Eileen R. Heisman, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), has a 30 year record of professional achievements in philanthropy, but it all started with being a social worker. I wanted to learn more about Heisman’s early social work origins, and also about how she led NPT from a small nonprofit in 1996 to the $6 billion dollar grantmaking organization it is today, making an indelible imprint on the landscape of modern philanthropy.
When we began our conversation, I asked Heisman to comment on what it felt like to run the country’s largest host organization for Donor Advised Funds. “When I read my own bio, sometimes it feels kind of like an out of body experience,” said Heisman with a chuckle. “But it’s nice to be able to say all those things are true.”
One of the largest public women’s foundations in the country is hosting a convening of leaders in Dallas to address the lack of gender equality in local government.
The Texas Women’s Foundation will host 60 women leaders from diverse backgrounds to work on getting more women elected to public office in Dallas County. On February 6, these leaders will come from many organizations we have talked about here at Philanthropy Women, including IGNITE, Vote Run Lead, and She Should Run.
All of these organizations are part of a larger network called ReflectUS. Reflect.US is a nonpartisan coalition of seven leading women’s organizations: Represent Women, She Should Run, Empowered Women, Women’s Public Leadership Network, IGNITE, Vote Run Lead and Latinas Represent.
Women are cracking the glass ceiling and making it into top leadership positions amid the #MeToo Movement, according to new research, but the distribution of female replacements varies by geography and social sector.
In an article in the Houston Chronicle, authors Yan Zhang and Yoon Jung Kwon, a professor and Ph.D. student at Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business, argue that the phenomena of women replacing men in leadership roles holds great potential for signaling all sectors of society about changing gender norms. Even in heavily male-dominated sectors like major league men’s sports, a new era is dawning in which women’s leadership will provide a different paradigm.
San Jose, California was the most recent city to host a feminist procession that has been traveling the globe for the past several years, and could be coming to your town soon. Suffragette City, created by artist Lara Schnitger, is “a participatory procession and protest” and is both free and open to the public. The ritual allows participants to “celebrate female empowerment in a culture of patriarchy,” according to a press release announcing the procession’s occurrence in San Jose. The procession in San Jose started at the Museum of Art, and involved participants wearing costumes and chanting while carrying portable sculptures and banners.
So much of what I worry about with corporate philanthropy is just how much it is used to grease the pill, so to speak, of the public swallowing all the damage that corporations do in the world. Corporate philanthropy asks us to believe, for example, that Nike cares about gender equality, even as much of its subjugation of labor in developing countries puts added pressure on women as both workers and providers, with very little given in wages in return.
“When the Nation Institute was founded more than 50 years ago, we were a modest organization affiliated with the Nation Magazine — but that name no longer reflects the breadth and impact of what we do today,” said Taya Kitman, Executive Director and CEO of Type Media Center, regarding the rebranding of the organization.
Type Media Center, the rebrand of the 52-year old Nation Institute, will be dedicated to “world-class independent journalism and publishing”and will be a nonprofit media company with two major programs rebranded as Type Investigations and Bold Type Books.
Editor’s Note: Fascinating things are going on in the realm of giving circles and community giving projects. We are pleased to share this piece by Cheyenna Layne Weber, one of the founders of Solidarity Economy Giving Project in New York City, which aims to bring together donors in new ways.
From Cheyenna Layne Weber:
There are more than 2,000 solidarity economy organizations in New York City, most of them founded and maintained by women. These democratic, member-led groups take different legal forms, but hold certain values in common—social and racial justice, ecological sustainability, mutualism, and cooperation. They include low-income credit unions; cooperatives providing food, affordable housing, and childcare; cooperatives of farmers and workers; community gardens and land trusts; and community-supported agriculture. Together, these form a solidarity economy based on meeting material needs rather than making profits. (Explore these models in this short video.)
Admittedly, I am not a philanthropist. But managing the money of philanthropists for progressive social change has given me a unique appreciation for the essential role of people and organizations that connect philanthropy and political strategy.
I’ve spent most of my career as that staff person expected to change the world $1,000 at a time, one issue at a time. In roles such as manager of young organizers, volunteer coordinator, lobbyist to fickle legislators, major gifts director, and Executive Director, I have worked to change political decision-making systems, often while holding up woefully under-staffed legislative and advocacy initiatives. As a single person Public Affairs or Program Director, I sometimes served in the role of five people, and was seen as a savior if I could project-manage a couple coalitions on the side – you know, for the good of the cause.
Recently I interviewed Jean Case for Inside Philanthropy and learned about how her early years as a survivor of hardship helped her prepare for a lifetime of success in business and philanthropy. We also discussed how to maintain a fearless attitude in both business and philanthropy, so that you don’t become afraid of all the risks, hassles and pitfalls that drive a lot of people to drop out of pursuing plans in both spheres.
Toward the end of the interview, I asked Case about her perception of women in philanthropy and how their influence is shifting the landscape:
Whenever corporate funders part with millions for gender equality initiatives, this is good news for feminist philanthropy. Recently, Cognizant U.S. Foundation announced that it has made a $4.1 million grant to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). The grant will fund both digital skills education programs and an awareness campaign aimed at increasing interest in tech careers for women of all ages.
Cognizant U.S. Foundation is a nonprofit focused on supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and skills initiatives for U.S. workers and students. NCWIT is a non-profit community comprised of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations across the U.S. With this new award, NCWIT will establish coding skills camps for women and girls, and provide training for school counselors in communities underserved communities. With an initial focus on the Southern United States, NCWIT will launch programs in areas where it can provide corporate internships.