The Women’s Board works in proud partnership with Brookfield Zoo Chicago to advance the mission of connecting people with wildlife and nature. Our Women’s Board provides significant philanthropic and community support, engages in outreach programs, and promotes animal care and conservation of the natural world.


A dynamic group of civic-minded women leaders came together in 1981 to host the first fundraising gala, the Whirl, to benefit our beloved Brookfield Zoo Chicago. These dedicated women continued to raise significant funds and hold events, and the Women’s Board was officially founded in 1992. We’ve continued to grow, and the Women’s Board is currently comprised of over 70 women leaders from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs who share a passion for animal care, education, and conservation.

Our Impact

The Women’s Board raises funds through events like our annual Gala, the Whirl, Wines in the Wild, a Progressive Dinner, Polo Sunday, as well members who make individual donations to the Society.

What We Fund: 2023 Highlights

•Avian Wildlife Health in Cook County, specifically wild raptors and passerine birds

•Cameras for Behavioral Monitoring and Breeding for the Bird Department’s work to monitor 23 Sihek Guam kingfishers.

•Conservation Training at the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, a program of Brookfield Zoo Chicago

•EnrichTrak Research with the Western lowland gorillas: The Future of Environmental Enrichment for Zoological Facilities

•Nutrition Research and welfare monitoring of pangolins

•Hamill Family Play Zoo, Small Project Refresh

•Institute for Science Teaching Excellence – Teaching Safari

•Volunteer Engagement Programming


The Women’s Board proudly recognizes and rewards achievement in the pursuit of conservation leadership through its Women’s Board Scholarships for Environmental Studies. Each year, the Women’s Board awards five scholarships of up to $5,000. These include the Jan Emmert Memorial Scholarship and the Cynthia Kleronomos Memorial Scholarship, which each honor highly regarded and dearly missed members who advocated for students and education throughout their tenure on the Women’s Board.

These scholarships are awarded to qualified students who have participated in the Zoo’s King Conservation Science Scholars Program.


Members pay annual dues and also support Women’s Board fundraising events,  participate in education and outreach programs, and are ambassadors within their communities.


We have five full Women’s Board meetings a year and committee meetings in-between. Our largest committees are Conservation, Education & Outreach, event planning committees, and Scholarship. Our committee meetings are held over the lunch hour and include exclusive visits from our animal ambassadors with the opportunity to learn from their animal care staff. Full Women’s Board meetings alternate between the lunch hour and dinner hour and always include a presentation from Executive staff of the Brookfield Zoo Chicago, a conservation education presentation, and various reports and information as well as animal ambassadors. Both Committee and Full Board meetings have a Zoom option, although we strongly encourage in-person participation.

Membership Engagement

Membership on the Women’s Board is by invitation only. If you’re interested in learning more about the Women’s Board, please call the Society’s offices at (708) 688-8393.

To learn more about our events, click here.

To see a list of current Women's Board members, click here