Women’s Philanthropy Council marks 25th anniversary at UW-Madison

September 17, 2014

For a quarter century, Wisconsin women have played a leading role in the women’s philanthropy movement.

These pioneering women will be joined by national leaders and faculty experts in Madison this week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Philanthropy Council, supported by the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

Founded in 1988 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the women’s philanthropy program was the first major gifts and leadership initiative for women at a co-educational institution. The group’s work has led to increased giving by women, progress toward women making major gifts, and more women serving on boards of visitors for schools, colleges and departments, and the UW Foundation’s board of directors.

To date, current and emeritus members of the Women’s Philanthropy Council have given more than $85 million to UW–Madison. Overall, women have made more than $500 million in gifts to the UW Foundation since 1988.

Photo: Women’s Philanthropy Council members singing ’Varsity’

Members of the council showed their UW pride by singing “Varsity” during their 20th anniversary event five years ago.

Photo: UW Foundation

“We are proud of the role that our people and organization have been able to play in recognizing and promoting women in philanthropic decisions and leadership at Wisconsin and beyond,” says Mike Knetter, president and CEO of the UW Foundation. “This anniversary celebration is a chance to thank both those who have led this effort and those whose involvement and support have benefitted the university.”

The Women’s Philanthropy Council will honor co-founder Martha Taylor, a Madison resident and UW Foundation vice president, for her pioneering works as an author, philanthropist, development leader and scholar. Taylor, along with Sondra Shaw-Hardy, also co-founded and co-directed the Women’s Philanthropy Institute — now part of the Indiana University School of Philanthropy — which seeks to increase philanthropy by women to all causes.

The group’s work has led to increased giving by women, progress toward women making major gifts, and more women serving on boards of visitors for schools, colleges and departments, and the UW Foundation’s board of directors.

Taylor and Shaw-Hardy wrote the first major book on women’s philanthropy, which has been termed the “field’s bible” by Town & Country magazine and won the Grenzebach Research Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

An anniversary dinner event Sept. 18 will feature a keynote address by nationally known author and blogger Gretchen Rubin, who will explore the relationship between giving and happiness. Rubin is the author of several books, including “The Happiness Project,” a No. 1 New York Times and international best-seller.

The two-day anniversary event continues Sept. 19 with an all-day symposium, featuring keynote remarks from UW–Madison Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf and Tashia Morgridge, an educator, author and emeritus member of the Women’s Philanthropy Council. Soyeon Shim, dean of the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology, will headline a general session on the “4W Initiative — Women, Well-being, Wisconsin and the World.”

The symposium will also feature national women leaders and UW–Madison experts, including:

  • Jan Miyasaki, director of Project Respect, a Dane County-based social service agency that provides services to those victimized in sex trafficking and prostitution;
  • Sweta Shrestha, education programs associate for UW’s Global Health Institute, who will discuss plans for social transformations to end exploitations and sex trafficking;
  • Jennifer Angus, professor of design studies, and Janet Niewold, who leads the global health field course Microenterprise and Health in Ecuador, both of whom will discuss microenterprise among global artisans; and
  • Christine Whelan, director of the Relationships, Finance and Life Fulfillment Initiative in the School of Human Ecology, who will discuss trends in women’s philanthropy and family philanthropy.

Valaida Fullwood, author of “Giving Back,” a compilation of stories of philanthropy among African-Americans, will speak about African-American and community-led philanthropy to close the anniversary event.

—Lynne Johnson