Just in time for Women’s History Month, I joined the San Diego Women’s Foundation (SDWF) current and past leaders to talk about our history and look toward the future.

As new Executive Director of SDWF, joined by new SDWF Program Specialist Kirsten Wisneski, I wanted to spend some time learning about the opportunities and challenges over the organization’s 17-year history.

And these female leaders didn’t disappoint.

When talking about the proudest moments, founding President Linda Katz cited the successful push to reach 100 members in SDWF’s very first year as an organization.

[pullquote]San Diego Women’s Foundation filled such a need for community-minded women to roll up their sleeves and get involved in philanthropy.” –
Linda Katz, SDWF Founding President[/pullquote]

As Linda explained, “Managing the logistics without paid staff was a difficult task, but quickly recruiting members was not. San Diego Women’s Foundation filled such a need for community-minded women to roll up their sleeves and get involved in philanthropy that the ambitious goal was reached ahead of schedule!”

During A.J. Frank’s tenure as Board President, she was most proud of launching new strategic initiatives in 2015 – the Fellows Initiative and Collaboration Initiative:

  • The Fellows Initiative enables employees and volunteers from SDWF’s community partners to receive two-year membership scholarships to deepen their philanthropic knowledge and broaden their networks.
  • The Collaboration Initiative is a member-driven effort to work with other funders to address community challenges more effectively and efficiently.

While each past president acknowledged the challenge of managing memberships without staff in the early years, as well as remaining resilient during the financial crisis of 2008, they each were quick to point out the overwhelmingly positive experiences they had as leaders of SDWF.

All of the past presidents in the room agreed that the greatest joy of leading the SDWF is having the opportunity to work closely with so many smart women who are so committed to our community and to the success of the organization.

As I look toward the future of SDWF, I’m excited to get to know our talented and dedicated members, bring more women into the fold, build a stronger community through our strategic grantmaking, and work with our members and leadership to make sure SDWF remains at the cutting edge of philanthropy.

The future of our entire region is brighter with the women at SDWF leading the way forward.

To learn more about SDWF, or to join as a member, contact me at katies@sdfoundation.org.

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About Katie Sawyer

Katie SawyerKatie oversees day-to-day operations and strategic direction of the San Diego Women’s Foundation (SDWF), ensuring that programs and services delivered are consistent with the organization’s mission to engage women in significant philanthropy. Katie works closely with SDWF board of directors, members, community partners and staff to guide an effective grantmaking process and to provide programming that helps members become more savvy, strategic philanthropists.