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Meet the Women Shaping the Future of Philanthropy

A Conversation with Ann Stallard and Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

It’s the ultimate women’s fireside chat – inspiring, funny, informative and provocative. Listen in on a candid dialogue between two women who have been pioneers in civic life, work and United Way’s mission of community change.

Dr. Johnnetta Cole, anthropologist, educator and museum director, and her “sister leader,” business entrepreneur Ann Stallard, have been breaking barriers for women and people of color for most of their lives.  They were instrumental in pushing United Way to include women as trustees (Dr. Cole was the first) and to examine issues of diversity and inclusion. They were also the 2014 recipients of the United Way Women in Philanthropy Award.

You can listen to short excerpts of Dr. Cole speaking about her hopes for the next generation of women leaders and Stallard speaking about her evolving view of United Way. For the full answers to all questions, please jump to the bottom of this post.

Today, some 62% of United Way CEOs are women (compared to 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 19% in the Top 400 U.S. Charities.)

Together, Stallard and Dr. Cole helped birth one of the most successful women’s philanthropic efforts of its kind: the United Way Women’s Leadership Council.  This global network of 55,000 volunteer women is improving education, financial stability and health in 143 communities across the world. Its members have raised more than $1 billion to strengthen communities in the last 12 years, and many have become passionate champions of community change.

The questions for this conversation come from Kassaundra Escalara, who leads United Way Worldwide’s Women’s Leadership Council work. Dr. Cole and Stallard reflect on leadership, inspiration, and the challenges and opportunities before women today.

Here are the questions they tackle:

  1. There are a lot of organizations working in the nonprofit space and a lot of worthy causes you could contribute to and be involved with, so why United Way?
  2. As the philanthropic landscape has shifted over the years, so too has the role of women leaders in this sector. What new opportunities do you see for women leaders today?
  3. Can you point to any particular experience that you feel transformed you as a leader in community change? Maybe it was a difficult challenge that resulted in personal growth, or an encounter with a particularly inspiring individual?
  4. To a certain extent, volunteerism is by definition giving of yourself – and we all give in different ways. How have each of you managed to find a balance between your role as a leader in community change and your personal and professional lives?
  5. What is your greatest aspiration for the next generation of women leaders? If there is any single piece of advice you can give to women interested in taking on leadership roles in community change, what would it be?

So settle in (ideally with some women friends and wine!) to listen to the whole conversation. What might these powerful and purposeful women inspire you to do in your community?