After an extensive search and interview process, Women Moving Millions (WMM) recently announced the appointment of Sarah Haacke Byrd as its new Executive Director. Byrd is an influential rising star of the feminist philanthropy community known for being a “joyful warrior” in the ongoing battle for gender equality. Byrd also comes to her new position at WMM with a history of leadership focused on legislative changes that would make the processing of rape kits a necessity in all police investigations of sexual assault.
As the former Managing Director of the Joyful Heart Foundation, Sarah Haacke Byrd has played a critical role in movement-building around ending sexual violence. With her work at Joyful Heart, Byrd helped to convene a national community of sexual violence survivors, legislators, law enforcement, and major funders, to shed light on the frightening fact that rape kits frequently go untested. Byrd helped raise an estimated $169 million in new funding to address this lack of testing of rape kits, resulting in the passage of 35 laws in 26 states.
Founded in 2007 by sisters Helen LaKelly Hunt and Swanee Hunt, Women Moving Millions is focused on supporting women donors who are making large-scale investments in women and girls that are aiding in the global fight for gender equality. By taking on this key leadership role at WMM, Byrd will be steering one of the most significant and powerful networks for funding gender equality worldwide.
Earlier this year, Byrd testified before the California Legislature regarding legislation to mandate the processing of rape kits. This legislation passed in the House and Senate in California, and is only being held up by the Governor’s veto for budgetary reasons, so will likely proceed to a full pass in the near future. Byrd’s testimony is a powerful sample of how effectively she communicates within the political realm, and how well this bodes for the future leadership of Women Moving Millions. It’s also an excellent example of how philanthropy can aid in the process of gathering and disseminating critical information about a public safety issue, such as sexual violence, and push for needed reforms.
New Board Chair of Women Moving Millions Bring Financial Expertise
Along with WMM having a new Executive Director, the organization also has a new Board Chair: Mona Sinha, who is a passionate and longtime advocate for women and girls and the recipient of Smith College’s 2018 Development Award for Exemplary Leadership. Sinha is also very involved in efforts to end sex trafficking, and received the The Last Girl Champion award in 2017 from Apne Aap, an organization working globally on the issue.
Sinha brings particular expertise from the corporate worlds of finance, marketing and business restructuring. She is also is co-founder of Raising Change, which coaches mission-driven organizations to raise resources for social change.
As incoming Board Chair at WMM, Sinha is looking forward to launching a new education curriculum for members, who will spend several days together to work on three areas of development: impact, influence, and investment. “Each pillar will be taught in small cohorts that do a deep dive into the subject matter and enable robust reflection and discussion about practices and innovative ideas that are emerging in the world of philanthropy,” writes Sinha in a recent brief on the education curriculum launch entitled Why Women’s Philanthropic Education Matters.
Sinha sees this new education curriculum as having the potential to fulfill a prediction by the Stanford Social Innovation Review that the impact of gender equity efforts will add $28 trillion to the global economy by 2025. “Match that with the fact that women will control over $72 trillion in wealth by 2020,” writes Sinha, and she sees many more large-scale investments from women aiming to close the gender gap on pay and improve health and safety for women.
But Sinha recognizes that women philanthropists making these large-scale investments need support and education to achieve this goal. Within the new education curriculum, donors will have an opportunities to clarify and amplify their strategies, bringing greater integrity and influence to feminist philanthropy. “We have found that WMM members benefit from learning in community,” she writes. In the upcoming education curriculum launching in February of 2019, Women Moving Millions members will have the chance to more deeply investigate and structure their giving for women and girls. The development of the leadership curriculum was led by Jessica Houssian at WMM and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including a detailed assessment before a full rollout of the program.
Sinha also serves several other organizations in the gender equality sphere including, Breakthrough (ending violence against women), Direct Impact Africa (empowers women to be leaders in the lower Zambezi) the Advisory boards at the Museum of Natural History (sponsors science education for inner city girls), Columbia Business School Tamer Center Social Enterprise Program (building awareness of social justice in future business leaders), Women Creating Change at Columbia University, and Columbia Global Mental Health program (promoting mental health as integral to overall healthcare around the world).