Founded in Diversity, Texas Women’s Foundation Expands with Participatory Approach

Roslyn Dawson Thompson, President and CEO, Texas Women’s Foundation. (Photo credit: TWF)

Here in the Northeast, we don’t tend to envision Texas as having a culture of diversity and women’s empowerment. But Texas is actually one of the most diverse states in the union. Currently, 68% of women ages 15 to 24 are women of color. The reality for the biggest state in the union is that the minority is the majority among young people. Texas is also home to one of the country’s largest women’s foundations, the Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF). Previously known as the Dallas Women’s Foundation, in 2018, it rebranded as a statewide endeavor with plans to increase its impact across all regions of the Lone Star State.

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Tegan and Sara Want You to Be Proud of Your Feet

The Tegan and Sarah Foundation provides grants for camps serving LGBTQ+ youth. (Image credit: Tegan and Sara Foundation)

The Tegan and Sara Foundation, founded by the eponymous indie/folk/pop musical duo, has partnered with shoemaker Teva to launch a limited-edition, multi-colored sandal to support the LGBTQ+ community. The elevated rainbow sandal celebrates Pride Month, and Teva will donate a portion of sales to the Tegan and Sara Foundation (TSF).

TSF “fights for health, economic justice and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.” Launched in 2016 on a commitment to feminism and racial, social and gender justice, TSF is in solidarity with other organizations fighting for LGBTQ and women’s rights. The Foundation raises awareness and funds to address the inequalities currently preventing LGBTQ girls and women from reaching their full potential.

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Gender Lens Funding in Israel: A New Framework for Collaboration

Hamutal Gouri, former director of Dafna Fund, with co-author Tuti Scott, discusses specific steps we can take to grow feminist funding in Israel.

Editor’s Note: This piece is authored by Hamutal Gouri, founder of Consult4Good, with support from Tuti B. Scott, gender justice leader and facilitator for the Jewish Women’s Funding Network community learnings.

Aviva is a preschool teacher’s aide in Jerusalem. Despite being an experienced and dedicated professional who educates and cares for those most precious to us, she is employed only as a contracted worker earning low wages with no job security.

Aviva is not alone. Her reality is that of tens of thousands of women in caring professions who, more often than not, are poor working women. But Aviva and her peers are also members of local labor union chapters and therefore are also social leaders with years of activist experience. These women are fighting for their human rights while working in what are often abusive and underpaid employment settings.

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What Can Feminist Philanthropy Do to Address Sexism In Video Games?

Student game makers participate in teams at a Girls Make Games event. (Photo Credit: Girls Make Games)

The video game industry has long been thought of as a “boys’ club.” Even before August of 2014, when the events of Gamergate painted a horrible picture of the worst case scenarios for women in the games arena, representation of women in games and a lack of female game developers left much to be desired.

According to the International Game Developers Association, women make up 47% of the people playing video games, but only 22% of the people creating them. Likewise, women have been historically under- or misrepresented in games. Too often, female characters in games were (and still are) over-sexualized, cast as tired tropes like the “damsel in distress,” or used as reward fodder for gamers who would normally be expected to play males.

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Crossing the Tattoo Line: Nurturing Young Women Leaders in America

Women, and particularly younger women of color, made historic gains in the 2018 elections. What can women donors do to nurture more of this kind of leadership?

“Raise your hand if your biggest obstacle has been older women,” asked the conference moderator on a panel about building women’s political power. One hundred and twenty young, elected women raised their hands. From the dais, I thought back to my own experience as a 22-year old councilwoman. I know that being a young and female and elected is not easy, but the fact that our own sisters continue to be more hindrance than help is more than disheartening, it’s calamitous. It is the difference between building on a wave election and continuing to grow the number of elected women in the country, or once again stalling out. 

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Reasons to be Thankful: Gender Alpha and Record Voter Turnout

This is just a quick post before taking a few days off to enjoy time with family and friends. We will be covering several important events in upcoming posts, including a fascinating call on Gender Alpha with Suzanne Biegel and David Bank, where they discussed how “Gender Alpha” is all about identifying the specific dividends that gender lens investing yields. Biegel and Bank are co-producers of November’s Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London. Guests on the call included Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris Wealth Partners, which specializes in gender lens investing and research.

And one other quick note to acknowledge the significance of the recent elections, where voter turnout was higher than it has been in 104 years. That’s right — the last time voter turnout was as high as it was in 2018 was in 1914, before women even had the right to vote. Now that women and millennials are getting into the driver’s seat with social change, we hope to see even better voter turnout in 2020. I don’t know about you, but I am mighty thankful that people are finally getting the message (it seems!) about the importance of civic engagement. That could mean in 2020 we elect a President that gets us back on track in terms of valuing safety, diversity, and systems change to address inequality.

Coming up soon, we’ll also be providing some news on Women Moving Millions and its new Executive Director, Sarah Haacke Byrd, and will be sharing and discussing WMM new Board Chair Mona Sinha’s Education Curriculum for WMM members, which will be launching in February.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Jacki Zehner Lets It Rip As She Exits Women Moving Millions Leadership

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Kathy LeMay on Regenerating Courage as a Social Change Agent

Kathy LeMay, President and CEO, Raising Change, LLC, and Interim Executive Director, Women Moving Millions

Two themes are popping up more frequently these days in the gender equality sphere: fearlessness and rage. We’re going to explore both of these themes more here at Philanthropy Women in the coming weeks and months. Tomorrow, I will be interviewing Jean Case, Co-Founder of the Case Foundation and author of the forthcoming title, Be Fearless. Later in October, I’ll be attending a reading and book signing for Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad: the Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, and will be writing more about her work.

But today, on the subject of fearlessness, I want to share a piece written by Kathy LeMay, who is serving as Interim Executive Director for Women Moving Millions. LeMay read this piece at the Women Moving Millions Summit, and I can imagine how it helped to establish a unique tone for the event. Very few people have the courage to admit their vulnerability the way Kathy LeMay does, and admitting this kind of vulnerability is a big part of being a feminist in my mind, because it’s about including all parts of yourself in the conversation of change, including the vulnerable and wounded parts.

Finding My Quiet Courage by Kathy LeMay

A week ago this morning, I woke up and I couldn’t quite breathe. My breath was shallow and thin. I wasn’t sick. I didn’t have a summer cold. But I couldn’t fully breathe. My chest felt as though it had been filled with weighted, wet cement. I wasn’t surprised. The signs and indicators had been there for months. I thought I had outrun them. How about the hubris of imagining you can outrun loss and grief? I held court, convinced I outmaneuvered, outwitted, and dodged pain. I even smiled one day thinking that I had successfully sidestepped compounded losses. I knew. Of course, I knew. Yet, lying there on my bed not able to move my body or limbs, my mind which had so often been my source of liberation, fought the grief that had arrived at my doorstep and let itself in.

“Wait,” I thought, “I’ve always been strong, capable, competent. Shouldn’t that protect me from despair? I’ve built a full, productive, purposeful life. Wasn’t that enough?” I laid there trying to find a deeper breath, trying to find my resilience, trying to locate my courage. “Get up, Kath.” I couldn’t. The only thing I could feel was relentless surges of loss. I felt angry at myself, at what I perceived to be a petulant self-indulgence. I didn’t want to feel what I knew it was time to feel. Running through my head were the words of Joan Didion, “Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.” I was also thinking of C.S. Lewis, who wrote, “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

Quietly inside my mind I whispered words I don’t remember having said before in my life: “I am scared.” This doesn’t mean I haven’t felt scared. I have. The only difference was on this steaming hot August morning I admitted it to myself, for the first time. Quietly, then aloud. Saying those words, in that moment I thought I had lost my courage. I didn’t realize that by admitting that I felt broken, I had finally found it. […] Read more here.

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Jacki Zehner Lets It Rip As She Exits Women Moving Millions LeadershipRead More

Jacki Zehner Lets It Rip As She Exits Women Moving Millions Leadership

Jessica Houssian, Jacki Zehner, and Kathy LeMay, September 2018 Annual Women Moving Millions Summit in Seattle, sponsored by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Wow, what a read. I had to keep stopping at points to walk around the block and get my core energetics realigned. Jacki Zehner literally pours her heart out in this stunning blog post where she shares about her experiences rising to the C-Suite at Goldman Sachs, as well as her intense love for gender equality philanthropy, which has been expressed in over a decade of devotion to growing one of the most important organizations in gender equality philanthropy, Women Moving Millions.

Zehner starts by letting readers know that this writing is more or less automatic — that is, she is going for a Jacki Unfiltered here. What we learn by reading this piece is that Zehner is a complex leader with significant life experiences that inform her activism for women’s rights.

Ever-considerate of others, Jacki warns us that 14 pages have emerged from this attempt to shine a spotlight on her thinking and feeling life. She then goes on to enter into some of the most exciting (and sometimes painful) thoughts and memories. As just an example, check this out:

If there was such a thing as a ‘finance professional Olympics’, becoming a partner at Goldman, especially as a young woman, would represent a gold medal. Of course, I know that there may be someone who reads this and posts in the comments section something along the lines of “die you wall street whore” as they have in the past when I blog freely about Goldman, but so be it. To that potential person I say in advance, “I hope that has helped you feel better about yourself.” […]

Beyond unflinching glimpses like these into Zehner’s mind, the post also delves into many significant life events, including some serious traumas. Her writing is the kind of material that future (or present) movie-makers will want to read in order to gather key scene details for the inevitable biopic of Zehner’s life. For example, here is just one in a bulleted list breaking down the timeline of Zehner’s progression:

  • Finding Women Moving Millions – 2002 to 2009.  As the years from 2002 onward moved forward, I was spending more and more time with philanthropic groups focused on girls and women, and in particular women’s funds. My interest in supporting women’s leadership poured in to my work with various non-profits, and one of the main reasons I loved Women’s Funds so much. I had joined the board of the Women’s Funding Network, and it was there that I got to the know the incredible Chris Grumm. She became, and still is, a role model for me for courageous leadership. She is the one who invited me to consider joining the Women Moving Millions Campaign, as she was a co-founder of it. WMM at the time was a campaign to encourage women to make million dollar commitments to women’s funds. Again, holy shit, I could go on and on and on right here, but I won’t. The need to know piece for the rest of this story is that this moment was transformational for me. Why? Because the act of making that commitment, the moment of stepping onto a stage at the Brooklyn Museum to have a group photo taken by Annie Leibowitz to mark that moment in history where for the first time women of means came together to fund women at the million dollar level, helped me to see clearly what the next stage of my life would be about: helping to unlock the resources of high-net worth women to support other women, and more broadly, gender equality. […]

It’s quite wonderful that Zehner has the clarity to speak about these experiences and mark how these transformations happened for her. By doing so, she is increasing the chances manyfold that other women will get up their courage to do the same.

One other sentence toward the end really popped out at me for how it evoked the shared effort that Women Moving Millions summits are, and how this results in shared experiences that can refuel our courage and make us more powerful. Zehner writes:

The WMM summit 2018 could not have been more incredible
from start to finish. (My next long post will be about it all.) I am in awe of how beautiful the program was (thank you JESS), how perfectly it was executed (the WMM and TES team), how open people were (thank you attendees), how much people shared (thank you speakers), and how everyone trusted that we, WMM, had created a safe place for everyone to be their most vulnerable and by definition, their most powerful.  

I don’t want to overshare or overanalyze here. I just want to thank Jacki Zehner (as I have privately and will now publicly) for her brave years of service to the community through Women Moving Millions. And then point everyone to Jacki’s blog to read the post and let it open your heart and mind.

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Interview with The Woman Project: “Reproductive Freedom is Essential”

The Woman Project, a new 501(c)4 in Rhode Island, is working to pass statewide legislation for reproductive freedom.

One of the wonderful things about publishing on feminist philanthropy is getting to meet the folks on the ground in feminism, the people who are growing the movements that need to happen to make our communities more safe, secure, and inclusive.

I’m happy to share an interview I recently did with The Woman Project, a new 501(c)4 organization that started in South County, Rhode Island, and is looking to build the statewide movement to protect reproductive freedom. The Woman Project currently has the General Assembly in its crosshairs and is pushing to pass a bill that would codify protection of Roe V. Wade into state law.

Here’s a snippet of the interview I recently did with TWP:

1. We are curious about who you are and what kind of work that you do; would you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a clinical social worker by day and a feminist philanthropy publisher by night. I believe in the power of women to change the world and try to work toward that end professionally. As a therapist, I specialize in treatment for trauma, particularly for sexual assault. I also specialize a number of other issues including emotional issues related to financial problems and helping foster and adoptive families. I feel it is incumbent upon me to continuously update my toolbox as a change-work practitioner. Most recently, I became certified in hypnotherapy, to help refine my skills in communicating more fully with my clients in order to guide them toward wellness.

2. TWP has been working to pass a bill that codifies Roe V Wade into RI state law. We are interested in the ways that Reproductive Freedom impacts your life and the work that you do?

It is essential to the practice of health care at every level that reproductive freedom is maintained. As a therapist, I am perhaps more aware of this essential nature of reproductive health care because I am privy to the difficult decisions that women and men make regarding reproduction. I see it as part of my job to ensure that we have all options available reproductively.

3. When you think about your community what is something you would like them to know about Reproductive Freedom in RI? Why?

Planned Parenthood does an admirable job of continuing to be a resource for people in Rhode Island who need help with reproductive health care. There are also more options available for women reproductively and they need to be aware of all the options. We need to maintain the current levels of access to reproductive services for all women.

4. What are the best ways in your opinion to educate people about this issue?

I think we need to ask people to look at their own lives and notice the times that reproductive freedom played a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of themselves or others. When we are honest about how life works, we know that reproductive freedom is a necessity.

Read the rest here.

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Ecofeminism to the Rescue: Mary Robinson Launches New Podcast

Mothers of Invention, a new podcast featuring former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and comedian Maeve Higgins, will celebrate the fascinating world of feminist climate change strategy.

The Guardian reports that former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, is launching a new initiative to call attention to feminist solutions to climate change.

From The Guardian:

Women around the world who are leading the fight against climate damage are to be highlighted by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner, in the hopes of building a new global movement that will create “a feminist solution for climate change”.

Perhaps more revolutionary still, the new initiative is light-hearted in tone, optimistic in outlook and presents positive stories in what the originators hope will be seen as a fun way.

Called Mothers of Invention, the initiative will kick off with a series of podcasts showcasing the work of grassroots climate activists at a local level, as well as globally resonant initiatives such as the legal challenges under way in numerous jurisdictions to force governments to adhere to the Paris agreement goals. Scientists and politicians feature alongside farmers and indigenous community leaders from Europe, the US and Australia to India, Kenya, South Africa and Peru.

The podcast is a first for Robinson, who has focused on climate justicefor the last 15 years through her charity, the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and as one of the Elders group, after seeing at first-hand as UN commissioner for human rights the danger that global warming presents to women whose lives are already precarious.

Here at Philanthropy Women, we are tracking the grantmaking and strategizing that is happening in the ecofeminist space, from the new Roddenberry Prize seeking solutions to both climate change and advancement for women and girls, to the grantmaking done by the Gender Just Climate Solutions award, which makes grants that share both feminist and climate strategies. We’re also showing how women’s giving collectives like Rachel’s Network are bringing feminist philanthropists together who share a vision of how to integrate climate solutions with gender equality. Stay tuned!

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