Through this newsletter issue, we launch a new chapter in our history and we are pleased to share that story, together. Read on to learn more about our progress in the last year, meet our board members, staff, and partners, as well as discover how you can help keep our momentum going.
ONE YEAR LATER, ONE PATH FORWARD
“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
— Lilla Watson, visual artist, activist and academic
Thirty-eight years ago, five women dreamed of radically transforming the lives of women and girls. Their fervor sparked a flame for uniquely serving the Greater Boston community, a flame that is needed now more than ever and that we are keeping lit today through our dedication to discovering new ways to make an impact.
With the unwavering leadership of our board, this year, the Boston Women’s Fund strengthened our donor base, added eight new board members, doubled our staff, and began exploring a youth leadership initiative. We also held six convenings with leaders creating systemic change to unite the grasstops with the grassroots. Together, we discussed race, the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, the racial reckoning, and the importance of funding women+ and girls-led programs, and we listened to and learned from the transgender and immigrant communities on how to be better allies. Additionally, for the first time in our history, we were able to provide an automatic second year of funding to our grantees and welcomed three new grantee partners, including an intermediary that supports Black elderly women. I’m thrilled at all our grantees and team have achieved!
As I close my first year as executive director, I’d be remiss to discuss what we’ve accomplished without also sharing what I’ve learned. This year has offered key lessons that I will surely take with me.
I quickly learned that if you have not fundraised, you really should not give fundraising advice. (Natanja of past years, I’m talking to you!) During my 15 years in philanthropy, people asked for all kinds of fundraising advice, and I gave it freely — without ever having raised significant dollars! Albeit from the privilege of representing a fund (this work is 10 times harder for grassroots leaders), I’ve since come to know the depth of skills, operations and planning that fundraising truly requires.
Secondly, this year reminded me that people matter over problems. In building relationships with our grantees amid a pandemic and racial reckoning, BWF could no longer do “business as usual.” We had to create space to authentically check in, ask “how are you really doing?” and share in turn. Our eyes are focused on liberation, but we can not be liberated without healing the wounds we’ve all developed over the last 18 months. We will continue to deepen our relationships with all who partner with us and we’ll do so while holding their humanity first.
Beginning work as a new executive director of color is difficult enough, much less amid spotlit police brutality and a pandemic. But despite these challenges and my proximity to them, I feel incredibly lucky to be here, right now, in this moment, to lead an organization that has never wavered in its beliefs and values the innovation and solutions that come from our community.
We are indebted to our grantees and all who support us. The incredible accomplishments we made this year were only possible because of you. I hope you enjoy reading some of the highlights.