Fierce Leaders Expanding Opportunities For Women and Girls (Part 1)

#TuesdaysWithTuti grew out of a desire to highlight the incredible changemakers I have had the privilege of working with. Every Tuesday, I share a bit about the work these individuals are doing, and how I have been honored to support them. Read about the first six leaders I have featured below and spread the word about these extraordinary leaders and organizations. Follow me here for to see future posts.

Noreen Farrell, Equal Rights Advocates

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Equal Rights Advocates, founded in 1974, is a legal organization that fights to protect and expand women’s educational and economic opportunities. With one of my key passions being Title IX, I am in deep admiration for their work. At the helm of ERA is Noreen Farrell, a fierce activist in the sisterhood of gender justice leaders. Noreen is a former trial lawyer turned Executive Director, and she has written on civil rights matters for labor rights, employment discrimination, and gender justice as an economic security issue.

Noreen’s entire career has focused on social justice. She chairs the Equal Pay Today! Campaign, a national campaign led by ERA and more than 15 other organizational partners closing the gender wage gap in key states across the country. She and her team formed the leadership of a Stronger California Advocates Network, a collaboration of 30 organizations advancing a comprehensive women’s economic security policy agenda. I had the honor of working with Noreen while serving as a coach for her board and staff on their 40th anniversary campaign and in mapping out their strategic agenda.  

Catherine Gill, Root Capital

I am happy to feature Catherine Gill, the Executive Vice President of Investor Relations & Communications at Root Capital. Catherine is passionate about her work, a fantastic speaker, and ridiculously comfortable with numbers, impact stories, and money. She is incredibly impressive!

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Root Capital is a leader in impact investing. Their work creates jobs, preserves ecosystems, and empowers women. Root Capital is the only client I have had the privilege of working with that allows someone to invest with their whole wallet. For example, you can offer loans to agriculture businesses (the engine of impact); you can make a philanthropic gift supporting advisory projects; and/or you can buy products that have been grown by their clients. When I’m in Boston, I love to connect with friends and clients at Equal Exchange Cafe where the coffee, tea, cocoa served is grown and harvested by farmers who are recipients of Root Capital loans.

I worked with Catherine and her team to build a culture of philanthropy at Root Capital. We increased internal capacity to meet a challenge grant to identify, steward, and nurture individual donor relationships, which mean they were able to expand their reach in Central America and Africa.

Jane Sloane, Women’s Empowerment Program Director, The Asia Foundation

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Jane Sloane is the Women's Empowerment Program Director at The Asia Foundation, which works in over 18 countries to elevate women’s voices in politics, support women entrepreneurs, and progress climate justice with a gender lens. Whenever I work with Jane, I feel her sense of clarity around what she sees as a more flourishing, just world. Jane brings intersectionality into every conversation and thinks across sectors and issue areas. To me, Jane is my honorary ambassador of Mother Earth, and her book, Citizen Jane illuminates why!

Our friendship has spanned over eight years during which time we have worked together at four different organizations. When Jane was at the International Women’s Development Agency I got to work with this team to strategically guide a model of leadership for success. When Jane was on the leadership team at Women’s World Banking and Global Fund for Women, I had the honor of leading board retreats for both of teams. Each time, we boldly encouraged board members to lead with their values and share stories in order to be stronger ambassadors for the work. Jane has truly been a leader across global development issues. Now at The Asia Foundation, she has an even larger platform to raise awareness on women’s rights and issues as they intersect with governance, political leadership, and the environment.

Cynthia Nimmo, Women’s Funding Network

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Every movement has people in front of and behind the scenes when it comes to its successes and strategies. Cynthia Schmae Nimmo now leads the movement on women’s philanthropy as CEO of the Women's Funding Network. Cynthia and her team have built a worldwide network of more than 100 women’s foundations and gender equity funders that strengthen women and girls. They have democratized philanthropy since the inception of the organization!

As a speaker, Cynthia leads with both data and passion, which inevitably inspires audiences to increase giving and funding for women and girls. We’ve worked together to craft relevant and exciting communications materials and to design facilitations for regional and national gatherings, bringing funders and philanthropists to the table to learn and take action together. Cynthia is a true champion and leader in the space.

Mia Kim Sullivan, Civil Liberties and Public Policy

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In my decades of focused work with movement builders, I’ve had the privilege of working with incredible, passionate leaders. Mia Kim Sullivan, co-director of Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLLP), is one of them. In our current climate, I breathe easier knowing that Mia is fiercely leading CLPP, an organization that “inspires, educates, trains, and supports new activists and leadership to secure freedom and justice for everyone.”

Leading with grace, Mia has been at the helm of CLPP for a decade and is always mindful of intersectionality in her work and in larger women’s rights spaces. As co-director with Amy Crysel, Mia demonstrates that a co-leadership model is sustainable, contributes to flourishing teams, and leads to powerful impact. With Mia and CLPP, I’ve had the honor of designing strategic plans, expanding fundraising, and building staff capacity so that CLPP can continue its good work for decades to come.

Barbara Dobkin, Philanthropist

Behind so many excellent social justice initiatives, you’ll find the feminist philanthropist Barbara Dobkin. Barbara is a visionary. A pioneer in the Jewish community as a donor-activist for programs to empower Jewish women and girls, Barbara is one of the most visible and committed advocates for social change. She was the Founding Chair of Ma'yan, the Jewish Women’s Project of The JCC in Manhattan, the Jewish Women's Archive in Boston, and the Hadassah Foundation. She presently Chairs the Dafna Israeli Fund, a feminist foundation in Israel and is the immediate past Chair of American Jewish World Service, which works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world.


With Shifra Bronznick, Barbara was a founder of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community. She is a former board member of The New Israel Fund, The Women’s Funding Network, The White House Project, UJA-Federation of NY, and Lilith Magazine. A frequent speaker on women’s philanthropy and leadership, she is a significant supporter of and adviser to a variety of nonprofits, both Jewish and secular in the U.S. and internationally, including Bend the Arc.

In my time working alongside Barbara at the Jewish Women’s Funding Network, I have had the privilege of supporting a coalition of Jewish funds and foundations who leverage their collective power for gender justice. Barbara’s philanthropy also expands into the film world, most recently with the 2015 documentary "The Hunting Ground" on what it will take to end sexual assault on college campuses.

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On Dreaming and Practice: Donna Lopiano, Defender of Women's Rights for Four Decades

As I continue my “On Dreaming and Practice” series, I think about women who only had the option of dreaming in their early years. Dreaming was essential because they had yet to see another woman hold certain leadership positions at all. For these women, they needed to take the first step and go after these roles. Dr. Donna Lopiano, a mentor of mine at The Women’s Sports Foundation and a brilliant strategist, rose to the challenge. As a passionate activist, an expert witness, and visionary servant of gender equity, Donna’s story deserves to be told again and again. Telling her story is how I am choosing to celebrate National Girls and Women’s Sports Day, February 7th.

“Girls are not allowed.” Since being turned away from Little League as a 10 year-old superstar baseball pitcher, Donna Lopiano has fought tirelessly for justice. When Donna speaks publicly she often shares the story of these four words that changed her life.

Working alongside Donna for 15 years at The Women’s Sports Foundation, I heard this speech dozens of times, and each time it has been impactful. Not being able to compete in her beloved sport of baseball, Donna eventually translated her drop ball and curve to the underhand pitching motion of a softball pitcher. She went on to compete for multiple championships in four sports as an AAU athlete and became a hall of fame softball player.

Through ritual, attention to detail, and calm, determined focus, Donna honed the emotional intelligence of a fierce competitor. She would put all of this to good use.

I call Donna “the Mother Teresa of gender equity in sport” because she selflessly and tirelessly serves the invisible, the under-resourced, and/or embattled. A true change maker uses their talents for what is needed, and Donna has consistently shown us that this is who she is. Just how far we have to go to reach gender equity in sport is more alive a topic than ever since we heard the testimonies from the Olympic gymnastics team in January. Rachael Denhollander broke her silence about the abuse she suffered from US gymnastics team physician, Larry Nassar, in 2016. Following this, a handful of other gymnasts came forward, and then more, bringing the number to over 160 women who say they were abused by Nassar. This horror story, alongside the #MeToo movement, should bring out the “mother bear” or “father bear” instinct of any adult with a pulse. When I think about this case and its terrible repercussions to the well-being, self-esteem, and vision of these athletes, I think about how we need activists like Donna—with all of her brains and passion—to fight for women and girls with everything they’ve got.

In 1975, Donna became the first Director of Women's Athletics at the University of Texas. She went on to spend decades building the women’s sports movement for which she was honored by the International Olympic Committee among others. She’s written a handbook of policies for athletic directors, developed sports organizations, and worked to change the NCAA’s model and practice of the treatment of athletes. Donna first spoke truth to power in 1975 when she testified before Congress about Title IX. Since then, she has testified and/or written expert reports for more than 40 cases that involve the discrimination of women and girls in sports. While that number may seem high, we know it is just a sliver of the reality.  

With every call Donna receives, the themes are the same: discrimination based on sex and/or sexual orientation and retaliation for being outspoken about Title IX and gender equity issues. The storyline includes a strong woman who speaks up on behalf of her female players and is fired. Men in power, threatened by a woman demanding justice, find a way to present some fabricated story often inventing allegations of player harassment to fire the leader. (Arrogant white male athletic directors hate it when a powerful female coach stands up to them). And even when women coaches are the best in the world, they are still harassed and treated by double standards. Even with Title IX, women carry the burden of proof, while getting their entire existence scrutinized. (See the case of Shannon Miller at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the Canadian gold medal ice hockey coach who after five collegiate championships, was fired because she was paid too much).

Each case Donna works on requires her to assess and integrate data, stories, and equity breaches on the part of the school or organization. From this, she produces expert reports that are often more than 100 pages long. Donna wrote her Ph.D. dissertation in her 20s, and now she may write the equivalent of five per year! It is not unusual for her to sift through hundreds of documents and thousands of pages of depositions to identify relevant facts essential to constructing accurate expert reports.

In all of these ways, Donna has been a less visible, but tireless leader in the #MeToo movement in women’s sports.  

Why Non-Disclosure Agreements Perpetuate Abuses of Power

As we are beginning to learn with the Nassar case and others, what is particularly true in so many Title IX cases, the plaintiff often settles out of court receiving money in return for signing a non-disclosure agreement. Such settlements may be motivated by institutions wanting to protect the brand of the institution, but they are often agreed to by a plaintiff who is fearful of being blackballed in her future job market. For either reason, the coach is not publicly exonerated and the nefarious tactics of the institutions are not shared. Fortunately, this was not the situation with Jane Meyer, the Associate AD and second in command in the University of Iowa athletic department, when she won a jury trial. (Meyer was fired because Iowa was afraid that her highly successful partner, the Head Field Hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, was going to sue following Griesbaum's contract being terminated based on false facts).

As Donna has witnessed, it takes incredible courage for women to bring their cases to court—risking the cost, acrimony, and potential of future blackballing involved—and win. Most women do either of two things: a) leave for another job because they fear the cost and retribution of bringing lawsuit or b) threaten a lawsuit and settle for good money and the confidentiality agreement so they can retire on the money or pursue another job, often for less status and pay. The press is often complicit in siding with the athletic department, failing to investigate and reveal the true outcome of these cases, keeping the details and institution’s guilt quiet.

With the Nassar case, we are beginning to see the toxicity of this practice. We have learned that some of these athletes signed non-disclosure agreements (NDA) with as much as $1.25 million tied to them. In her testimonies, Donna often explains the reasoning and emotion tied to decisions around NDAs, which are often coerced. For many athletes and coaches, this is the only life they know, and an athlete protecting the opportunity to compete in the short window of time in which they are physically capable of doing so is crucial. When your sport and livelihood—and the autonomy and dignity you’ve created around that— is threatened, you need someone like Donna fighting for you.

Now, just like the #TimesUp platform for women in Hollywood and beyond, people are starting to understand that we need to put an end to the increasingly high number of times women coaches, athletes, and administrators are asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. All these NDAs do is protect institutions and their leadership teams from repeated abuses of power. As America’s athletes Simone Biles, Alyssa Rayman, and others courageously share their stories, I want to see #TimesUp move into the sports world. Just as a legal defense fund has been created for women who experience abuse in less privileged professions than entertainment and media, we need to do the same thing to protect women in sports. Through her life’s work, by helping to establish case precedents and prepare expert reports, Donna has truly helped to lay the foundation for this kind of long-awaited gender justice.

The Big Picture of Power

As Donna reminds me frequently, in the four major male-dominated American cultural institutions—the military, sport, religion, and politics—male control, arrogance, and overt sexism are alive and well. She’s right. Harassment, homophobia, pay inequity, sexual abuse, double standards have been rampant in sports for a century, and only recently is the public being made aware of the “working women” of sport and these double standards. The depth and level of abuse of athletes is slowly coming out in the open, but the covert abuses done to powerful women coaches is still rampant. Athletic directors, college presidents, and boards of sports organizations (all predominantly white men) have repeatedly covered up, ignored, or dismissed women who have spoken up about the need for gender equity in sport.

To change this, we need fierce, confident, and truth-telling women (and men who respect and support them) to have a zero tolerance policy of unjust and hostile practices. Title IX has offered protection with all cases that have gone to court being won by plaintiffs. Yet, as Donna knows from the calls she fields every month, there are hundreds of cases that never even make it to court. Thankfully, we have people like Donna and a cadre of smart lawyers who are battling power-abusing leaders in and outside of courtrooms.

Every movement has fighters. This generation includes fierce leaders such as Ai Jen Poo working to protect domestic workers, Sarita Gupta challenging economic paradigms, and Fatima Goss Graves leading gender justice in the legal system. As we lift up new fighters, we must also lift up and honor fighters from previous generations. This is why I share Donna’s story whenever I can. She’s an extraordinary activist, consultant, and colleague, and I’m proud to call her a friend. I have counted on her daily email messages since the 2016 election on who to contact in Congress for what issue. Donna does everything she can to stop the attempted dismantling of America’s civil rights protections, and we need more people to follow her example. I am enormously grateful to Donna and countless lawyers alongside her because I know Donna’s legacy in the world of public policy and defense of Title IX and Title VII has brought us to where we are…a year where we collectively say #TimesUp on the abuse of power and patriarchy in our major institutions.

Now it is up to us to support each other in speaking our own truth to power… and to make sure all girls are allowed to play, however and wherever they want to and without fear of abuse.    

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On Dreaming and Practice: Moments I’ve Been Personally Inspired by Gloria Steinem

In the first post in this series, I shared Gloria Steinem’s reminder to us all that “Dreaming is a form of planning.” Considered the Mother of Feminism, Gloria Steinem’s activism spans across decades and movements. Over the course of her long career, from being a Smith College graduate who went undercover as a Playboy bunny to a leading spokeswoman and champion of the feminist movement, Steinem has dreamed, planned for, and helped create the better world that she imagined. In this piece, I share a few influential moments from Gloria that have left lasting impressions for me.

I can still remember the feeling—maybe it manifested into a scream?— when Gloria Steinem was being interviewed just eight feet from me on a makeshift stage in the West Village.

To the question, “What is the most important thing we can do for girls?” she replied, “Get them involved with sports. If you want girls to think of themselves as instruments and not ornaments, get them involved in sports.” I stood up and shouted, “YES!” Ok, actually, that part was in my head... But there is something incredible about hearing an icon like Steinem state something as simple and powerful as “get her involved in sports.” This is a statement that hundreds of women’s sports activists, athletes, feminists, coaches, teachers, and researchers have said for decades. But here we were in 2010 and here was Gloria Steinem at a funky off-broadway theater in New York again stating the obvious…

Get girls moving and active and they will own their power sooner and with more ease.

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A few years earlier, I had met Steinem backstage at the Waldorf Astoria. She was presenting an award at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute to Women in Sports. Billie Jean King was to join her on stage and before going out there, they took a moment for a quick Twitter-like exchange. Gloria told Billie, ”I finally got it! The women’s movement isn’t just from the neck up.“

Billie was her enthusiastic, fist-pumping self and said, “YES! You got it!” For embodied leaders like me, I knew we had arrived when Gloria said yes, our bodies are a part of our feminist leadership and voice.   My Life on the Road, where Steinem writes, “You’re always the person you were when you were born, you just find new ways of expressing it.”   Looking at how we use our unique bodies and minds, it is so easy to get pulled into the expectations of others.  Some people think there is one right path  or too many limits.   But through her life and her leadership, Steinem shows us how this is never the case.

Steinem was put down for using her body to infiltrate the system. She was shamed for being too pretty, too fashionable, too bold, or too fun. Sound familiar? To expose the atrocities faced by women and change the system, she had to follow the rules of that time. We have made so much progress, yet we are still dealing with most of the issues Steinem exposed then.

Steinem dedicated My Life on the Road to the English doctor, Dr. John Sharpe, who, she writes, was the physician who gave her an abortion—another action that often brings tremendous shame and pain to women. Unlike many men of his generation, Dr. Sharpe told her to “live the life she wanted” as a condition of the abortion. With that, Steinem has lived the life of the woman she was born to be. She has totally owned her body and mind.

When Gloria Steinem centered sports as important for women, she centered the fact that we own our bodies. We embody them as we walk through the office, as we check someone on the field hockey green, and when we stand before an audience in an auditorium. As we move forward in our movements for social justice, we use our bodies, minds, history, and lessons (from women like Steinem) to shift the world.

And now, in the wake of the 2016 election, feminism of all forms is back to centering our bodies. We’re fighting for control of our own bodies, thinking about how we choose to use our bodies, and exploring where we can get resources of all forms to better care for ourselves. Now more than ever, the powers of our bodies need to be used and centered as ours. Arguably, shortly prior to 2016, the feminism that Steinem and so many others fought for and had finally felt possible had hopes of flourishing. Now, the abortion rights we won in the 60s and 70s are being scraped away by state and local governments and the Supreme Court. The same woman who infiltrated the Playboy Club to expose the atrocities towards women’s bodies and unrealistic exceptions on women’s bodies is now living through the #MeToo Culture. She is witnessing the fall of so many male predators with zero impulse control and distorted ideas of what respecting women and all humans looks like.

I believe all of the minor movement buildups throughout time have led us to this point. Women have been silenced, shamed, and objectified for so long. But the pent up energy and the work of activists before us will cause a volcanic release so large “they” won’t be able to silence us again.

Steinem has shown us in her work and activism that telling truth to power is not for the faint of heart. Look at the legacies of Anita Hill, Hillary Clinton, Dolores Huertas, Marsha Johnson, Malala Yousafzai, Monica Lewinsky, and more.  Speaking powerfully with passion and anger about a violation of your body, brain, and spirit takes a particular form of courage.   Imagine walking into fire to retrieve a loved one.  In 2017, I think we are walking into the fire to retrieve our collective ancient wisdom. I keep reminding my women friends—most of whom can or have grown a human in their body!—to channel that power and deeply rooted innate genius. How we choose to use this newly inspired strength remains to be seen.  

So, what do I wish for the future?

I wish that the men who have abused and acted in violent, hostile, and non-loving ways are called out and challenged by their peers. We must uncover the scab of toxic masculinity, reset it with tenderness, and demand from men that they embody a dignified, equitable, respectful relationship with the women in their life. We must demand this as well from those men who perform allyship as a shield to the harm they inflict, for example, as Weinstein did when he “funded a gender studies professorship in Gloria Steinem’s name, attended the Women’s March, campaigned for the first female presidential nominee by a major party and produced a documentary about sexual assault.” What men choose to do as allies at this time in history has immense possibilities. The #ThemToo movement can be a powerful step. Allyship must be more than window dressing and performative.

I wish, as Steinem wishes, that the energy released, the emotions shed, and vulnerability and strength being exposed right now is accompanied by strong financial support and investments in good women's rights groups! There are so many that are worthy depending on your focus and intent.  

 Tuti in her "Eroticize Equality" Shirt

Tuti in her "Eroticize Equality" Shirt

And I very much hope that we keep on encouraging each other. I think back to my encounters with and memories of Gloria and her wise words of encouragement often these days. Two of my favorite phrases, “Equality Rocks” (on my business card!) and “Eroticize Equality” (on my favorite shirt! Steinem explains the idea here) showcase exactly the energy we need to bring to the movement.

This is not at all the time to back down, so we absolutely must keep speaking truth to power and cheering each other on. We need all the energy and sass we can get.


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Reflecting my Values: Who I Give To and Why When I Make a Charitable Gift

I was raised by a creative, resourceful mother. A woman who utilized the whole earth, taught us to give freely, and do unto others as you would have done unto you. She planted us five children in a warm, creative rural farm which encouraged space for us to fully grow into ourselves.

Throughout my time, I have met women leaders and organizations who emulate my mother’s strong values for hard work, generosity, respect, and a cultivated curiosity. I am attracted to opportunities as a donor, board member, or coach when I resonate with a leader who mirrors these values. My resourcefulness, playful spirit, and resilience comes from my upbringing and life experiences. I have chosen to showcase some of the organizations and their leadership that I work with as a funder, board member, and/or coach who reflect these traits and model them as well.


1. Tides: An organization I have the pleasure of chairing the board, Tides’ mission is to accelerate the pace of social change, working with innovative partners to solve society’s toughest problem. In my role, I have the honor of working alongside CEO Kriss Deiglmeier, who has expanded Tides’ grant making from $92 million to more than $300 million this year. This means bigger, sustainable, and highly-needed giving to solve multiple challenges such as environmental protection of the Massachusetts coastline to educational advancement for all in Buenos Aires. Tides is not just about strategic philanthropy and impact investing; it’s about accelerating the pace of social change, which,  ideally, was the central focus of every philanthropist and grantmaker.

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2. Women Win: Sports are in my blood and being. Empowering girls through sports yield empowered, bold female leaders. And yes, the data proves it! Women Win is a global organization that equips adolescent girls to exercise their rights through sport.   As a founding Board member of the Women Win Foundation, I am proud of the work we do cultivating embodied leadership through sports for girls living in countries where girls lack basic human rights. 

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3. Girls Athletic Leadership Schools: GALS is at the forefront of the intersection of education and embodied leadership. GALS fosters academic success and personal development for young women to become powerful advocates for themselves and advocates in their community. GALS has effectively honed in on the importance of full-body, holistic learning and the benefits that it has for academic, personal, and (future!) professional success.


4. Washington Area Women’s Foundation: Located in the nation’s capital, Washington Area Women’s Foundation has supported the women and girls of the area, and organizations that work with them, to increase their assets and incomes by more than $45 millions dollars since 1998. By mobilizing the community to ensure economically vulnerable women and girls have the resources they need to thrive, they are addressing the root issues of poverty in sustainable, meaningful ways that have been modeled by many regional funds nationwide.  

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5. Asia Foundation- Women’s Empowerment Program: With so many foundations doing work in Asia, it’s crucial to keep the perspectives of grantees in mind first. Empower Her at Asia Foundation uses evidence-based programming that focuses on economic opportunities, increasing rights and security, as well as increasing female political participation. This “wrap around” programming ensures that system changes occurs alongside meeting current needs. The Women’s Empowerment Program uses the power of bringing a gender lens to politics, climate justice and entrepreneurship across Asia.   


6. National Center for Lesbian Rights: Though you may think winning marriage equality means the LGBT community has full access and privilege in society, that is sadly and unfortunately far from the truth. In 28 states, you can still get fired just for being lesbian, bisexual, or gay. NCLR is THE “national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.”


7. Roots to Resistance: Roots to Resistance is the result of the incredible time and talents of Artist Denise Beaudet. Two of the most important mantras for our time is the “personal is political” and “art is activism”. Denise marries those two philosophies into this project. Painting 12 portraits of International, radical Women Activists, Denise brings to life the faces and stories of the changemakers who have made an impact globally. Denise’s work will make sure these women are not forgotten or unseen and help to teach us universal lessons from fierce, bold, activist leaders.  


8. Women’s Fund of Central Ohio: The focus of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio could be my personal brand statement; WFCO is committed to igniting social change for the sake of gender equality. While Ohio may be viewed through a rusty lens by many Americans, WFCO is shifting that narrative with disruptive and innovative programming that builds meaningful change. Their toolkit, GenderByUs™ is one of the best conversation starters on bias and assumptions.   


9. Third Wave Fund: Funding fierce next generational activists is key to our future. My lesbian feminist identity has played a substantial role in my giving and investing because it is who I am. Third Wave Fund is the only activist fund led by and for women of color, intersex, queer, and trans folks under 35 years old in the US. Over time, we have seen the power that radical change can create. Now more than ever, Third Wave Fund, their work and members, are needed. We must be there to support the next generation of activists.

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10.  Doing this work takes resilience, grit and gratitude.  Poetry is what breaks souls open and this team delivers spirit lifting and soul opening content and community in spades.   Visiting this online portal of compassion, love and more brings more grace into our lives.   Thank you to my dear friend Kristi Nelson for bringing a huge amount of brilliance and spiritual wisdom to guide this founder led organization onto a strong digital stage where it belongs. 

As we approach end-of-year giving, having just passed #GivingTuesday, I urge you to consider what your unique values are around giving. I’ve highlighted why each organization draws me to giving sustainably. Take time to reflect on your own values, write them down, and then find organizations that help you harness the power to create change with your time, talents and treasures.

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On Dreaming and Practice: Lessons from Billie Jean King

Now more than ever we need to promote passionate, purpose-filled, embodied leaders, especially women. Truth-tellers, advocates for justice, visionary organizational leaders, and inspired philanthropists who use a gender and racial lens to guide their work need a larger stage. I believe that equity is our destiny. We will need wisdom, smarts, determination, and inspiration to execute the alternative to patriarchal/toxic masculine leadership models that don’t reflect our truths and even punish our voices.

Gloria Steinem reminds us, “Dreaming is a form of planning.” As a coach and consultant, I know this to be true. I’ve witnessed it make the difference time and time again, which is why we must be in the business of expertly implementing and executing the realities we know can define daily life for ourselves and others. This post is the first in a series highlighting bold women leaders I have had the pleasure of working with, coaching, and supporting. These fierce leaders have dreamed bigger for all of us.

An original and groundbreaking fierce leader is tennis legend Billie Jean King, and I am honored to have worked alongside her. One of the most powerful things I’ve learned from her is to regularly ask myself and now my clients, “What does winning look like?”  The effect of this question was clear every time… be bigger, be bolder, shine brighter. It’s a worthy question to ask yourself and ask your colleagues and family.  Social change leaders who ask themselves this question make a far greater impact because of this practice.

I’m proud to have worked with Billie Jean King, Dr. Donna Lopiano, Dr. Dorothy Blaney, Julie Foudy, Dominique Dawes, and many more excellent leaders in the 15 years I spent at the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), so it is thrilling to see Billie Jean’s story on the big screen again. I am psyched that another generation of women and girls are learning about Billie Jean's fierce feminist life and career.

Billie Jean founded the WSF one year after her incredible win against Bobby Riggs to ensure that all girls have access to sports. When I was hired at WSF in my late 20s, after many years playing and coaching women’s basketball, I found a home—a place where my professional teammates and I performed and challenged ourselves daily in an all out effort to achieve excellence. We understood that expertise came through practice, repetition, and attention to detail. It wasn’t just something you stumbled upon. CEO Dr. Lopiano, also the Mother Theresa of gender equity in sports in my opinion, and Billie Jean’s leadership set the unyielding tone for this approach to success.

Athlete leaders and celebrities like Geena Davis and Holly Hunter (who played Billie Jean King in an Emmy award-winning TV special about "the match" in 2001) took up the cause, visitedCapitol Hill with us, spoke to funders, and did media interviews. We worked strategically and intentionally to change people’s attitudes and ideas of what women’s role in sports could be. In my experience, athletes know how to build movements. By movement I mean shifting culture, definitions, and behaviors of others. Passionate, committed practice did that. And, as a movement led by Billie Jean and all of us. We had a deep bench and we were practicing hard every day, nonstop.

 Billie Jean King and Julie Foudy at Billie Jean's 60th Birthday Party

Billie Jean King and Julie Foudy at Billie Jean's 60th Birthday Party

The women’s sports movement has been filled with stories, good and bad, that have shocked people into action or change. For these moments, you want to be ready. Practice ensures readiness.

The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta saw women’s softball, soccer, synchro swimming, and beach volleyball in the games for the first time ever. All of the sudden a new reality for girls was created and Title IX is what made all of this possible. When the U.S. women’s teams won gold medals in basketball, softball, and soccer during these Olympics, it shone a light on what 20 years of Title IX plus exposure to coaching, resources, and supports could build for women.

In 2003, Annika Sorenstam took on the men at the Bank of America Colonial PGA tour stop amidst thousands of “Go Annika” buttons and the grumbles of only two male pro golfers thankfully. What a sea change from Billie Jean’s Battle of the Sexes match in 1973. (As fun as it is to view, the match truly divided the nation).  

We can go on about the bias that remains against women athletes today. Women athletes are still sexualized and sensationalized, not paid for “equal” work, and coverage of their accomplishments is still virtually non-existent in the sport media. To this day, race horses and dog racing can get more coverage in print and online media, and total media coverage of women’s sports is less than 4% of the total sports coverage. So let’s get back to dreaming for a moment:

  • Imagine that women were paid equal salaries to men in professional sports instead, for example, $72,000 average salary in the WNBA versus 6.2 million in the NBA.

  • Imagine women coaching men’s teams being as "normalized" in our culture the way men are for coaching women’s teams.  

  • Imagine a woman head of the United States Olympic Committee.

  • Imagine a young Latina girl being encouraged to compete in the US Open finals and more young African American girls being encouraged to become Olympic swimmers like the incredible Simone Manuel.

Knowing the research that says women who play team sports perform better in the workplace, why wouldn’t we want every girl to have access to sports and the opportunities that come along with sports? Real access of opportunity (economic and otherwise), for all girls IS dreaming bigger. Whenever we stand up and mobilize to get to the intentional, persistent work of gender equity through sports, we positively influence our economy, our leadership paradigm, our economy, and all of society.   

Billie Jean has willingly put her celebrity status out front for justice. She has always been distinctively and authentically curious and determined. She has lived a radical commitment to the strength of our multiplicity. And we must remember that the Battle of the Sexes match was a platform to stand up for the violence, inequitable treatment, and sexism women endured and protested in the 60s and 70s. Today, the film stands for the continued need for fierce leadership and a radical commitment to the girls and women of the next generation (because we are not there yet)!

Clearly, I’m reminded of this today seeing the protests by the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks and the NFL athletes, coaches, and fans #TakeAKnee. Changing culture and behaviors around racist violence against black women (#SayHerName) and men is justice worth fighting for. Athletes and sports command one of the largest stages for activism in the name of equity.

Thank you Billie Jean for making social activism and sports come to life for this intersectional feminist and for millions of others.  


Why Moving Millions to Women and Girls Must Include Work on Embodied Leadership

For women, girls, and gender non-conforming people living in a patriarchal society, simply knowing about one’s rights and legal protections (or lack thereof) is not enough. All of us must have the inner strength and self-confidence to take action. By doing so, we are also fighting for the rights of others.

Yet most funders, feminist funders, and humanist funders, lessen the impact they can make with their funding when the basic premise is that every person simply has rights. I believe our job as social change leaders and philanthropists is to urge people to learn about what those rights are and how to maximize them for further social good and impact.

Realizing our rights and optimizing our rights actually takes a particular kind of strength, and it also takes a community with that particular strength. I always say I will run through a wall for myself and my sisters because I know it’s the right thing to do.

The World Bank Report, Voice and Agency – Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity, shines a spotlight on the value of voice and agency, the patterns of constraint that limit their realization, and the associated costs to women, their families, communities and societies. The research shows that expanding agency is likely to bring broader gains for development and to advance the agenda of eliminating poverty and then achieving shared prosperity.

What do we mean by agency? Agency is the ability to make decisions about one’s life and act on them free of violence, retribution, or fear.

embodied leadership.jpeg

Embodied leadership is a way of being in the world that allows one to seamlessly integrate the lessons of the body learned through healthy movement and competition: risk, courage, anxiety, fear, the art of fundamentals, achievement and failure in everyday living, and decision-making. Girls and women who actively practice these lessons are more likely to successfully and graciously make “healthier” decisions—emotionally, relationally, and intellectually. They have agency. And from decades of sports programming here in the United States, we know that sports offers many valuable skills including increased inner strength, self confidence, and increased agency as well.

Through sports (and living embodied leadership), girls, for example build agency as they…

  1. Are more aware of and in control of their bodies
  2. Get out of the home
  3. Are able to build trust and social supports
  4. Learn how to ask for help
  5. Challenge stereotypes about women
  6. Encourage boundary setting
  7. Build courage
  8. Secure a proud place in the community
  9. And ultimately, increase their voice and agency.

This is why I continue to talk about the larger significance of Title IX in America. It has taken nearly 40 years to understand the “off-field” implications of Title IX. It was never just about sports. With its equitable funding mandate for federally funded primary and secondary schools, Title IX didn’t just make education and sports available to women and girls; it built a career path to leadership. Girls who participate in sports and physical activity are academically more successful, more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to matriculate in college, and experience greater career and economic success. Ernst & Young surveyed 821 high-level executives and found that a whopping 90% of women sampled played sports. Among women currently holding a C-suite position, this proportion rose to 96%. The data also clearly demonstrates the substantial rate of increase in degrees earned in law and medicine.

Focusing in on girls specifically across the globe for a moment—the barriers preventing girls from participating in sports almost always prevent them from fully participating in society as well. This is a shame because we know embodied leadership and voice improves women’s presence and experience in every other sphere of life such as the workplace, home, and community. There are 600 million girls growing up in developing countries today. We need to leverage the power of sport to address the most critical issues facing them. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, Title IX is one of the most important human rights legislations of this generation. So what might it take for the ethos, the spirit of Title IX, to go global?

Until we acknowledge and address these barriers to sports participation at home and abroad, far too many human beings will not access the confidence, power, and voice that come through embodied leadership. So how do we address the gender and cultural barriers that impact participation in sport? Together, we need to answer this question because we know sports can have a powerful impact on social change.

After 30 years working in philanthropy, I know a big part of the solution is funding. We need to fund sports and embodied leadership development programs because funding is always what drives opportunity here in the US or abroad. Resources drive the availability and quality of the sports experience.

One outstanding example of making embodied education accessible to all irrespective of backgrounds is the Girls Athletic Leadership Schools Inc., a growing national network of public schools that uses movement as its pedagogy as well as a positive gender focus. Imagine what the next generation of girls with agency in the United States would look like if every tier I and tier II city in this country offered a GALS Inc. school as an option? Imagine going to a school where everyone does circuits or yoga or runs every day, and not just the students, the teachers and administrators too? A school where there are movement breaks for the brain and body and kick-ass music as bells in between classes, and where girls learn and own responsible action through inquiry rather than rules demanded of them?

We also need to learn from the voices of leaders who have had high level competitive sports as the core of their personal and professional development. This past Friday, 200 of us did just that at the Women Moving Millions Summit in New York.

The panel, “Embodied Leadership: Advancing Women’s Rights On & Off the Field” moderated by Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch, examined the powerful role sports play to develop strong female leaders, build resilient communities, and advance women’s rights and parity at home and globally.

Panelists included:

  • Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, Athletic Director, Pleasant View School, Motivational Speaker & Basketball Trainer

  • Liz Wolfson, Visionary, Girls Athletic Leadership Schools, Inc.

  • Julie Foudy, Two-time Olympian Gold Medalist & Former US Women’s Soccer Team Captain

 Seated Left to Right: Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, Liz Wolfson, and Julie Foudy

Seated Left to Right: Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, Liz Wolfson, and Julie Foudy

Each of these fierce leaders have devoted their expertise, passion, and philanthropy to create programs, organizations, and schools that offer the opportunity for embodied power for women, girls, and gender non-conforming people.

We already know that we live in a patriarchal society. In case we couldn’t see it before, the evidence is glaring now. We know that sports, military, religion, politics, and corporate America are the hosts and feeding grounds of patriarchy. We must use sports and embodied leadership to disrupt the patriarchy, throw our full weight behind programs benefitting women and girls, and help every person feel powerful and strong in their body.


Sabo, D., Melnick, M., and Vanfossen, B. (1989) The Women’s Sports Foundation Report: Minorities in Sports. New York: Women’s Sports Foundation, Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, NY 11554.

Game Face. (2002). From the Locker Room to the Boardroom: A Survey on Sports in the Lives of Women Business Executives. Oppenheimer Funds, 498 Seventh Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018, Feb. 2002.

Why A Single Narrative About the 19th Amendment Does Us All an Injustice​​​​​​​

The danger of a single narrow narrative for civil rights policy or legislation such as Title IX and suffrage expansion is that it diminishes the power that it can hold for millions of individuals.

Last year on July 26th, a major political party officially nominated a woman as their presidential candidate for the first time. Hillary Clinton, dressed in all white (a nod to the suffrage movement), accepted the nomination and made history. Accepting the nomination was far from the first step in women’s liberation. Rather it was a celebration of a long and calculated movement of determined women. And then the 2016 election happened.

Clinton’s nod to the suffragistswas a reminder of the history, pain, and work they put into passing the 19th amendment that must not be forgotten or glazed over as simply ”the right to vote”.  Similar to Title IX being seen as the “sports law”, the 19th amendment and the Education Amendments Act had broader goals for women and for society. Both laws represent so much more than they appear and learning more about their purpose and true intent can help lead us to further progress towards women’s equality.

In 1848, the suffrage movement began with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organizing the Seneca Falls Convention, inspired by their trip to an Anti-Slavery Convention. This was a coming together and a call for all women’s civil rights, even beyond voting. The official document, the Declaration of Sentiments, called for expansion and recognition of equal rights to women, including suffrage. Modeled after the Declaration of Independences, it shares qualities of the Equal Rights Amendment. The document stated that a woman was man’s equal, called for expansion of educational opportunities, and inclusion of women to all career fields. Ironically, during the convention, women’s suffrage was the only resolve that was not unanimously passed.

In the context of the legislative process and societal norms, activists and suffragists used the energy from this convention as a catalyst to lobby states to ratify a woman’s right to vote, which was a significant step in women’s emancipation. Twenty-one states had ratified this policy before the federal government passed the 19th Amendment for women’s suffrage in 1920. The 19th Amendment simply says: “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Though its meaning clear, this amendment did not allow for all women to vote. It wasn’t until 1947 that Native American women got the right to vote, in 1952 the policy began including Asian women, and finally, in 1965, the Voting Rights Act gave Black women the right vote.

 Facebook's Women's Equality Day Image Last Year. A number of these women however did not have the right with the 19th Amendment.

Facebook's Women's Equality Day Image Last Year. A number of these women however did not have the right with the 19th Amendment.

As Evette Dionne noted in her piece “Women’s Suffrage Leaders Left Out Black Women” for Teen Vogue, “Black women publicly fought for their right to vote, and often. In her 1867 speech at the American Equal Rights Association, Sojourner Truth argued that giving black men the right to vote without affording black women the same right only promoted black men's dominance.” Acknowledging the full story and history of the 19th Amendment helps us see how much we have to do to achieve racial and gender justice collectively.

Much like the 19th Amendment and voting, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, goes beyond the sports label that it has been given. Passed in 1972, Title IX prohibits sex based discrimination in educational settings. While this expanded opportunities for athletics, it also prohibits discrimination against pregnant/parenting students, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, sexual harassment, and inequitable access to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and resources.

In June, Title IX celebrated its 45th anniversary, but only a few years ago did the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) focus on the STEM pillar or respond to the pleas of rape victims speaking up on college campuses. Finally, OCR is providing definitive instructions on how to apply Title IX to prosecute and end sexual assault in educational institutions. We must mobilize resources in support of all of the areas in which Title IX was intended.   

Equitable funding for women in schools through congressional legislation is much easier to implement than a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women. But the connections between the Declaration of Sentiments, Equal Rights Amendment, the 19th Amendment, Title IX, and Education Amendments Act can all be tangibly strung together by a movement with a clearly focused purpose; full equality and recognition of women in society.

In recognizing this history, we must expand the use of our language around Title IX and the 19th Amendment to open the door for institutional and policy change that women in the suffrage movement identified 160 years ago as their end goal. Beyond wearing white, let’s think of what might we all do to bring a movement for equal rights to fruition including protecting voting rights, particularly for communities of color. In 2020, perhaps a woman President will be able to channel Alice Paul’s spirit to get the final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment pushed through after 93 years of waiting for our due.  


Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant and coach, was co-CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation. She is a second wave intersectional feminist and lifelong point guard and will play in any game that has gender equality as a goal.

Jessica Avery works as the social media coordinator for Imagine Philanthropy. Having studied politics and gender studies at Mount Holyoke College, Jessica works on policy issues surrounding education, the environment, and women's rights and is a proud intersectional millennial feminist.

45 Years Later, Three Social Justice Movement Building Lessons from Title IX

People forget how transformative Title IX was—not just for women and girls, but for all of society. We tend to think of Title IX only in its relationship to sports. I get it. But there is a rich history there and we need to remember how Title IX’s implications extend into every other arena of life.

As part of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX states: 

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Think about that. With all of the work our country needed to do, Title IX set women and girls, and our nation, on an entirely new path. Title IX was a win for our society and the 21st century. 

I remind people that Title IX was established so that women could go to college and pursue advanced degrees. This was one of the first ways women gained access to power by drastically expanding their career options. The absolute intent of Title IX is protecting women and girls from sexual harassment, protecting pregnant women from discrimination, and ensuring that women and girls have access to education and training in male-dominated STEM fields. Women can now study medicine, law, or finance, rather than being limited to being teachers and social workers. 

Title IX was then and is today about expanded opportunity, and yes, justice.

Today, on the 45th anniversary of Title IX, with too many Black and Brown lives lost to state violence, justice must be at the forefront of our conversations. In May, Kimberlé Crenshaw, the scholar and critical race theorist who coined the term intersectionality, spoke about the interconnectedness of our movements. She said, “We need to have better ways of talking across movements.” 

Here are three lessons that I’ve learned from a life and career steeped in Title IX and women’s philanthropy that we can put to use in our connected movements for gender, racial and even, dare I say, economic justice.

1) Leadership and justice is never a zero sum game.

We have a president who is obsessed with winning and losing. But athletes know this—you never play just to win. You train hard for years, develop your skills out of respect for everyone involved, and foster a rapport with other players. And winning isn’t always correlated with performance. Mr. Trump may think leadership is about winning, but it’s about something much bigger-excellence, integrity, and sportsmanship to start. Outcomes that matter to people, outcomes that change the course of history, and outcomes that change what is possible. And I for one believe in the potential of the human spirit.

Why does this matter? When you think there is a finite amount of money, power, or justice – aptly reframed as love according to the wise Dr. Monique Morris - to go around, everyone suffers for it. There are still people who don’t support Title IX today, for example, because of the myth that when we invest in women’s and girls’ programs, for example, boys lose out. History proves that this isn’t true. Title IX continues to teach us that there’s enough room for girls and boys to succeed.

What can this teach us about other movements for social justice? That no one movement fights in isolation. We must fight alongside of and for the most marginalized communities among us, just as others have fought alongside the Women’s Movement, Civil Right, Gay Rights, etc. Clearly, we must know by now that publicly supporting Black Lives Matterdoesn’t mean that another community is going to lose.

2) Exercising and using our bodies is a primary tool in the empowerment of voice.

And the more we use our voice, the more we feel at home in our bodies. I call this embodied leadership. I have found this relationship between voice and body to be true through the spectrum of my life – as an athlete, a lover, and a cancer and heart disease patient. This is why with every activist I engage with, I encourage being fully present with your body. Whatever your body looks like, whatever your body can do. You are more powerful than you know.

Women Win’s research tells us that sports assists in the prevention of gender-based violence. Through sports, and I would infer through embodied leadership of all expressions, women and girls:

  1. Learn how to ask for help
  2. Encourage boundary setting
  3. Build courage

Many of the things I see women struggle with as a result of living in this culture—not going to bat for ourselves or others, apologizing too much, competing against women we could and should be supporting—these things live in the body, too. We can transform them using the leadership and teamwork skills we learn through the model from sports. We can transform them by stepping into and standing in our power. Whether or not you play sports now or if you were lucky to grow up playing sports, remember that you have access to using your voice. Leadership at every level is embodied, and we need to start teaching it in an embodied way. Marching regularly works as does using your power stance…daily.

3) We have to find more ways to tap into our empathy.

There are a million reasons to encourage women’s full participation in every sector of society. Again, looking just at sports, we know that when girls play sports, they go on to have more positive experiences in every sphere of life: their home, workplace, and community. Health benefits of movement and sports are crystal clear. Women who benefited from playing sports have an 8% higher wage premium and are 20% more likely to be in the workforce. We know companies are more profitable when women are in leadership positions, and more than half of all top female executives played sports in college. In other words, women’s participation in sports helps women get to the highest levels of leadership and prepares them for success in spaces previously dominated only by men. 

But beyond all of these reasons, making sure women and girls have access to sports is simply the right thing to do. Each time a father goes to bat for his daughter using Title IX protections under the law, he is going to bat for young women everywhere. Each time we throw our support behind a woman colleague who asks for equal funding for her programs or challenges sexual harassment in the workplace, we go to bat for all women. The history of Title IX teaches us what justice and empathy looks like in practice. We demonstrate empathy by fighting for another person’s humanity. By showing up and being willing to do it… because it’s the right thing to do.

We need the lessons of Title IX now more than ever. While there is so much more work for equity, Title IX has helped create the conditions of fairness for women and girls. We have to ask ourselves, what conditions do we need to create now—what laws, systems, and practices do we need to change, to make gender and racial justice, and yes, economic justice a reality?

Degrading the Fearless Girl: Why People Lean on Misogyny for Progress

On May 29th 2017, an artist created and positioned a urinating dog, “Pissing Pug,” next to the “Fearless Girl” statue situated in front of the famous Wall Street “Charging Bull.” 

He said his goal was “spreading awareness about the corporate origins of the statue” and to highlight the negative aspects of Wall Street. A nod that we need to move away from the greedy origins of Wall Street and do away with these corporate types all together. 

Looking at the piece, I wonder: Why did this male artist wait for a female-commissioned piece of a little girl to make his statement? 

A dog, in a degrading act, towards a young girl is appalling, but it also speaks to a bigger issue in movement building. Misogyny, hatred towards women and/or girls, is common in movements because there is still a lack of understanding of intersectionality and how change can be created for the benefit of all, including the lived experiences of all. 

Let’s look at the history of both statues. State Street Corporation (which has a gender lens investing initiative) commissioned the “Fearless Girl” piece in honor of International Women’s Day, though it wasn’t a permanent fixture. There was much uproar around the statue. The Charging Bull’s creator expressed his dismay, as well as many people calling it an advertising ploy or feel good act for companies who exclude women. I was one of the people who saw this artwork as an amazing opportunity to open up the dialogue around the capital that women own as well as the fact that we need more women in financial boardrooms. 

In contrast, the Charging Bull was paid for by the artist and put up after the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of the people’s strength and power. If that were truly the case, however, if that were truly a value we hold dear, the Fearless Girl would simply be an addition to that—a symbol of women’s strength and power to the investment industry that the bull has come to represent. 

According to a 2017 Catalyst report, women hold just 29 (5.8%) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. A 2015 Morningstar report cited by The World Economic Forum found that women manage less than 2% of mutual fund assets and “nearly two thirds of the top 71 Silicon Valley venture capital funds have no senior female investment professionals, according to the Social & Capital Partnership. I could continue, but the picture is clear: Women are not part of the high level conversations around investments. The investment industry desperately needs women’s strength and power. 

A 2009 study from the Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy tells us that “women will inherit 70% of the money that gets passed down over the next two generations” (excludes the increasing amounts they earn on their own) and women already own more than half of the investable assets in the U.S. Our money is good enough to trade, make more money off, and reinvest, but adding us to the (white male) boy’s club is taking far too long. What’s the problem with “Pissing Pug?” Instead of addressing the real issues with Wall Street, it was easier for this artist to undermine art that is speaking to millions and helping to bring about important changes in a male-dominated industry. Women should not be used as a prop to push an agenda. They should be a critical part of the conversation and be driving the conversation. Like the system or not, we have every right to it and a say in where our money is going and what’s been done with it. 

Many companies and initiatives, such as Pax Ellevate FundEquileapEconomic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) or State Street’s Gender Diversity ETF, are changing the narrative about women, leadership and investing. If we continue to dismiss women leaders or push women aside, which the dog statue undoubtedly does, no true change can occur with how, where, and to whom our money goes.

7 Practices to Focus on Individual Giving

A number of clients and colleagues understand the value of diversifying their revenue models.  Most of these organizations have been primarily dependent on institutional giving models (i.e., recipients of grants) and are starting to explore what success looks like in the individual giving arena.  Results in this arena take time, persistence and insistence on key practices.   Here are my top seven ideas for building sustainable and engaging partnerships with individual donors.   Good luck and let me know which ones are working for you!

  1. Stick to a relationship building rhythm. People give because they are asked to help.  Before inviting someone to invest in your work, one needs to build a relationship.  Telling the story in person over and over in a myriad of ways (one-on-one, small lunches, cocktail parties, etc.) builds rapport and comfort that people trust and want to be part of. Takeaway – Do you tape or rehearse your ‘story’ and adjust it to resonate with different audience?
  2. Explore prospecting opportunities.  All programs have ‘alumni’ who have benefited from the service provided by the organization, some of whom may have given and some who have never been asked.  As well, there is typically a parent (if higher education based), friend or other person connected to the beneficiary who saw the transformation created by your program. Takeaway - How often can you produce lists and share them with the leadership to determine who hasn’t yet been engaged or who they might like to know more about?  
  3. Set goals for meetings and conversations.  What gets measured gets attended to, what gets attended to gets done.  Conversations are always opportunities for the organization to learn about the donor or the prospect’s values and ideals. Takeaway – How much time do you allocate for downloading your meetings so they are put into a database record and/or utilized to determine how best to engage someone in the mission and work?
  4. Create a communications calendar to engage with key people.  Every organization has an ‘inner circle’ of long time donors (3-5 years or more of giving), program alumni, current or former board members, celebrities, planned gift donors, long term serving staff, major donors (at an amount that is relative to the organization).  For every trip, event or mailing, examine if you want to visit or pull this group list for a mailing and personalize in some manner.  Takeaway – Have you set up an inner circle query on your database and how do you uniquely steward this group?
  5. Formalize a ‘posse’ or advisory council.  With organizations that do not have a traditional fundraising Board or need to expand the work of their Board, harnessing the ideas and connections of an advisory board or other group of connected people to expand the reach of the work.  Takeaway – Is there a group of 5-7 people who you reach out to on a quarterly basis to get their ideas on strategies, opportunities and events and people to engage with?  
  6. Encourage leadership to ask for help and advice.  Often, long serving or highly competent CEO/ED’s feel they have arrived or see asking for help as a weakness.  To be successful, a good organization will have leadership that has at least 5-6 ways to invite a donor to offer their time, talent or treasure.  Remember the mantra, “Ask for money and you get advice; ask for advice and you get money.”  Takeaway – How many different ways can you invite input, ideas, connections, and resources?
  7. Conduct ongoing database analysis and research.  The database is the biggest asset of most organizations and the least invested in.  There are tools (donor research database overlays) that can be utilized to assess the giving potential of donors.  Takeaway - Is there a full-time position or allocation of at least 20-30 hours per/week of a staff member’s time who is continually doing queries, pulling lists and conducting analysis of records and the content in the records (not data entry)?


Identity: Try and Dismiss It

This rhythmic rant was originally written after the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.  At the time, it felt too raw to publish then, but in light of the Gavin Grimm case, Texas gender inequality bills, Governors and Judges who are homophobic and many other LGBTQIA dismissals and injustices, I no longer have the privilege to stay silent. 


How can being gay be compared to fear of flying or spiders or crowds?  There is no phobia of gays and lesbians any more – there is only ignorance, self-loathing and fear. 

I am from despair to righteousness swearing quietly to complacent privileged people.  I am from claiming space and truth.  I have marched for rights for women, for access to sport, for our right to choose, for our right to love.  I have given money for and to women leaders, been in the trenches working on behalf of women athletes.  I am from an activist mother who brought forth these skills.   

I am from the particles that make up the bed I lie on as well as every idea and word that collides inside my body and mind.  I am from atoms – free flowing energy and movement.  I am from protons and neutrons. 

My mind lives throughout my body hammering inside my heart, whimpering in my belly and starch drying my womb.  I push and pull the particles depending on the wind, levels of self-compassion and the biochemistry of the day.  A chemstrip is dipped into my chest like a chlorine pool test measuring my systems of hardness, alkalinity, and today, my sugars and testosterone.  I am from lowered estrogen and highly elevated provocative words and acts.

My journey has included a stop or two to reboot my heart and reset my rhythm, flatten my chest, clear ugly growths and tighten up my knee.  All of my particles are moving now – fully alert and radicalized.  I wonder why my protons are so sensitive to violence and hate?  Why do my particles crave tenderness and kindness?  There are others who use the quantum physics of their atoms to hurt, violate and even kill.  Who or what rearranged their innocent baby minds from affluence, love and potential to fear, anger and despair? 

I am from the gay rights movement of the 80’s and 90’s – AIDS and siloed thinking and work.  I am the daughter of Susan.  I chose my own name Tuti at age 5 --- it means we all play together.  Fitting for this intersectional humanist/feminist.  My atoms have been complacent as they hyper focused on healing for a decade.  Now they make up the design of a test strip to mark levels of sexism in a person’s psyche.  The marker on my chem strip is dark red and bloody mad. 

I am the daughter and granddaughter of artists and teachers – why wouldn’t my genes have cell memory of the themes of uprising?  My epigenetic being is so tired of the lack of love and lack of acceptance, tired of bias and bigotry, tired of people’s rush to judge, tired of laws written because people have a ‘phobia’ of who I love, tired of people who hurt and threaten ‘other’. 

I am from dumpsters of kindness and righteous hope standing proudly with dignity.  When they put the chemstrip into my heart to test my levels today, they will find that balance and serenity have silenced any opposition.  I am a spiritual being having a human experience.   My atoms recognize their affinity with atoms in my fellow marginalized beings. I am the belief in attracting strong, powerful allies who will step out of their privilege and speak up for us.  Join me.

Six Steps for Moving Forward

My posse of friends and family have known that I am often slow to identify the source of my sadness or anger as a sensitive Virgo.  Forgive me for coming late to the "grieving the women’s movement party of one.”  Many people were inspired to be at a March on the 21st and, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed being in Boston and seeing generations marching together and young men holding signs in support of women.  Yet, there I was in the sea of people on the Boston Common sobbing while telling my friend Ellen how alone I felt amidst the sea of people.  I was grieving the pinkness of it all, the whiteness of the crowd, the pacifying of women’s voices. I was sad about feeling that we had, yet again, let down black and Latina women.

I have been in the women’s rights movement for four decades, so please accept my apologies if I offend any newcomers who are still in post march glee.  Excuse an elder pin-wearing activist for being tired of how we chose not to honor legacy and marched with a theme of owning our co-opted pussies.  At this time in the evolution of our society I feel we ought to be able to actually use the anatomical word vagina without shame or disdain while also acknowledging that not all of our sisters (especially many elders) see vaginas as a universal term of solidarity.

My shirt said ‘Still All in for Her’ and yet I got nary a thumbs up or nod amongst the thousands of people I walked by the day of the march. Shame on all of us for not recognizing the one leader who has been at the tip of the spear for decades standing up to the misogyny and double standards of sexism and not taking even a moment to salute her historic achievement or even acknowledge her classy, dignified fight or stolen election.  Our technology-obsessed culture keeps us from pausing to learn from or celebrate our history.  If we make our leaders and what they symbolize obsolete, how do we learn?

The March was set up to showcase love and not hate and be about women and inclusion and not DT’s distasteful form and hateful speech.  Yet feminine energy was dressed in pink when clearly we need fluorescent orange.  Pink is soft and complacent and focuses on the idea that our pussy is all that we are.  Orange screams warning – it screams we have a voice and it will be alarming when women’s voices are fully unleashed and unfettered.  The March gave us the chance for one day to collectively shout across the globe.  As we march forward my call to action is to show our outrage beyond emoticons and stretch ourselves to be vulnerable and vocal in person about what we stand for and why.

 Tuti and friends readying for the Women's March in Boston

Tuti and friends readying for the Women's March in Boston

We witnessed Hillary Clinton fighting for us all and representing women leaders or aspiring young leaders day in and day out while being treated with double standards and judged as not ‘likable’.  Will someone please tell me when white women are going to stop pissing on women leaders or, better yet, actually have each other’s backs – especially the backs of leaders who are supporting the betterment of all?  If we keep fighting each other, we feed into the white male patriarchy’s strategy.  Why don’t we get as mad at the system that shames our “never perfect” bodies, keeps us from positions of power and/or leadership and dismisses our ideas and voices?  Where is our bright orange outrage?

Hatred, sexism, and racism were here long before Trump came along.  Solidarity doesn’t actually mean community or change.  Divisiveness between color or age is a strategy for mitigating power.  Getting women to criticize or hate other women for stepping into leadership or speaking boldly is part of the strategy to fragment our power.  We must move forward on the assumption that all women care about ALL of ‘us’.  This belief makes it even more critical for women of privilege to yield to the concerns and needs of their fellow feminists and sisters who are in direct harm from changes to key federal level policies.  Seriously, how can we as white women of privilege expect black feminist, trans activists and undocumented people to fight for issues that will help us all when we can’t even acknowledge that the work that they are doing benefits us?

If I could have tea with any of the 53% white female population who voted for Trump, I would have a reality check conversation with them.  I would ask – do you know where your feminine power comes from? Are you able to use your voice and be heard and respected in any environment or venue?  Others have said this very eloquently so my purpose in writing is really to encourage each of us, particularly the first-time activists and women of privilege, to bang on the drum of action.

I feel compelled to remind people that Hillary’s loss can (and should) fire us up to name the sexism and misogyny that we ALL feel, hear or witness daily.  Surely, DT’s action will anger us each day.  However, it is important to remember it took 90 years for women to get the right to vote.  While we enjoyed the energy of the crowds, now more than ever we need to use our voices out loud even if we can’t sing as well as the fierce brave artists of #ICantKeepQuiet.  Here are my suggested six ways to embody and mobilize change as we march forward stronger together.

1.     Remember that sisterhood is for and from all of us.  Stop and google Angela Davis or Audre Lorde or Barbara Jordan, watch thousands of stories about women on Makers, listen and learn.  I follow For Harriet online for a daily onslaught of impressive brilliance and voices of black women.  Review speeches by indigenous, trans, Chicana, etc activists from the various Marches and follow the women who don’t look like you. 

2.     Be publicly visible in your activism.  In 1993, we marched for women’s rights (yup – similar topics, different era) and everyone had pins on their clothing.  At this March I had pins on my hat that I could have sold ten times over – especially the one that said – “Women who desire to be equal to men clearly lack ambition”.  Often we are afraid to gather in smaller groups because we may be confronted with incivility and bullying.  This absence of feeling safe removes an important expression of our power.  Find your allies by wearing your politics on your purse, coat or car.  Now is not the time to cower to power. 

3.     Understand intersectionality and find your personal sweet spot for change.  As a citizen, I will continue to voice my dissatisfaction with the regime of DT with at least one daily outreach to Congress.  My clear focus of my activism and philanthropy is to support women in social justice leadership; people who fiercely and boldly do the long-term systems change work we all need.

4.     Build and learn from our history.  There is a reason that there is a museum for dentistry and still not a government sanctioned one for women.  The reason is spelled p-a-t-r-i-a-r-c-h-y.  We are continually obliterated from history alongside native and people of color and thankfully Rosie Rios  worked hard to get Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill; a small but visible step in our capitalist society.  Molly MacGregor has spent her life curating the National Women’s History Project and the book written by a dear friend and leader in movement building, Greg Jobin Leeds, When we Fight we Win ,are both resources with depth.   

5.     Give women multiple chances to speak their ideas out loud.  Leverage face-to-face interactions when they happen.  We need to practice stating our views with a spoken voice.  We always had two or three questions at gay rights marches in the 90’s to ascertain how safe people were feeling and to identify what was their biggest concern.  Such queries are even more important to do in person rather than on line so women have the opportunity to practice voicing out loud their concerns or fears in community.

6.     Challenge elected leaders and mobilize voting for values.  My colleague Jessica works for a state representative here in the groovy still liberal Massachusetts, home of many revolutions.  She encourages us to dial our elected officials every day and to do sit-ins at their offices.  Emails and petitions are nice but they don’t disrupt the lives of politicians.   Call, sit in, see who is running for re-election  and challenge those with whom you disagree with.  Get engaged in the mid-term elections and let us march again to mobilize votes beyond party politics and rather for people who share and act on our values – sooner rather than later. 

This piece was written in concert with the wise mind of Jessica Avery who honors the privilege of a Mount Holyoke education and shares her feminist brilliance with this baby boomer regularly.  

Now is the Time for Radical Self-Care

Every day I want to expect the best. After finally reaching the other side of cancer and unplanned open-heart surgery with a ‘worry cloud’ of ‘what ifs’ following me for too long, it feels right to reframe my thinking to ‘expect the best damnit’. I have always been an optimist - expecting the best from people and movements, with the belief that love and kindness will prevail. However, I am now facing a new reality. Now we must work for the greater good while simultaneously preparing to respond and fight against those promoting and exhibiting bigotry, greed and dominance at the expense of those less fortunate or visible.

Our humanity and societal achievements must be measured by how far we can lift up individuals who do not have access to the same privileges as us. For the first time in my life however, this perspective is challenged because I cannot trust the motives, courage or moral compass of the majority of our Congress people as well as the President. I always thought the United States had the checks and balances of democracy figured out to ensure this wouldn’t happen. Yes, I’ve been too naive or, perhaps, over confident, thinking that the three branches – Legislative, Judicial and Executive - were enough to check each other. And now, I realize we have missed the most important point – that I and all of us who vote are the most important check and balance of all. These past few weeks have been a scary way to learn this lesson I was taught in fifth grade but didn’t have the experience to fully comprehend. Clearly, we have to ask ourselves; besides voting, what is the power of a citizen?

The day after the Presidential election I recommitted to a daily yoga and/or qi gong practice in the morning. I felt compelled to strengthen my core and prepare for what my gut knew was ahead. For the past two months, I have been preparing my chi or energy source for the reality of January 20. I want to hold onto my mantra of “expect the best”,” but it is ridiculously challenging amidst the dictator-like actions that are occurring by the Republican Congress ahead of the inauguration. I thought we had more time but, alas, the fight is clearly “full on” for the rights of human citizens in the U.S.A. to control our own bodies, receive adequate health care and be treated with respect.

As Republican white men try to dismantle health care from those who need it most, dismantle the protections we have given to women, LBGTQ or individuals of different races, ethnicities and religions, I feel compelled to share loudly about radical self-care. I urge my teammates in the struggle to not only take action but to also recognize that before we can effectively use our connections on social media, march, petition, call our Congresspersons, run or assist others in running for office, we must commit to taking care of ourselves. A thriving democratic society requires bodies and minds that are healthy, alert, engaged and active. In the same way that an athlete pushes themselves with discipline and goal setting to compete at a high level, we need to recognize that the same preparation is required to be successful in attaining and keeping strong a democratic and caring society.

 Entangled Roots Press- Ali Cat. Leeds

Entangled Roots Press- Ali Cat. Leeds


It is clear that the attitudes, actions and manipulative workings of many elected officials aren’t going to cease any time soon. Therefore, it is critical that as feminists and leaders, we are centered, strong and ready for the long fight ahead. My friend Ellen is an exceptionally talented counselor and coach. She has a sign (pictured above) on her office wall that is a picture of drying herbs and it says “Practice Radical Self Care”. In order to lead others and be “present” for accelerated movement building and more, we have to commit first to nurturing and caring for our beings and spirits so that we can show up fully to lead and join with others. Clearly, today is the day to fully embody the idea that we must practice radical self-care as a strategy for not only social change and movement building, but also for survival.

I have had the curse and blessing of having to deal with fear and anxiety at a very young age. My sister and I often name the benefits of growing up in a household where alcohol and mental illness offered far too many images and experiences for a young mind to digest. We look at the pyscho-social and behavioral skills we acquired and realize that many of them have served us well. Some thoughts about these healing tools that have been crafted and improved over time are shared below.

Feel free to use what works for you as you embody the idea of radical self-care. For those of you who are still “on the sidelines” in shock, I welcome you to get engaged in communal and political action as well as noticing and tending to how your body and soul feels. Nourish it well because we are engaged in a marathon, not a sprint, to keep America’s democracy and compassionate, caring values alive and thriving. As so many of us engaged in service this week as a tribute to the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., consider also doing acts of service for your “Self” as well.

1. Listen more deeply to yourself, the quiet, the music, your family and others who may not look or travel in the same identities as you. Find ways to move away from the onslaught of news to be with your own channel of ideas for community, change, and shared resource building. My TV is currently permanently off and covered in a blanket of peace and om signs to offer a blessing to the talking heads to speak truth to power.

2. “Discharge” frequently in whatever form works. Take a page from Ellen DeGeneres and the daily dance routine she offers. Moving one’s body helps to free the chi and clear the frustration. Writing is amazing and cathartic and if you don’t have an opening line, I often use “Dear beloved, you cannot even imagine what I learned/realized today...”.

3. Nourish your body with good food, warm touch, water, vitamins, herbs and more. For every caffeine charge you imbibe, have two glasses of lemon water. For every sugary carbohydrate you choose to eat, add a fruit or vegetable. Thankfully, melatonin and marijuana are both legal in my state.

4. Manage your energy by paying attention. At the source of radical self-care is a deep knowing of what gives you energy and what depletes your energy. Move with purpose and intention away from people or conversations that drain you and towards environments and activities that build up your spirit and energy. For me, I am lucky to be able to walk the beach where I am always reinvigorated no matter who or what has infiltrated my consciousness.

5. Seek out inspiration from people, books and/or community. Join a group or regularly meet with others who share your values. Embrace a daily walk or simply observe the daily gifts of Mother nature – her clouds, a sunset, and other reminders of grace, ease and majesty. Quotes on my refrigerator are ‘gratitude attitude, ‘practice joy’ and ‘believe in yourself’ as well as my favorite Girls Athletic Leadership School pledge.

6. Maintain a sense of humor. Being able to laugh at one’s self and/or with others is key to maintaining a good life. Now more than ever we need to find the ways to learn, engage, take action AND make it fun. The neurobiology of stress and fear (cortisol levels increasing) is not conducive to our health whereas laughter soothes our brain and more while also releasing mood-lifting endorphins. My friends and I are enjoying our silly Marco Polo video voice mails as soothing humor and ways to cheer one another on in the daily struggle.

I know there are many more ways to take good care of ourselves and keep our minds sharp and our energy high. Feel free to share your tools and strategies with people in your life. My restorative yoga class ended today with a wise teacher Kayla saying “I truly believe that taking care of ourselves makes it much easier for us to take care of others.”

This piece was written as a response to 11 Strategies to Mobilize in a Trump Era as I felt the need to offer overachieving and critical thought leaders and colleagues reminders that self-care will keep us all in the game longer.

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant and coach, has been working in women’s rights, sports and philanthropy her entire life. She is a second wave intersectional feminist and lifelong point guard and will play in any game that has gender equality as a goal.


Eleven Strategies to Mobilize for Women’s Rights in a Trump Era

The silver lining from the election of Trump is the increased energy and engagement of women as activists and donors.  In addition, men who respect women and want them to be treated with dignity as full human beings with all of their rights maintained have become more vocal and engaged.   Many women have expressed to me their feelings of being disempowered after the election.  While I completely understand the anger and frustration, these emotions can be physically and psychologically draining.  We can commit ourselves to applying the strength of these emotions toward addressing the challenges of the new reality we face. 

Our next steps are clear, revolving around answering the question:  How can we invest our time, treasure and talent to mobilize the energy for protection of women’s rights long term?  Remember that we are 44 years past Title IX, 43 years past Roe v. Wade, 62 years past Brown v. Education and almost 100 years after winning the right to vote.  All of these laws are now on the table to be eradicated and we need to protect them during this new presidency. 

Women leaders and powerful male allies must recognize the dangers of partisanship, embrace the necessity of forming a cohesive focus around the issues, and include the needs and voices of those on the margins (people who may lose their health care or access to family planning) or who are targets of ignorance (Muslims or LGBTQ).   We are already learning and gathering together on line - Pantsuit Nation, It’s Time Network, United State of Women, World Pulse – via networked organizations that hold the promise of effectively mobilizing women and their ideas and voices here in the US and globally.  We are stronger together and now we must build on our collective strength. 

Funders and leaders have been asking me about potential strategies to direct their resources during this new era.  I am humbled by the question as there are many smart leaders in the social justice arena and one would hope at least 140,000 organizations (10% of the 1.4 million nonprofits in the USA) have a female gender lens.  In the USA, giving specifically to girls and women has remained steady at 5-7% of philanthropy for the past 30 years.  During a holiday season when our country spends more than $400 billion on gifts, it is hard to believe that during the course of the rest of each year individuals give only $270 billion to ALL nonprofit organizations (30% of which is donated in December).  Upholding women’s rights is a matter of both financial resources and human energy.   Share and consider these data points when shopping, giving and investing.

The answer to the above funding strategies question involves an array of strategies that require holistic and long-term investment.  Hopefully, this list offers enough options for individuals to see multiple opportunities to get engaged --actions that suit one’s heart and passion.  Please know I have only listed a few organizations for each approach and they were selected because I know the leadership or have in-depth knowledge of their effectiveness because they have been clients of my company Imagine Philanthropy.  I have given mostly examples of national or international work.  Keep in mind that you may know local organizations doing work along these strategy areas.   If you want further research on any of the items or topics listed, let me know.  My team and I will be happy to delve deeper.    


1.     Show Up and March.  As of today, there are 29 states having marches on January 21st.  If you are moved to do so, promote the march near you and/or be a part of the masses who show up to support all women and our issues.  Women’s March on America

2.     Underwrite the Next Generation Movement Leaders.  This fight for social change and equality is long and needs diverse voices engaged and supported. CLPP

3.     Keep Female Candidates in the Game.  Hundreds of women ran for office and lost this past November.  They made it through the challenges of running and now have debt with probably no employment.  Consider helping them retire their debt or helping them get on their feet so they are ready to run again. Search for Candidate Campaign Debt

4.     Give Together and in Community.  Women’s funds across the globe fund social change and are in touch with the needs of their community and the key organizations serving women and families.  These funds, giving circles and crowdfunding sites are where we can learn together and will need to be even more deeply resourced to serve the margins of our communities.  Spark- Igniting Global Change; Global Giving; Women’s Funding Network

5.     Encourage Intergenerational Work.  The desire for conversation and connection across generations has never been stronger.  Engage with organizations that do this in their governance and/or work.   We are Ultraviolet; Ignite;

6.     Help Staff Up an Organization.  Provide core support and unrestricted gifts to any organization you admire.  As well, leaders and all staff need encouragement and funding for self-care, coaching and sabbaticals.  Never more than today do we need our best minds and hearts nourished, healthy and supported.  Leadership That Works; Rockland Leadership

7.     Purchase and Invest with a Gender Lens.  Think about the companies you are purchasing from or investing in and whether they have a gender lens or are doing “right” by women.  Buy Up; Equileap

8.     Engage on Policy Issues.  Safety and freedom from violence are concerns for many Americans.  Access to family planning and quality health care is on the minds of many more.  Have your state and Congressional representatives on your favorites list on your phone.  They need to hear from us frequently on issues that policy organizations alert us to.  Equal Rights AdvocatesNational Council of Jewish Women; National Women's Law Center

9.     Build Strong Girls.   Whenever I think of a young girl going through this world filled with hypersexualized media messages, I want to give her as much ‘body confidence’ as I can.  Sports and movement are critical to owning one’s body power Girls Athletic Leadership Schools; Women Win; Women's Sports Foundation; A Mighty Girl

10.  Support Artists.   Art helps us process ideas and pain as well as look at new perspectives to old and new issues.  We especially need more women artists to have a bigger platform today.  Roots to Resistance[JA1] ; WomenArts

11.  Engage with the Media.  Support organizations who are doing quality investigative reporting.  Post comments directly to media outlets about what you want them to cover.  Write your opinions with op/ed columns.  As well, encourage media literacy in our schools so the next generation learns critical thinking and questioning.  Center for Media Literacy; The Nation; Rachel Maddow

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant and coach, has been working in women’s rights, sports and philanthropy her entire life.  She is a second wave intersectional feminist and lifelong point guard and will play in any game that has gender equality as a goal.

Resources for Change

We know that women are key assets in building their communities and creating new pathways to a more just and sustainable world.  Investing to improve the lives of girls and women is a powerful catalyst for positive social change.  When women become economic agents and leaders, social change accelerates and returns multiply. Investing in women is a stabilizing force and actually increases the GDP of a country. Other ways to get involved can be supporting and participating in the large ecosystem of networks and organizations that engage investors, the business community and leaders in philanthropy and social justice.  See the list we have compiled of organizations for you to tap into to be informed, inspired and to mobilize for change in our world. 


Philanthropic Resources

Organizations Working to Increase the Number of Women on Boards and Elected Office

Nonprofits Increasing Female Entrepreneurs’ Access to Venture Capital

Investing Networks and Funds

Impact Investing Resources and Gatherings

Consumer and Corporate Activism

Feminist Reading and Resources

Publicly Available Investing Products

  • PAX World Management- Global Women’s Index Fund – Inst’l (PXWIX) Retail (PXWIEX)
  • Glenmede- Women’s Leadership Fund (GWILX)
  • BMO - Bank of Montreal Women in Leadership Fund (BMOWLDN:CN)
  • State Street Global Advisor- Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE)
  • Barclay’s- Women in Leadership ETN (WIL)



For all the girls who dream big, the 2016 Olympics delivered

Since the passage of Title IX, 44 years ago, the steady climb of success for U.S. women in international sport has risen, with the Rio Games a high mark


Forty-four years ago, the United States passed a law called Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, making it very clear: Every student in this country should have an equal shot to participate in sports and other educational programs that train and foster student athlete leaders. In 1998, Congress updated the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act requiring the governing agencies of each sport (i.e. USA canoe, USA judo, etc) to give athletes a leadership voice on the board and the ability to raise disputes on access and treatment.

Since then, the steady climb of success for U.S. women in international sport has risen, with the 2016 Olympics in Rio hitting a high mark. American Katie Ledecky dominated the pool. Her 11-second (and new world record setting) victory in the 800-meter freestyle was the highlight of four gold medals she won at the games. The American women’s gymnastics team captivated the world with a team gold. Emma Coburn won the USA’s first medal in the women’s steeplechase.  The women’s rowing eight won a gold medal, capping a run of victories in major international competition since 2005. The women’s basketball team took its sixth straight gold medal.  For all the girls who dream big, the 2016 Olympics in Rio has delivered.

Equally compelling at Rio 2016 have been the assumptions toppled about what women Olympic champions look like. Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an Olympic medal in an individual swimming event when she tied with Canadian Penny Oleksiak in the 100m freestyle. Michelle Carter became the first American to win a gold medal in shot put. African-American gymnast Simone Biles became the first American woman to win the Olympic vault individual (her four gold medals include individual all-around.) Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, while helping the U.S. win the team medal in fencing with a bronze in the sabre. And Allyson Felix has become the most decorated U.S. woman in track and field history at Rio 2016, winning nine medals over four Olympic games, including six golds.

Women competing in traditional male sports arenas such as rugby, boxing and wrestling help shift people’s gender assumptions for us all, with a nod to Helen Maroulis securing USA’s first gold medal in women’s wrestling and Clarissa Shields defending her gold medal from London.

And lest you think that Olympic glory is not an option for mothers or reserved only for the young, American cyclist Kristen Armstrong celebrated her third Olympic gold in Rio with her 5-year old son, just one day before her 43rd birthday. Kerri Walsh Jennings, mother of three, played women’s beach volleyball with fierce grit in Rio 2016, as she has for the past three Olympics. Kim Rhode takes home to her 3-year old a Rio 2016 medal in skeet shooting, which makes her the first woman to ever medal in six Olympics. These women joined seven others on the U.S. Women’s Olympic team smashing stereotypes about what women and mothers can accomplish in the most demanding of professions. In this way, the incredible achievements of women at Rio 2016 have made a fitting backdrop for a presidential election featuring the very first woman as a major political party nominee, earning herself a gold medal in “perseverance against sexism” along the way.

A host of organizations, including Equal Rights Advocates and the Women’s Sports Foundation, have fought to make opportunities possible for women and girls for over 40 years. We’ve enforced Title IX and other gender equality laws in the halls of Congress and the courts of law while promoting their spirit in the courts of public opinion. In 1976 only 21 percent of all competitors were women; in 2016, it reached 45 percent with a U.S. contingent of 292 women out of 554 total team members. We all owe deep thanks to Anita de Frantz, Donna de Varona, Billie Jean King, Donna Lopiano and many other early activists in the global women’s sports movement, without whom today’s generation of athletes would not be as well-resourced nor as dominant.

As feminists, we embrace firsts for women with mixed emotions. It does not seem possible that barriers still need to be broken after decades of legal protections in place. But they do. And we are doing it, one athletic match at a time. One presidential race at a time. One glass ceiling at a time.

Rio 2016 has captivated what the woman’s movement has accomplished and all we have yet to achieve. It has highlighted important issues still very much holding back women and girls. From the brave testimony of Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison about her coach’s sexual abuse to the incredible role being played by the United States women’s soccer team to highlight pay discrimination infecting sports and other professions, we know our work is not done. We look to the leadership of sport, still overwhelmingly male — with more than 80 percent of the 204 National Olympic Committees leadership teams being all male — as a reminder that the executive offices need to look different for women to achieve equity at all levels of sport.

As athletes ourselves and long-term advocates for women’s rights more broadly, we thank all of the women who have benefitted from Title IX and the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act who are paying it forward in ways transcending athletics. We close Rio 2016 knowing that Title IX has fostered leaders challenging gender based issues impacting all of us.  May we move ever closer to that level playing field for which so many have worked for so long.  Join the movement today — buy a girl sports equipment as a gift, tell a girl “Yes, she can” and offer encouragement for her boldness in sport activities, and make sure your school or college is compliant with Title IX.

Noreen Farrell is Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates, fighting for women’s equality since 1974.  She is always on the run for gender justice and was captain of her track and field team at Yale University.

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant, was co-CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation.  She is a lifelong point guard coaching others for the win and was captain of her basketball team at Ithaca College.

Jennifer Buffett: Concepts Worth Sharing

In 2011, I wrote this piece about Jennifer Buffett and her foundation, NoVo. Five years later, the organization improves women and girls’ lives through a variety of initiatives that support marginalized and oppressed women in girls in indigenous communities and communities of color. A few examples are NoVo’s development of a farm to table program for urban food deserts in New York City, impact in policies that addresses sex trafficking, and organization of spaces where indigenous women take the main seat at the table. Additionally, NoVo recently announced a $90 million dollar investment to expand the academic opportunities of girls, while also ensuring the safety of girls as they go to school. In reflection, this piece demonstrates the actions that organizations and individuals can take to grow and flourish. Because with that, even more individuals can be lifted and flourish.

Jennifer Buffett will change the world. You may not know her now, but when all is said and done I believe she will own the title, The First Lady of Women’s Social Change Philanthropy.  Jennifer is the life size symbol of NoVo – to alter, invent.  The NoVo Foundation she created with her husband Peter is based on the premise that if you give a girl an opportunity, she will become a successful woman who will in turn create successful communities, businesses, and families. Jennifer’s story is just that.

After deep examination of the focus of their philanthropy and a personal examination of her own expression of her values and influence, Jennifer is speaking around the world sharing her personal story and experiences. She and her husband Peter spent years examining the interrelation between systems, culture, and relationships to determine place of impact and opportunity for change before launching the largest foundation serving women and girls, the NoVo Foundation.   Jennifer has incredible perspective to offer activists, social change drivers, and philanthropists and after hearing her recently, I distilled these ten concepts that are worth sharing; 

  1. Look at the roots of the problems, examine patterns and themes and find the programs and the stories that rule the world and which ones make sense. When dealing with our indigenous women and girls’ program, it was imperative to look at the impact that colonialization and government intervention had on the community. Once this history is recognized and processed with the community, take stories and experiences to create create strategies for change.
  2. Acknowledge two conflicting truths:  1. Girls and women are the primary drivers of change.  2. Cultural attitudes and systems put girls in a vicious cycle; blaming them and affirming that they are not valued.   The girl effect demonstrates that if you invest in a girl, her family thrives, she contributes to her community, and eventually her country succeeds.
  3. Invest in places where value is held and not yet recognized.  Note: there are 600 million adolescent girls living in the developing world who are currently ‘undervalued assets’.
  4. Value balance and partnership and affirm feminine values. This is particularly important for our “Promoting Local Living Economies” initiative. Often times, skills women possess are feminized and hold no economic value. Creating value for these skills deconstructs the position of female work and gives women the income they deserve from this work. Additionally, sustainable local economies just ignite larger economic opportunities as capital and products are developed.
  5. Encourage women to use their voice, say what is want and needed, take credit, and invite men to join as equal partners and co-creators. The oppressor must claim responsibility and step back in their positions of power and privilege. NoVo paired with A CALL TO MEN to invite and encourage men to recognize their role in dismantling oppression of women and girls. We called on them to create solutions to problems such as violence against women.
  6. As a woman, choose to be seen and heard and work to change the course of the boat named Earth Community. 
  7. Improve gender dynamics by recognizing that the qualities in the masculine ‘toolbox’ - force, hierarchy, punitive, and a focus on head not heart - are learned, normalized, and internalized. 
  8. Honor and showcase the characteristics found in the feminine toolbox; listening, connectedness, experiential learning, honoring innate cycles and rhythms, and wholeness. 
  9. Establish learning environments that allow for inquiry and participation. Our “Advancing Social and Emotional Learning” initiative draws on the feminized characteristics (empathy, deep connections, etc.) that women often are demeaned for in society and academia. Normalizing these feminized actions in these spaces and applying them to both genders creates a more comprehensive education and stronger communities. Additionally, it breaks down the gendered stigma around behaviors and emotion.
  10. As conduits of feminine energies, allow the most precious qualities of clarity, strength, knowing and vulnerability of yourself to come into full light. 

Seven Habits of Effective Philanthropists

Steven Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, outlines character traits and practices that make people ‘effective or successful’ in business.  By speaking and doing workshops with philanthropists assessing and determining how well we are doing individually and collectively on social issues has made me recognize similar habits of key leaders in philanthropy.  Here is my take on how these show up in leaders in philanthropy;

  1. Proactive – empowers one’s self; eager to seek out and use tools and resources to achieve success

  2. Vision – begins with the end in mind; focuses on values and what gives personal meaning; creates a giving plan with a theory of change and a framework aligned with where they spend their time, talent and treasure

  3. Walks the Talk – sees the value in sharing and learning and speaks up for the issues they fund; utilizes social responsible and gender lens investing tools to insure their investments align with their values and spending focus

  4. Win/Win – loves what they are doing; has an abundance mentality; connects with leaders in the nonprofit arena to learn how to catalyze their giving; willing to realize they don’t know all the answers

  5. Speaks First to Understand – listens, asks questions, explores differences and welcomes inclusive conversations where the words of others are heard and integrated

  6. Synergize with Others – has true faith in the potential and leadership of others; explores work with friends and others to collaborate for success

  7. Self-renewal – believes in self care for themselves and the organizations they fund; has commitment to continuous improvement and learning

Moving Your Ideas Forward

There seem to be unlimited ways to present the concept of ‘negotiation’ or ‘getting to yes’. Are there similar steps we can take when we want to bring an idea forward for department, our project, or ourselves?  The following are concepts that could be helpful as you propose an idea or try to negotiate a new policy or use of a different process at work.  (Note:  These suggestions could also be applied in personal relationships!) 

1.  Separate the people from the problem. This is the most important step – to truly set aside any emotional connection related to people and focus on the issues or item, which needs to be addressed. Focus on discussing each other’s perceptions of the issue, repeatedly stating, “what I see” or “what I hear you saying is…” as a way of helping to bring both parties into the practice of objectivity.  

2.  Focus on the interests and not the position. By understanding the goals, desires, and possible fears of the other person, one can discuss what is in it for them. A good listener will hear what is being said and respond accordingly.  A good negotiator will ask questions to seek deeper understanding.  If you act like you are ‘in their shoes’, it will be easier to discern what their needs are and what they may not be saying. Be open to letting go of your position on the issue so that you can hear what is truly being said from the other person’s point of view. 

3.  Invent options for mutual gain. Presenting a scenario or proposal where both parties can say yes requires both creativity and discipline. By brainstorming, you can identify the possible scenarios acceptable to both parties. Remember to diagnose and clearly define the problem first so you can be specific about the actions to address it.  The more details that are defined about the issue or problem, the easier it will be to create the ideal solution(s). 

4.  Insist on using objective criteria. For true success in a negotiation, there needs to be a measurable outcome- what will happen, by when, and who will do what.  Without such an outcome, the conversation is just talk and not a negotiation of a new idea or practice.  If one focuses on these outcome objectives, then a fair agreement can be reached.  

This article was adapted from the book; Getting to Yes - Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. 

ProFormU and Elaine Rosenblum is another resource for Collaborative Negotiating skills and tools.  

Practices for Advancing a Culture of Philanthropy

1. At each meeting, one leadership member spends up to four minutes sharing their personal story of connection to the work.  The more details of the story and the stronger the person’s connection to women’s rights/ issues of focus, the better.  Feel free to tie into your story the words Advocate, Educate, “Genderosity” or other relevant brand themes.  

2. Consider a meeting dedicated to shaping an advocacy and/or programmatic goal.  The focus is on a defined action (i.e. address FMLA in the county, join a coalition on fair pay, research safety issues and their solutions for women and their families, etc) and developing a ‘case’ for support.  Attach a financial goal to the case statement that includes staff support to administer project and support for the Executive Director.  

3. In each quarter, find at least three forums / outlets (i.e, a newsletter, event, one-on-one appeal to a donor) to start talking about and ‘test’ your case for support/story about a larger vision for the work.  

4. Prepare lists and ideas for introductions to at least 50 potential new TrusteesSpend one third of each meeting discussing five of these names and possible action items that will engage them to ask for their advice in shaping ‘the case’.  

5. Prepare lists of new audiences to solicit for funding and prioritize these based on conversations at the leadership level and in one-on-one meetings with fellow trustees.  Such new audiences to pursue   might include men, federation allocation, project-based giving, people to sponsor young women to be trustees, donations from philanthropic foundations that focus on women and / or identified issue areas.   For each funding source area, set a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  

6. Utilize time with trustees or prospective donors to ask: What is the most compelling issue for you? What is your legacy?  What impact do you want your giving to have?  Start compiling these answers for use with capacity asks and collateral materials.  

7. Start every conversation with an invitation to be a “partner of our work for life” and explain the need for long term support to affect deep systemic change.  Invite people to share their legacy and consider being a ‘member of a team’ that is serving their legacy and that of other like-minded people.  From the invitation for a legacy gift, encourage a multi-year ask as a first step towards a commitment.