Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Jessica Ryckman, Director of Fellowships at Equal Justice Works.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
A: Right now our nation is facing an unprecedented wave of setbacks that threaten basic human rights previously protected by law. Millions of Americans cannot afford legal assistance when facing life-changing situations, and a 2020 study found that there is only one legal aid attorney for every 10,000 people living at or below the poverty line. This is leaving a gap in our justice system at a time when access to legal aid is more needed than ever.
When I began my career, I was aware of so many attorneys who dreamed of working in public service but were hindered by finances, equity, and accessibility. The cost of a legal education precluded many from entering public interest law upon graduation – or even discouraged attending law school at all. There were also fewer resources at law schools for first generation graduates, like me, who were interested in public interest law but lacked familiarity and mentors to help navigate the legal landscape and make educated choices about how to achieve a career in public service.
Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece is from Jamie Allen Black, CEO of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, in response to a recent opinion piece from Jeannie Infante Sager.
As Jeannie Infante Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, points out in her recent Philanthropy Women article, MacKenzie Scott, the world’s most famous female philanthropist, has embraced “trust-based” philanthropy.
Yet the conversation about Scott leaves one fascinating thing unsaid: She’s female and a philanthropist, but she doesn’t give like a female philanthropist.
I recently took the time to read Lighting the Way, a new report from Shake the Table and The Bridgespan Group. These two entities came together to enhance our understanding of the connections between feminist movements and global philanthropy, and to provide some strategic guidelines on how to expand this work.
In order to formulate these guidelines, the group conducted 43 conversations with high-net-worth individuals, institutional funders, and leaders of feminist movements. Here is a quick summary of the five guidelines they created:
Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece by Jeannie Infante Sager, Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, explores the implications of recent philanthropic giving from MacKenzie Scott.
MacKenzie Scott’s recent round of donations brings her total giving to more than $12 billion, benefitting 1,257 nonprofit organizations since 2020. With 60% of her gifts supporting women-led organizations, this is a transformational moment for the visibility of women’s roles in philanthropy and is redefining what it means to give.
It’s hard to render me speechless. I am accustomed to speaking and responding frequently. As a healthcare provider, it is a big part of my job. And when COVID happened, as an editor and writer, I took extra time and energy to create a COVID 19 special edition to call attention to women’s leadership at that critical juncture.
But as a writer and as an American, I have been rendered speechless over the last week since the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
It is impossible to imagine the horror of the parents and families of these innocent children and teachers. And to read that one fourth grade girl called multiple times begging for the police to come — it just brings me to a place of utter speechlessness for the degraded state of our country. We are truly a nation of savages. Or perhaps even worse than savages — people who will knowingly and willingly put children in harm’s way.
Well hello my philanthro community! It’s great to be back at my Philanthropy Women dashboard, ready to share some insights on feminist giving and dive into the latest news on gender equality.
This week, I’d like to discuss the newest report from Women’s Philanthropy Institute entitled Racial Justice, Gender and Generosity. The report explores the giving trends of a sample 2,073 US households surveyed in May of 2021, and asks them questions about their involvement with and giving behavior related to racial justice causes.
The report uncovers some significant findings, including that more than 4 in 10 U.S. households (42.0%) supported or were actively involved in racial justice protests of 2020. This was a surprisingly high number in my mind, one that gives me renewed hope for our country and the shared value we place on racial equality.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series featuresVeronica Colón, executive director of Puerto Rico Women’s Foundation.
What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I wish I knew how small accomplishments and experiences were leading to big changes. I’ve had quite diverse professional experiences, from a research assistant to prominent investigators at NIH, to executive assistant to a Chairman of an international telecommunications company. There was a point in my career life, where I thought the multidisciplinarity of my background would hurt me in finding the space where I wanted to be, when in reality, it has given me the tools I need for this new endeavor. Our Foundation is relatively new and though it started in a good position, there is still a lot to do to build its presence and continue its growth. Now I have the necessary skills to get us there. Trust the process.
Well, hello my donor activist friends! Welcome to another week of exciting feminist philanthropy news, as well as my weekly discussion of happenings related to gender equality at large.
This week I took a deep excursion into literary culture and read Assembly by Natasha Brown. This novel caught my eye because it was by an author who had a background in financial services and math, yet when I picked up the book and read a few lines, I felt a deep sense of kinship with the words.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers about this book because it’s really a wonderful process to absorb the story without any preconceptions in mind. The story takes a narrative path that I can only describe as an anti-romance, and yet it felt strangely rich and satisfying to me as a reader.
As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, one of the highlights so far has been the February 2022 edition of Meet the Philanthropist, my virtual interview series with leading women philanthropists and leaders in philanthropy.
This time, I had the distinct pleasure of a discussion with Chief Program Officer of California’s Rosenberg Foundation, Kendra Fox-Davis. I was thrilled to speak to Kendra, who is returning to have this conversation as a bit of a follow-up from the WOC Symposium in November. Everything she shared was so inspiring, and I knew she was the perfect person with whom to explore, remember, and embrace for Black History Month, particularly in the realm of fundraising and philanthropy.
Well hello, my philanthro-lovelies! I hope you are doing well, and are ready to dive into some more feminist giving news!
Today I’d like to start with a quote from MacKenzie Scott, who has outstripped her ex-husband’s lifetime of giving in just two years. Here are her words from when she made her promise to fulfill The Giving Pledge: