Women Moving Millions began as a campaign in 2007 to encourage women who had the capacity to give at the million dollar level for women and girls, to do so! Co-Founder Helen LaKelly Hunt wrote a wonderful article for Solutions Magazine in which she describes the history of Women’s Philanthropy and why WMM is truly a historic initiative. ( click to read link) Bottom line – Never in the history of the world had women come together to fund women at the million dollar level. Never. Until NOW.
Though the campaign ended in 2009 having well surpassed the goal to inspire $150 MM of new gifts, what was born was a community. From campaign to community as we now love to say. After over 3 years of thinking and meeting and planning and strategizing Women Moving Millions is now officially moving forward in to Phase II. Though we will continue to invite women ( and men!) in to their capacity to fund women and girls big and bold, and thereby inviting them to join our community, our mission is bigger and bolder too. Our new mission is to “mobilize unprecedented resources for the advancement of women and girls.”
Last week in New York we brought together existing community members, potential members, and special guests for a celebration (see entry below) and a 3 day summit. We imagine having one gathering like this per year where we will have the opportunity to discuss how we might uniquely work together to make a difference in this huge area of gender inequality. We already have some great ideas and you will hear more about them soon. For now, a summit recap!
Thursday was an informal reception and tea with the one and only Gloria Steinem. Words cannot express how much I love and respect Gloria and her support of Women Moving Millions is unwavering. The time together was informal and Gloria spoke on a variety of issues from how the women’s movement transforms every institution, to equal pay, to education, to why and how our WMM community can truly make a difference. I loved this quote “I ask myself… what can I uniquely do? It is the measure of my life. I challenge you to ask yourself that question.”
From tea with Gloria we moved to INDUSTRIA Superstudio for our “Evening of Spark” with special guest Tyra Banks. I had the honor and privilege of sitting with Tyra and she is truly an exceptional woman so incredibly passionate about the work she does with GIRLS. ( see prior entry) To learn more about Tyra’s work with girls check out her foundation TZONE which is opening a new facility at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in 2013.
The summit officially began Friday morning at Gary’s Loft (very cool venue by the way) with our first speaker Stephen Lewis, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Aids-Free World. His talk “Gender Equality: The Single Most Important Struggle on the Planet” was incredibly thought provoking and emotional. He has been broadly recognized as one of the world’s leading feminists and his life is truly one dedicated to making a difference for others. He shared with us that 23 million people in Africa have HIV/AIDS, 61% of them women and girls. He went on to tell us of his experiences in the Congo and opened with “I have no capacity to tell you what happens there. The culture of rape is beyond description.” His words were a call to action for all of us as we live in a world so broken, so violent, where the predominant victims are women and children and it simply must get better. It must.
Our second conversation was with Pat Mitchell, President & CEO of The Paley Center for Media and Vanessa Valenti, Partner at Valenti Martin Media & Co-Founder of Feministing.com their talk was entitled, “#femfuture: A New Taxonomy for the Feminist Movement” as it looked at the online feminist movement and how it has exploded with feminist blogs, online organizations and social media. Pat set the stage by talking about the power of media as a tool for social change and although no major media company is run by a women, nor do women own any significant media properties, she challenged us to think about how we use both our power as consumers of media and as investors in media companies, to change that. Vanessa shared new research she has recently done with her business partner Courtney Martin which will soon be released in a white paper. Bottom line: the online tools we have are powerful and we need to invest in the organizations and leaders that are using them well.
After lunch we welcomed Rachel Lloyd, Founder & CEO of GEMS (also author of Girls Like Us which I blogged on earlier this month, A MUST READ!) and Michele Ozumba, President & CEO of the Women’s Funding Network to be in dialogue with our very own Women Moving Millions Community member and Code Pink Co-Founder Jodie Evans. We asked them to talk about being on the front lines of change and highlight their best tools and tactics from their own experiences. This was not a typical panel discussion where each talked about their organizations and the work they do. We asked them to share the barriers they faced in being successful and be direct and honest with us as a community of funders in sharing what we could do and should do, to help them be more effective. It was a conversation about power, privilege, and getting past good intentions and seeing just how hard it is to make a difference.
This same theme took on a more global context with our next group of speakers. We were honored to have Leymah Gbowee, Founder & President of Gbowee Peace Foundation USA and Winner, Nobel Peace Prize 2011, Musimbi Kanyoro, President & CEO of the Global Fund for Women, and Afshan Khan, CEO of Women for Women International in conversation with WMM Community member Barbara Dobkin. To say this was a rock star panel that we could have spent the whole day with would be an understatement. Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin to describe in a short blog entry what we talked about for an hour, so rather than doing that we are going to find a way to bring that panel to you in video form. Each of these women are truly leaders of the TWENTY FIRST CENTURY!!!
Though our heads and hearts were exploding by this point we had a very important conversation planned to end the day. It was centered around “How do we create a more robust domestic women’s movement?” (we don’t ask easy questions at WMM). This session was supported by in depth research by community member Mayree Clark as well as Vivian Labaton of the Tides Foundation. A few years ago Mayree decided to do some research that followed the money. In other words, she looked closely at the organizations that worked on behalf of women and girls at the national level that had budgets over $350,000 (there were over 300 of them) in hopes of answering some questions related to the state of the women’s movement. Her findings were quite shocking and were circulated around in a document which came to be known as “The Map.” (I am going to do a separate entry on this!!) While meeting with people to discuss the results, Mayree met Vivian while she was at Atlantic Philanthropies and over the past year Vivian has interviewed dozens and dozens of stakeholders to come up with a set of observations and recommendations as to what needs to happen to accelerate change. Amazing. That is how we ended our day. Needless to say cocktails and dinner were in order!
The following day was more Women Moving Millions focused and included a presentation by Interbrand New York directors Emily Grant and Paola Norambuena who worked with our team to tell the WMM story and create our new visual identity. (see the picture above!) One of our key initiatives at WMM will be around ‘storytelling’ so it was appropriate to bring in the consultants who will be working with us over the next few months to get everyone excited about this work. Julie Anixter, Principal of Think Remarkable and Frank Migliorelli, Award-Winning interaction designer put together a presentation on “The Power of Story.” Very exciting and endless possibilities.
To close out our time together I presented the WMM strategic plan and then we broke out in to small groups to discuss. We have some great initial ideas on what we can uniquely do as a community in service of our mission and our amazing community members certainly added to it. I could not be more honored and humbled to be serving as the Chief Engagement Officer of Women Moving Millions. I have the BEST team on the planet to work with.