Announcing the 2020 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards

We have come full circle on one of the most astonishing years for women’s philanthropy in human history. And yet, as we all know, there is still so far to go. As part of that process of moving forward for gender equality, it gives me great pleasure to announce the 2020 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards.

women leadership awards
Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards 2020

This year we decided to do something different and opened up 6 of the 10 awards to community voting. We had 689 respondents to our voting survey, and the results confirmed the growing interest in and competitive landscape of women’s giving and social movement-building for gender equality.

With the final four awards this year, we decided to open up some new categories, not necessarily based on Philanthropy Women’s coverage, in order to recognize groundbreaking women journalists and filmmakers contributing to gender equality movements. Oftentimes, this kind of media work is very philanthropic in nature, as women journalists and filmmakers often give of their own time and resources for years and years (sometimes decades!) in order to educate the public on critical issues.

We also decided to create another organization-focused award for Ecosystem Advancement — the process of bringing together different sectors of society — such as corporate and nonprofit stakeholders — in order to press for gender equality.

It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Every one of the individuals and organizations has already won in the most important way simply by being nominated. They are doing some of the most important work for social change today. A recent survey by the Thompson Reuters Foundation revealed that among global aid agencies like CARE and the International Rescue Committee, the top issues they plan to address in the coming year are climate change and advancing the rights of women and girls. Many of the nominees were way ahead of the curve in recognizing and acting on these central issues. They helped cultivate the heightened level of awareness about gender equality and environmental issues that we are now seeing across many layers of society.

And so, without further ado, I present the winners of the 2020 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards.

Breakthrough Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership

LaTosha Brown, Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium42.49%
Amy Maglio, Women’s Global Education Project32.12%
Surina Khan, CEO, Women’s Foundation of California25.39%

Most Compelling Research on Feminist Philanthropy

AWID’s Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem32.15%
Oxfam’s Leap of Faith: Conversations with Funders of Women’s Organizations39.53%
WPI’s Women’s Foundations and Funds: A Landscape Study28.32%

Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership in Gender Equality Giving

Serena Williams Invests $3 Million in Reducing Maternal Mortality Rates65.36%
When Black Women Direct: Queen Latifah Gets Women of Color Behind the Camera25.14%
Laura Dern Backs Gender Parity with Code-a-Thon, $350k in Scholarships9.50%

One World Award for International Feminist Leadership

Leadership for a Changing World: Mary Robinson at #WomenFunded14.89%
Kathryn Moeller, PhD, Author of The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development17.29%
Greta Thunberg, Teen Climate Activist67.82%

Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership

Magic Awaits: Swatee Deepak on Girl-Led Change50.82%
Talia Milgrom-Elcott: Next Gen Stem Innovator26.64%
Grateful Every Day: Julie Schwietert Collazo, Immigrant Families Together22.54%

Together We Stand Award for Collective Activism

California Gender Justice Funders Launch $10 Mil Culture Change Fund19.60%
Gina Luster, Nayyirah Shariff, Melissa Mays (Flint Rising): The International Battle for Women’s Water Rights37.97%
Catalist: Expanding the Ripple Effect: Giving Circles Convene on Equity, Inclusion9.93%
Womxn Project: L’il Rhody Smashes the Patriarchy, Protecting Roe and Repro Rights32.51%


Ecosystem Advancement:  Fostering Multisector Collaboration for Gender Equality

In creating our third round of these awards, we realized that another important category needs to be introduced — an award that acknowledges exceptional work in fostering feminist ecosystem advancement — the process of bringing together stakeholders from across corporate and nonprofit realms to focus on gender equality and culture change. The winner of this award is The Women’s Foundation of California, which brought together key stakeholders this past year and created the Culture Change Fund.

With collaboration across sectors of society, we can accelerate movements for gender justice. The Women’s Foundation of California’s Culture Change Fund serves as a model in cross-sector collaboration. (Image Credit: WFOC)

Reporting Breakthrough Award: Exposing Cambridge Analytica: Carole Cadwalladr

One of the most significant stories of the past election was the manipulative tactics used by Cambridge Analytica, which contributed to skewing the election results in the United States and bringing into power Donald Trump. The journalist who persisted in following and exposing this story, Carole Cadwalladr, deserves special recognition, and the film, The Great Hack, is a must-see for realizing the danger that our current elections are in, and how vigilant we must become about misuse of personal data by corporations. Cadwalladr needs our support, as she is fighting mighty giants in order to maintain freedom of the press that is so critical to protecting the election process and safeguarding democracy.

Filmmaking for Social Change Award: dream hampton

This year saw the long overdue arrest of singer and songwriter R. Kelly for child sexual abuse. dream hampton, the showrunner who put together the testimonies of the many women and girls who survived abuse by R. Kelly, deserves special accolades for persisting with a difficult story that is producing real social change. In an article in The Hollywood Reporter, dream hampton acknowledged that she could not have predicted the immediate impact that the Surviving R. Kelly series has had, with Kelly being arrested and charged with a 18-count indictment Federal indictment, with other charges also being filed in civil courts. R. Kelly will go on trial in 2020, and all of this would not have been possible without the documentary work of dream hampton.

dream hampton, journalist and creator of Surviving R. Kelly, receives the Filmmaking for Social Change Award. (Photo credit: dream hampton)

Banging the Table Award for Women in Hollywood: This Changes Everything

Women have been getting written out of scripts and sidelined in every major role in filmmaking since the industry set up in Hollywood and bankers decided filmmaking was a man’s job. This year’s film that breaks through the talk to expose again the relentless misogyny that ruins our film industry is This Changes Everything. This film is the culmination of decades of knowledge and experience. With major support from Geena Davis herself as Executive Producer and the mountains of knowledge produced over the years from the Geena Davis Institute for Women in Media, this film really hits hard. We have the data now, and women are getting wiser to the tricks that Hollywood continues to play to rule women out. Watch this movie if you care about this issue, and use the next year to push for better representation of women in media as a consumer, activist, and donor.

2020 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards
Geena Davis, Executive Producer of This Changes Everything. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

We are so delighted to share the winners of the 2020 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards! Check back next year for nominations and announcements.

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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