Member Experiences: Deep Dive into Leadership

In fall 2016, 12 WA Women’s Foundation members signed up for our pilot “Leadership Institute” series. The Leadership Institute provided a “deep dive” into leadership training in the style of WA Women’s hallmark grant making curriculum – with hands-on, cohort-based, experiential learning.

WA Women’s Foundation member Janet Boguch led our inaugural Leadership Institute on the topic of “Leading Greatly.” The curriculum was based on Dr. Brene Brown’s research and books Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong. Click here to see Brene Brown’s TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability.”Participants worked on connection, courage, vulnerability and what it takes to live a “wholehearted life” as a leader, parent, friend and person in the world.

Scroll down to read from two of these participants, Elizabeth Curtiss and Liz McGrath, about their experiences.

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Top 25: Pooled Fund Grants 2017

It’s that exciting time of year again! Over 60 members serving on our Pooled Fund Grant Committee have selected 25 Washington State not-for-profits to move forward in our grant making process.

Want to know this year’s Top 25? Scroll down to read more!

Need a refresher on WA Women’s grant making process ? Our large-scale, strategic approach to collective grant making is a national model that has been tested and refined over the last 21 years. The goal of our grant making and programming is to challenge and educate our members, who then use their collective power to influence community transformation. Together, we have invested more than $16 million through our Pooled Fund Grants, our Partner Grants and individual grants.

Here’s a quick recap of our annual Pooled Fund grant making process:

  • January – LOIs: The Grant Committee studies ~300 Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and prioritizes 25 to move forward to submit proposals.
  • March/April – Proposals: The Grant Committee evaluates 25 formal proposals and selects 15 organizations to receive site visits.
  • May – Site Visits: Teams of WA Women’s Foundation members visit 15 organizations and report their findings to the full Grant Committee. The Grant Committee then selects the final 10 organizations to appear on the ballot.
  • June – Member Voting: All 475 members of WA Women’s Foundation vote by electronic ballot to determine which 5 organizations will receive our large impact Pooled Fund Grant Awards of $100,000. The grantees are announced at our Grant Award Celebration on Tuesday, June 13.  Mark your calendar now to join us at this special event to be held at the Seattle Art Museum.

And, without further ado, we present the 25 organizations that have been invited to submit full proposals this year:


Intiman Theatre: To challenge the notion that the American theatre industry is a white institution by creating and strengthening a pipeline of up-and-coming, diverse artists who are capable of contributing nontraditional viewpoints to the cultural capital of King County.

Pongo Publishing: To break the cycle of trauma both for incarcerated youth and for adults suffering from substance abuse and long-term homelessness through the power of creative expression and mentorship.

ProForum: To forge creative alliances with diverse communities, bring inspiring filmmaking to new audiences and make the art of filmmaking an integral part of social change through Seattle’s only Social Justice Film Festival.

The Seattle Globalist: To break down the barriers to entry into media for women and people of color, offering mentorship, guidance and connections as a powerful launchpad for new voices in Seattle.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience: To create more informed citizens, especially around issues of civil and constitutional rights, immigration, labor history and refugees, through the development of an Asian Pacific American history curriculum, web portal and teacher training.


Greater Seattle Techbridge: To close the wage and opportunity gap for girls, particularly under-represented minorities in low-income communities, by building girls’ interest – and confidence – to pursue STEM pathways.

OneAmerica: To increase immigrant families’ economic mobility and students’ success rates by removing barriers to immigrant parents’ school engagement through contextualized instruction in English language acquisition and digital literacy.

Rainier Valley Corps: To amplify the voices of communities of color in policy-making decisions by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits and creating space for collaboration between diverse communities to effect systemic change.

Tiny Trees Preschool: To respond to the soaring costs of childcare and its disproportionate effects on low-income families and communities of color by leading the movement for affordable, high quality preschool.

University Beyond Bars: To fight mass incarceration, reduce recidivism and end inter-generational cycles of violence and poverty through providing prisoners access to higher education.


ECOSS: To advance environmental equity by providing multicultural environmental outreach, engagement, resources and technical assistance to businesses and communities in the Puget Sound Region that encourage urban redevelopment and a healthy environment.

Front and Centered: To address the disproportionate impact of climate change and environmental degradation on communities of color and low-income people by advocating, educating, engaging and mobilizing communities of color throughout Washington State.

PCC Farmland Trust: To preserve land, feed local communities and grow businesses in Pierce County by connecting new and expanding farmers with land opportunities.

ReUse Works: To reduce both waste and unemployment in Whatcom county by providing the skills, tools, materials and resources needed to divert textiles from waste to supplies and upcycled goods.

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility: To reduce the threat of nuclear war by using health-based advocacy and developing a broad West Coast coalition to encourage members of Congress to maintain the international ban on nuclear testing.


Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team (FEEST): To increase health in communities of color by raising up youth leaders who can educate their peers and families about healthy eating, while simultaneously advocating for systemic change that increases access to healthy foods.

HopeSparks: To reduce the access gap for mental health services in Pierce County by providing more high-quality services for low-income families that would otherwise have no place else to turn to address their family’s mental health needs.

Kindering Center: To respond creatively to increased demand and urgency for vital therapies and interventions through remote audio/video sessions for children with disabilities who are unable to receive services in-person or at home.

University of Washington Foundation – MOMCare: To improve the care of pregnant women on Medicaid, especially those facing antenatal depression, through an evidence-based treatment program that helps reduce depression during pregnancy, prevents postpartum depression and improves parenting and social functioning.

Yoga Behind Bars: To promote rehabilitation, help to build safer communities and contribute to reform of the corrections system through trauma–informed yoga and meditation classes at correctional facilities throughout Washington State.


Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking: To reduce trafficking in our region by changing the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors that enable human trafficking to flourish.

La Casa Hogar: To combat the leadership gap among Latina women in the Yakima Valley using a culturally and linguistically competent model that has proved effective to build leadership skills within the Latina/o community.

Room One: To address a primary barrier to financial stability and family wellbeing in the Methow Valley by creating a collaboratively developed childcare center that integrates wrap-around support for families.

Sound Outreach: To help build wealth among Pierce County’s unbanked and underbanked consumers by providing low-cost, low risk financial products to people who otherwise could not qualify.

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: To improve housing stability, health and well-being among Native survivors of abuse and their children and to establish evidence to influence policy, practice and funding nationwide.

Washington Women’s Foundation is a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation.  We do this through:

  • individual and collective discovery,
  • high-impact grant making,
  • and respecting and listening to all voices in our community.

We invite all women to join us to make a more powerful impact in our community. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. 

Discovery Days Recap: Viewing Philanthropy Through A New Lens

Rainier Clubby Beth McCaw, President, WA Women’s Foundation

“A mind that has expanded to the next dimension, can never go back.” C. Davida Ingram closed the first session of Discovery Days this year with this quote from one of her mentors. The quote describes the hallmark of participation at Washington Women’s Foundation – individual members become changed by new ideas and by each other. We push each other to think beyond our current perspectives.

If you are planning to serve on the 2017 Pooled Fund Grant Committee, you are probably wondering how you can take what you learned at Discovery Days 2016 and apply it to our grant making. We believe at Washington Women’s Foundation that the various perspectives that we collectively bring to our grant making makes the process better. Your perspective is the lens through which you view the world. As Sue Sherbrooke, the retired CEO of the YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County, once told me, “If you only have one lens in your camera bag, then you’re viewing the world in only one way.” If you and five other women have different lenses in your camera bags, then together, you are able to look at the world in several different ways.

As a woman and the mother of a young girl, I have often thought about my philanthropy through a gender lens. How do girls experience certain situations as compared to boys? Which interventions work better for girls? Is an organization tracking outcome data based upon gender? However, this type of thinking is limited – it doesn’t acknowledge the intersectionality of gender, race and class – or any other factors, such as sexual orientation. So, with more lenses in my camera bag after Discovery Days, I instead might ask, “How do working class girls of color experience certain situations as compared to working class white girls?”

Discovery Days gave me these additional lenses through which to evaluate the philanthropic choices I make, and the Work Groups of our Pooled Fund Grant Committee can also choose to do their work with “more lenses in their camera bag.” With different lenses, here are some different questions you might ask:

  • Does the work described in the Letter of Inquiry (LOI) or proposal interrupt or perpetuate privilege? Ralina Joseph defined “privilege” as “a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.” Ms. Ingram told us that there is a reciprocal relationship between inequity and privilege. “Unless you interrupt privilege, you can’t achieve equity.” So another question to ask might be: does the work described in the LOI or proposal advance equity or increase inequity? 
  • What history, systems, processes and practices are at play in creating the issues described in the LOI or proposal? Is the organization working “upstream” to address systemic or institutional racism? Ralina Joseph defined “institutional racism” as “the policies, practices and procedures that save the very best for white people and exclude people of color.” These policies, practices and procedures operate to my advantage, as a white women, and also give me immunity. Is this pattern being perpetuated or dismantled by the work of the organization?
  • Is the work described in the LOI or proposal addressing symptoms or the root cause of a problem or set of problems? For example, a food pantry addresses hunger but not the root causes of hunger. One is not necessarily better than the other. Just know how to distinguish between the two so you can decide strategically what you would like to fund.
  • Is the “solution” to the “problem” described in the LOI or proposal paternalistic or chauvinistic? Deconstruct what it means to “help” a community. Ingram cautions that if we are uncomfortable with proposals that involve community activism or organizing, then our philanthropic approach will likely be considered questionable from a community level.
  • When on a site visit, are you only speaking with white Board and staff leaders when the organization being visited primarily serves people of color? Are these white leaders defining the issues as well as creating the solutions for people of color? Where are the voices of color within the leadership of the organization? As Dr. Megan Bang asked us, “Are you giving the community the power and opportunity to tell its own story?”
  • What are the power dynamics in the room? Be aware of how you use your privilege – from taking up too much emotional space/airtime to disengaging.
  • What language am I using and does it perpetuate stereotypes, biases or harm? Mary Flowers recently asked a group of funders, “Would you ever call your own child at-risk?” How would it impact your child if every program or activity she participated in was described, repeatedly, as being for “at-risk youth” or “children in need”?
  • Who is part of our conversation? When you enter a room, notice who is not there and think about how we can change who participates next year. When you review LOIs, notice who has not applied and think about how to change that next year.
  • Does our process enable you to create authentic, mutual relationships? If not, what do we need to change? As Valerie Curtis-Newton said, “If we knew more about each other, we’d be better to each other.” The key phrase here is “each other.”

Whether you are serving on the Pooled Fund Grant Committee or not, you may still want to continue this work. What can you do? Ms. Ingram shared these suggestions for those of us just starting the journey:

  • Take this work on with a sense of urgency. Change may be slow but it should be approached with intentionality and rigor.
  • Think and reflect deeply about your privilege – whether is it class, race, education, ability, sexual orientation – and also how you have been acculturated into racism.
  • Don’t assume a universal subjectivity with women of color. A white woman and a Black woman don’t experience things (including sexism) in the same way just because they’re both women.  A Black’s woman’s experience of misogyny is experienced through her race as well as her gender.
  • Use your place at the equity table around gender to bring race into the conversation. If, as a white woman, you are given a “place at the table” to create “gender diversity,” take the opportunity to also bring race into the conversation. As a white woman, I don’t represent all white women and I certainly don’t represent women of color. But if I’m given an opportunity to show up as a woman, then I’m going to ask challenging questions about race as well as gender.
  • Participate in ongoing trainings about implicit bias. WA Women’s Foundation plans to offer more opportunities in the new year, but there are many classes and workshops currently available in the Seattle area. Some of your fellow members are already engaged, so talk to them or contact the office if you need suggestions.

On the second day of Discovery Days, Valerie Curtis-Newton issued a challenge to us that still rings in my head: “The end of racism is in the hands of white people. The end of homophobia is in the hands of straight people. When will conversation end, and the ‘doing’ begin?”

Twenty-one years ago, our founders created a new model of women-powered philanthropy, rooted in equality and community. What if our philanthropy was rooted in equity and our community was expanded to include those not currently in the conversation? We have the power to begin doing right now. The challenge is ours to accept.

Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformational grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us.

A Fond Farewell from Emily

emilyfeichtby Emily Feicht, Director of Operations & Membership

Joining WA Women’s Foundation staff in November 2008 was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Throughout the past eight years, I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of curious, passionate, and driven women leaders committed to community change through philanthropy. On November 11th, I’ll be leaving the Foundation to take on a new challenge at the University of Washington as the Assistant Director of Foundation Board Engagement.

As I’m packing up my office and reminiscing on all we’ve accomplished over these past 8 years, I’m struck by just how inspiring and appropriate our new mission statement is. WA Women’s Foundation has always been a transformative place, and it certainly was so for me. Here’s what’s been added over the past 8 years: 408 new women who have joined the Foundation, creative programs to enhance your leadership, innovative grant making initiatives, and most inspiring to me, a deepened commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Thank you to every member for your commitment to our mission and women’s leadership. And a very special thank you to my current and past fellow staff members; you have each mentored, challenged, and inspired me. It’s bittersweet to leave the Foundation at such an exciting time – the future is so incredibly promising. I look forward to staying in touch with you all and watching WA Women’s Foundation continue to challenge and transform women and our community.

Please do keep in touch. My personal email is and if you find yourself on UW’s campus, stop by Gerberding Hall and say hello.

With gratitude,

Introducing Our New Logo

Rainier Clubby Beth McCaw, President

In case you missed our last two blog posts (Unveiling the New Mission Statement for WA Women’s Foundation & Our New Visual Identity, Part 1), here’s a quick recap:

We used our members’ feedback to create our new mission statement:

Washington Women’s Foundation is a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation.

  • Through individual and collective discovery.

  • Through high-impact grant making.

  • By listening to and respecting all voices in our community.

At the same time, we began a year-long process to design a new visual identity for Washington Women’s Foundation that reflects the following traits and attributes of our brand:

Influential / Engaging / Groundbreaking / Brave / Generous

Challenge / Transformation / Impact

We now present the new logo of Washington Women’s Foundation:


Why are we excited about this new look for the Foundation?

It Honors Our Past: We kept the color orange from our previous logo and paired it with a more modern tone of blue. Why orange? It’s the color that represents “transformation,” one of the key elements of our brand.

It Aligns With Our Mission and the Perception of the Foundation: We believe that this logo matches the spirit of our new, more aspirational mission statement and over time, will come to represent WA Women’s Foundation as a “powerful game changer” – a description of the Foundation that resonated with many.

It Gives Us a Fresh Start: Our new logo allows us to leave “WWF” and all of the brand confusion it creates behind! Our brand can now stand on its own – as WA Women’s Foundation.

What’s Coming Next:

  • A refresh and upgrade of our website to reflect our new brand and improve the user experience.
  • The Board of Directors has started the next phase of strategic planning with a focus on new mission, our organizational culture and how WA Women’s Foundation can evolve to become a more inclusive organization, both from the perspective of our membership as well as the types of organizations and causes we fund.
  • We want to think creatively about how we can wield the greatest influence with our funding while at the same time, deepening your learning through our grant making.

Your voice matters in this conversation, and there will be opportunities for you to provide feedback as we move forward. Because this is not any one member’s vision of WA Women’s Foundation – we are creating our shared vision of what we, as a collective, can do together.

What can hundreds of committed women do together? Anything we choose.

Our New Visual Identity, Part 1


Rainier Clubby Beth McCaw, President

Last week, I shared with you how we arrived at a new mission statement for Washington Women’s Foundation. The same process informed our adoption of a new brand for the Foundation.

An organization’s mission statement is the leading verbal representation of its brand identity.

Washington Women’s Foundation is a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation.

We do this:
Through individual and collective discovery.
Through high-impact grant making.
By listening to and respecting all voices in our community.

A brand also is represented verbally by key messages, traits, attributes and attitudes that weave together into a narrative of the organization. That narrative tells our story to the community at-large.

Brand identity also includes a visual element. A visual element on its own carries no meaning – at least not initially. For example, the Nike “Swoosh” was just a “Swoosh” in the beginning. But over many years, it has evolved into an iconic image that on its own, tells a compelling story. The black and white panda does the same for the “other WWF” – the World Wildlife Fund.

for t 6/03

In the membership survey that we conducted earlier this year, you told us that you were ready for change.  You felt that:

  • Our old mission had been accomplished.
  • We are ready to seek new challenges.
  • We need to evolve our messaging and our look to reflect the Foundation of today.

So, as I detailed in my President’s Letter last week, we’ve been working on that.

To honor the legacy and spirit of the women who founded Washington Women’s Foundation and to reflect our current membership and our new mission statement, our Brand Research Work Group agreed that the visual brand identity of Washington Women’s Foundation must be:

Influential * Engaging * Groundbreaking * Brave * Generous

There also were certain key attributes that needed to be captured:

Challenge * Transformation * Impact

We decided also that it was time to leave “WWF” behind and find a new way to visually represent the Foundation’s current attitude and its attributes.

After spending our 20th Anniversary year at WA Women’s Foundation collecting input, asking questions, probing for deeper understanding of our members and gaining greater clarity about what is important to you and to our community, we are poised to begin planning for the next 20 years of WA Women’s Foundation. We are excited to be led by an updated mission statement and a refreshed narrative, both of which underscore our continued relevance and challenge us to build upon the strength of our community of women to evolve in such a way as to wield even greater influence in our community.

We also are excited to unveil a new logo for the Foundation. But to see that, you will have to attend the Annual Meeting of the Membership on October 26, 2016!

I hope that you will join us for this very “special edition” of our Annual Meeting next week. We’ll be honoring our past; you don’t want to miss the purse display – remember, when we were all about “The Power of the Purse?”

I’ll also report on what is still working so well at WA Women’s Foundation today – there’s a lot and it’s because of you! Change is in the air this fall, but Washington Women’s Foundation is still your Foundation. Thank you for being a member.

Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformational grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us.

Unveiling The New Mission Statement for WA Women’s Foundation

Rainier Club

by Beth McCaw, President

It’s hard to believe that I recently celebrated my second anniversary as President of Washington Women’s Foundation. When I was hired in the Foundation’s 19th year, the Board of Directors charged me with setting the course for the Foundation’s future. You can’t get to “Point B” if you don’t know your starting point, “Point A,” so I spent most of my first year trying to understand the Foundation’s Point A.

What did I discover? 

I learned that much of the narrative about Washington Women’s Foundation, including the community’s perceptions of us as well as our own mission statement and logo, didn’t align with who we are today. Before helping us set our sights on the future, I felt like we needed this alignment.

What did we do? 

When I discussed my findings with the Board of Directors, they agreed that it was time to refresh and update the look of Washington Women’s Foundation. We formed a Brand Research Work Group and hired a brand design and research firm. Megan Davies (Director of Communications & Programs) and I served on the Work Group along with Board Chair Martha Kongsgaard, Cabinet Chair Barbara Fielden and two “at-large” members, Bo Lee and Nicole Resch. 

Our research firm first interviewed representatives of our staff, Board and membership. The firm also reviewed our current brand, including marketing materials and our website, as well as the brand positioning of our “competitors.”

What did we learn? 

We learned from these interviews that our organizational culture is a key differentiator – the community experience within the membership is highly valued and there is a great deal of trust in our membership and in our grant making process. Our community not only attracts new members, it is a key factor in retention. In addition, interviewees made special note of:

  • The caliber of the women in our membership;
  • The intellectual rigor of our conversations; and
  • Our shared attitude of openness and curiosity.

There was one difference of opinion:

  • Younger members especially expressed a concern that WA Women’s Foundation would need to evolve to attract other young women and more diverse women.

Next the research firm interviewed prospective, current and lapsed members as well as a few philanthropic leaders in our community, including our grantees. We learned through these interviews that:

  • While members view our community as open and curious, the lack of membership diversity was identified as an organizational weakness that impacts how the community, including prospective members, views WA Women’s Foundation.
  • Both members and non-members wanted WA Women’s Foundation to update its mission. The current mission was viewed as better describing what the Foundation originally was rather than what it is now, and many members believed that a new, more aspirational mission was needed to align with how they see WA Women’s Foundation – as a “powerful game changer.”

Previous Mission Statement:
The Washington Women’s Foundation educates, inspires and increases the number of women committed to philanthropy in order to strengthen community and demonstrate the impact that can result from informed, focused grant making.

The final research step was an online survey of the full membership conducted over the course of two weeks this past January and February. 275 members completed the survey! We were pleased to see that the participants include a good cross-section of our membership, newer members as well as 10+ members, younger members, more engaged members and members who simply contribute and vote.

Through the survey, you told us that you agreed with and thought the following were the most important aspects of WA Women’s Foundation:

  • Washington Women’s Foundation educates members on important issues.
  • Washington Women’s Foundation focuses attention on critical issues.
  • Washington Women’s Foundation is open to all women who wish to become members.
  • Washington’s Women’s Foundation is a community of strong women.

We also learned that you were ready for Washington Women’s Foundation to change and take on new challenges. You expressed a desire for the Foundation to challenge you to engage in bold and transformational giving, to focus attention on often overlooked issues and to become an even more inclusive community of women.

During both rounds of interviews and in the membership survey, we tested concepts, themes and words to inform the revision of our mission statement and the development of our new brand. We learned that you supported many of the same values as the Board of Directors and our Brand Research Work Group.

After nine months and many, many, many drafts, the Board of Directors adopted a new mission statement for WA Women’s Foundation.

Washington Women’s Foundation is a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation.

We do this:

  • Through individual and collective discovery.

  • Through high-impact grant making.

  • By listening to and respecting all voices in our community.

The statement is grounded in our history of collective grant making and education, recognizes the strengths and unique qualities of our members and acknowledges that community change requires a partnership among our members as well as with our community. These are all fundamental tenets of how we do what we do at Washington Women’s Foundation.

So perhaps more importantly, the new mission statement sets firmly before us our greatest aspirations – to become more inclusive as a membership organization, to become more deeply informed about the most pressing issues facing communities throughout Washington state, and to more powerfully wield our collective influence in pursuit of community transformation. These are the challenges of the world as we know it today.

However, because of our history at Washington Women’s Foundation, we know the challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. We are Washington Women’s Foundation.

Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformational grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us.