Lori Sokol: Making Women’s Media with Truth and Transparency

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL (F-GIRL) series features Lori Sokol, PhD, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief of Women’s eNews. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Women’s eNews, to be celebrated on May 4 at their annual Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Awards.

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

Lori Sokol, PhD, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief of Women’s eNews (Photo by Eva Mueller)

I entered the media industry immediately after graduating from college, but looking back I should have gone straight to graduate school instead. I didn’t become a graduate student until nine years later, when I was already pregnant with my first child. As a result, I had to attend graduate school part-time while becoming a new mother, and running my own media business simultaneously. It took me twelves years of attending grad school at night to earn my PhD.

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WFN Announces Leadership Transition as CEO Steps Down

WOMEN’S FUNDING NETWORK BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANNOUNCES LEADERSHIP TRANSITION 

San Francisco, Calif. ― After six years at the helm of one of the oldest women’s philanthropy organizations in the world, Cynthia Nimmo will be stepping down from her role as President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network (WFN), effective Feb. 17, Julie Castro Abrams, Governance Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors announced today. 

Elizabeth Barajas-Roman will be the incoming President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network (Image Credit: WFN)

“I am so proud of what we have accomplished at WFN,” Nimmo said. “We are on a strong trajectory for continued growth and expansion. After 13 years with the organization, the last six as President and CEO, I believe that this is the right moment to create space for new leadership to build off of this momentum and take WFN into 2020 and beyond.”

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Empowerment is Now Online: the Hello World Connection

Imagine that you had lived your life up to this point never experiencing the internet. No smart phones, no online recipes, no Google searches or social media.

How much would your life change if, one day, you were connected to the online world?

Katrin McMillan works with local children on the construction of their Hello Hub. (Photo Credit: Project Hello World)

The potential uses of internet access are abundant: education, job training, medical resources, advancements in farming and agriculture, communication with people across the world, all available at the touch of a button. For many communities, however, that online world is something out of science fiction. Women, children, and entire societies fly under the radar of education and international support simply because they live without access to the world’s information superhighway.

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With Research and Equity Project, WSF Raises Stakes

WSF releases new national research report – Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women – a comprehensive, current landscape analysis;

And launches The Equity Project, a new national campaign to galvanize leaders across sectors to help drive paradigm-shifting change that transcends sports

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — With the start of a new decade, 2020, and the golden anniversary of Title IX on the near horizon, 2022, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) is staking a bold stand to gain true, lasting equity for girls and women in sports and beyond. Today the Foundation released its new national research report – Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women – a comprehensive analysis of the current landscape and all its challenges, barriers, progress and opportunities, accompanied by a robust aggregate of calls to action to drive change.

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Ascend Fund Launches with Millions for Women in U.S. Politics

Panorama Global Launches The Ascend Fund to Achieve Equal Representation for Women in U.S. Politics 

SEATTLE – Today, Panorama Global announced the formal launch of The Ascend Fund, a collaborative fund dedicated to accelerating the pace of change towards gender parity in U.S. politics. The Ascend Fund, pools philanthropic capital to support nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations that are working to ensure women have access to the resources and support they need to run for office, and that are breaking down the barriers that prevent women from running and winning. 

The Ascend Fund received seed funding from Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company founded by Melinda Gates, which seeks to advance social progress in the U.S. for women and families. As part of the strategy to accelerate women’s power and influence, Pivotal Ventures provides catalytic support for partners to create resilient and inclusive pathways for women pursuing public office.

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Own Your Power: Elizabeth Yntema on Gender Equality in Dance

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Elizabeth Yntema, president and founder of the Dance Data Project (DDP), which promotes “equity in all aspects of classical ballet by providing a metrics-based analysis through our database while showcasing women-led companies, festivals, competitions, venues, special programs and initiatives.” 

Elizabeth Yntema, president and founder of the Dance Data Project (courtesy: Elizabeth Yntema)

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

I wish I had had a female mentor, and she had reassured me that success isn’t defined by a linear path. I have been a corporate attorney, a lobbyist, worked as the Director of Governmental Affairs of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, was employed part-time as a consultant, opened an art gallery and, with three small children, focused on volunteering for a time. Now, I use every single one of my experiences and skills acquired over the decades. 

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Plan Probes Adolescent Thought and Behavior Re: Gender Equality


Plan International USA—an independent development and humanitarian organization advancing children’s rights and equality for girls—has published an incisive report on American adolescents and gender equality.

Plan USA commissioned the research and communications firm PerryUndem to complete the study, which drew on data from roughly 1,000 interviews conducted nationwide with girls and boys ages 10-19. The results provide a snapshot on gender equity as seen by the next generation of Americans, and can be used by funders and non-profits to better define gender issues facing young people, and provide focus for programs to improve gender equity.

Plan International USA’s report helps to identify key attitudes and experiences of teenagers in the U.S., particularly around issues like sexual harassment, physical appearance, and media representation of girls. (Image Credit: Plan International USA)

Plan’s “The State of Gender Equality for U.S. Adolescents” is part of its “Plan4Girls” initiative, and surveys girls and boys on their attitudes and experience around topics including physical appearance, career aspirations, sexual harassment, gender equity, differing societal expectations based on gender, and media representations of girls. According to Plan USA, “The goal of the research is to provide a resource for policymakers, media, and others who want to understand how children are internalizing inequality and how their views may take shape.” The full 134-page report was released in September 2018; a 14-page Executive Summary is also available.

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Announcing the 2020 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards

We have come full circle on one of the most astonishing years for women’s philanthropy in human history. And yet, as we all know, there is still so far to go. As part of that process of moving forward for gender equality, it gives me great pleasure to announce this year’s Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards.

This year we decided to do something different and opened up 6 of the 10 awards to community voting. We had 689 respondents to our voting survey, and the results confirmed the growing interest in and competitive landscape of women’s giving and social movement-building for gender equality.

With the final four awards this year, we decided to open up some new categories, not necessarily based on Philanthropy Women’s coverage, in order to recognize groundbreaking women journalists and filmmakers contributing to gender equality movements. Oftentimes, this kind of media work is very philanthropic in nature, as women journalists and filmmakers often give of their own time and resources for years and years (sometimes decades!) in order to educate the public on critical issues.

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Top 10 Posts of 2019 on Philanthropy Women

The Top 10 Posts of 2019 covered a wide range of topics including domestic violence, giving circles, women in finance, and more.
The Legacy of Jennifer Schlecht and the Tragedy of her Loss

Today, we want to believe we are so connected and empowered as women, and yet, Jennifer Schlecht was not connected enough to be protected from the brutal murder of herself and her precious daughter at the hands of her husband. We got many times the average number of page views for this post. Ariel Dougherty did an excellent job of combining resources and analysis in the piece, but the fact that it got so many page views also suggests that this story was vastly under-reported in the mainstream news. While I’m proud to hold up the banner and call attention to this terrible domestic violence tragedy, I also urge other publishers and news outlets to take up the discussion of domestic violence by publishing articles about victims like Jennifer Schlecht, so that we can find more solutions that address violence against women.
At $37 Billion, Did MacKenzie Bezos Get a Fair Divorce Settlement?

This post also got a much higher number of page views than most of our posts. It seemed to hit a nerve, with several commenters dissenting from my opinion that MacKenzie Bezos may have deserved more. It’s an important question that needs further exploration from funders: how to ensure that women are adequately compensated in divorce. The Bezos divorce could have produced billions and billions more for philanthropy, had the financial settlement been a more 50/50 arrangement. In any case, it got people talking, and paying attention to, the philanthropy of MacKenzie Bezos.
L’il Rhody Smashes the Patriarchy, Protecting Roe and Repro Rights. How Did They Do It?

With women’s reproductive rights being stolen away in parts of the country, it was heartening to report on Rhode Island’s successful passage of protections for access to reproductive health care. We hope this article provides a template that other states can consider as they find ways to protect a woman’s right to choose.
We Are Unstoppable: Giving Circles Organize Into a Movement

This piece started out on PW and was later reshared with some changes on Ms. Magazine. It tells the story of how women are finding new ways to fund social change with networks and circles. Since this article was published, the Gates Foundation has invested $2 million more in building the infrastructure for giving circles to continue to expand across the U.S.
Investing in Girls Who Invest

The strategies for moving more women into the finance sector are expanding, and new techniques, such as training women in college to practice investing skills, are gaining more traction. This story was widely viewed, and has a great follow-up in the news this past month, with Coca-Cola’s announcement that it will give $1 million to Girls Who Invest.
Male Domination Prevails: Detailing Media’s Gender Imbalance

The lack of women in media was a major topic this past year, with films including This Changes Everything showcasing the data that proves that women continue to lack employment in and coverage by all forms of media. Laura Dorwart’s piece on The Women’s Media Center’s research and its ongoing fight to call attention to this problem did its job: it got seen by lots of eyeballs, and hopefully added to the momentum to actually do something about this problem.
Women Give More from Less

This piece on Paypal’s research on women’s giving patterns also had a very high page view rate, with lots of shares on social media as well. People are drawn to knowing more about the curious fact that women have less to give, and yet manage to give more than men. Bottom line: more research like this needs to happen, so we can begin to understand the way that gender and philanthropy relate to each other and influence social change.
#WomenFunded2019: Highlights from the First Day

One of the most important conferences this past year was WFN’s September conference in San Francisco. So many amazing leaders attended, and the speakers and workshops provided for a deep and purposeful convergence of women givers and their allies.
Shaping the Shapers: How WMM Trains Women in Social Change

Women Moving Millions continues to show itself as an organization with great passion for moving the needle on gender equality. This interview by our Senior Writer Maggie May with WMM’s new Executive Director, Sarah Haacke Byrd, helps to drill down on how this network is refashioning itself to train a cadre of feminist givers who know the strategies for high impact.
California Gender Justice Funders Launch $10 Mil Culture Change Fund

Another post that saw a high rate of page views was our piece on the Culture Change Fund, spearheaded by the Women’s Foundation of California. This cross-sector collaboration of corporate, private, and public foundations was a story of great interest to our readers, many of whom are working at different levels to build stakeholder alliances for gender equality movements.
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Movement Building for Women: An Interview with Teresa Younger

For a foundation started in 1972 by four white women (Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Marlo Thomas), the Ms. Foundation has been one of the frontrunner funders pushing to increase strategic focus on women and girls of color. Currently, this oldest and first foundation for women is on year one of a five-year strategic plan to invest in women and girls of color, for the purpose of advancing democracy and creating a more gender equal country and world.

Teresa Younger, Ms. Foundation President and CEO, recently spoke with Philanthropy Women about bold new steps the foundation is taking to advance rights for women and girls.

Among other goals, the five-year plan allocates $25 million toward organizations led by and for women of color. “Women of color have been on the frontlines of nearly every movement in this country — from reproductive rights, immigrant rights, and civil rights, to economic justice, and criminal justice reform,” notes Teresa C. Younger, Ms. Foundation for Women President and CEO.

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