Leadership Luncheon '07: Awesome is the only word that comes to mind.

Thank you so much for letting me know about the two attendees at your Leadership Luncheon who handed off the HOBO bags they’d won to Laceiy and Sharan.  Of course, I am thrilled to learn that Laceiy and Sharan went home with Hobo bags.  They are two incredibly eloquent, graceful, and inspirational women—I feel proud to have been present to hear their stories and to celebrate their triumphs.

Awesome is the only word that comes to mind.

Of course, it was HOBO International’s pleasure to be a sponsor for The Women’s Foundation’s luncheon again this year.  It really was a beautiful function—and what an amazing panel discussion! 

We at HOBO International feel honored to be associated with such an outstanding local organization and feel renewed in our mission to be a part of the solution.

Wendy Pierce is a staff member at HOBO International, which makes handbags by women, for women.  For the last two years, HOBO International has donated handbags to be used as a give-way at The Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Luncheon. 

Do you want to be part of the solution, like HOBO International?  If so, join us.  There is a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation.  Find yours today.  You can invest, and help us meet our challenge grant and get to $1 million by October 24th.  You can inspire an aspiring local woman or nonprofit.  Or you can innovate through one of our unique donor networks that changes lives through The Power of Giving Together.

Reflections on a transformative Leadership Luncheon!

I find it hard to believe that the big day, our most anticipated event, the 2007 Leadership Luncheon, has come and gone. 

The luncheon followed an invigorating and positively inspirational morning thanks to the Community Briefing with Assistant Chief Groomes, Department Commander Cheryl Pendergast, Camille Cormier, Director of Local Programs and Policy at Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW); and Tamieka Bridgett, a trainee preparing for a career in law enforcement through WOW’s program, the energy of the Luncheon began filling the atmosphere.

As I watched a diverse crowd of hundreds flow into the ballroom and our panelists preparing for their positions, it was a great reminder that there are still women and men out there, fighting the good fight, and believing in the power of giving together. The crowd was filled with families, friends, couples, volunteers, college students, and individuals from all walks of life.

One woman stopped me to remark on the energy, how she was just so excited and couldn’t believe all the energy she felt in the ballroom. From the Mystic Mayhem’s awesome dance moves, to the heartwarming and inspiring video of our Washington Area Women in the Trades (WAWIT) graduates, and the many powerful speeches given, the day was one to be remembered.

As I scanned the expansive ballroom floor filled with roundtables of over 1,500 individuals, transformation was evident in every way, shape, and form. As The Women’s Foundation is transitioning towards more growth in our community, partners, and philanthropic education, our Grantee Partners’ clients are transitioning towards better jobs, better wages, a life replacing despair with hope for them and their children.

As I reflect, "metamorphosis" was an appropriate theme for a year filled of growth and renewed energy!

For me, the luncheon was a time to reflect, educate the community on our work at The Women’s Foundation, emphasize the impact that investing in women and girls has, and celebrate our work and the uniqueness of it (incorporating a gender lens, recognizing and highlighting the importance of women in nontraditional occupations, etc).

I’m thankful for all the participants, attendees, volunteers, board, staff, and the countless others who put their effort, time, and resources into this event to make October 10 a big success. I can’t wait to see next year’s luncheon–it can only get bigger and better!

Become part of our expanding community of people, corporations, nonprofits and community leaders investing in women and girls.  There is a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation.  Find yours today, and help us get to a record-breaking $1 million by October 24th!

Leadership Luncheon '07: I was inspired to become part of the change!

Every year, I am inspired by the women at the Leadership Luncheon and this year was no exception!  What an amazing event!

My name is Wendy Weaver, and I have volunteered for Washington Area Women’s Foundation and watched its exponential growth for the last six years. 

It’s so exciting to be a part of this change!  I’m inspired to see how The Women’s Foundation impacts women like Laceiy and Sharan to change their lives for the better!  I love the idea that we can create a greater impact on women’s lives by working together and that we can leverage our resources to make a much larger contribution on our region than we could as individuals.

After the luncheon, I was so energized by the desire to change lives that I volunteered to co-chair the 1K Club. The 1K Club is a network of dedicated philanthropists committed to strengthening the effectiveness of The Women’s Foundation and its work to transform our community.

As a mother, wife, and professional, my time and resources are always stretched.  I believe that the 1K Club is a wonderful, affordable and rewarding way to get involved in philanthropy. I can’t wait to get started!

If you are as inspired as I am, if you want to continue to effect change, create an impact on our region, and feel the power of giving together, I invite you to join us in the 1K club.  To see who has already joined, view the 1K Club member list.

Wendy M. Weaver is a long-time volunteer of The Women’s Foundation and a co-chair of our new 1K Club.  She has invested and inspired, and now she’s a leader of one of our innovative networks of donors!  To learn more about these three ways that you can be involved in the Power of Giving Together, or to join the 1K Club, click here! There is a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation…find yours today.

This luncheon made me feel proud to be a woman.

Coming into the event I have to admit I was kind of intimidated, but I quickly realized we were all there to make a difference. The Women’s Foundation luncheon made me feel proud to be a woman. I also felt that women have a voice and if we come together we can change the world. 

Being in that room with such powerful women gave me that feeling.

The money The Women’s Foundation will receive will change so many women’s lives in the Washington D.C area. This alone is inspiring!

DeEra Dunbar, 18, attended the luncheon as the guest of staff member Latricia Allen.

Ready to help us change more lives in the Washington, D.C. area?  Help us meet our challenge grants and get to $1 million for the women and girls of our region!  There is a way for everyone to get involved in The Women’s Foundation–find yours today.

Leadership Luncheon '07: The power of the collective!

I just want to thank all of you again for the wonderful opportunities that have and will come out of our Women in the Protective Services project being featured at yesterday’s Community Briefing. 

As an example of the power of the collaborative that ensues from being connected to The Women’s Foundation, a program officer from a family foundation approached me afterwards and indicated her serious interest in the project.  We’ll be meeting soon.

This combined with other audience interest and connections I made or strengthened at the VIP reception will just be great for the project, I’m sure.

The entire day went off just about flawlessly, I thought, as usual.  My congratulations to all at The Women’s Foundation!

Camille Cormier is director of local programs and policy at Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation.  WOW’s Women in the Protective Services program was featured as the discussion topic of this year’s Community Briefing.  WOW is also a partner of Washington Area Women in the Trades, whose work was featured at this year’s Leadership Luncheon.  You can see the video here.

Ready to join the power of giving together?  There are three ways that you can help support nonprofits like WOW, and others doing amazing work, through The Women’s Foundation.

Leadership Luncheon '07: Changing others, changing ourselves!

If you attended this year’s Leadership Luncheon, then you heard a lot about transformation. The work that The Women’s Foundation does really does transform so many lives. Not only do we help transform the lives of women and girls in the D.C. region, but we transform the lives of women who give.

I am one of those women.

My name is Jennifer Cortner, and I sit on the Board of The Women’s Foundation, and chair the communications committee. I became smitten with The Women’s Foundation about five or six years ago when I read an article in the Washington Post about the Rainmakers Giving Circle. I thought, what a cool idea to get women together to pool their resources, to make real change in our community.

I’ve become deeply engaged with The Women’s Foundation since then. My company, EFX Media, proudly supports The Women’s Foundation by offering pro bono communications support. This year, we designed and produced all the printed materials for the luncheon, and produced the video about one woman’s transformation.

Our video follows Laceiy Peay, a recent graduate of the Washington Area Women in the Trades program, which trains women to get into trade fields like construction, welding and cement masonry.  WAWIT is a unique program and is one of over 90 programs that are funded in part by Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

We taped Laceiy and her fellow students one very hot, summer day as they took a welding and carpentry class. The thing that struck me the most is the bond that these women had formed over the 12-weeks they had spent with each other. The WAWIT program is not easy — it’s physically demanding, and requires students to show up to class by 7 a.m. every day. A lot of women who sign up frankly do not make it. But those who do graduate, so so because of the support they receive from each other.

The WAWIT women really care about each other. When someone doesn’t understand something in class, her fellow classmate will help her out. When someone doesn’t show up for class, she’ll get a call from one of her colleagues. And the women who run WAWIT are there with them every step of the way.

After we finished the video, I asked if we could invite Laceiy and one of her fellow students, Sharan Mitchell, to speak at our luncheon.  After graduation, Laceiy accepted a job as a program assistant at WAWIT and Sharan is currently working construction at the Nationals Baseball Staduim (How cool is that?). I thought it would be a great idea for the women at the luncheon to meet them personally and hear their stories. They both graciously agreed.

Now there are two camps of people when it comes to public speaking: those who thrive on it, and those who rank it somewhere above the fear of death. But even the most seasoned speaker can be a little daunted by the notion of speaking in front of 1500 people.

If you were at the luncheon, then you know what happened:

Laceiy and Sharan brought the house down.

They took that stage with grace, poise and confidence. They graciously shared their story of how WAWIT and The Women’s Foundation transformed their lives.

In 4 short minutes, they helped transform 1,500 people in the room.

Including me.

If you were equally moved, I hope you become involved in The Women’s Foundation. You will become smitten just like I have. Help transform the lives of women and girls. There are lots of ways to engage. Join us!

Jennifer Cortner is the president of EFX Media and sits on the board of The Women’s Foundation.  She chairs The Women’s Foundation’s communications committee.  EFX Media donates services to foster The Women’s Foundation’s work.

That luncheon rocked!

Hi all!  This is Marjorie and Deb here, and we couldn’t wait to share our reactions to yesterday with everyone!

Wow, talk about change!  Having experienced yesterday’s Leadership Luncheon, we can’t believe how much things have changed—how much bigger it is, how packed that room was with women and men supporting our region’s women and girls, the amount of money ($1 MILLION!!!) we’re able to commit, together, to building our community! 

And yet, so much has stayed the same—the power of the inspiration within that room, the wisdom of our speakers and leaders within our community of philanthropists, the buzz and energy of more than 1,500 people talking about changing lives, changing themselves, and how they feel about being a part of The Power of Giving Together—about really doing something in our community!

What a rush!

As the board chair and interim president of The Women’s Foundation, we want to thank everyone who attended the luncheon yesterday for your support, for thinking seriously about the power of empowering our women and girls, for putting your dollars and your time and your talent behind the work we’re doing, and for joining us to celebrate how far we’ve come, and for your commitment to support how much further we can go, together!

For those of you who weren’t able to attend, we hope you’ll still join us on the powerful wave of philanthropy that was ignited yesterday yet again, and get involved in the work we’re doing together!

There are three ways that anyone can get involved—whether you already know The Women’s Foundation or are just getting started. To learn more, click here, and join The Power of Giving Together!

And thanks again to all of you who made yesterday such a powerful success! We continue to be inspired by all you do, and will carry that spirit with us as we move forward, onward and upward in our work on behalf of and with the women and girls in our area!

The future is wide open, and with you all, we’re running full speed into it!

With all our best wishes and thanks,

Deb Gandy and Marjorie Sims
Board Chair       Interim President

Dr. Helene Gayle: I'm thrilled to join you at the Leadership Luncheon!

Dear Friends of Washington Area Women’s Foundation, 

Thank you for inviting me to join you as a speaker, along with Ambassador Swanee Hunt, at your upcoming Leadership Luncheon. I was honored to be asked to step in for Sheila Johnson because it is always a pleasure for me to share the company of like-minded women and men who understand the benefit and value of investing in women and girls as a means to make our communities healthier, stronger, more vibrant places to live and work.

As president and CEO of CARE, an international humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, and a public health advocate and researcher, I know firsthand that making communities healthier, wealthier and wiser begins with women. That when a woman gains power, she, her husband, her children and her extended family benefit for a lifetime. Women are one of the greatest untapped natural resource in fighting global poverty.

I am very much looking forward to joining your ongoing conversation around how investing in women and girls is an investment in better communities—and to sharing my experience in applying this approach on a global scale.


Helene D. Gayle MD, MPH
President and Chief Executive Officer

Don’t miss Dr. Helene Gayle’s conversation with Ambassador Swanee Hunt on October 10, 2007.  Purchase your tickets or sponsorship today!

Join us for a real power lunch.

Join us for our Leadership Luncheon on October 10th, and not only will you be contributing to Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s work throughout our community, but you will walk away with a whole new attitude about how you can make your community a better place.

Because The Women’s Foundation is in the business of change— changing lives, perceptions, and our community.

If you thought our luncheon was any different, think again.

Our Leadership Luncheon is about making new rules and creating new avenues for true impact in our region. It is about coming together and forging connections that turn generosity into true gains for women, girls and our community.

This is a real power lunch.

Join us for this energetic celebration of the serious power of women’s philanthropy to create a more vibrant community by empowering women and girls to reach their full potential.

Join us to learn how becoming part of the power of giving together will not only change someone else’s life, but your own.

Join more than 1,300 of us—and our lead sponsors—Capital One and Freddie Mac & the Freddie Mac Foundation—on October 10th at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. from noon to 2 p.m. for a conversation on the power of women’s philanthropy, and how anyone can be a part of it.

And that’s how, if you change up your lunch routine, we’ll change you, and our community.

So, forget lunches where your main concern is using the correct flatware, and get ready to think beyond yourself, beyond your expectations about what you thought you could do, beyond what you thought possible for women and girls in our region.

Join us at the 2007 Leadership Luncheon to get connected, get inspired, get empowered and get hooked on the power of giving together.

Join our sponsors or purchase a ticket.

We can’t wait to see you there!

How paid sick days can mean safe days for women.

“Get out of my room!” he screamed at me.

I said nothing, except for knocking down his video tapes.  It was at this point he charged me, and knocked me to the ground.  I used my will and all my strength to fight back while trying to escape his apartment.

I finally escaped and walked down what felt like the hallway of shame. It was one of the longest walks I ever took. Once at home, I closed the dark brown wooden door behind me, and walked towards my mirror.

I stared into the mirror but a different image was looking back.  It wasn’t me. 

I saw a young woman with hair out of her head and blood and bruises on her face. When I finally realized that image was me, I started to cry.  I cried about all the pain that was inside my past, and started to connect what had just happened to me with former abuse that was in my household.

Violence occurs in cycles, especially when it comes down to domestic violence.  Domestic violence will continue until we, as a society, stop expecting that the victims should be the only people stopping this violence. 

Children and youth who grow up in households facing domestic violence are more likely to emulate this violence.

Dating violence is more prevalent in Washington, D.C. than New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Diego. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, D.C. has the highest rate of teen dating violence in the country. Children who grow up in abusive households are more likely to repeat this pattern of abuse in their first dating relationships.

For me as well, the abuses in my household were interconnected to my domestic violence situation. 

I cried for what seemed like hours, maybe even days. When I finally I came to, I remembered I had a meeting for work. I was so embarrassed to call my work to tell them what had happened, and was planning on saying that I was sick. 

When I called a co-worker, an outpour of tears flooded my thoughts, and I couldn’t speak.  She listened to me, and I finally stated, “My boyfriend hit me.” The next thing I knew, she was knocking on my apartment door to make sure I was fine.

I cried with her, and told her what I could verbalize. She supported me in doing whatever I needed. In fact, she told me about one of her friends who ran a Protective Restraining Order Clinic.  She provided me resources and emotional support.  When I was asked to do a spoken word piece based on my experience with abuse and Intimate partner violence at V-day San Francisco 2002, she was there in the audience supporting me.

On that day, I learned that the V stood for Validation. That validation led me to call the cops and start filing my case. In 2006, the number of domestic-related crime calls in the United States was 29,000. In 2005, the Metropolitan Police Department received over 27,000 domestic-related crime calls – one every 19 minutes–an increase of 22 percent over the past three years.

Validation is very important to all domestic violence survivors and their experiences. Many times we are told by our police, workplaces, and families that our matters are ‘lovers quarrels’, and ‘that it’s our fault’.

When we choose to speak out and decide to escape our situations, the most important thing is to be validated by the people and institutions we tell our stories to. That validation is strong enough to lead to an abuse-free world.

Validation first starts with supporting our survivors’ ability to take paid time off from work to take care of their security. Often, survivors need to take time off to get a restraining order, go to court, attend counseling, and for their very safety.

Many survivors, frequently women, are not validated by their workplaces and have been fired by their jobs. In fact, 98 percent of employed victims of domestic violence encounter problems at work (including losing their jobs) as a result of the violence.  Most companies have no idea how to validate domestic violence survivors through their human resource polices. Less than 30 percent of businesses in the United States have a formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence, even though seventy-eight percent of human resource directors identified domestic violence as a substantial employee problem.

It is ironic that as a society we tell our survivors to leave their situations, but we don’t provide them with the tools in which to do so, and we condemn them as they take leave to care for their safety.

After experiencing domestic violence, I would have flashbacks of the violence, and would many times be scared to leave my apartment. I was not alone.  Thirty-one to 84 percent of domestic violence victims exhibit Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms across varied samples of clinical studies, shelter, hospitals, and community agencies. It was important for me to take the time off to mentally and physically recover as well as to look for a therapist.

In current proposed legislation, the Paid Sick and Safe Days Act of 2007, any employee in the District of Columbia would be able to take a paid sick and safe day.  A ‘safe’ day would apply to a victim that has experienced stalking, sexual assault, or intimate partner violence. A victim of domestic violence would be able to seek out shelter, file a restraining order, or receive counseling without losing employment.

The U.S. General Accounting Office found that 24 to 53 percent of domestic violence victims lose their jobs due to domestic violence. This bill would enable all survivors to seek services and resources to keep them safe while sustaining their employment. Maintaining steady employment for many survivors is what prevents many from going back to their abusers.

If it was not for the understanding of my two part-time jobs of allowing me to take time off when needed, I might have gone back to my abuser. I might have never fought for my domestic violence case to get picked up by the District Attorney. I might have struggled to find food to eat.

Paid sick and safe days are crucial to not only a victim’s health and our children’s health, but to our society’s health.

Mari Villaluna is the legal and policy associate for D.C. Employment Justice Center, a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation