Fierce Leaders Expanding Opportunities for Women and Girls (Part 2)

#TuesdaysWithTuti grew out of a desire to highlight the incredible changemakers I've had the privilege of working with. On Tuesdays, I share a bit about the work these individuals are doing, and how I have been honored to support them. Read about recent leaders I have featured below and spread the word about these extraordinary leaders and organizations. Meet more excellent leaders by reading part 1 of this series hereFollow me to see future posts.

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Nichole E. Dunn, Flying Horse Farms

Nichole Dunn is a fierce feminist who has brought a rigorous gender justice lens to her work for decades. As former President and CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio (WFCO), she has a deep, rich history with the organization that includes spearheading the Gender By Us™ curriculum which offers people a chance to examine implicit bias around gender. With an endowment over four million, WFCO has worked hard to make their grantmaking process extremely collaborative, integrate their education, research, and community engagement, and expand their advocacy. My firm Imagine Philanthropy had the privilege of working with Nichole and the WFCO Board and staff on their 2018-2021 strategic plan, which brings them into their 20th year of success!

After almost 10 years, Nichole has stepped down as CEO leaving behind a legacy of a deeply engaged and talented board and staff team. Nichole has transitioned to work at Flying Horse Farms, which marries her passion of movement, healing, and programming for youth. I look forward to seeing what her passion, leadership, and management acumen will bring to this organization. I am so proud to highlight and celebrate the work that Nichole has done for women and girls in Ohio for this week’s #TuesdaysWithTuti.




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Gwendolyn VanSant, BRIDGE

Gwendolyn VanSant is the Founding Director of BRIDGE, an educational nonprofit in Berkshire County, Massachusetts and a thought leader in diversity leadership and community organizing for racial justice. Through BRIDGE, Gwendolyn helps organizations and teams create truly diverse workplaces by teaching, among other things, cultural competency. Wherever she goes, I see Gwendolyn transform indifference and inequity into care and uplift underrepresented leaders by leading with, to quote bell hooks, "love in action." 

Gwendolyn, a creative social entrepreneur, was named as a Berkshire Trendsetter in 2015 and 2016. Cited by Governor Deval Patrick for her work, I know Gwendolyn has made Massachusetts a stronger state and community through her determined leadership. In spring 2017, Gwendolyn spearheaded the county-wide campaign, "Not in the Berkshires" and helped craft and pass her town’s Trust Policy, a step towards a statewide Safe Community Act. Most recently, she brought visibility to the legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois through The Du Bois 150th Festival in his birthplace of Great Barrington, educating the public about lessons Du Bois shared over 100 years ago on women’s rights to their bodies, equal access to education and healthcare, and why it’s so important that we acknowledge black women for their contributions. Du Bois is more relevant today than ever. While firmly rooted in The Berkshires, Gwendolyn's work extends far beyond our state.

In addition to being a thought partner and co-facilitator, Gwendolyn is Imagine Philanthropy’s Equity & Inclusion Team Lead. In 2018, Gwendolyn and I will continue to build the Embodied & Beloved Community, bringing our shared work to fellow social change leaders who desire community and collective learning strategies on their journey. Whether it's through coalition building, racial justice work, cultural competency work, or our work together, Gwendolyn uses all of her skills to make good work happen in ways that make a real difference to people. I am proud to salute Gwendolyn in this week’s #TuesdaysWithTuti , and I am grateful to have her as a wise friend and colleague. Sign up for Gwendolyn’s newsletter here.

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Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary

Serene Jones is the first ever-Female President of Union Theological Seminary, a learning community that works across more than 20 faith traditions and that brings an intersectional lens to religious studies. The Union community, including its students, host compassionate conversations on a wide range of topics. 15+ caucuses gather to discuss issues like identity and community among Pacific Islanders or queer people of color, for example, or to form affinity coalitions promoting ecology or peace and justice.

Under Serene’s leadership, institutes within Union are thriving as they serve humanity. Some of these include The Sophia Institute, Kairos Center, and The Edible Churchyard, which turns under-used churchyards and rooftops into vegetable and fruit gardens to revitalize community. Union also hosts public events, such as the upcoming dialogue on February 15th between Michelle Alexander and Naomi Klein. In addition to Serene’s leadership role with Union, she also teaches on their renowned faculty. In all of her roles, she lacks no vision, spirit, or energy.

In 2010, I was hired by Serene to coach her during her transition to leading the helm of Union while re-energizing, funding, and operationalizing a bold strategic plan with the Union team. Serene's authentic relationship building skills, intellectual acumen, and inspiring ability to bring love, compassion, and solutions to social justice have strengthened Union and its community. I am honored to include the incredible Serene Jones in this week’s #TuesdaysWithTuti.


Amy Crysel, Civil Liberties and Public Policy

When feminist redheads meet, great work happens! Amy Crysel is the Co-Director of Civil Liberties and Public Policy, an organization with a mission to inspire, educate, train and support new activists and leadership to secure reproductive and sexual rights, freedom, and justice for everyone based in Amherst, Massachusetts. I met her in 2010 when she hired me to do team building, fundraising training, and strategic planning at CLPP. Currently upheld by Amy Crysel and Mia Kim Sullivan, CLPP has embraced a co-leadership model for its growth and success for over a dozen years now. Organizations that are consistently effective at strategy, fundraising, and program development require vision, sustainability, and strong internal operations that allow for this kind of intense, disciplined work. Leaders like Amy hold all of this work with grace.

I worked with CLPP leaders and volunteers to share stories about what connects them individually to the work. I was totally inspired by Amy’s commitment to being an activist who fights for women like herself who grew up in a complicated US South and who wanted to work for justice. Whenever we interact, I am inspired by Amy’s steady, mindful, deeply committed work to build leadership programs and platforms connecting reproductive justice movement leaders. There is no doubt that CLPP has done transformational work here, and I am honored to salute the impressive and passion-filled Amy Crysel in this week’s #TuesdaysWithTuti.

Nancy Schwartz Sternoff, Jewish Women's Funding Network

Nancy Schwartz Sternoff is a strategist, consultant, and coach for organizations doing leading-edge social justice work including The National Institute for Reproductive Health, The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Tricycle, and Auburn Seminary. She has worked at The Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and served as the senior fundraiser for pro-choice Congressman John Miller. She serves as a Board member of Upstart, an accelerator for Jewish innovators, and of The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York. She has spent 13 years as the Director of the Dobkin Family Foundation, a preeminent feminist funder and innovator.

For the past eight years, I have been honored to work alongside Nancy to lift up the voices of activist donors and trustees across 18 Jewish Women’s Foundations. Together, we have supported the growth of the women’s philanthropic movement within the Jewish community. So far we have collaborated on eight annual Force for Change conferences and year-long learning conversations with the Jewish Women's Funding Network members. Nancy and I both work in organizational capacity building, and have each been donors, board members, and staff members in the field working on many of the same issues. It is always excellent to share learnings and practices for success with fellow wise leaders. Our cross-generational respect and admiration for each other’s work and voices makes for a magical partnership.

In addition to being a colleague, Nancy has been a guide to me (someone who identifies as an honorary member of the Jewish community and also honors Buddhist traditions!) on so many levels. I was excited to highlight Nancy Schwartz Sternoff in #TuesdaysWithTuti just ahead of our March visit to Israel with the Jewish Women’s Funding Network to experience “Israel through a Feminist Lens.”


Kriss Deiglmeier, Tides

Kriss Deiglmeier is recognized as a pioneer in the field of social innovation. She presents nationally and internationally on social innovation, social entrepreneurship, design thinking, and public-private partnerships and is a guest-lecturer at universities around the world. Kriss has written leading thought leadership pieces on social impact. Her most recent is a book chapter, “Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation: What’s New, and Why is it Important?” in The Real Problem Solvers by Ruth A. Shapiro. Kriss developed and taught the course, “Social Innovation through Corporate Social Responsibility” at Stanford. After being the founding Executive Director of the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford and the COO at Juma Ventures, she became the CEO of the 40 year old global foundation, Tides.  

I had the privilege of leading the CEO search committee for Tides in 2013, and today I chair the board. Kriss’s leadership has put the nonprofit accelerator in a bold position to mobilize resources for a world of shared prosperity and social justice. As board members, a key part of the role is to hire, evaluate, and support an ED or CEO. It has been an honor to do all of this and more with Kriss, and I am thrilled to lead my fellow board ambassadors in promoting Tides as a force for social good. It is my pleasure to salute Kriss and her leadership in social innovation, network building, and philanthropy in this week’s #TuesdaysWithTuti.  

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