Gloria Feldt: Take Risks and Build Big for Social Change

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.

gloria feldt
Gloria Feldt, Founder of Women Take the Lead and former Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1996 to 2005.

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.

Feldt married her high school sweetheart at age 15 and had 3 children by the time she was 20. She began her professional career as a Head Start teacher for five years, and went back to school as a young mother. In the process of writing a paper for a science class, Feldt chose to profile the local Planned Parenthood affiliate in West Texas, interviewing the local President, nurse practitioners, and board members.

Read More

The List of Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy is Growing, and We Need Your Help

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.

Speaking of inclusiveness, we want to make the process of establishing this list more inclusive, by asking for nominations from the public. So please, use this contact page to send me your nominations or leave them in the comments below. Make sure to say which category you are nominating someone for.

The point to all this list-making? I believe that the more women in philanthropy can be seen by the larger public, and the more their strategies can be known and replicated, the stronger movements for women’s leadership and gender equality will become. So please join me in identifying and celebrating this growing trend in social progress.

Categories for the Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy

  1. Emerging Leaders — These are women leaders who have not yet ascended to a highly visible position in the landscape of philanthropy, but appear destined to do so.
  2. Network and Collaborative Giving Leaders — The donor network and giving circle women leaders who are forging new paths for philanthropy.
  3. Thought and Strategy Leaders — Women leaders in academia, media, or journalism who are helping to conceptualize and amplify the world of women’s giving.
  4. Corporate Giving Leaders — Women leading our corporations who are putting gender equity high on the agenda and working it into the fabric of the corporation as thoroughly as possible.
  5. Foundation Leaders — Women who are making gender equity a priority in the country’s largest and most influential foundations.
  6. High Net Worth Givers — Women of substantially higher net worth who are also very active in the world of giving.
  7. Feminist Foundation and Women’s Fund Leaders — Women who are making feminism part of the central platform of their funding work.
  8. Celebrity Women Leaders — Women who use their stardom as well as their philanthropic prowess to move the needle on gender equity.

Read More

A Global Telecomm Giant Focused on Women’s Empowerment

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. 

vodafone
June Sugiyama, Director, Vodafone Americas Foundation

Until recently, Vodafone Americas Foundation had three areas of grantmaking: sparking innovation, improving lives, and strengthening the global development sector. With its fourth newly added grantmaking area, Vodafone is funding initiatives that leverage technology in improving education and opportunity for women and girls.

Read More

Taking Cues Globally from Leaders of Women’s Empowerment in Philanthropy

Cherie Blair, Founder, The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

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.

Hopefully the Cherie Blair Foundation won’t lose any of its funding in the coming age of Trump, though one of its donors has been The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State. The Foundation also counts among its donors the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dell, J.P Morgan Chase, and Bank of America, and many others. So while the Foundation is based in Europe, it clearly has a large American donor following.

Founded in 2008, The Cherie Blair Foundation appears to have a keen understanding of the role that corporations can play in building women’s economic power and independence. In an interview with Susan McPherson for Forbes, Blair lays out the reason why corporations are so important to the gender equality agenda. “The private sector has a crucial role to play in driving women’s empowerment. It accounts for over 90 percent of jobs in the developing world, so it’s perfectly placed to bring more women into its workforces and supply chains, pay them fairly and promote them into leadership roles,” says Blair.

Another essential point Blair makes is about not only giving women the technology to be connected online, but also helping them develop the skills to use that technology. Her Foundation has done some groundbreaking work in communicating with women via mobile technology to help shift gender norms and attitudes, as well as build women’s economic empowerment.

Source: How Cherie Blair Is Fighting For Women’s Economic IndependenceRead More

Launching Today: Knight Fdn Funding New Nonprofit Journalism

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, VP, Journalism, The Knight Foundation

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.

Read More

Jacki Zehner: “The Case Has Been Made” for Gender Equity in Business

Jacki Zehner, chief engagement officer for Women Moving Millions, with board member Susan Morrison.

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.

Read More

Gender Matters All the Time: 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.

Read More

Neva Rockefeller Goodwin: Activist Investors Steering Social Change

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? Having a chance to talk to Neva Rockefeller Goodwin gave me a window into what the Rockefellers are doing these days.

neva rockefeller goodwin
Neva Rockefeller Goodwin

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.

Read More