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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Bridgit Gainer launches Off the Sidelines Chicago
From a press release
2015-06-05

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CHICAGO — Bridget Gainer, Cook County commissioner, launched Off The Sidelines Chicago, the first chapter of the national campaign founded by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Off the Sidelines Chicago calls upon women and girls to connect personally, lead professionally and make their voices heard on the issues they care about. Sen. Gillibrand was the guest of honor at the launch event before hundreds of Chicago women June 5 at 1871 in Merchandise Mart.

A non-partisan organization, OTS Chicago is a platform for women across the region to connect with civic initiatives and humanitarian issues big and small, empowering them to turn their ideas and interests into action. It will serve as a bridge to connect women to one another and to the opportunity to lead. OTS Chicago will be an information hub, providing tools and resources — known as "Issue Activation Kits" — that will share events, volunteer opportunities and a way to lend their voice through traditional and social media channels.

"I am very excited to see OTS Chicago taking the initiative to empower women and girls in their community," said U.S. Senator and Off the Sidelines founder Kirsten Gillibrand. "This type of grassroots movement will be powerful for years to come."

"I have long been a supporter of the Senator and her work on campus sexual assault, LGBT rights and pay equity," Bridget Gainer said. "But, as important, she is a driving force to bring women's leadership to every aspect of civic, political and professional life. To further all these efforts, I am proud to bring Off The Sidelines to Chicago."

OTS Chicago organizers met with women across Chicago and Cook County over the past few months and repeatedly heard that a missing ingredient for amplifying women's involvement on core civic, social and workplace issues was a single group that provides quick and comprehensive access to the work being done by the local organizations across the city and county.

One of the goals of OTS Chicago is to be that movement, and at this morning's event Commissioner Gainer highlighted a number of organizations, including YWCA Metropolitan Chicago; Chicago Says No More, a domestic violence and sexual assault prevention group; and Mikva Challenge, an organization promoting civic engagement in teens, that have all demonstrated successful strategies for engaging women and girls locally.

Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, said: "Efforts like Off The Sidelines Chicago are vital to ensure that women come out of the shadows and help shape the future for women, families and humanity."

Kristie Paskvan, CFO of Mesirow Financial and founder of Chicago Says No More, said: "I am thrilled to have an organization like Off The Sidelines Chicago that can help women raise their collective voices to effect meaningful changes now and for future generations."

Mikva Challenge leader and Lindblom Math & Science Academy junior Heaven Johnson said: "For me, sexual education for teenagers is an issue that's close to my heart and one that I'm hoping more Chicago girls and women take action on. I'm grateful that Off The Sidelines Chicago has given me the opportunity to share what I've learned on the topic with remarkable women and girls from across the city, and I'm looking forward to seeing many of them get more involved in teaching teens about sexual health."

For more information on OTS Chicago and to receive the June Issue Activation Kit, visit www.OTSChicago.org .


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