women’s board now numbers more than 130.

MAKE YOUR CAUSE EMOTIONALLY ACCESSIBLE
Joffrey creates events that fuel the universal dream of girls to become prima ballerinas.

MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS
Each annual gala brings dance into the hearts of Chicagoans of all ages and backgrounds.