Heidi Gonzalez: “Every Day is an Opportunity to Do Better”

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Heidi Gonzalez, Executive Director of Adoptions From The Heart (AFTH). In addition to her duties as the new Executive Director, Heidi is the Regional Supervisor of Wynnewood, PA, Allentown, PA, and Wilmington, DE for AFTH.

Heidi Gonzalez is the Executive Director of Adoptions From The Heart, the first open adoption agency on the East Coast. (Image Credit: AFTH)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I never really thought about it. In fact, I take each day as it comes. I try not to look back and get caught up in a “woulda shoulda coulda” mentality. Instead, I focus on the future and what I can do to improve my agency and myself. Every profession has its challenges: it’s all in how you handle them, and if I don’t think I did a bang up job the first time, I try to look at where I made mistakes and try to correct them the next time. Every day is an opportunity to do better–so that’s what I aspire to do.

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Going On the Record to Fight for Gender Equality

With COVID-19 dominating news feeds, it’s more important than ever before to keep our attention on movements like #MeToo and the fight for gender equality. The music industry, like many male-dominated fields, is rife with stories of harassment and assault. And the disconcerting trend we see over and over in cases of sexual assault pops up in the music industry, too: the silence of women scared that speaking up will mean losing their careers.

From left to right: Sil Lai Abrams, Drew Dixon and Sheri Hines attending Sundance Film Festival, Park City, USA – 26 Jan 2020. (Image Credit: Photo by Katie Jones/Variety/Shutterstock)

Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick seek to break this mold in On the Record, an intense and poignant account of one woman’s fight to tell her story. Drew Dixon, formerly a music executive at Def Jam Recordings and Arista Records, is one of the first women of color to speak up publicly about sexual assault at the hands of a prominent industry giant. On the Record tells her story, and those of several other women alleging sexual assault, harassment, or rape by music mogul Russell Simmons.

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Liveblog: Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color

Kiersten Marek, editor and publisher of Philanthropy Women, opened up today’s webinar, “Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color,” with a welcome to the speakers and audience.

She introduced the webinar with a discussion on the idea behind Philanthropy Women. Partially inspired by NoVo Foundation’s bold commitment of $90 million in funding for women and girls of color in 2016, Philanthropy Women launched in January of 2017 to cover this kind of intersectional feminist giving approach and others like it. However, with NoVo’s recent shuttering of programs for women and girls of color, the funding landscape for addressing domestic violence against women of color is facing some big changes.

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IUCN Report Links Gender Violence and Environmental Crimes

"Gender-based violence undermines not only the safety, dignity, overall health status, and human rights of the millions of individuals who experience it, but also the public health, economic stability, and security of nations." - United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
In a new report from IUCN and USAID, the ties between gender-based violence and the environment become clear. (Image Credit: IUCN)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently released a new report that draws eye-opening–and deeply concerning–connections between gender-based violence (GBV) and environmental issues. In partnership with the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID), Gender-based violence and environment linkages: The violence of inequality examines why examining gender-based violence with a close focus on the role of the environment is critical to continuing the fight against GBV and its widespread effects.

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Empowering Black Women Entrepreneurs with the Doonie Fund

Kathryn Finney didn’t learn her grandmother’s real name until she turned 10 years old. Doonie Hale was an entrepreneur, a single mom, and the owner/operator of her own business as a seamstress in Milwaukee. Her story, her spirit, and her work inspire Kathryn Finney’s work today as the Founder of digitalundivided and The Doonie Fund.

digitalundivided (DID) serves as a catalyst for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. The Doonie Fund, created by DID Founder Kathryn Finney, has offered micro investments of $100 to more than 500 Black women entrepreneurs since April 2020. (Image Credit: DID)

“I was 10 years old when I learned that my grandmother’s real first name is Kathryn,” says Finney. “The lessons the original Kathryn taught me about being a Black woman entrepreneur, about creating beauty, is the reason why I’m here today.”

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Promoting Awareness, Funding, and Women’s Art with Nurse Heroes

How can we properly honor healthcare professionals risking their lives on the front lines of COVID-19? Philanthropist and art collector Sandi Nicholson, and her husband Bill Nicholson, recently announced the launch of “Nurse Heroes,” an art contest and fundraising campaign to support the healthcare heroes of 2020.

A New York nurse celebrates during the city’s daily 7:00 clap for healthcare heroes. (Image Credit: Nurse Heroes)

“This year we celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing and the first nursing college,” the Nicholsons announced in a press release. “Today, the legacy of Florence Nightingale continues, with people all over the world opening their doors and windows to show appreciation for our health care workers on the front lines. With ‘Nurse Heroes’ we recognized an opportunity to do more.”

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Upcoming Webinar: Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color

Join us at 2:00 PM ET on June 25th for the next edition in the Philanthropy Women webinar series: “Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color.”

This important discussion comes at a critical time: as the COVID-19 crisis continues to play a dangerous role in the rise of domestic violence cases; as demonstrations continue in response to the deaths of people of color at the hands of police officers; and as people join together around the world to call for action on behalf of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless other women and people of color who deserve to have their stories heard.

The webinar will focus on ways philanthropy can help to end violence against women of color. With the tragic death of Breonna Taylor, we see how women’s lives are snuffed out with no repercussions. Black women in the US are more likely to experience domestic violence, be arrested for it, and be murdered by an intimate partner. This webinar will focus on key strategies funders can take to support women of color as they fight for their right to live and prosper.

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Pascale Sykes Foundation on COVID and Sunsetting

The number of small businesses facing hardship due to COVID-19 continue to rise every day. In partnership with New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC), the Pascale Sykes Foundation is building a safety net for local New Jersey businesses impacted by the pandemic. The announcement comes alongside the Foundation’s intention to sunset operations in the next few years–and their intention to make as big of an impact as possible before closing their doors.

Frances P. Sykes (right) speaks with staff members at the Pascale Sykes Foundation. (Photo Credit: Pascale Sykes Foundation)

On April 23, the Foundation announced its commitment to the expansion of the THRIVE South Jersey Initiative, a program designed to combat economic hardship in four South Jersey counties. In light of COVID-19, NJCC and the Foundation introduced zero-based interest rate loans for small businesses in Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, and Western Atlantic Counties.

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Global Resilience Fund Offers Flex Funding for Women and Girls

COVID-19 puts pressure on all of us, but many women and girls are at higher risk of danger and oppression during these unprecedented times. A crisis like COVID-19 makes the widespread effects of issues like abuse, domestic violence, and rising barriers to educational, financial, and social survival much more intense–and often, much more deadly. The new Global Resilience Fund for Girls and Young Women seeks to answer this understated emergency with rapid, flexible funding to activist groups led by girls and young women.

The Global Resilience Fund is a worldwide collective of funders committed to supporting young women and girl activists with emergency funding as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. (Image Credit: Global Resilience Fund)

The Global Resilience Fund supports informal collectives, registered organizations, and unregistered community groups led by girls, young women, and trans and intersex young people around the world. To reach populations that may otherwise have a difficult time obtaining funding, the Global Resilience Fund only offers grants to organizations with a budget of less than $50,000 per year. Successful applicants can receive “fully flexible rapid response grants” worth up to $5,000.

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UAF Launches COVID Crisis Fund For Feminist Activists

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, feminist activists, institutions, and individuals around the world need immediate access to funding and other forms of support. Many aid packages have already been deployed to the people who need them most, but some other lesser-known populations are in danger of falling by the wayside.

Kate Kroeger, Executive Director of the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF). (Image Credit: UAF)

One of these groups of vulnerable people includes feminist activists: people who have lost their jobs or livelihoods yet are still fighting for protection and social change. In the midst of a pandemic, these rights battles can’t simply be put aside.

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