Talking to Gloria Feldt is like talking to someone who has been through just about everything as a feminist leader, and yet somehow still finds the strength to tackle ongoing social and political challenges. The word unstoppable comes to mind.
In 1996, People Magazine captured her phenomenal early career in a story called The Voice of Experience. Indeed. And Feldt has just the kind of experience we like to talk about here at Philanthropy Women: experience that mobilizes funding for big visions.
Last year when I was writing for Inside Philanthropy, David Callahan and I co-authored a list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy. It was a big hit. This year, I have decided to follow up and develop eight shorter lists. The lists will start with Emerging Most Powerful Women.
Why start with emerging? Using emerging women leaders as our starting point helps us get a sense of how these women are influencing some of the changing dynamics of philanthropy. Some of the emerging women are quite different from the more established women leaders in philanthropy. Many of these emerging leaders take a strong stance on the need for philanthropy to be more integrated into the economy and inclusive of marginalized groups. A heightened awareness of the need for collaboration across sectors to achieve systemic change is also a key point for many of them.
As the economy and job market shift further toward globalization, we see more and more corporations amping up their attention to women and girls. An important new example of this is the Vodafone Americas Foundation, which in March of 2016 announced a fourth core focus: empowering women and girls in the technology field, and helping women use technology to live healthier and more prosperous lives.
With the change in leadership in the U.S. toward a more conservative, white nationalist mentality, it’s a good time to look around the globe and discover other leaders of women’s empowerment who are outside of the U.S. political sphere.
One impressive leader is Cherie Blair and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which is doing work internationally to help women develop business skills and earn income. Next year, the foundation will even be expanding its work to reach some of the most marginalized women in the world, those impacted by war in the Bekaa Valley, an area heavily impacted by the flood of refugees across the border of Syria.
We live in a world where the first thought about a piece of news needs to be: what is the source? With so much fake news and misinformation out there, the Knight Foundation is amping up its support of high quality community-driven media with new funding.
Jennifer Preston, Vice President of Journalism at the Knight Foundation spoke to Philanthropy Women this morning, the day of the launching of this new funding initiative.
She said most of those organizations receiving matching funds from this new initiative are Knight Foundation grantees from over the past three years. “Amid all of the concerns about fake news, supporting nonprofit journalism is a great way to address those concerns. Battle Fake news with smart news,” said Preston.
Jacki Zehner, chief engagement officer of Women Moving Millions, wants to see corporations—particularly financial services firms—put their money where the research is when it comes to gender equity, and more specifically, women’s empowerment, inclusion, and leadership. Why? It is not only in their best interest, but key to economic stability and growth.
Zehner is one of a new breed of philanthropic leaders who transitioned from a successful career in business, bringing that knowledge and experience with her. She knows the gap between talk and action on gender equity in corporations well. Though Zehner’s career was made in fixed-income trading, rising at Goldman Sachs to make partner in 1996, her passion was women’s issues, and that passion led her to a position in the firm’s executive office where her role was, in part, to champion diversity and inclusion.
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.
Like many who follow philanthropy, I pay attention to the Rockefellers. No family has done more to shape modern giving over the past century. But what are the Rockefellers doing these days to change the world?
For one thing, as most of us have heard, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund took the major step not long ago of divesting from fossil fuels—a move that received enormous attention, given that the family’s wealth is famously derived from Standard Oil. Less well known is that the Rockefeller Family Fund is also divesting.
One member of the Rockefeller clan deeply involved in these issues is Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, a fourth-generation Rockefeller who previously served as a trustee and vice chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She is also President of the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve in Maine.