On Thursday, September 10th, representatives from Girls Leadership joined a panel of youth leaders to discuss the findings of the new report Ready to Lead. The webinar facilitators included report author Dr. Charlotte Jacobs and report foreword author Dr. Monique W. Morris, Morgan Stanley’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Susan Reid, and Girls Leadership’s Chief Program Officer, Kendra Karr.
This interactive event included accounts from the young leaders’ lived experiences of the findings from the Ready to Lead report, which centers on the readiness of girls in Black and Latinx communities to step forward as leaders. The event drew out some fascinating and emotionally charged conversations, along with frequent encouragement from audience members in the comments.
Three weeks ago, I was elected as Board Chair of the Equal Rights Amendment Fund for Women’s Equality. As a funder and champion of women’s rights and economic justice, this call to step up could not have come at a more urgent time.
Each one of us has had many moments of reckoning during COVID-19. But as women of color, we have seen that COVID has treated us differently from the rest. Race has been identified as a co-morbidity and a risk factor, just like diabetes or heart disease. Our healthcare systems, our educational systems, and our systems for protecting essential workers are all struggling mightily against a dangerous and mysterious disease. Basic rights and systems have been demolished for women, and women of color are being particularly hard-hit, facing higher rates of job loss while also being expected to bear more responsibility for caregiving and educating children.
I’ve lived and breathed women’s philanthropy for much of my career, from the cubicles of corporate philanthropy, to the living rooms of philanthropists, and the open-office workspaces of nonprofits both large and small. While constantly assured I was in the most “game-changing” and “innovative” conversations on giving, rarely can I recall speaking about the contributions of Black women in philanthropy.
When you ask most people to name philanthropic leaders, the list is usually populated by their family members plus a few American tycoons. Industrialists of the early 20th century such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller come to mind, as do the technology and finance titans of today. Reflecting the historic racial divisions in financial wealth in America, philanthropic history and communities largely reflect the charitable actions of white ultra- wealth.
On Thursday, August 27th, we gathered for this month’s Philanthropy Women webinar: Women in Media Changing the Game. With guests Lori Sokol, Ruth Ann Harnisch, and Johanna Derlega, we discussed the under-funding and under-representation of female journalists and women’s media outlets, as well as ways funders can work to fix this under-representation.
How To Increase Funding for Women in Media
Editor-in-Chief Kiersten Marek kicked off the call with a reminder to breathe, and introduced today’s theme: Women in Media Changing the Game.
“We know now more than ever how important women’s leadership is,” she said. “COVID has taught us that women leaders in countries around the world have had much better success with managing COVID. And that’s just one example of the women’s leadership differential—the ability to prioritize health and the well-being of others.”
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
The fundraising field is quite secretive, as organizations fear that sharing their donor experiences would have repercussions on their relationships, or that they would have to compete for funds if they disclosed what opportunities they are working on. It’s so weighty to work in silos, feel isolated and overwhelmed with the “I have to do it all on my own” mentality. That makes fundraising burnout very real, with lasting effects on our well-being and health, and affects so many of us in philanthropy, especially those working in resource mobilization.
In the next ten years, how can we guarantee more women in positions of leadership? How do we address the lack of diversity in our organizations and communities? And how do we empower the next generation of women and girls to never take no for an answer, pursue their goals, and find boundless success?
LiveGirl seeks to answer these questions through leadership and skill-building courses that reach middle school girls where they’re at: By empowering young women to reach for the stars while lifting each other up, LiveGirl aims to support the next generation of brave, inclusive leaders.
“We coach girls to embrace their original, quirky selves and to understand that self-confidence comes not from others liking you, but from you loving yourself,” says Sheri West, Founder and Chief LiveGirl. “Our mentors show them that when they truly believe in themselves, they will become unstoppable and astounding things will happen!”
How can funding women’s media “change the game” when it comes to social change? When more feminist voices are heard, how will that impact the world?
In the next Philanthropy Women webinar, “Women in Media Changing the Game,” our Editor-in-Chief and superstars of women’s media will drill down on how funding women’s media is impacting social change. You don’t want to miss this one! Our star-studded guest roster includes Lori Sokol of Women’s ENews, Ruth Ann Harnisch of the Harnisch Foundation, and Johanna Derlega of The 19th, the new media epicenter for women in politics.
This webinar answers the question of what happens when more women are at the center of media: We’ll drill down on the ways that feminist funding can help elevate voices, amplify campaigns, and throw the label of “fake news” out the window.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL seriesfeatures Sheri West, the Founder, CEO & Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
Prior to founding LiveGirl, I worked at a large, multi-national company for almost seventeen years. So, I had to “unlearn” corporate bureaucracy in order to embrace the competitive advantage of nimbleness in a small organization. Yes, we vet ideas and have approval processes, but we focus on moving fast when responding to the world. We mine for ideas that our team feels passionately about, and then we make them happen. I feel it’s more important to do what you truly believe in and pursue what makes you happy and excited.
The anti-trafficking movement is one of the most important movements for women’s equality, since a large proportion of survivors of trafficking are women. But often, the voices of the actual survivors of trafficking get excluded from approaches to solving this problem.
Recently, the Freedom Fund hosted a webinar to discuss ways that funders can work to include survivors in leadership. Amy Rahe, interim director of the Freedom Fund, moderated the discussion. Guest speakers included Mahendra Pandey, Senior Manager, Forced Labor & Human Trafficking for Humanity United, Natasha Dolby, Co-Founder, Freedom Forward, and Claire Falconer, Head of Global Initiatives and Movement Building, The Freedom Fund.
On Tuesday, August 4th, the organizers of the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge hosted a Q&A via Zoom webinar. The discussion focused on the contest itself: what it was, how to enter, and more. Starting with an introductory presentation on the Challenge application and finishing with a lengthy Q&A, this webinar focused on audience participation and a clear explanation of the contest rules and goals.