When Work Resonates with Your Values: Maricella Herrera of Ellevate

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Maricella Herrera, vice president of Operations and Strategy at Ellevate Network, “a community of professional women committed to helping each other succeed.”

Maricella Herrera (courtesy of Maricella Herrera)

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

When I first started out, I thought my career was already laid out for me; I was going into my first job at a bank, I would rise in the ranks, get more responsibility, go to business school, go back to finance and keep going until I retired. It was what was expected. I never really understood that to be completely happy, I needed to find something that didn’t just intellectually stimulate me, but that resonated with my values. I didn’t know you could build a career in an area that was about doing good. When I first started out, social enterprises were nascent. Not many people were thinking about them. I wish I had known I could find my passion and what I’m good at in one place, and that it wouldn’t necessarily be what everyone else thought I was supposed to be doing, and that that was ok. My background is in business and finance, so knowing I can use those skills to make a difference in the world is exciting.

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Pat Mitchell: How To Wield Power through Women’s Media

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Pat Mitchell, trailblazing media executive, Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated producer, Board Chair of Women’s Media Center and Sundance Institute, and Editorial Director of TEDWomen.

1. Your new book Becoming A Dangerous Woman chronicles your personal journey to becoming a media trailblazer. What was it like to go back and look at your life through the lens of your multifaceted role in advocating for women?

In this edition of our Feminist Giving IRL series, Pat Mitchell discusses overcoming imposter syndrome and becoming more engaged in fostering women’s media. (Photo Credit: Lynn Savarese)

I began the book four years ago when the Rockefeller Foundation president offered me a writing residency at Bellagio, encouraging me to extend my global mentoring and women’s leadership work by sharing my own stories from life and work. That residency was a great head start, but when I returned home, I found it hard to put aside the highly engaged ‘life’ I was committed to (and enjoying!) to write about my life, especially to look reflectively backward, as I’ve always been someone determined to keep moving forward.

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Michelle Obama Tours Asia to Talk about Girl Power

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday urged girls to resist the “imposter syndrome” she had felt on the way up and fight men for power, saying plenty of them didn’t deserve it.

On a trip to Asia to promote girls’ education, Obama contrasted her path to the top as a black woman with the easy presumption many men feel on their route to high office.

FILE PHOTO: Former first lady Michelle Obama attends the Girls Opportunity Alliance program with Room to Read at the Can Giuoc Highschool in Long An province, Vietnam, December 9, 2019. (Photo Credit: REUTERS/Yen Duong)

“I am telling you, there are a lot of people who don’t belong there,” Obama said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

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Heather McGhee to Direct Color of Change Board

Color Of Change Announces Heather McGhee as New Chair of Board of Directors

NEW YORK — Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice group, announced today that  Heather McGhee will become Chair of the Color Of Change Board of Directors. Heather has served as a member of the board for the past year, helping to guide the organization’s efforts to improve the lives and increase the representation of Black people in this country.  She will be taking the helm Monday, December 9, 2019. 

Heather McGhee, Former Executive Director of Demos, will become the new Board Director at Color of Change (Image credit: Twitter)

“Heather has been a key ally and strategic partner for years and I am thrilled to have her taking on the lead role of our board,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change. “This is a testament not only to her work in the fight for racial justice, but also to this moment in history when we as a country, and more specifically as Black people, require strong leaders to ensure our inclusion and representation in high level conversations. With so much work ahead for Color Of Change in a presidential election year, this is yet another sign of our growth — not only in size, but in impact.”

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Plan Gets Largest Donation Ever, Announces Deeper Focus on Girls

One of the most significant trends in the women’s philanthropy, and in philanthropy in general, is an increased focus on girls. Particularly on the global level, a growing strategy in philanthropy involves helping girls recognize and actualize their potential to lead, and by doing so make the world a better place for everyone.

Plan International is using its largest donation in history to scale up and deepen its work that places girls at the center of social change across the globe. (Image Credit: Plan International USA)

Into this evolving context comes an exciting new development: Plan International USA (Plan) recently announced a $12 million gift that will support the launch of programs that will reach 10 million girls globally over the next four years with improved access to education, opportunity, and health care. This is the largest private gift to date that Plan has received, and comes as a bequest from an anonymous donor. The historic donation will help support GirlEngage, Plan’s new programmatic model aimed particularly at girls.

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Finding Comfort in Solitude: Natalie Deehan-Clark

Editor’s Note:  This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Natalie Deehan-Clark, U.S. Communications Coordinator at the Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology for the Environment (CREATE!). From 2017-2018, Natalie traveled the world solo to explore sustainable solutions and community empowerment in developing countries. Natalie values storytelling as a catalyst for social change, particularly for equality and sustainability movements. 

Natalie Deehan-Clark, U.S. Communications Coordinator at the Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology for the Environment (CREATE!)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in college that you now know?

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Women’s Giving Circles In the News

The Philadelphia Inquirer just published an excellent in-depth piece on giving circles, and it prompted me to do a scan of the women’s giving circle activity out there.

As the Inquirer article explains, more giving in the circle form is happening now than ever, and much of it is being driven by women.

My favorite line from the Philly Inquirer piece is from Paula Liang:

“The collective giving movement has grown slowly but steadily over 25 years,” says Paula Liang, chair of Catalist, a national network of 75 women’s giving circles that represent 20,000 donors, “and now has reached what lots of us believe is a tipping point.”

Orchid Giving Circle, a Texas Women’s Foundation group, recently granted $219,500 to 14 community organizations in Texas. (Photo Credit: Orchid Giving Circle)

As the article reminds us, giving circles have quadrupled over the last decade, and the majority of the activity in the movement is women-led. Much of it is also focused on giving to women and girls, such as Project W, the giving circle featured in the Philly Inquirer article.

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VIVA Girls: How MADRE Funds Girls on the Margins

Around the world, girls and teens are exposed to violence, environmental devastation, societal exclusion and harm, and other difficulties. MADRE is an international women’s rights organization that typically partners with women-led groups dealing with war and disaster. It is now stepping up to specifically support girls’ growth as they face diverse challenges through a new grantmaking program: VIVA Girls.

Girls from Columbia working with MADRE. (photo credit: MADRE)

With a focus on listening to and uplifting girls’ voices and solutions, MADRE wants to reach “girls from marginalized communities who endure many forms of discrimination; what some people would call ‘girls on the last mile,’” Executive Director Yifat Susskind says. Susskind offered us insights into how VIVA Girls works. MADRE plans to devote about $3 million to this initiative during the next three years.

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Feminist Giving IRL: Next Gen STEM Innovators

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Talia Milgrom-Elcott, Executive Director of 100Kin10, an initiative that aims to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers in U.S. classrooms by 2021.

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

Talia Milgrom-Elcott (courtesy of 100Kin10)

I wish I had understood why it’s important to sweat the small stuff. Sweating the small stuff really matters. It means you care, it differentiates you, and it helps you learn about what you’re doing and how to get it done. I double-checked links, proof-read press releases and went over agendas minute-by-minute. But what I’ve learned, with perspective, is that the small stuff itself really is small. It only matters because, in total, it signals something bigger: that you care, that you’ve made the project your own, that you’re committed to excellence. It means you can be trusted to get your stuff done and get it done right. This doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. You can, and you will. And, that’s just fine. Because it’s about the trendline, and you’ve proven yourself someone who can be trusted. Realizing this makes it easier to see the big picture and experience joy in the work, too. 

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Back to School: Women Donors and Higher Education

Roberta “Bertie” Buffett Elliott, who donated $100 million to fund the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University, recently visited the campus. (Photo credit: Buffett Institute for Global Studies)

Institutions of higher learning are major recipients of philanthropic gifts, and received donations totaling nearly $47 billion in 2018 (a more than seven percent increase from the year previous). This rise is fueled in part by an increasingly wealthy, educated and philanthropically active group of women who are willing to make big ticket donations to colleges and universities.

Major female donors to higher education have included Roberta “Bertie” Buffett Elliott, who in 2015 gave her alma mater Northwestern University $100 million to fund the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The gift from Elliott, a member of Northwestern’s class of 1954, represents the single largest gift in the Evanston, Illinois school’s history.

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