The Power of Philanthropy: My Week of Celebrating Women Changing the World

Issue 93 — May 14, 2019

True, I’m writing this at the end of Mother’s Day after long talks with my children and lots of social media posts lauding moms and those who have “mothered” in nonbiological ways.

So despite some not so great news about the status of women in America, I’m on a bit of an estrogen fest high. So much that I want to devote my column this week to a photographic essay of positive highlights of the past week.

Here goes.

L-R, Women’s eNews gala honorary chair with a distinguished media production career Loreen Arbus, Artist and activist Linda Stein, and me vamping on the rainbow carpet at the Women’s eNews gala May 6. Loreen’s e-mail signature includes these quotes: she lives by them: The act of giving is the soul of living.” — Loreen Arbus; “How we treat the most vulnerable among us is who we are.” — Lucie Berreby

The annual gala raised funds for Women’s eNews to tell women’s stories, often overlooked by legacy media. The nonprofit organization’s president and CEO Lori Sokol and gala host, OIC 11 News in New York anchor Tamsen Fadal presented awards to “21 Leaders for the 21st Century,” mostly women but including several men, selected for their work to advance women. Additional special awards were given, such as the Loreen Arbus Champion for Disabilities Award to jd Michaels, partner in the creative firm adams.michaels.

I am proud to have been an honoree in 2005. Each year I wonder how they can find another 21+ incredible people to recognize and each year they don’t disappoint.

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Go here into see this year’s honorees.

On May 8, I attended the Ms Foundation for Women’s over the top fabulous 45th anniversary gala held at Capitale in New York.

Two of my female superheroes, filmmaker and founder of Fork Films , Abby Disney and philanthropist/investor Jacki Zehner. Jacki, who was the youngest and first female trader to become a partner at Goldman Sachs is also honorary chair of Take The Lead’s upcoming 50 Women Can Change the World in Finance.

But before I could party, I had to host Take The Lead’s monthly Virtual Happy Hour. How to do that and get to the gala in time for dinner? Well, the show must go on. So I took my computer and stood (appropriately enough) in the upstairs bar at the venue as I interviewed two super guests on the topic of “Shift Storm: How Moms Can Succeed in Careers and Life.”

Despite a steady parade of people who had to wander through the bar to find the bathroom, we had a rousing good discussion with Brigid Schulte, director of the Better Life Lab at New America and Shadiah Sagala, cofounder of the childcare benefits firm Kinside.

I slipped into the party late and didn’t get to say hello to many of my pals in the jam-packed room, like feminist founding mother Gloria Steinem. But I did have the pleasure of meeting honoree filmmaker dream hampton, producer of the acclaimed documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.” She moved me with her observation that if only someone had shown him love and healing when he was sexually abused as a child, his story might have unfolded differently. Oh my, what a heart.

My host, great friend of Take The Lead, passionate advocate for gender equality, Michael Stars Cofounder and President Suzanne Lerner who is a Ms. Foundation board member with the visionary Ms. Foundation President Teresa Younger.
With Alyson Palmer of the musical group BETTY
Step and repeating after the dinner with Ted Bunch of A Call to Men and Olivia Merchant, owner and CEO of the management company bearing her name

Though usually when someone says “dance,” I’m there, I couldn’t stay for the afterparty. I had to get my sleep to be in fine form the next two days for our 50 Women Can Change the World in Journalism program training and graduation May 9 and 10.

#50WomenCan is a Take The Lead signature program we do by sector. It includes comprehensive training and coaching over a three month period followed by ongoing communication to encourage women in the cohort to achieve the goals they set in their Strategic Leadership Action Plans. The cohort also makes a plan for work they can do as a group to advance women in their profession.

This panel drew resounding applause, a real and raw sharing of how women of color can most effectively navigate the newsroom. It featured L-R, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, cohort member and CEO of Lantigua Williams and Co specializing in podcasts and film, Marsha Cooke Senior Vice President for Content Strategy and Community at Vice Media, and Farai Chideya, author and our program officer at the Ford Foundation, which along with the Democracy Fund supports the program.
We were honored to welcome CBS News Executive Vice President Kim Godwin (R) as our graduation speaker, and many guests, including CultureBanx CEO Kori Hale (L) who came to cheer the 50-woman cohort on as they received their certificates of completion for the course along with a Parity Charm bracelet bearing Take The Lead’s logo and a charm that says “power” on one side and “intention” on the other to remind them of the 9 Leadership Power Tools and more that they learned in the course.
No nonprofit organization can succeed without strong board leadership, and Take The Lead is incredibly fortunate that Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, founder and president of the Women Connect 4 Good Foundation is our board chair. Nancy, also the author of In This Together about the importance of women helping women, and I took a long walk around Central Park the day after the 50 Women graduation to celebrate the program’s success and decompress from a very busy week.

GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of four books, most recently No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at and Tweet @GloriaFeldt.