Illinois Federation was organized in Elgin in 1921 as a result of the
inspiration Mrs. Beatrice Cowlin of Elgin received when she attended
that meeting. Miss Ida Patterson, Rockford, served as the first
president of the Illinois Federation. It is interesting to note that
the President of the Illinois Federation during the 50th Anniversary
year was the late Doris Marks from Rockford, and the President during
the 60th anniversary year was Colleen Forry, also from Rockford.
The first annual convention of the Illinois Federation was held in the Senate Chambers of the State House in Springfield April 14 and 15, 1922.
In 1947, the first statewide Leadership Conference was held in Bloomington. Since that time, conferences are held each year to train or instruct officers, chairpersons, etc., in the responsibilities of their positions. The state officers and standing committee chairpersons usually conduct workshops or roundtable discussions, and frequently there is a motivational speaker.
Perhaps one of the most outstanding achievements of the Illinois Federation occurred in 1948 with the institution of a Fellowship to train qualified women for policy-making posts in government and diplomatic fields. The Fellowship, a first on the national level, was named in honor of Celia M. Howard, tenth President of the Illinois Federation. It originated as a $1,000 scholarship and was changed in 1949 to a Fellowship with a goal of $100,000 Trust Fund. The Fletcher School of law and Diplomacy was selected as the school for training the awardees, but the American Graduate School of International Management, Southern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois have been added. Selections are made on the basis of need as well as previous graduate study or practical experience in business, government, economics and history. In the very beginning, each member contributed two cents at each meeting to finance the Celia M. Howard program, but now the interest from investments pays for the awards.
llinois Federation continues to work toward the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, lobby for Equal Pay, and support women in the work place through networking, building leadership skills through the Leadership University.