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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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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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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Celebrate Dignity for All with #PledgeYourPeriod

At first, Megha Desai thought there was no way girls and women would take to social media to tell stories about their first periods. But as education, dignity, and confidence grew in a small town in India, the local women and girls surprised her.

Megha Desai, President of the Desai Foundation. (Image Credit: Desai Foundation)

Four years ago, the Desai Foundation held an awareness campaign about menstrual health and hygiene in the small town of Untdi, Gujarat–the village Desai’s father grew up in.

“We had all these signs laid out on tables, saying things like ‘Happy to Bleed,’ ‘Proud to be a Woman,’ and ‘Proud of my Womanhood,” remembers Desai, President of the Desai Foundation. “I looked at those signs and I thought, ‘Nobody is going to hold these signs up. We’re in a tiny little village where no woman would talk about her period. But by the end of the campaign, the women and girls were so confident and proud that they posed for pictures with these signs. It blew me away. I thought to myself, if these girls in this little village can hold these signs and pledge their periods, then we ought to be able to do that, too.”

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Gates Leaders on COVID: Liveblogging New IUPUI Series

On May 21st, attendees gathered for IUPUI’s first webinar in the Perspectives on Philanthropy Discussion Series. The series asks, “As we search for context in our transforming world, what role does philanthropy play? Broadly understood to encompass the human voluntary spirit, philanthropy is responding in a variety of ways to the current global crisis today. How is it doing and what role will it have in the world that is emerging?”

Gates leaders on COVID
Jennifer Alcorn and Victoria Vrana were the first guests on the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s new discussion series, Perspectives on Philanthropy. (Image Credit: IUPUI)

Today’s webinar started with an introduction from Amir Pasic of IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The morning’s guests were Jennifer Alcorn (Deputy Director, Philanthropic Partnerships) and Victoria Vrana (Deputy Director, Giving By All) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Frances Sykes: Women in Nonprofit Leadership Deserve Equal Pay

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Frances Sykes, President of the Pascale Sykes Foundation. The Foundation partners with nonprofits that serve working, low income families to increase their stability — financially, in relationships and in well-being.

equal pay
Frances P. Sykes is the President of the Pascale Sykes Foundation, which serves working, low-income families. (Image Credit: Pascale Sykes Foundation)

“Hope is setting a goal and moving toward that goal, taking steps toward the future. That’s what gets families and individuals through challenges of daily life and makes a difference in the community.” – Frances Sykes, President and CEO, Pascale Sykes Foundation

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Funding the World We Want to See: Sonal Sachdev Patel

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sonal Sachdev Patel, writer, activist and CEO of GMSP Foundation.

sonal sachdev patel
Sonal Sachdev Patel, CEO of God My Silent Partner Foundation (GMSP) Foundation. (Photo courtesy Sonal Sachdev Patel)

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

So much. I wish I had known to go straight to the grassroots. The civil society leaders on the frontlines know what their communities need and know how to deliver it. But they’re constrained by a funding environment that is too often inflexible, impatient and imperialistic in terms of who drives the agenda. When we started in 2006, we were giving project-based funds. After listening to our local partners, we shifted to unrestricted funding.

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Sasha Rabsey on Radical Generosity, Transformative Giving

Sasha Rabsey has heard the same story more than once. Most recently, she heard it at a conference, where a young woman presented on her work with trauma organizations. Her funding came from a series of high-level civil and private sector awards–enough to start ten different programs supporting women recovering from trauma in Latin America–but as the awards began to dry up, she found herself floundering for funding.

sasha rabsey
Sasha Rabsey is a philanthropist and advisor. She is the founder of the HOW Fund and the Senior Philanthropic Advisor with Collective Capital Philanthropy. (Photo Credit: Collective Capital Philanthropy)

“I’ll take anything you can give me,” the young woman said, echoing scores of people Rabsey has worked with over the years. “If I don’t start winning more awards, we’re going to have to close more than half of our locations.”

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Media Gap on Women and Politics: The 19th Steps In

It’s a brutal media landscape with each year bringing more layoffs and buy-outs of journalists, and closures of big city dailies. Paper is dying, and the digital arms of legacy media entities must fend off content-stealing, bottom-feeding, celebrity-obsessed click-bait factories. It’s difficult for serious and thoughtful, or even middle-of-the-road mainstream journalism, to survive unless backed by very deep pockets and a vast reach. And if a media organization wants to address gender and race in a comprehensive fashion, it’s well-nigh impossible.

media gap on women
The 19th will provide more media coverage of women as they push for a larger share of power in American politics. (Image Credit: The 19th)

It’s tough sledding, but the benefits of an informed public are incalculable and essential to democracy, and can’t be judged solely by looking at the bottom line. Consequently, some philanthropists are stepping-up and underwriting news and information organizations, as is the case with the support for a novel venture, The 19th, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.”

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