Washington Area Women's Foundation

Sharing Some Personal News…

It is with a heavy but joyful heart today that I share with you my decision to step down as President and CEO of Washington Area Women’s Foundation this summer. To say this has been my life’s work is an understatement. The work of the Foundation has been very personal for me and will always hold a very special place in my heart. This team and place have been my family and my home, and it has been a joy to work with people so talented and unwavering in their mission to make this region, this world, just a little better.
Looking back on my 13 years at the Foundation, I am most proud of who we are right now: a community-supported foundation investing in the power of women and girls of color. Centering our mission in gender and racial equity is necessary and right. While too often unsung, the work of women and girls of color have advanced human rights and gender, racial, and economic justice in our communities for decades.
For the past six years, I have been on a personal racial equity journey, examining my role as a white leader in our community. I have pushed myself to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, to challenge my own assumptions and privilege, to acknowledge when I make a misstep, to learn from my mistakes, and to push other white leaders to do the same.
2020 was full of challenges for all of us—from managing through a pandemic and the countless ways people are grieving a multitude of losses, to the blatant and rampant systemic racism from which we can no longer turn away. On a personal note, in July my younger brother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, leaving me utterly shattered and searching for solid ground and deeper meaning in the chaos of our time. I have slowly come to realize that sometimes grief can bring clarity.
I’ve always felt that I’d know when it was time for me to step aside. That time is now. The Women’s Foundation is a strong and respected community leader in the fight for gender, racial, and economic justice and is positioned to further advance its mission and pursue exciting opportunities in the months and years ahead. We have been intentional in shifting our work and centering the voices and lived experiences of women and girls of color, starting with the launch of the Young Women’s Initiative and more recently affirming a new mission statement that names the power of women and girls of color in our community. Deepening our commitment to women and girls of color and prioritizing their leadership in all aspects of our work is critically important to living out our values as an organization.
Different times call for different leaders. I am humbled to stand on the shoulders of the three leaders of The Women’s Foundation who came before me. Each of us built on what the others accomplished, creating stepping stones for those who followed. Now is the time for our next leader—someone who is deeply committed to our mission and our community and who will build upon our accomplishments while forging new paths and realizing the potential before us.
My resolve to dig deeper and be a better ally in the fight for racial justice will not end with my departure from this role, and my commitment to The Women’s Foundation and its mission will always be a part of my heart and soul. It is my fervent hope that each of you will join me in supporting The Women’s Foundation as the board and staff embark on the next phase of its journey.
My deepest respect and gratitude,

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat
President & CEO