We profiled four women nonprofit leaders to learn what challenges they face and why their work makes them optimistic for the future of women and girls.
There’s a lot of work to be done before women become equal members of society with the same access to opportunity. Ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8), we checked in with the bold women who lead many of our nonprofit partners to ask about the good news. What work are they excited about and what wins are they celebrating? Their answers inspire us to thank past women leaders and to propel women leaders of the future.
“There’s plenty of research that shows that having women in leadership positions, in any sector, results in better outcomes which ripple out into communities and systems.” — Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California
“Think about how much more advanced we would be if women and girls had the same opportunities to unfetter their imaginations, innovations, ideas and creativity as others. That’s the kind of world I, and Equal Rights Advocates, want to see.” — Noreen Farrell, Equal Rights Advocates
“Imagine what women could do if we were well-resourced? We embrace the private sector’s practice of rapid prototyping; we pivot strategically as needed and collaborate with partners across the sector to magnify our reach and deepen our impact. In short, we do more with less, really well.” — Doniece Sandoval, Lava Mae
“We fight to ensure that each and every one of us has a fair chance to succeed and thrive. We work tirelessly to ensure that girls feel safe enough to learn and that they know no limits to what they can be. We fight to make sure that every woman worker can benefit from laws passed to stop discrimination and support working families.” — Noreen Farrell, Equal Rights Advocates
“There’s plenty of research that shows that having women in leadership positions, in any sector, results in better outcomes which ripple out into communities and systems.” — Surina Khan, Women's Foundation of California
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“I am inspired by so many women—those that paved the way and continue to work tirelessly with courage and commitment like Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. She is approaching 90, still organizing and remains unwavering in her commitment to gender, racial and economic justice.” — Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California
“I’ve been lucky to have amazing women in my life. My mother is whip-smart and fierce in all the best ways; she’s one of the most resilient people I know. My dad’s mom was a force. A truly stellar businesswoman who had incredible powers of persuasion.” — Doniece Sandoval, Lava Mae
“I’m inspired by Carol Nelson, California State Parks’ first African-American female ranger. Under her leadership as field superintendent in the 1980s, her staff transformed Candlestick Point into a jewel of a park noted for its innovative environmental education programs, community-building and habitat restoration.” — Nicole McClain, Literacy for Environmental Justice
“We all should take a moment to be inspired by Dorothy Bolden. Bolden was an African American woman who led the National Domestic Workers Union for over 30 years. A civil rights activist, Bolden mobilized scores of women working in homes to win them better working conditions, better wages and recognition as a legitimate part of the labor force.” — Noreen Farrell, Equal Rights Advocates
“More women philanthropists are coming forward to help shape the conversation, and they seem to be younger and more hands-on.” — Nicole McClain, Literacy for Environmental Justice
“I am also inspired by the next generation who are leading with confidence and optimism. And I am continuously inspired by all the leaders that we support through our grantmaking and Women’s Policy Institute. They feed my soul and motivate me to remain steadfast in my own commitment to social justice.” — Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California
“I think women philanthropists, large and small, are on the rise, which makes me incredibly happy. They bring a blend of rational and intuitive thinking to their decision-making. They’re open to some solutions that are more centered on leadership, the quality of the people and ‘off-road’ ideas as unexpected pathways through a problem.’” — Doniece Sandoval, Lava Mae
“Tarana Burke originated the #MeToo hashtag to bring attention to the experiences of sexual violence against black women and girls. We love her courageous, compassionate and inclusive voice.” — Noreen Farrell, Equal Rights Advocates
“Women are becoming increasingly involved in civic life. We are running for office— and winning! — learning and teaching about a range of issues; challenging prejudice and discrimination and defending the communities to which we belong and are allied with.” — Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California
”Women philanthropists, large and small, are on the rise, which makes me incredibly happy. They bring a blend of rational and intuitive thinking to their decision-making.” — Doniece Sandoval, Lava Mae
Images by Katie Weinholt Photography