At $37 Billion, Did MacKenzie Bezos Get a Fair Divorce Settlement?

MacKenzie Bezos, author, philanthropist and founder of Bystander Revolution, a nonprofit focused on ending bullying through kindness and inclusion. (Photo Credit: Bystander Revolution)

And why does it matter? you ask. Why am I prying into the business of a private marriage on Philanthropy Women? Well, as it turns out, we now know that the answer to the question — did MacKenzie Bezos get a fair divorce settlement? — has huge implications for philanthropy. MacKenzie Bezos is one of the newest signatories of the Giving Pledge, committing to give away at least 50% of her assets while living.

Divorcing in a community property state like Washington, where all resources are considered jointly owned in a marriage, MacKenzie was eligible to get as much as $69 billion. Much of the talk before the Bezos divorce was final speculated that it could come out as a 50/50 split, with MacKenzie getting an equal amount. The actual number — $37 billion — is quite a bit smaller than that. Of the $137.2 billion estimated net worth of Jeff Bezos, $37 billion is only 26.9% of that. A far cry from a 50/50 split.

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Texas Women’s Foundation Honors Seven Pioneers and Raises $600,000

Left to right: Retta Miller (event co-chair), Roslyn Dawson Thompson (TXWF president & CEO), Dee Dee Bates (Maura honoree), Ana Hernandez (Maura honoree), Sally Dunning (Maura honoree), Dr. HaeSung Han (Young Leader honoree), Ana Rodriguez (Young Leader honoree), Ashlee Kleinert (Maura honoree), Nicole Small (Maura honoree), Thear Suzuki (event co-chair), Effie Dennison (Texas Capital Bank), Brenda L. Jackson (selection committee co-chair), Sallie Krawcheck (keynote speaker). (Photo credit: TWF/Kristina Bowman)

For the Texas Women’s Foundation, 2019 has provided excellent opportunities to build on the groundwork laid by their 2018 transformation.

On May 2nd, the Texas Women’s Foundation held its annual Leadership Forum & Awards Dinner, presented by AT&T at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Like previous years, the LFAD event was an opportunity for the Foundation to look back on its achievements and work from the past year, but 2019 marked the first such event for the organization since its rebranding in 2018.

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Vodafone’s June Sugiyama Unveils New Mission for Women and Girls

Vodafone Americas Foundation celebrates ten years of winners from its Wireless Innovation Project. (Photo Credit: Vodafone)

The empowerment of women is going to require more intentional efforts to close the gender gap across all sectors of society. In the technology industry, corporate philanthropy has the potential to play a significant role in driving solutions to gender inequality.

On May 8th, 2019, the Vodafone Americas Foundation announced its new commitment to empowering women and girls through technology, utilizing new corporate philosophy, employee support, and a partnership with MIT Solve.

This is not Vodafone’s first foray into philanthropy: for the past ten years, the Foundation has committed itself to transforming communities around the world with technology solutions.

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Powerful Men Backing Feminism: Obama and Bill Surprise Melinda

In a video appearance, Barack Obama talks with Bill Gates about how to surprise Melinda Gates at the end of her book tour. “Please tell Melinda I’m committed to the Lift. We’re gonna do everything we can to keep pushing until every single girl has the rights and opportunities and the freedom to go as far as her dreams are going to take her,” said Obama in the call. (Image Credit: Twitter video)

Men make great feminist philanthropists, too.

On May 9th, during the final stop of the tour for Melinda Gates’ new book, The Moment of Lift, audience members in Seattle got a surprise video visit from former President Barack Obama.

In an introductory speech that shocked Melinda herself, her husband Bill Gates revealed that he had been unsure how best to introduce Melinda for the most important event of her tour, so he began “secretly scheming” with the former President to decide on the best method — and posted their “brainstorming” session on Twitter.

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Violence is Not Culture: Feminist Philanthropy Draws the Line

Feminist activists and philanthropists are helping to recognize FGM as a form of violence against women. (Image Credit: Global Citizen Video, The Truth About Female Genital Mutilation)

Recently I read a post on PRI.org by Rupa Shenoy entitled “The US movement against female genital mutilation is at a crossroads,” which discusses how laws to prevent FGM are developing and facing challenges in the US. The article is very informative about the status of the issue at this time, and helps to explore different ways to address the problem including community education and prevention efforts.

A salient point was made by one of the experts interviewed for the article, Mariya Taher, one of the co-founders of the anti-female genital mutilation advocacy group Sahiyo.  With regard to the doctor who performed the genital cutting surgery that was the subject of a federal prosecution on FGM, and who justifies the act as part of a cultural practice, Taher said:

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How Craig Newmark Philanthropies Empowers Women at Work

Empower Work helps employees reach out by text for support for work-related issues. (Photo Credit: Empower Work)

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece is by Jaime-Alexis Fowler, Founder & Executive Director of Empower Work, discussing how women, and anyone who needs outside support for a critical issue at work, can access this service, which is generously supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

Jobs are at the center of opportunity. They affect everything from earning potential and career mobility to financial security and emotional well-being. Access to career opportunities, and support along the way, can play a critical role in gender equity and inclusion—in the workplace and beyond.

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Helping Women Dancers Take the Lead in Choreography

Choreographer Penny Saunders (center left) with DDP founder and president, Liza Yntema (center right, with her arm around Saunders), with the cast of Saunders’ piece, “Testimony” at Grand Rapids Ballet, (Photo credit: Liza Yntema)

While women fill most of the shoes in ballet, leadership positions are still dominated by men, especially in choreography and artistic direction roles. A nonprofit called the Dance Data Project (DDP) aims to help more women in dance keep up to date with choreographic opportunities and ascend the ballet leadership ladder. With this goal in mind, in April 2019, DDP released a report on contemporary opportunities in choreography, along with monthly spreadsheets and calendar reminders of global deadlines. Earlier in 2019, it also published research on salary by gender for leaders in ballet, finding notable imbalances in favor of men, especially in artistic direction.

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Disrupting Philanthropy’s Status Quo by Convening on Gender

Surina Khan, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of California. (Image Credit: WFC)

“I recently went to the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery Alabama. It’s an incredibly powerful place, but the stories of women are not as prominent as they could be,” says Surina Khan, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of California (WFC), in a recent interview about the principles guiding her leadership.

The experience of visiting the Legacy Museum reinforced for Khan the importance of gender justice impact assessments — of organizations and institutions regularly assessing whether they are paying enough attention to gender issues. Since returning to the helm of WFC in 2014, Khan has taken an increasingly intentional approach to employing a gender lens to everything they do, meaning from caterers to banking services to program grantees, it’s all about doing business with partners who align with WFC’s values.

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Collaborating to Advance Justice for Women: Solidago Foundation

Sarah Christiansen of Solidago Foundation discusses their unique “solidarity economy” approach to funding.

Solidago Foundation might only have $5 million in assets, but you wouldn’t know it from their leadership among social justice funders, especially when it comes to supporting women at the grassroots.

“We are small, we don’t move a lot of dollars, but we move big ideas and are deeply committed to being in community in the arena where we hold our positional power,” said Sarah Christiansen, the Program Director for Environmental Justice and Inclusive Economy.

This outsized role is highly visible in the nascent funding for solidarity economy, an organizing framework that often overlaps with new economy, economic democracy, cooperative economy, and/or inclusive economy. It is characterized by economic initiatives and enterprises that are community-controlled, democratic, sustainable, committed to social and racial justice, mutualistic, cooperative, and respectful of diverse approaches.

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How This Nonprofit is Growing Support to End FGM Globally

Former First Lady Michelle Obama with Amy Maglio, Founder of the Women’s Global Education Project. (Photo: Chuck Kennedy for the Obama Foundation)

Recently when checking in with the Obama Foundation, we learned that they are highlighting the Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP) and its work in helping global communities end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). To find our more about how this work takes place, Philanthropy Women spoke with Amy Maglio, Founder of WGEP. Maglio founded WGEP over 14 years ago after she was a peace corp volunteer in Senegal, where she lived for three years.

“When I got back from Senegal, I thought about all the girls I knew who weren’t in school,” said Maglio. She was particularly concerned with the reasons that girls weren’t going to school, and wanted to find more ways to ensure that girls got into school and stayed in school in Senegal. Maglio began partnering with local community-based organizations in Senegal that were already working on these questions. Local organizers in Senegal identified that girls ended their education often because of healthy, safety, and cultural issues.

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