Cause the Effect Chicago is a platform for women in the Chicago area who are inspired and motivated to effect meaningful change through issues-based activism and civic engagement.
At our core, we believe strongly in the power of building community and removing barriers to civic engagement, by giving women the resources, support, and encouragement they need to become engaged citizens.
Formerly Off the Sidelines Chicago, Cause the Effect Chicago began with a call for women to “take their ideas to action,” and over the past two years, women have answered that call. From seasoned political activists, to community organizers, to those who may be new to the civic engagement space, you have shown up and helped define what it means to engage in meaningful action in our everyday lives.
Bridget Gainer, Founder
Cook County Commissioner, 10th District
Bridget Gainer founded Cause the Effect Chicago, formerly Off the Sidelines Chicago, to bring civically-engaged women together to turn their ideas into action.
For the past two years, the locally-focused organization has built a community of more than 3,500 women from across Chicago who are motivated to effect change on the issues that matter to them.
Bridget Gainer is Cook County Commissioner for the 10th District, representing the North Lakefront and portions of the Northwest side. Commissioner Gainer comes to Cook County Government with 20 years of experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors, a career that has provided a strong foundation in finance, human services and the workings of local government.
Commissioner Gainer created the Cook County Land Bank, the region’s most comprehensive response to reduce the amount and impact of vacant land and abandoned buildings throughout Cook County. Bringing together realtors, private developers, civic and social leaders, Commissioner Gainer’s work to create the Cook County Land Bank has been noted in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Commissioner Gainer has devoted special interest to the women and children in the County’s criminal justice system. She eliminated the practice of separating new mothers awaiting trial from their newborns, led the fight to ban shackling pregnant detainees during delivery, created the first citizen advisory Board for the Juvenile Detention Center and continues to lead the fight to reduce the number of non-violent offenders in County Jail.
She lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and three children.
Meghan Houlihan Christiansen, Executive Director
Meghan joined Cause the Effect Chicago, formerly Off the Sidelines Chicago, as its first Executive Director in July 2017. She recently relocated to Chicago after working for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign -- specifically, Women’s Outreach for the state of Wisconsin. Prior to that, she co-founded the grassroots organization, Milwaukee for Hillary. Meghan is deeply passionate about engaging women through activism and advocacy and remains steadfast in her commitment to electing more women to public office.
Meghan began her career in finance, working for a hedge fund and then a private equity consulting firm, with a focus on operations and corporate communications. However, after volunteering with CamFed (Campaign for Female Education), a non-profit that builds schools for girls in rural Africa, she was inspired to transition to the non-profit sector.
In 2010, she moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland for a two-year fellowship with PeacePlayers International, a non-profit that uses the game of basketball to bring young people together in conflict/post-conflict areas. Following her work with PeacePlayers, and increasingly interested in economic development as a tool for conflict resolution, she stayed in Northern Ireland to work with NISP CONNECT, a government-funded non-profit organization that supports the development of innovative technologies and start-up companies.
Upon returning to the United States, she spent five months as the Director of Communications for Cristo Rey New York High School in Harlem, and then as an independent communications consultant, primarily serving Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee in preparation for the school’s launch in the summer of 2015 and its inaugural academic year. With origins in Chicago, the Cristo Rey network comprises over 30 college preparatory high schools for low-income students across the country, focusing on employment readiness to break the cycle of poverty.
Meghan is a graduate of Yale University and is on the board of YaleWomen Chicago and the Yale Basketball Association. Meghan is a New Yorker by birth and a Midwesterner by marriage. She lives with her husband in the suburbs of Chicago.