Congratulations to Vera Mayer, Public Citizen of the Year!

The Women’s Foundation is proud to congratulate Vera Mayer, senior advocate with Iona Senior Services and coalition coordinator with the DC Coalition on Long Term Care (a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation), on being named Public Citizen of the Year by the DC Metro Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

An article in Washington Jewish Week explains that Vera was recognized for her "years of work to improve the quality of life for seniors and disabled adults in the District of Columbia."  Vera is also "cited as one of the moving forces behind the District’s Aging and Disability Medicaid Waiver application to provide for community-based long term care rather than institutional placements for aging and disabled adults who need assistance."

Gwen Rubinstein, a program officer at The Women’s Foundation who has worked with Vera, echoed these statements, saying, "Vera is a force.  Getting the Medicaid Waiver passed was a big, big deal.  She is a true force."

Congratulations, Vera, from The Women’s Foundation, and many thanks for your devotion and service to the Washington metropolitan area and the well-being of its aging and disabled citizens.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Not sure who to vote for? Third-party opinions here!

Fretting about who to vote for in our 2009 Leadership Awards online vote?

Not to fear, live from the Internet I was greeted this morning by a number of third-party bloggers advocating for various organizations.  Check out the following and maybe your decision-making about the organization best supporting our region’s women and girls will be made a little easier.

Or harder.

Well, at least more informed. 

A not so Capitol Idea is advocating for Polaris Project.

Bruce Reyes-Chow is pulling for Calvary Women’s Services and so is InHo-Kim.

W-WomenGlobally wants you to vote for DV LEAP.

Then Dollar Philanthropy and Rosenthal Partners just want you to vote, period.

So, why not?  It’s easy, takes two seconds and there are amazing organizations to choose from.  Check it out.

More than 3,000 votes have already been cast–why not add yours?

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.  (With a special additional shout out to Rosenthal Partners, who not only plugged the vote, but are designing our annual report, pro bono, at this very moment!)

Link to The Women's Funding Network and The Women's Foundation on CNN!

Earlier today, I wrote about how The Women’s Foundation and The Women’s Funding Network were featured on a story on CNN about how investing in women is one the best strategies for fostering economic recovery.

As promised, here is the link to the CNN clip of Linda’s Butler sharing her amazing story of how a jobs training program at Northern Virginia Family Services, which is supported by The Women’s Foundation, changed her life.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Linda Butler speaks on behalf of The Women's Foundation on CNN!

Today was a bright and early, but exciting, morning for us at The Women’s Foundation!  We were up early to see Linda Butler, who spoke at our 2008 Leadership Luncheon, talk on CNN’s "American Morning" about how her life was changed by a jobs training program at Northern Virginia Family Services supported by The Women’s Foundation.  This morning at 7:30 a.m., she was part of a report on how women’s funds’ approach to economic growth for communities is a model during the tough economic climate in the U.S.

Linda, a beneficiary of our Stepping Stones program, shared her story of how Training Futures, a jobs training program, provided her with resources, knowledge and tools to transition from a low-paid waitressing job to a full-time professional position with benefits.

Women’s Funding Network board member Jacki Zehner was also featured in the piece and discussed it here on her blog, Purse Pundit

We are so glad The Women’s Funding Network chose to highlight Stepping Stones when they pitched this story, and are extremely proud of Linda Butler’s courage and poise in taking on the daunting task of going on live, national television to share her story.  At our Leadership Luncheon this year, Linda noted that despite years of abuse and feeling that she was worth very little, Training Futurs helped build her self-esteem, her financial security and helped her "find her voice."

After seeing her on CNN this morning, we’d have to say that that’s the understatement of the year!

We’re hoping to have a link of the piece to share within the next few days, so stay tuned!

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Help decide where we invest $5,000!

It’s that time again–for the Leadership Awards online vote!

A committed group of volunteers has selected the 10 outstanding Leadership Awardees for 2009, who are doing innovative, effective work serving the health and safety of women and girls in our region.  Each awardee has received $10,000 to help fuel their work.

Now, it’s your turn to get involved!

Vote today for one of these 10 organizations and the one with the most votes by 5 p.m. on March 30, 2009 will win an additional $5,000!

What do you think is the most important strategy supporting the health and safety of our region’s women and girls? 

After-school programs for at-risk girls?  Advocacy for domestic violence survivors?  Support and assistance for elderly women?  Fighting human trafficking?  Job training programs that teach not only the skills for employment but how to cook healthy, nutritious meals?

Each of these strategies, and more, is represented by the 2009 Leadership Awardees.  Learn more about them and then cast your ballot here! 

Then, stop back by this blog and let us know who you voted for and why.  Help make the case for the organization and strategies that you think are best serving our region’s women and girls!

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Almost half of Boston teens blame Rihanna, not Chris, for her attack.

As a follow-on to my colleague Gwen’s thoughtful post on the Rihanna domestic violence situation and the way it’s being handled in the media, I thought I’d throw in this piece from Feministing, about the reactions of some Boston teens to the story.

Sadly, it would appear that almost half of those Boston teens surveyed blame Rihanna for the attack.  More than half felt that both parties were equally responsible for the attack.

Jessica at Feministing sums it up well, saying, "Ah, victim-blaming. It’s always with us. What particularly depresses me about this statistic is that the victim-blaming is coming from young people. There’s this optimistic part of me that likes to believe sexist attitudes and hating women will lessen with new generations. Articles like these snap me back into reality."

Then there is Gwen, saying, "And just once, I would like to read a story that focused on how men have the power to stop this violence."

This wish seems particularly poingnant given what these surveys revealed about how young people view violence against women. 

And, in my opinion, helping further draw the connection that how domestic violence and women’s issues are portrayed in the media do get reflected back to us in the voices and actions of our young people.

As a silver lining, there are some amazing groups doing work to combat these perceptions and domestic violence itself, as well as to advocate for victims (rather than blame them).  Many of these groups are our Grantee Partners, and a few are 2009 Leadership Awardees

As of tomorrow, check back to our site to vote for your favorite Leadership Awardee, help them earn an extra $5,000 to fuel their work, and raise your voice for productive solutions and better, healthier, safer communities for women and girls.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

What's scarier than the economy? Try latest on D.C.'s HIV/AIDS rates.

Well, so much for a break from the doom and gloom.  The latest update on the status of HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. is in and the news is not good.

The District now has a rate of 3 percent of its residents who are HIV-positive, a rate that surpasses that in West Africa and means that The District has surpassed the criteria for a "generalized and severe epidemic." 

African-American women represent nearly a quarter of HIV cases in D.C.  African-American men continue to bear the brunt of the statistics though.  An astonishing 7 percent of black men in D.C. are HIV-positive.

Aaron Morrissey of the DCist had this to say about the District’s reaction and plan to address this deepening crisis, "Certainly, it’s sobering to think about why it took the District until 2005 to start to really ramp up HIV/AIDS preventative services — and considering that timeline, origins for these massive figures start to become clearer. But if there is a bright side to this story, it is that D.C. has been steadily improving in the four years since…But even as such strides are taken, the battle cry has barely changed: in order to fight these incredible figures, there must be a steady maintenance of ‘determination and commitment from the District’s public officials.’ Anything less would be doubly as frustrating."

DC Appleseed, a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation, was quoted in The Washington Post piece and their report card, HIV in the Nation’s Capital, was referenced in the DCist blog.

Just as the economic crisis has served as a tremendous call to action to rethink business as usual and refocus the nation’s economic priorities, we can only hope that these latest findings on a critical health issue for the District will spur action to find sustainable, effective strategies to prevent the further spread of this epidemic and care to treat those who are already affected.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

It's not all doom and gloom, despite the recession.

I love this.  And I love my Google Reader for making sure I saw it.  Voila, a piece in USA Today not about the doom and gloom of the recession, or about job losses or the stock market.

Indeed, these things are important and concerning.  But for goodness sake, sometimes we need a break from it all.

So here comes USA Today with a great story about how the recession is also inspiring tremendous random acts of kindness out there, among businesses and individuals. 

In California, for instance, when a group started a prom dress drive for girls who couldn’t afford gowns, local businesses chipped in free hair styling and dry cleaning.  Meanwhile, the Elks Lodge started collecting shoes.

In Fulton, Missouri (Shout out to my home state!), a local florist is just randomly delivering bouquets of flowers to people nominated within the community just to help brighten up people’s days. 

In Alabama, the owner of a health care store gave out $16,000 split amongst its employees, asking them to give 15 percent to charity and spend the rest at local businesses.

Not only generous, but smart.

How can you not love this?  Proof that the recession, while awful, is also presenting opportunities for people and communities to come together to do the right thing.

That’s one of the ramifications of this tough period that we have to hope sticks around when it’s over.

Seeing the stimulus package through a gender lens.

Today, the Chicago Foundation for Women released its analysis of how the economic stimulus package will impact women.

It’s findings?  Some of the big wins for women are:

  • To reduce job cuts for educators and teachers, nearly $45 billion was allocated to the Department of Education.
  • Medicaid, which supports the health of more than 20 million women, will receive $87 billion.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families received $1.1 billion, as well as $20 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps).
  • Community child care got $2 billion and child support enforcement received $1 billion, both of which help single mothers thrive.

More of their analysis can be found here.

The Chicago Foundation for Women conducted this analysis through its role as part of the Women’s Economic Security Collaborative, which Washington Area Women’s Foundation is also proud to be a part of.  The Collaborative’s goal is to find and implement effective strategies to raise awareness about policies impacting women’s financial independence.

Chicago’s analysis today is a great start to this work and we look forward to our work with the Collaborative to further encourage examinations of national policies and practices through a gender lens.

Because we know, as do all other women’s funds throughout the world, that when you see policies through the eyes of women, you envision better policies–and end results–for everyone.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Grantee Partner's affordable, healthy catering options in demand during recession.

Times are tough for most catering companies these days, but not for one of The Women’s Foundation’s Grantee Partners, Through the Kitchen Door, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

Founded by Liesel Flashenberg, Through the Kitchen Door trains low-income women, at-risk teens and, more recently, domestic violence survivors, in catering skills, as well as the trick of affordable cooking that is still healthy, delicious and attractive to the eye.

Something in high demand as the recession takes hold and companies and individuals look for responsible, affordable ways to cater parties and other events.  With Through the Kitchen Door, not only do clients get excellent quality catering, but they’re also helping support local community development and job training.

A pretty tasty win-win.

Also quoted in the article, which explains how Liesel does it and even gives away some of her recipes and tricks of the trade, is Jeffrey Slavin, a member of The Women’s Foundation’s Washington 100 and a Guy Who Gets It.

The Women’s Foundation is proud to support Liesel and the amazing work she’s doing to help women in our region build stable careers that lead to financial independence. 

Not to mention that we love the food and service and use Through the Kitchen Door for a ton of our own catering!

For more information on Through the Kitchen Door:
Through the Kitchen Door’s Web site
Doreen Gentzler highlights Through the Kitchen Door when she becomes Washingtonian of the Year!
Los Angeles Times article 

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.  Through the Kitchen Door is a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation.