Catherine Berman: Together, We Can Move Mountains

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Catherine Berman, CEO and Co-founder of impact investment platform CNote.

Catherine Berman, courtesy of Catherine Berman

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

Question what others deem impossible.

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?

Education. We see values-based investing as a game-changer for both investing and creating a more sustainable, equitable world.  We spend a lot of time helping investors and donors learn about the measurable difference they can make with their investments without sacrificing returns or operational ease. Many of us grew up learning the only way to support the causes and communities we care about was through grants. That is no longer the case. We see impact investing as an important opportunity to double-down on the causes you care about and a way to authentically represent your values with every dollar; where you spend, where you donate, and where you invest.

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Kamala Harris: “We’re Gonna Get It Done.”

“We’re gonna get it done.” These were some of the first words spoken by Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris in her phenomenal half-hour interview with Errin Haines, Editor-at-Large for the 19th, during the 19th Represents Summit on Friday. Harris’s plans to “get it done” refer to the upcoming Presidential election, and her goal to join Joe Biden in leading the U.S. out of one of its worst crisis periods in history.

Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris spoke with Errin Haines of The 19th on Friday, August 14th, giving details of her experience becoming the first woman of color nominated to the U.S. Presidential ticket. (Image Credit: The 19th video, Youtube)

Haines began the interview by asking what it was like for Kamala Harris to be in competition with women she respected and worked with, other candidates who were running for President and were in the lead to be asked to fill Biden’s ticket for the Vice President spot.

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What Kamala Harris Represents for Donor Activism and Inclusion

Kamala Harris has officially made history.

The landmark selection of Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate in the 2020 election represents a huge win for diversity in politics. What’s more, Harris represents the positive impact of campaigning, fundraising, and donating in the world of feminist philanthropy.

What does the selection of Kamala Harris say about the future of feminist funding? And what does it represent for how far we’ve come? (Image Credit: Joe Biden, Twitter)

Harris’s own presidential campaign says a lot about what we can do with feminist funding for political campaigns. Her decision to eschew funding from PAcs likely played a major role in her eventual drop from the 2020 race, but her commitment to funding sources outside the norm of American political campaign speaks to just how far we can go with feminist funding.

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Sheri West on Getting Closer to an Inclusive, Equal World

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sheri West, the Founder, CEO & Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders.

Sheri West is the Founder, CEO, and Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders. (Image Credit: Sheri West/LiveGirl)

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.

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Survivor Leadership to End Human Trafficking — Liveblog

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.

Webinar speakers for How Anti-Trafficking Funders Can Support Survivor Leadership included Amy Rahe (moderator), Claire Falconer, and Natasha Dolby.

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.

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Jenny Xia Spradling on Financial Well-Being with a Mission

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Jenny Xia Spradling, Co-CEO of FreeWill, a digital estate planning company that has helped more than 150,000 people make wills. Before FreeWill, Jenny worked at McKinsey and Bain Capital, where she helped launched the firm’s first impact investment fund. She is also a cofounder of Paribus, later acquired by Capital One.

Jenny Xia Spradling is the Co-CEO of FreeWill, a digital estate planning company that has helped more than 150,000 people make wills. (Image Credit: FreeWill)

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

You can have a job where you believe in the mission and have really fast career growth. I always felt like this was a trade-off in choosing a career – you could have growth or mission, but not both. The movement of social enterprises has really grown even over the past 10 years, and I think there will be more and more opportunities for people to have financial well-being while also achieving impact they are passionate about.

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Sexism in Ballet: Dance Data Project Report is En Pointe

A newly published Dance Data Project (DDP) “Season Overview” report indicates that men choreographed 72 percent of works produced by the United States’ top 50 ballet companies during the 2019-20 season. While the gender disparity is significant; the figure represents an improvement over 2018-19 when 81 percent of works were choreographed by men. Nevertheless, as the report indicates, ballet equity has a long way to go.

Tamara Rojo as Frida in “Broken Wings” by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Photo by Laurent Liotardo.

“The entire DDP team is inspired by the rising number of commissioned women’s works,” said Liza Yntema, DDP Founder and President. “Yet, inequity is still present in some of the most notable categories of performance. Works choreographed by men continue to overwhelmingly populate the main stage, while women’s works are often relegated to special programs and sandwiched into male-dominated mixed bills.” Yntema also worries that women’s gains will be lost if company directors perceive that hiring more men represents a “safe choice” in a turbulent economy. Such thinking will make it more difficult to attract the new audiences that are critical to ballet’s survival.

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(Liveblog) Equality Can’t Wait Challenge Q&A

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.

What is the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge?

The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge is a $40 million venture funded by Melinda Gates (through Pivotal Ventures), MacKenzie Scott, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and facilitated through Lever For Change, Pivotal Ventures, and Common Pool. Designed as a peer-reviewed and panel-evaluated contest, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge will offer grants of at least $10 million to at least three winning projects that help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030.

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The 12 Most Promising Trends in Women’s Philanthropy

Since I launched Philanthropy Women in 2017, and even before then, I have been paying close attention to the trends, as well as the big plays and strategy shifts, happening in feminist giving. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to enumerate some of those gender equality giving trends and other happenings, and flesh out what they mean both now and for the future of philanthropy.

feminist giving trends
State-based women’s funds such are getting more powerful as large foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation begin to recognize the value of their existing infrastructure to leverage social change. (Image credit: Women’s Foundation California)

1. Women Funders Are Getting More Ambitious With Their Strategies

I see women funders getting more ambitious with their strategies in many different ways, both in terms of the subjects they will fund as well as the approaches they are willing to try. This means they are doing bolder things with their money, which often translates into helping our culture to become more inclusive and knowledgeable about difference. For example, Mona Sinha, Chair of the Women Moving Millions Board, has done some amazing work lately supporting the documentary Disclosure. This film does groundbreaking work in terms of exploring the growing world of gender transition, helping this community to be seen and valued by society. Being unafraid to cross the barrier and fund the LGBTQ community is just one of the many bold strategies that more feminist funders are adopting more frequently.

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Deb Nelson of RSF Social Finance on Activating Money for Good

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Deb Nelson, Vice President of Client and Community Engagement at RSF Social Finance.

Deb Nelson, courtesy of Deb Nelson.

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

I wish I’d known what a powerful tool money can be, and how important it is to understand the way people think about and deal with money. Through my previous work at Social Venture Network, I grew to understand and leverage social capital, but I resisted working with financial capital until I understood how to use it to effect positive change. Women have been socialized to believe we don’t know enough about money and we should just leave it to the experts. But you don’t have to be an expert to use money well. You just need to question assumptions about money, understand what it can do and activate it for good. Now, I love working with money and collaborating with investors and donors.

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