“Modesty Does Not Serve Women’s Leadership.” Ruth Ann Harnisch on What It Will Take for Women to Lead

Ruth Ann Harnisch

You can’t get much closer to the epicenter of creativity, social justice, and women’s empowerment than the Harnisch Foundation (theHF). Through its focus on empowering women and girls of all backgrounds, its innovative grantmaking toward women and media, and its latest Funny Girls grant initiative that teaches resilience and leadership through improv, theHF’s work spans some of the most relevant and important missions in philanthropy today.

How did Ruth Ann Harnisch rise to her current position, with an amazing career in journalism and media under her belt, as well as 17 years at the helm of a foundation carrying out many unique and creative initiatives for women and girls?

Well, she didn’t get there by being quiet and demure, and she is of the opinion that women have to do much more to defy the gender norms and expectations that hold back progress. “In recent years, I have stepped up to accept that an institution can be a leader and a role model,” said Harnisch, in a recent telephone interview with Inside Philanthropy. “Those of us who want to see more women’s leadership have to be willing to model it.”

Ruth Ann Harnisch is president of theHF, which was founded in 1998. Since that time, theHF has given hundreds of grants to not-for-profit organizations, mainly to pursue creative work in women and girls empowerment, film and media, and journalism. A recent example? theHF’s support for the Sundance Female Filmmakers Initiative. Here, theHF is developing women’s participation as directors, producers, writers, editors, and as chiefs of photography in the film industry.

But that’s not the only angle that theHF is taking on this issue. The foundation has also sponsored research through the Media Diversity and Social Change Initiative at USC, which studies Hollywood and gender roles—both how women are portrayed on screen, and how women participate off-screen. This initiative of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is regarded as one of the leading think tanks addressing issues of inequality in entertainment, bringing much-needed evidence and insight to the industry. As part of the this, theHF supported a study released in August of 2015 on gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT characters in 700 films.

Much of the genesis of theHF’s mission around media, journalism, and women’s empowerment has grown out of Harnisch’s life experiences. Harnisch is a self-described “recovering journalist” who started as a teen deejay in Buffalo, New York, and went on to devote three decades to journalism and media, including working as a television reporter and anchor at Nashville’s CBS-TV affiliate. She also worked as a columnist for 17 years at the Nashville Banner.

What did all of this life experience teach Harnisch? “Modesty does not serve women’s leadership,” she said. “So many of us of my generation—I’m 65—were raised to be ladylike and modest, and not tooting one’s own horn and waiting for others to recognize us and acknowledge our accomplishments. We were taught to believe that it would be unseemly of us to speak for ourselves and promote ourselves.”

But Harnisch sees these norms as part of what is keeping women from rising to the leadership roles they deserve in society. “When we step out and become willing to lead, then we become visible to others who can see us as examples to follow.”

Harnisch sees it as part of her philanthropic obligation to allow herself to be visible, and she has taken it upon herself in recent years to raise that visibility through social media, newsletters, and publicizing of the foundation’s grantmaking, so that others, particularly women, can imagine themselves in similar roles.

Harnisch credits Nashville-based philanthropist Annette Eskind with inspiring her to make philanthropy her vocation. “I was inspired to become a philanthropist and to dream about giving gifts of a million dollars long before I had a million dollars.” Harnisch described her experience of witnessing Annette Eskind giving a million dollar gift (more about the Irwin and Annette Eskind Family Foundation). “It was thrilling and shocking to me that a woman would (a) have so much money to give and (b) be willing to be seen as giving that much money.”

From then on, it became a dream of Harnisch’s to one day do likewise. “I believe that every time a woman steps up, she inspires someone else’s dream, so part of what I invest in at theHF is women’s leadership.” Harnisch described organizations the foundation has supported such as Vote, Run, Lead, which trains women to run for public office.

Harnisch also talked about the foundation’s new initiative called Funny Girls, which is developing leadership skills with a curriculum of improv and movement for girls grades three through eight, “so that girls can learn early to lead with strength and warmth,” said Harnisch. “Improv also teaches resilience, because the world will knock you down. People will say things that hurt you. People will say things that surprise you. To be able to handle what life throws at you is a skill that improv teaches beautifully.”

Going forward, Harnisch sees theHF getting more involved in funding media and storytelling for social change, and in harnessing the power of social media to maximize impact for positive social developments. Harnisch observed how the landscape of philanthropy is being changed by digital and social media storytelling, and how social media in general, and the digital generation, are driving new trends in giving.

“It’s very encouraging to see how social media has changed the game for philanthropy, how the digital generation is completely unintimidated by using social media to fundraise for causes they care about. Kids use social media to dedicate their birthdays to fundraising, or their bar and bat mitzvahs to fundraising. Young people are getting married and using social media to dedicate their wedding to a charity. It’s wonderful to see how this new form of communication has transformed giving and opened it to all.”

With regard to theHF’s part in this transformation, Harnisch said the foundation will increasingly fund media and storytelling for social change. She is an executive producer of The Hunting Ground, a documentary that’s being shown at hundreds of colleges this year, and which is slated to air on CNN this fall.

“It has changed the discussion about campus assault,” said Harnisch of The Hunting Ground. “It has changed college administrators’ attitudes. It has changed the student body’s awareness of what their institutions do and do not do, and it’s provoking a conversation about the culture of consent, so that young people will learn that only enthusiastic consent is the standard. We’re saying goodbye to ‘no means no’, and welcoming a culture of ‘an enthusiastic yes means yes’.”

Contributions raised by the film are being deposited in the Hunting Ground Fund, which is hosted by NEO Philanthropy, and will eventually be granted to groups in the field.

Harnisch is also a big believer in the power of social media and technology to bring together women into powerful giving networks. She belongs to Women Moving Millions, as well as the Women Donors Network, Rachel’s Network, and 100 Women Who Care.

Additionally, she is a strong believer in racial justice as an integral part of the agenda for women and girls. In fact, theHF has funded journalism efforts aimed at addressing racial disparities since at least 2010, when it supported Race Forward, which “advances racial justice through research, media and practice.” More recently, theHF made a $100,000 pledge to Funders for Justice, in response to the recent police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, in an effort to bolster movement building and ending violence against communities of color.

Gender Matters All the Time: 9 of Philanthropy’s Most Powerful Gender Lens Investors

The field of gender lens investing has been on the runway and waiting for take-off for a while now, yet barriers, like the lack of corporations carrying out women-friendly policies and practices, continue to be a problem.

Meanwhile, some funders are right on top of the issue, pushing hard to understand and grow the field of investing with a gender lens. One prime example is the Wallace Global Fund, which provided a grant to the Criterion Institute in the fall of 2014 to create a report that surveyed gender-focused investing. Wallace is a longtime supporter in the arena of women’s empowerment, and also a lead player in the philanthropy divestment movement.

As part of its research on and development of gender lens investing, Criterion held “convergences” — four of them, once a year, in Simsbury, Connecticut. These meetings served as incubators for defining and consolidating the field of gender lens investing. The convergences also helped develop new language for the work, such as seeing gender lens investing as an “opportunity” rather than a “screen,” and shifting from “counting women” to “valuing gender in finance.” And while these changes may sound semantic, they represent much larger shifts to investment theory and approach, which produce significant results.

Criterion’s final report,The State of the Field of Gender Lens Investing, was issued in October of 2015. The central argument that the report makes, and that is worth repeating here, is that gender matters to everything, and impacts everything. This was the line from the report that put it all together for me: “Making the claim that gender matters is in and of itself potentially transformative, and by ensuring that gender matters in finance, the field of gender lens investing has the potential to transform the core assumptions underlying a massive system of power.”

Indeed. And that’s why, at Inside Philanthropy, we want to help identify more of the leaders of this powerful new vehicle for social change that involves us all.

To that end, we have developed a short list of 9 powerful gender lens investors in the field. This list is in no way comprehensive. There are more leaders out there in gender lens investing who we have undoubtedly left off (email us your thoughts on that for future work!).

The goal here is to help the field of gender lens investing become more visible and integral, particularly within philanthropy, as this sector pivots toward impact investing in a big way.

Joy Anderson, President and Founder of the Criterion Institute

Joy Anderson appropriately starts off this list, and not just because her last name starts with “A.” Anderson is the President and Founder of the Criterion Institute, which has done some of the most groundbreaking work in the field of gender lens investing. She has been a great convener of gender lens investors with her yearly “Convergence” meetings in Simsbury, CT, and has helped the field take shape by producing some of the most groundbreaking research on the subject. The list of organizations and participants that Joy Anderson has convened to develop the field of gender lens investing is profound. (See Appendix A of Criterion’s report, by Joy Anderson and Katherine Miles, which, by the way, should be required reading for anyone in the field.)

Suzanne Biegel, Founder, Catalyst At Large Ltd, Founder and Chief Catalyst, Women Effect

In terms of being connected to the world of gender lens investing in myriad ways, you can’t get much more active than Suzanne Biegel. She is a founding member of Women Effect, a community with both online and offline components, working to “accelerate the women effect in the most strategic and efficient way.” But that’s not all. Biegel also serves on the board of directors of Confluence Philanthropy, the advisory board of Cornerstone Capital Management, and is a member of the Wharton Social Impact Investing in Women Advisory Council. She was also founding co-chair of the Values Based Investing Circle within Women Donors Network and is a long time member of Social Venture Network. With all this going on, you would think she would have her hands full, but there’s still more. Biegel is also a Senior Advisor for the Criterion Institute and is now working on a new initiative called Women Effect Investing.

Catherine Clark, Director, Duke University’s Case Initiative on Impact Investing

Clark is known as one of the earlier pioneers of gender lens investing strategies. Having worked with diverse players across the spectrum, including the White House Office of Social Innovation, the Omidyar Network, the Rockefeller Foundation, Calvert Foundation, USAID, and others, Clark has her roots in social innovation, but with a strong awareness of the critical value of  investing with a gender lens. Prior to her academic career, Clark was a professional investor, and was also Vice President of the Markle Foundation, giving her a wide range of professional experiences to inform her current work.

Kristin Hull, Director and Founder, Nia Community Fund and Partner and Portfolio Manager, Green Alpha Advisors

Kristin Hull has been a force in gender lens investing for nearly a decade, and has now established her own fund. Through her fund, Hull has created Nia Global Solutions, an equity product that brings together 35-50 companies from around the world with a focus on equity. Each of the companies in this portfolio has women in executive management and board leadership, and each is committed to diversity and sustainability. While still somewhat newer to the scene than some, Hull is a powerful advocate for gender lens investing, as evidenced by her recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, where she gives a strong overview of action in the field of gender lens investing. Hull also recently became a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Green Alpha Advisors, expanding her work into new territory all the time.

Diane Keating, Executive Director, High Water Women

As the leader of High Water Women (HWW), Diane Keating is charged with bringing together women in the finance industry to do impact investing. HWW started in 2005 with a group of women in the hedge fund and investment industries coming together to promote economic empowerment of women and youth. Since then, more than 4,000 business professionals have come on board to help others through programs in financial literacy, particularly for teens and young adults. In 2013, HWW launched the HWW Symposium on Investing for Impact, which had a strong conference this year that included leaders like Debra Schwartz, Director of Impact Investing for MacArthur, and leaders from innovative foundations like Heron, Rockefeller, and the Omidyar Network. This is a power hub for women in philanthropy that deserves attention and one that you can expect to hear more from in the future.

Joseph Keefe, President & Chief Executive Officer, Pax World Management LLC and subsidiary, Pax Ellevate Management LLC.

Keefe has been hammering away at gender lens investing pretty much from the start. Keefe is Co-Chair of the Leadership Group for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint program of the United Nations Global Compact and UN Women, and is the former Chair of the Board of Directors of Women Thrive Worldwide. The author of a 2013 Pax World report, Gender Equality as an Investment Concept, Keefe is a vocal and articulate leader on the subject, winning him accolades such as being names the sole male recipient of Women’s eNews’ “21 Leaders for the 21st Century,” and being listed as a top 10 feminist man of 2015 by the Financial Times. In his top-level role at Pax World Management, Keefe has served as one of the most visible men advocating for a gender lens investing approach.

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder, Ellevest

Known as one of the most senior women on Wall Street, Sallie Krawcheck is a mastermind of finance who has now broken out on her own to make gender lens investing a priority. Formerly president of the Global Wealth and Investment Management division of Bank of America, Krawcheck is widely published on issues ranging from Wall Street regulatory reform to how to manage a start-up. Krawcheck is on a mission to close the gender investing gap, and help women everywhere figure out a good equation for money in their lives. In a recent interview for CNBC about Ellevest, Krawcheck was quoted as saying, “If I were to go very Gloria Steinem on you, I’d say until we get this gap closed, we’re not going to be equal.” Her new platform, Ellevest, is just getting started on cashing in on the $11 trillion market of assets controlled by women.

Jackie Vanderbrug, Senior Vice President and Investment Strategist, US Trust

Vanderbrug is one of the earlier and most dedicated leaders in the new field of gender lens investing. She comes from Criterion, another pioneer in the field where she helped develop the Women Effect. Vanderbrug’s awareness of the interrelated nature of social change began when she was a domestic policy analyst for the U.S. Congress. Along with Sarah Kaplan, Vanderbrug recently authored an article entitled the Rise of Gender Capitalism, published in the Fall 2014 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which discussed in detail how investing with a gender lens creates financial and social impacts, while also helping women.  

Jacki Zehner, Chief Engagement Officer, Women Moving Millions and President, the Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation

Zehner was an early supporter of both Joy Anderson and Jackie Vanderbrug in their missions to build the field of gender lens investing. She’s written numerous articles on the subject, and has been one of the primary leaders working with high net worth women to take advantage of new tools for gender lens investing. An avid aggregator of research on women and girls (this collection has a dozen article on gender lens investing alone!) and a leader of all things related to money and women’s empowerment, Zehner and Women Moving Millions will be introducing a program focused on impact and gender lens investing starting this fall. This an area where Zehner is playing multiple roles to cultivate the terrain, with big plans to take it further.

Helen LaKelly Hunt: Feminism and Philanthropy Are Converging to Create a New Relationship Culture

Helen LaKelly Hunt

If you spend time reading about women and philanthropy, you will invariably come across Helen LaKelly Hunt. Along with her sister, Swanee Hunt, these two feminist philanthropists are major players in the women’s funding movement, which hit the big leagues in the past decade as high-net-worth women began to make gifts of over $1 million dollars to fund causes for women and girls.  

While researching for her dissertation on the origins of American feminism, Hunt discovered that 19th century women didn’t fund the suffrage movement. Instead, they funded things like their husband’s alma maters, churches (where they had no voice) and the arts. Years later, when women began pledging and making million-dollar gifts to women’s funds, Hunt captured that history in a book called the Trailblazer book, which was circulated to other women donors. This compilation of women’s testimonies helped catalyze the founding of Women Moving Millions.  

Hunt has co-founded some of the largest and most influential women’s funds in the country, including the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the New York Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Funding Network, and Women Moving Millions. In 2007, Women Moving Millions emerged on the scene with a public launch, and began a two-year campaign to raise $150 million for the global network of women’s funds. During the financial meltdown of 2008, Women Moving Millions became one of the only campaigns to exceed its fundraising goal, with a total of $182 million raised during the economic crisis.

Along with being part of the history of growing women’s funding, Helen LaKelly Hunt is also destined to rewrite the early history of feminism in America. Her forthcoming book, And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost Radical History of America’s First Feminists, gives an up-close and personal rendition of some little-known history: the first meeting of feminists in the 1837 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women held in New York.

In the process of researching her dissertation in the Barnard Library, Hunt discovered the primary source manuscript titled Turning the World Upside Down: The Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women Held in New York City May 9-12, 1837. The men’s abolitionist movements had been all white men, and the Seneca Falls Convention was all white women. But this cross-race, cross-class meeting was so meaningful that years after the Seneca Falls Convention, feminist Lucretia Mott told Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write the history of American feminism starting at the 1837 convention, saying, “That’s where the battle began.” Ultimately, Stanton chose to start feminism’s history at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

Hunt is therefore shifting the spotlight of the history of American feminism in her forthcoming book, illustrating how its origins contained essential elements of movement building that are still relevant today.

“The window on history that I opened up in the Barnard Library unsealed a parallel window into my past,” she writes in the introduction to her forthcoming book. The window helped Hunt liberate herself from the “golden handcuffs” of gender-normed behavior that still confined her, and begin to accept more fully her power and purpose in building funding networks for women and girls. “I am grateful to be part of feminism and to add my labor to such meaningful work,” she writes.

Hunt’s research has also opened up what she sees as the next wave of feminism: Teaching the culture about the importance of relationships. “Relationality needs to be high on the agenda of the feminist movement.   Feminist activism can become siloed: focusing in fields like domestic violence, or trafficking or economic justice. A relational vision encourages intersectionality, and an understanding of how these issues resonate with one another.”

For several decades, feminist theorists such as Carol Gilligan, Robin Morgan, Judith V. Jordan, Janet Surrey, Irene Stiver, Carter Heyward, Beverly Wildung Harrison and Gloria Steinem have articulated a vision of culture that is “linked, not ranked,” as Steinem says.

“The problem is that, while women have been proponents of a relational culture, it’s only in the last 20 years that the relational sciences have developed to create tools that help people shift from conflict to connection,” said Hunt. She and her husband, Harville Hendrix, are experts in the field of relationship counseling, and are now disseminating a new process called Safe Conversations, a structured conversation that allows two people, even if they disagree, to speak with mutual respect for one another. “This helps shift the cultural dynamic from the vertical to the horizontal,” said Hunt.

“The next stage of feminism can emphasize more explicitly the primacy of relationships, and shift language away from competition and toward collaboration,” said Hunt. She sees state and city-based women’s funds as developing a new model for how foundations can be more inclusive and responsive to the particular needs of a community.

“Look at what was accomplished in the women’s funding movement,” said Hunt. “These women’s funds were not isolated: they emerged in relationship with each other, and they were all about relationships: they brought in grantees and community members to their boards, they brought in representation from populations served. They reached out to many different marginalized populations—women and girls of color, as well as women affected by poverty, by violence, by health issues.”

Hunt also sees women’s funds as playing a key role in showing the culture how women can wield financial clout. “Women’s funds have transformed women’s relationship with money from one of ignorance and ambivalence to one by which she began to unleash her voice into the culture.”

“Both philanthropy and feminism must celebrate the fact that women’s funds embodied for the culture a visionary organizing methodology, a relational vehicle for connecting all women, locally, nationally, globally, to set an important agenda,” she said.

Hunt also sees great potential for relationships to be more central to our culture in politics. “Hillary’s slogan is ‘Stronger Together’,” she said. “It’s a relational slogan. What makes us stronger together is our capacity to maintain our relationships. And only until recently has there been a relational technology that shows us how to do just that.”  

“Feminists have been a prophetic voice, warning against a culture that promotes a ‘winner take all’ and ‘get to the top of the ladder’ attitude. Both feminism and philanthropy need to promote values that strengthen the safety of the culture.”

The safety of relationships is a key area where Hunt sees philanthropy and feminism converging to foster significant change. “It’s only with safety that the world can thrive. That’s why Harville and I created Safe Conversations, which can help make that vision possible. We see ourselves as contributing to the fulfillment of a vision articulated by feminist theorists and feminist philanthropy over the past four decades.”

Will Philanthropy Change Direction in the Age of Trump? | Diane Ravitch’s blog

Vu Le directs a nonprofit organization. He wrote a bold article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy advising philanthropists to change direction and pay more attention to small organizations that work…

Source: Will Philanthropy Change Direction in the Age of Trump? | Diane Ravitch’s blog

Wow. Facebook and Gates Matching $1 Million for Giving Tuesday

So this is news that everyone can use, but I particularly thought of  philanthropy for women and girls and how they might cash in on the matching funds for Facebook-generated fundraisers on Tuesday. From the press release:

This Giving Tuesday, people are looking for ways to give back and do good. For that reason, we are thrilled to share Facebook’s recent announcement for new tools that will allow everybody to raise money for, or donate to their favorite charities.

Facebook expands its Fundraisers to include 750,000 US nonprofits to donate to:

Everybody can now support causes they care about this holiday season by creating a fundraiser on Facebook! Fundraisers allow supporters to set up a dedicated page to share their story, tell others about a nonprofit’s mission and rally around a fundraising goal – just in time for the season of giving! The over 750,000 US-based registered non-profits which focus on causes like animals, health, education to arts and culture make it easy to do good no matter what you support. The process is easy:

From the Facebook home page:

Check left of newsfeed and then Click ‘+ Create Fundraiser’
Select your nonprofit, cover photo, goal amount and end date
Fill in your fundraiser title and tell your story
Click ‘Create’ to publish your fundraiser and start collecting donations.
More ways to donate with the introduction of Donate buttons in Live and in posts:
Facebook also introduced Donations in Live video and posts to allow people to add a Donate button for their chosen fundraisers. If somebody is supporting a cause and goes Live their friends and family can learn more about the cause from the Live broadcast and donate directly to the Fundraiser. Everybody can now add a Donate button directly to a post to collect donations for a nonprofit directly on Facebook.

$1 million contribution by Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this Giving Tuesday for all fundraisers created
On Giving Tuesday, people will see a message at the top of their News Feed, encouraging them to create a fundraiser for #GivingTuesday. All fundraisers created as part of #GivingTuesday will be matched up to $1000 total per fundraiser up to $500,000 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Facebook will be waiving fees up to $500,000.



The Hidden Children: How Lumos is Empowering Social Change for Orphans Worldwide

Ten years into her signature philanthropic endeavor, Lumos, author J.K. Rowling has grown increasingly vocal about her disdain for developing world orphanages that do nothing to address the underlying needs of children and families.

Readers here at The Chronicle of Social Change know about the damage that child welfare systems can do to children, but perhaps even more damaging are money-driven orphanage systems, where children can suffer extreme neglect and lifetime attachment issues. And parents, often because of poverty, are deprived of the opportunity to raise their children.

“Globally, poverty is the no. 1 reason that children are institutionalized. Well-intentioned Westerners supporting orphanages perpetuate this highly damaging system and encourage the creation of more institutions as money magnets,” tweeted Rowling in late August, when expressing her fury at a voluntourism charity that was offering young adults the “CV-distinguishing” opportunity to volunteer in an orphanage in Moldova, where they could “play and interact” with children ”in desperate need of affection.”

Source: The Hidden Children: How Lumos is Empowering Social Change for Orphans Worldwide

Sexual Violence Against Women Draws New Funder Attention – Inside Philanthropy – Inside Philanthropy

The murder of two women joggers in the past week has focused new attention on sexual violence against women. Over the past few years, this issue has been on the agendas of several key sectors of society—including universities, which have grappled with campus sexual assaults; professional sports, where top players have stood accused of attacks; and the military, where rape is common.

Philanthropy is another sector paying attention, with new sources of funding appearing in recent years.

Last year, we mentioned that a documentary on campus sexual assault, The Hunting Ground, had inspired a funding effort that includes resources at NEO Philanthropy, an intermediary that works with both funders and nonprofits. It’s not clear how much money that effort has raised, or what these funds have been used for. What is clear that the film brought major attention to campus sexual assault, an issue that has drawn in other funders, too—most notably the Avon Foundation, as we’ve reported.

Source: Sexual Violence Against Women Draws New Funder Attention – Inside Philanthropy – Inside Philanthropy

Obama Summit Delivers Good News on Gender, and Women’s Funds Step Up Again

Leaders of Dallas Women’s Foundation, California Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, New York Women’s Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham and Ms. Foundation on stage at the United State of Women Summit on June 14 in Washington, D.C.

Here’s some good news this week, in case you need a little cheering up: The Obama administration hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C. With Michelle Obama and Oprah headlining the event, this convergence included many old and new fighters for gender equality including Darren Walker, Gloria Steinem, Matt McGorry and Amy Poehler.

President Obama and Vice President Biden also participated, with the president drawing wild cheers from the crowd as he announced in classic Obama style: “I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like.”

Wrapping up today, the summit was convened by the White House Council on Women and Girls, and hosted in partnership with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation. Other sponsors include a long roster of businesses and foundations, such as the Ford Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Pepsico Foundation, the Tory Burch Foundation, and the AOL Charitable Foundation.

The summit included a ground-breaking announcement of $50 million in new commitments to support for women and girls. In one notable move, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation joined with seven other women’s foundations to announce the Young Women’s Initiative, which will fund efforts to improve the lives of young women across the U.S., with a particular focus on young women of color.

Joining Washington Area Women’s Foundation in making this commitment are the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, California Women’s Foundation, Dallas Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, and the New York Women’s Foundation, which had previously launched a Young Women’s Initiative in 2015. We will have more on this effort as we talk with the women’s funds that are involved.

Other big pledges include more than $20 million in new commitments to the Obama Administration’s Let Girls Learn Initiative, which provides girls worldwide with access to education. CARE pledged $15 million to this effort, Oracle pledged $3 million, and the International Rescue Committee pledged $1 million. These new dollars will reach adolescent girls in many parts of the world, including India, Afghanistan, and Egypt, and girls in high-conflict nations in Africa and the Middle East.

There is much more to this announcement, including new efforts directed at reducing violence against women, increasing support for early childhood educators, and providing more funding for STEM efforts that target girls.

The White House also announced commitments from 28 leading companies to conduct “annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations.” In other words: gender equity pay audits! The companies also pledged to review their hiring and advancement practices. The full pledge and more statements from companies are here.

All this action suggests that this was one historic event for women, with more of its kind likely to occur in the coming years. To get a real taste of what the summit entailed, you can watch parts of it here.

We’ve been saying here for a while that there is a big disparity between White House engagement with My Brother’s Keeper and its work on issues of equality for women and girls. After the summit, things are looking a tad more balanced.


Experience Matters: Who Gives for Women and Girls, and Why – Inside Philanthropy 

Do you ever wonder what motivates someone to give money? Obviously, the answer is “yes” if you’re a professional fundraiser. But those who give may also wonder what’s really causing them to reach for that checkbook.

Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute sheds light on this area, particularly as it pertains to women at every level of society. Now, WPI has released a study showing for the first time that women are motivated by personal experience to give to causes that benefit women and girls specifically.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, it’s actually significant, useful information. Women’s tendency to donate money to specific causes based on experiences like having a child or discrimination suggests that philanthropy might take off in new directions as women become primary asset-holders in society and further increase their giving.

Source: Experience Matters: Who Gives for Women and Girls, and Why – Inside Philanthropy – Inside Philanthropy

Some Words of Advice for the Next President from Jacki Zehner  

On JanAAEAAQAAAAAAAAi5AAAAJDIxMjc4YTM3LTIwZWMtNDBhOS05MjdiLTU0NzJkYjM4ZTg2Zguary 29th, 2009, a mere nine days after being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It was his first piece of legislation as President, and it set the stage for a presidency that has been visibly committed to equal rights for men and women.

Since that historic day over seven years ago, Obama has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, signed into law the Affordable Care Act, created the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and the White House Council on Women and Girls, issued an executive order that mandated federal contractors to publish pay data according to gender and race in order to combat the wage gap, and this May, the White House will host The United State of Women, a three day summit in Washington DC that will tackle gender inequality across a range of issues, including education, health, leadership, and economic empowerment.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has never been shy in declaring his commitment to gender equality, often referencing his two young daughters as his inspiration, but with his presidency soon coming to an end, it’s time to look to the future. Come November 8th, the United States will have a new President, and regardless of who that President is, I have one question I want to ask them: What are YOU going to do to improve gender equality in this country?

Source: What I Would Tell The Next President | Jacki Zehner | LinkedIn