Editor’s Note: It gives me great pleasure to introduce Cynthia Reddrick as a guest contributor to Philanthropy Women. As awomen’s philanthropy scholar and experienced planned giving consultant, Reddrick invites us to celebrate Black Philanthropy Month by honoring Oseola McCarty, a Black female philanthropist who left an inspiring legacy of generosity.
August is Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), an opportunity to amplify the power and influence of Black women donors and philanthropists. Created in August 2011 by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network (PAWPNet), Black Philanthropy Month allows us to take time to globally celebrate African-descent giving.
The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art of Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, Indiana recently received an estate gift of about $4 million from the late art historian and philanthropist Jane Fortune, who died in 2018. Fortune founded the non-profit Advancing Women Artists (AWA) in 2009 with a mission to research, restore and share women’s artwork, particularly in Florence, Italy. She was known to be a passionate explorer and advocate for the preservation of historic pieces by women and was affectionately dubbed “Indiana Jane” by the Florentine press, according to Smithsonian.com. The new gift to the museum consists of a collection of works as well as funds to back future research and initiatives that will support women artists.
The recent Kavanaugh hearings resurfaced a very old story about gender, power, and the truth of experience. When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testified, people everywhere had to grapple with the fact that early life relationships, and particularly sexual traumas, can drastically impact our lives.
In fact, while our dominant culture remains in denial about the prevalence and negative effects of sexual violence, thought leaders in feminist psychology and sociology have been calling attention to the problem for decades. While sexual violence is an extreme form of domination and abuse, these thought leaders have demonstrated how gender-based violence is part of a continuum of control and exploitation that most women begin to experience more of as they hit adolescence.
As David Brooks wisely points out in his recent op-ed, Two Cheers for Feminism, “For thousands of years social thinking has been dominated by men — usually alpha men — who saw life as a place where warriors and traders went out and competed for wealth and power. These male writers were largely blind to the systems of care that undergirded everything else.” Brooks references Carol Gilligan, Niobe Way, Alisha Ali and Pedro Nuguero, in their new anthology called “The Crisis of Connection,” for their ability to identify how the stereotypically masculine values of “self over relationships, individual success over the common good, the mind over the body, and thinking over feeling” have perpetuated harmful gender dynamics in relationships.
One way to reduce the harmful effects of gender inequality in our lives is by consciously practicing a different kind of being with our power — experiencing ourselves as having “power-with” other people, rather than “power-over” them. Despite growing social inequality, in our personal relationships, it is still possible to practice a “power-with” approach. One such approach is facilitated by a process called Safe Conversations.
I recently attended a Safe Conversations training in New York, so that I could learn and teach others the skills to help people unpack the patriarchy and power dynamics in their personal lives. After decades of research and practice, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix have come out with Safe Conversations, a new way to engage in relationships, that makes it possible for people to experience deeper empathy and understanding.
How Does Safe Conversations Work?
The training I attended in New York involved multiple practice sessions, during which we broke out into groups of three’s and practiced being both members and facilitators of the structured conversations. Within an hour of beginning the training, we had begun to engage in conversations that went deeply into a space of emotional revelation. Facial expressions softened as the groups tried out speaking to each other with new, unfamiliar sentence stems like, “Let me see if I’ve got that. You said…” and “Is that what you are feeling?” and then listened in new ways, with an ear toward being able to reflect back as much of what they heard as they could.
This wasn’t the first time I had practiced the techniques. I had attended an online workshop with my husband in February of 2017, and since then, had been introducing the technique in small ways in my private practice, with astonishing results. I had seen mothers and daughters reach new understandings of their longtime emotional struggle. I had seen couples practice the technique and come away with a renewed commitment to making their relationship work. Even as people sometimes felt awkward or resisted, I saw how speaking in this new way, using Safe Conversations, was impacting them positively.
Safe Conversations helps us identify ways in which we experienced early relational challenges, and how those challenges impact our identity, as well as our sense of hope and possibility about ourselves, our families, and the larger community. The process teaches us how to both share appreciation for people in our lives, and how to safely tell the story of our own emotional challenges. Built into the process of Safe Conversations is a feedback loop that fosters validating and empathizing with each other’s emotional struggles. Essentially, Safe Conversations teaches us that everyone needs to be part of the answer to a more gender equal and relational world, and gives us the skills to connect better with others.
A parallel process of sorts has been building momentum in philanthropy recently with a strategy called participatory grantmaking, which helps donors and grantees build stronger relationships. Participatory grantmaking invites donors and grantees to become partners, with the central premise that the grantee has the experience to lead the way toward solutions. Organizations like NCRP, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and the Fund for Shared Insight, are adding to the chorus of philanthropy experts calling for more participatory grantmaking, with many large foundations joining the Fund for Shared Insight in the past year.
Three decades ago, Helen LaKelly Hunt was part of a small army of pioneering feminist founders of some of our country’s largest and most successful women’s foundations. By funding the start of these women’s funds, Hunt helped establish new community hubs for participatory grantmaking. Most women’s funds have been under-recognized practitioners of participatory grantmaking since inception, and these practices — of moving into relationship with the grantee, listening to and incorporating their feedback, and even of including grantees on boards and in the grantmaking process — have made women’s funds some of the most effective change agents in the philanthropic landscape.
In philanthropy, participatory grantmaking is teaching us to listen and value feedback in the donor-grantee relationship. This is a significant shift, but just as important are shifts that can take place in our own everyday relationships. With new techniques like Safe Conversations, we can all be stewards of stronger, more gender equal families and communities.
Editor’s Note: Kiersten Marek is trained as a Safe Conversations Leader and will be teaching her first Safe Conversations workshop on November 7, 2018. To learn more about future Safe Conversations workshops for both helping professionals and the general public, please email Kiersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full disclosure: The Sister Fund (of which Helen LaKelly Hunt is co-founder) is a Lead Sponsor of Philanthropy Women.
It is with sad heart that I write about the loss of Deborah Holmes. I had the privilege of working with Deborah in March of this year as I prepared to write about the history of women’s funding for progressive change. Deborah was tremendously devoted to her work, and was a fantastic collaborator in creating the ideas for my recent posts published on Inside Philanthropy and The Chronicle of Social Change.
Deborah Holmes will be honored at a memorial on June 14th at 2 pm at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
Several people have written about Deborah’s legacy since her loss on April 27, 2018. I thought of trying to provide excerpts, but each of the statements about Deborah seems to have its own integrity, so I am providing them in full below.
Cynthia Nimmo, President and CEO of Women’s Funding Network, wrote:
This evening I am writing to you, our many sisters throughout the network, to share the devastating news that Deborah Holmes passed away this morning, April 27.
Deborah learned two weeks ago that she had cancer. She was prepared to fight it with the tenacity she brought to everything. Despite her and her doctors’ best efforts, this final battle was lost. I know this comes as a shock and our team joins you in our grief and disbelief. Deborah was a very private person and had not wanted to share her news while she was on her healing journey. Just a week ago we talked about her wishes to get back to work as soon as possible, however, things turned very quickly and now she is gone.
I spent much of the past 3 days in the ICU with Deborah. It is important to me that you know that Deborah was at peace and she made sure to write that down so we knew. She liked her doctors and knew they were making every attempt to heal her. She was a long-time member of Grace Cathedral and they sent a Reverend over within minutes of her arrival at the ICU to pray with her. This morning we prayed with her to send her on her way home.
In true Deborah fashion, she wanted nothing to do with flowers or cards or people crying over her. When we asked her what her wishes were for her service, she said a service wasn’t important to her but we could all have one if we wanted. Deborah’s brother, Greg Holmes, will plan a service with Grace Cathedral to be held in May. Women’s Funding Network will be honoring her in every way we can think of to reflect the force for good that she was.
Deborah’s focus has always been on helping others, and to right the injustices women face – in particular women of color. We at Women’s Funding Network, will continue this work. For us, Deborah was far more than a Chief Communications Officer. She was my confidante, our big picture thinker, and a voice that ensured the intersection of race and gender was at the forefront at all times. She brought such vibrancy to our office, always playing music, bringing in home-made treats, and yelling out loud at the bad news of the day. As a CEO, it is a gift to work with such a leader. I speak for our team when I say we learned so much from Deborah. I respected her deeply and will miss her always.
Deborah Holmes was a member of the Global Press Board of Directors, which also issued a statement:
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Deborah Holmes, a member of the Global Press Board of Directors, passed away on Friday.
She was diagnosed with cancer just two weeks ago. This has been a shock to all of us who knew and loved Deborah. As we mourn her passing, we are also gratefully acknowledging Deborah’s legacy — her powerful commitment to justice and equality.
A former investigative journalist, Deborah spent the last decade at the Global Fund for Women and Women’s Funding Network where she worked to advance justice and equality for women around the world.
I first met Deborah in 2012 and she instantly became an advocate for the women of Global Press and their journalism. Deborah was always sharing Global Press Journal stories with friends and colleagues, passionately insisting that our journalism could change the world. And as a member of the Global Press board she co-created a strategic communication sub-committee and worked to advance our work in countless ways.
To honor her legacy, Global Press Journal will debut an award for exceptional coverage of racial justice in Deborah’s name. We’ll share more details about the award in the coming months. In the meantime, we extend our deepest condolences to Deborah’s family, friends and colleagues.
Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO, Global Fund for Women, also issued this statement:
It is with extreme sadness that I write to inform you that our courageous sister and friend Deborah Holmes died this morning peacefully. Deborah had breast cancer some years ago and it came back with force. Despite medical effort and Deborah’s own bold and good fight, the battle was lost to cancer this morning April 27, 2018. I write knowing that this news will come as a shock to many of you – it was Deborah’s wish that she fight this battle privately until the end, with the fortitude and resilience that all of us knew her for.
I was with Deborah for many hours of her last journey in the past few days. She knew everything about her illness and the medical interventions offered to her. She collaborated to make things better, but once she knew that the course of nature could not be reversed, she was at peace. She motioned me to give her the writing pad we used to communicate with each other and she wrote on it, “ I am at peace”. She died in the presence of her only brother, Gregory Holmes, and his wife Maria Holmes.
At the time of her death, Deborah was Chief Communication and Engagement Officer at the Women’s Funding Network (WFN) and the CEO of WFN gave her every possible support to the last minute.
Deborah worked for the Global Fund for Women from 2008 – 2017, just over eight years. In her time at the Global Fund for Women, she served as the VP of Communications (2008-2014) and as Chief of Staff (2014 -2017).
Deborah was extremely loved and respected by Board, staff, and partners of Global Fund for Women. As VP of Communications, Deborah played a key role in developing and institutionalizing Global Fund for Women’s communications strategy. She positioned Global Fund for Women as a thought leader on women’s rights issues in major media, and she led creative and successful efforts for the 20th and 25th anniversary gala years. She acted as a liaison to the board during the CEO transition in 2009, was an integral part of the leadership team and in the founding of the Staff Council, as well as taking on responsibilities for Human Resources. During her tenure as Chief of Staff and also head of HR, Deborah led the revision of policies to ensure equity and justice in our internal systems.
As a co-leader, Deborah was invaluable: she was our biggest cheerleader and our toughest critic. Her strength was contagious. Nothing could stop Deborah on a mission. She pushed organizations and people to embrace change and think differently. She challenged and supported staff to do better and to see a better future. She cared deeply about justice issues between people and she was not diplomatic about calling out racial injustice in this country and elsewhere. She could not tolerate injustice.
Behind Deborah’s strength also lay deep compassion, thoughtfulness, and kindness. She always welcomed new employees, she baked bread and cakes for the whole staff, she was an ear of wisdom and advice whenever she was called upon. She was a tireless champion of those she managed, and deeply loved by the team she supervised.
As Kavita Ramdas, my predecessor as CEO who hired Deborah, has so movingly and aptly noted, Deborah was: “a small package exploding with warmth, generosity, intelligence, style, and a passionate commitment to fusing beauty with justice…she understood the power of story. The power of women’s voice. The power of lived experience. The power of rising from the ashes and telling others it was possible. And, still we rise.”
Deborah’s savvy and commitment to justice was coupled with flair and incredible personal style. The fun part of Deborah were her shoes. We all wanted Deborah’s chic style, including shoes that matched her attire! She knew how to dress smart and travel light. Deborah never checked in luggage because she made good choices in what she selected and matched for travel.
Before coming to Global Fund for Women, Deborah was Senior Vice President of Fleishman Hillard and the Director of Public Relations & Marketing for the Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Missouri. An accomplished television news reporter and analyst for more than 30 years, Deborah worked for local and international news organizations and received numerous awards for investigative reporting and documentaries.
Throughout her life, Deborah was a passionate advocate for causes she cared about including racial and social justice and equity, political empowerment, and freedom of the press. She acted as Board President for Bridging the Gap and the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, and was the Chair of the Board of Wellesley Centers for Women. She also served on the boards of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Foundation, Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy, Association of Black Fundraising Executives, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of HIV/AIDS, Wesport Ministry in Housing, Global Press Institute, and many others.
To celebrate Deborah’s life, at her family’s request, please make a donation to a cancer organization of your choice in Deborah’s memory.
We have lost a sister and her life illuminates values that unite and inspire us all. As we all come together to mourn Deborah’s passing, let us remember and celebrate her remarkable, bold, and passionate life.
Happy Women’s History Month. There are only a few days left to this month of focusing on the value of gender equality and the arc of its progression throughout time. I spent a lot of time this month researching and thinking about how women’s funds feed social change. Most of what I learned reinforced the theory that women’s funds represent a unique approach to philanthropy that the rest of the sector would do well to replicate.
My last piece for Women’s history month on this topic is published at Daily Kos, a site dedicated to the larger sphere of progressive political change.
As Philanthropy Opens Up, Women’s Funds Show the Way
Something unusual happened recently in philanthropy: Bill and Melinda Gates opened their annual letter by answering 10 “tough” questions from the public about their philanthropy. The Gates’ Q&A is just one example of philanthropists becoming more responsive to the public. Funders are growing more aware of the value of engaging with the communities they seek to serve. The Fund for Shared Insight (FSI) which is dedicated to bringing more openness to philanthropy, is cultivating this trend; it added five new foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this past year: Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, James Irvine Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Omidyar Network, bringing the number of funding partners in the collaborative to 39.
What a great way to start the day, with my daily news search for the term “philanthropy women” turning up an article on Forbes that discusses both our fiscal sponsor, Women’s Funding Network, and one of our spotlight organizations, Women Donors Network. The article also talks in detail about other work we’ve covered, including Emergent Fund’s rapid response funding for the Resistance, and the role that Donna Hall and WDN have played in bringing together progressive funders this past year.
I won’t be a spoiler for you — you can read Marianne Schnall’s fine article here. But it’s interesting to note that we reported on many of the funders and organizations in depth over the past year, and now here they are all rounded up in another article published on a much larger mainstream publication, and by such a reputable writer. Schnall has a resume that is bursting at the seams with knowledge and experience in the field of feminism, including being the founder and publisher of Feminist.com since 1996, and having two feminist book titles to her credit.
While I try to stay reality-based about the value of Philanthropy Women as a micropublisher, I can’t help but wonder if other feminist writers, when researching their articles, are googling terms like “philanthropy women” and “feminist philanthropy” and are turning up some of our content in the process. In any case, I am glad to see the enhanced attention to the important work being done by WDN, WFN, Groundswell, Emergent Fund, and all of the other women’s philanthropy leaders discussed in Schnall’s article.
A new volume for feminism history buffs has arrived on the shelves — and it’s a biggee. The Feminist Revolution is based in history, the book reflects the current zeitgeist of the women’s movement, which is continuing to grow and become more intersectional. Roxane Gay, who gives the forward to the book, credits Kimberlé Crenshaw (one of our top posts is an interview with Crenshaw exploring her work to fund women and girls of color) with helping keep feminism “alive and well” and advance the movement in recognizing the complexity of identity in modern culture.
This is our first year here at Philanthropy Women, and these our inaugural awards. They go to recipients who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of gender equality philanthropy. These awards draw on the database of Philanthropy Women’s coverage, and are therefore inherently biased toward the people and movement activity we have written about so far. As our database grows each year, we will cover more ground, and have a wider field to cull from for the awards.
Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership
The need for coordinating funding efforts is stronger than ever, and certain leaders are doing much of the legwork to bring together different constituencies under the same tent. Donna Hall is one of those leaders. With her collaborations with others to create Emergent Fund, which was later joined by Democracy Alliance, Donna Hall has been networker extraordinaire for the purpose of bringing together donors who share a cause and purpose. For these reasons, we award her the Philanthropy Women Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership.
General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership
The Star Wars reference helps to conceptualize the longstanding nature of Helen LaKelly Hunt’s thought and strategy leadership in feminist philanthropy. Like high-ranking General Organa of the Resistance, Hunt has weathered decades of storms for gender equality philanthropy and has emerged time and again with more strength and courage. Her multifaceted powers are an inspiration to many not only in philanthropy but also in history and social science, as Hunt has made a strong case for revising feminist history in her book, And the Spirit Moved Them. She has also helped create many of the women’s foundations that are the heart of grassroots feminism today. Along with all this, Hunt, in collaboration husband Harville Hendrix, has developed an amazing model for therapy called Relationships First (I know because I use Relationships First skills in my own work as a therapist and experience the way feelings change from anger to curiosity with the model.) For these reasons, we award Helen LaKelly Hunt the Philanthropy Women General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership.
One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy
Emily Bove is at the helm of Women Thrive Alliance, and does amazing work to bring the agenda of global gender equality into public view. This past year, Bove showed us the way SDG’s need to be the focus in order to coordinate efforts in the fight for gender equality. Bove continues to be a frontline advocate in political spheres for more attention to women and girls. For these reasons, we award Emily Bove the Philanthropy Women One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy.
Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy
Gloria Feldt, who tirelessly pushes the envelope for women’s leadership, also spearheaded a most excellent alliance this past year with Lyft, the up-and-coming taxi company giving Uber a run for its money. Feldt and her team at Take the Lead made Take the Lead Day, November 14, a Lyft discount day, and also got the rideshare service collaborating with local domestic violence shelters in Arizona to provide rides for survivors. Take the Lead Day had strong participation across the globe, with 217 cities and 26 countries around the world taking action for women’s leadership parity. Getting Lyft and others to sign on as sponsors was a great way to help corporations pay attention to gender equality. For these reasons, we award Gloria Feldt the Philanthropy Women Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy.
Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds
Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat started last year strong as her foundation led 100 Days of Action for Women and Girls. She finished up even stronger, launching Together We Lead, a women’s leadership initiative that brought in several corporate founding sponsors including Capital One, Deloitte, Nestle, Edelman, and Audi. Lockwood-Shabat is well-known in women’s philanthropy circles for developing and sustaining one of the strongest and most effective women’s funds in the country, with a particular focus on young women and girls of color. For these reasons, we award Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat the Philanthropy Women Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds.
She Persisted Award for Feminist Foundation Leadership
Every time a new political calamity would occur this past year, I would wonder who would be out front with a strong statement and response from the feminist community. Time and again, the early and often responder was Teresa C. Younger and the Ms. Foundation for Women. Younger also had a hand in writing A Blueprint for Women’s Funds: On Using Finance as a Tool for Social Changewhich helps to identify a path for restructuring finance with further integration of capital with the agenda of gender equality. For these reasons, we award Teresa C. Younger the Philanthropy Women ‘She Persisted’ Award for Feminist Foundation leadership.
Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality
Jessica Chastain narrated an important film that we covered this past year, I am Jane Doe, directed by Mary Mazzio, which has helped address sex trafficking of children in America, and expose how corporate and nonprofit interests cloak themselves in “freedom of speech” language as they fund the protectors of this lucrative life-destroying business. Chastain has since proven herself to be a powerful member of the coalition of Hollywood women coming forward for #Timesup, the follow-up to #Metoo, which demands accountability in the film industry for sexual harassment and abuse. For these reasons, we award Jessica Chastain the Philanthropy Women Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality.
Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership as an Organization
Starting and sustaining a new feminist organization in today’s regressive political climate is extra challenging, but good ideas and women just can’t be kept down. That’s what we see when we look at FRIDA, a new global feminist organization focused on social change. FRIDA is leading the way in grantmaking at the grassroots for media and attention to gender equality in places like Poland, Egypt, and Colombia. For these reasons, we award FRIDA the Philanthropy Women Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership in Women’s Philanthropy.
Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality
CREDO gives a large percentage of its corporate philanthropy dollars to gender equality, and Ray Morris, as CEO of CREDO, appears to be continuing the company’s 30-year commitment to gender equality funding. In fact, gender equality accounts for about 11.7% of CREDO’s funding for progressive causes. Imagine if every corporation gave 11.7% of their philanthropy dollars to gender equality. We would be able to accelerate the progress of gender equality movements and reach critical mass sooner. For these reasons, we award CREDO Mobile the Philanthropy Women Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality award.
League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy
No awards list for gender equality philanthropy would be complete without acknowledging the significant role of the NoVo Foundation, which has devoted substantial funds to address the rights and freedoms of young women and girls of color. One of the larger grants that NoVo recently made was to the Young Women’s Freedom Center in California, to fight for girls involved in the juvenile justice system, who are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized young women in our communities. Co-founded by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, NoVo Foundation provides an excellent model for how couples can partner for gender equality philanthropy. For these reasons, we award NoVo Foundation the Philanthropy Women League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy.Read More
I am pleased to announce that the Women’s Funding Network has agreed to serve as Philanthropy Women’s fiscal sponsor for our not-for-profit publishing work. This partnership will help us to raise funds to make Philanthropy Women a more potent force for educating the community about how women in philanthropy are driving social change.
The Women’s Funding Network (WFN) grew out of a 1984 joint meeting of the National Black United Fund and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, where participants discussed creating an organization exclusively for women’s funds. By 2000, WFN had grown into a network of 94 member funds and foundations with over $200 million in assets, deploying $30 million a year in grants. In 2003, WFN received a $5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which enabled significant growth. Today, WFN continues to expand, with over 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning 30 countries, and continues to collaborate with other philanthropic powerhouses like Kellogg, the Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation, to address gender equality globally.
When I first received my copy of Feminism from A to Z, I admit I was dubious. How well would a teenager appreciate being given a book whose contents were organized by the first letters of the alphabet?
But I was so wrong. In fact, the book immediately addressed my first concern by explaining its reasons for its organizing format. And as I began reading each of the chapters, it only took me until about letter D to realize I had just discovered a gold mine of ideas for how to work with young women to build feminist awareness into their identity.