When I was a girl, I used to watch characters like Murphy Brown and Angela Bower from “Who’s The Boss?” on television. I remember seeing these incredible women workplace role models and how tough and tenacious they were. They got the job done, often in fields primarily dominated by men.
But while they made for great businesswomen role models, I did not have those same role models in fields related to science, technology, engineering or math. I was fortunate to have a father who encouraged me to do anything I dreamed of, but many young girls today don’t have the same privilege. Even as television yielded to the internet, giving us new ways to connect, girls still struggle to find support and understand the value they bring to the world, especially in STEM.
The conversation below explores Lerner’s experience as a philanthropist, business leader, and activist entrepreneur, as well as what other funders and company leaders can do to advance an intersectional focus in their approaches to philanthropy.
On Thursday, August 27th, we gathered for this month’s Philanthropy Women webinar: Women in Media Changing the Game. With guests Lori Sokol, Ruth Ann Harnisch, and Johanna Derlega, we discussed the under-funding and under-representation of female journalists and women’s media outlets, as well as ways funders can work to fix this under-representation.
How To Increase Funding for Women in Media
Editor-in-Chief Kiersten Marek kicked off the call with a reminder to breathe, and introduced today’s theme: Women in Media Changing the Game.
“We know now more than ever how important women’s leadership is,” she said. “COVID has taught us that women leaders in countries around the world have had much better success with managing COVID. And that’s just one example of the women’s leadership differential—the ability to prioritize health and the well-being of others.”
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL seriesfeatures Sheri West, the Founder, CEO & Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
Prior to founding LiveGirl, I worked at a large, multi-national company for almost seventeen years. So, I had to “unlearn” corporate bureaucracy in order to embrace the competitive advantage of nimbleness in a small organization. Yes, we vet ideas and have approval processes, but we focus on moving fast when responding to the world. We mine for ideas that our team feels passionately about, and then we make them happen. I feel it’s more important to do what you truly believe in and pursue what makes you happy and excited.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series featuresJenny Xia Spradling, Co-CEO of FreeWill, a digital estate planning company that has helped more than 150,000 people make wills. Before FreeWill, Jenny worked at McKinsey and Bain Capital, where she helped launched the firm’s first impact investment fund. She is also a cofounder of Paribus, later acquired by Capital One.
What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
You can have a job where you believe in the mission and have really fast career growth. I always felt like this was a trade-off in choosing a career – you could have growth or mission, but not both. The movement of social enterprises has really grown even over the past 10 years, and I think there will be more and more opportunities for people to have financial well-being while also achieving impact they are passionate about.
On Tuesday, August 4th, the organizers of the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge hosted a Q&A via Zoom webinar. The discussion focused on the contest itself: what it was, how to enter, and more. Starting with an introductory presentation on the Challenge application and finishing with a lengthy Q&A, this webinar focused on audience participation and a clear explanation of the contest rules and goals.
Editor’s Note: The following essay is by By Dr. Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland, Founder of Black Philanthropy Month and The Women Invested to Save Earth™ (WISE) Fund.
This year has unfolded like the chapters of a dystopian Octavia Butler novel. A third of US Covid deaths are Black. Black unemployment rates are at more than 20 percent. More than 40 percent of Black small businesses have closed. The George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor lynchings, broadcast across traditional and social media, made it clear that virulent, violent, anti-Black racism is alive and well.
These are confusing, life-changing times. Black joy, struggle, rage and giving converge in our story, creating history and shaping our future this Black Philanthropy Month (BPM). Stories give form to chaos, helping us see hidden lessons and new visions to become the change we want to see. For this unprecedented historical moment of BPM, the story begins and ends in Minneapolis, a new center of the global racial justice movement.
Editor’s Note: The following essay is by Stephanie Fine Sasse, founder of The Plenary, Co., a 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to making social and environmental issues more accessible through science, art, and play.
A few years ago, I sat across from twelve dynamic, accomplished, and inspiring women. They were artists, dancers, singers, musicians, gamers, athletes, activists, and moms.
And of course, they were scientists.
I watched their eyes light up as they spoke about the curiosities and purpose behind their work. And I watched their eyes narrow as they reflected on the challenges that they faced. Many of them spoke about the important roles of failure, creativity, and collaboration in the sciences; concepts that are too often missing from the job description. And others shared their favorite parts of their work: discovery, travel, teamwork, writing, or mentoring students.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.