(Photo credit: Global Fund for Women. Musimbi Kanyoro, Jacki Zehner, Hillary Rodham Clinton) Published on LinkedIn Influencers, May 23, 2014.
There are literally millions of non-profit organizations in the world, and over 1.5 million in the United States alone. Therefore, knowing which organizations to support with your giving dollars can be a daunting task. Most donor advisers will tell you to donate to organizations that support the causes that you are most passionate about as a first step, but even then, the number of organizations addressing the same issue can be overwhelming, and you ultimately find yourself back at square one: Who do I support with my giving dollars? For me, the decision always comes down to leadership, and more specifically, who is leading the organization? If I don’t feel confident in the person running the organization, I know I will never be confident in that organization’s ability to use my money to its fullest potential. At the end of the day it is people giving to people, so allow me to introduce you to five women non-profit leaders who are truly great people, and the organizations that they lead.
I hope to do more posts like this featuring people, both men and women, who work in a variety of issue areas, but given my passion around the advancement of girls and women, this is my starting place. Please know this is not a ranking and there are many more incredible profiles to come.
In 2005, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan founded the Women’s Media Center. Today the organization acts as an advocacy and awareness institution for gender discrimination in the media, a monitoring system for sexism in the media, and as a platform for original content creation that promotes women’s voices in the media. Julie joined the Women’s Media Center in 2010, and since then has led the organization in its mission towards equality in the media landscape. She also serves as the Executive Producer of Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, and I was honored to be on the show last year. Prior to joining the WMC, Julie was the CEO of Voters for Choice, the Founding Director of Choice USA, and has been an outspoken and vocal advocate for women’s rights for decades.
The International Women’s Health Coalition is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing sexual and reproductive rights for women and girls around the world. To date, the IWHC has given out over $19 million to 75 organizations in 20 different countries, and their advocacy efforts have helped persuade 179 governments to make reproductive rights a key component of family planning. Francoise became the President of IWHC in 2012 after previously serving the organization as a consultant and as the Senior Program Officer for International Policy. She has also previously worked for Open Society Foundations, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and DAWN. Francoise is a longtime advocate for women’s reproductive rights, and is recognized as a leading expert in the fields of women’s health, human rights, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS. I met Francoise for the first time last year when we were both speakers at UBS’s Global Philanthropy Forum entitled “It’s A Girl.” She rocked my world.
Founded in 1986, the Global Fund for Women was created to provide resources to the worldwide community of women’s organizations. The first grants were distributed in 1988 and totaled only $30,000, but since then, over $100 million in grants have been distributed to over 4,000 women’s organizations in 170 different countries. Musimbi joined the Global Fund for Women in 2011, and has since led the organization through strategic directives that have focused on women’s leadership and women-led solutions, as well as the recent merging of the Global Fund for Women with the International Museum of Women. Musimbi is the author of 7 books, as well as numerous articles, op-eds, and speeches, and she is a renowned public speaker and women’s rights leader. A passionate advocate for women and girls for over 30 years, Musimbi is the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and honorary doctorates. Did I mention she speaks 5 languages and is one of 10 children? I wanted everyone I know to meet Musimbi, so two years ago I invited her to visit Park City. She participated in a number of events, including speaking at my children’s school about women’s rights, as well as to a large group gathered for lunch where we also made the amazing jewelry from SAMESKY available. What a day!
Rachel Lloyd founded GEMS in 1998 when she was only 23 years old, and since then, GEMS has grown into a leading organization combating domestic trafficking and the sexual exploitation of young women and girls. Operating out of New York State, GEMS is the only organization in the state that specifically serves female trafficking victims ages 12-24 by helping them leave the sex industry, and not just survive their experience, but fully recover from the trauma these experiences inflict. GEMS is recognized as being instrumental in helping to pass New York’s Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Act, which specifically recognizes sex workers as victims to protect instead of criminals to punish, and since its adoption in 2008, 13 other states have passed similar legislation. In addition to her work at GEMS, Rachel is the author of Girls Like Us and many other articles for various publications, the co-producer of the Showtime documentary Very Young Girls, and is the recipient of dozens of awards and accolades. I have met Rachel, read her book, and watched her movie, and I can tell you this woman in the real deal. The sexual exploitation of children is such a huge issue and one that all of us, and I really mean all of us, should be doing something to end. Supporting Rachel is a great way.
Founded in 1998 by Ritu Sharma and Elise Fiber Smith, Women Thrive is an advocacy group that works in Washington DC to ensure that women’s rights and concerns are at the forefront of US International Aid policies. Although based in Washington DC, Women Thrive does not accept any government funds, and therefore operates independently of any political affiliations, and Women Thrive does not run any programs itself. Instead, the organization focuses its efforts on advocacy, activism, and awareness, and brings the “voice of women around the world directly to decision-makers in Washington, D.C.” In addition to her work as the President of Women Thrive, Ritu is a respected motivational speaker and political strategist, and she is recognized as one of the leading experts in the fields of international women’s rights and US foreign policy. To date, Ritu has been featured in numerous publications, is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and World Pulse, and is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. I am so grateful that we have such an exceptional person holding our government agencies accountable for where our money goes.
Again, there are so many incredible non-profit leaders doing amazing work. Who rocks your world? Please share.