Women’s History Month: Looking Back at SDWF Milestones

San Diego Women's Foundation Grants Celebration
San Diego Women's Foundation (SDWF) executive director Katie Sawyer (left) and board member Shari Miller (right) presented a $40,000 grant check to San Diego LGBT Community Center at SDWF's 17th annual Grants Celebration.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, I’m looking back on the achievements (and challenges!) of the San Diego Women’s Foundation (SDWF).

As the executive director of SDWF, I firmly believe that a network of determined, committed women can reach nearly any goal. And our history proves that.

Founded as a supporting organization of The San Diego Foundation, SDWF has grown to an organization of more than 215 members. Our mission is to educate and inspire women to engage in collective philanthropy. A membership grantmaking organization, SDWF has engaged over 600 women in its philanthropic process.

SDWF Cindy Olmstead and Jacqueline Bell
SDWF founder and past board member Cindy Olmstead (left) poses with board member Jacqueline Bell at a recent SDWF event. SDWF reached $2 million in lifetime grantmaking under the leadership of Olmstead.

San Diego Women’s Foundation Milestones

Here is a quick look back at what we’ve accomplished together at SDWF and the leading women who helped us reach these milestones:

  • 2000: SDWF is founded, under the leadership of Founding President Linda Katz.
  • 2001: SDWF makes its very first grants, adhering to the “one member, one vote” process that it still uses today. SDWF grants $100,000 to four local organizations.
  • 2006: SDWF reaches $1 million in grantmaking, under the leadership of President Alicia Foster.
  • 2008: Financial crisis hits the nonprofit sector especially hard. Unlike many funders, SDWF can continue supporting nonprofits during this difficult time, thanks to the dedication of its members and the financial stability provided by its endowment.
  • 2010: SDWF launches Decision 2010, a collaborative strategic planning process involving the input of 200+ members.
  • 2011: SDWF reaches $2 million in lifetime grantmaking, under the leadership of President Cindy Olmstead.
  • 2015: SDWF launches the Philanthropy Fellows program, which provides two-year membership sponsorships to employees of its nonprofit partners. The program helps develop female leadership in the nonprofit sector, and builds stronger, lasting connections with our Community Partners.
  • 2017: With Valerie Jacobs as President, SDWF reaches $3 million in grantmaking, providing $201,000 in funding to five organizations serving homeless youth.
  • 2018: SDWF Collaboration Committee makes SDWF’s first-ever collaborative grant, in partnership with San Diego Social Venture Partners.

As 2018 continues, we’re continuing to blaze a path of effective, innovative philanthropy. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished together, and even more excited about what lays ahead.

With this phenomenal network of talented, connected women, the sky is the limit – women truly can do more than woman!

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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.