Dorka Keehn and Charity Kenyon on the Power of One (Woman)


Last week I had the chance to listen in as two inspiring women — Dorka Keehn and Charity Kenyon — shared their stories of social impact. The real message was the Power of One — how one busy woman learns about issues, funds solutions and, sometimes in the process, creates a movement around an idea.

What I heard from these women resonates at every level in thinking about how to fund your passion.

  • Be curious about other people’s stories. How does one person make cw_blogEcoJudyBondschange? Surprisingly often it happens in an utter dearth of resources. By exploring your curiosity about others who do something amazing, you’re likely to gain a social impact momentum of your own. Dorka shared the story of Judy Bonds, an Appalachian coal mining daughter who won the Goldman Award for her work against destructive mountaintop removal and, in turn, was Dorka’s inspiration for writing ECO AMAZONS: 20 Women Who Are Transforming the World.
  • Networks are the tools that turn ideas into impact. This is especially true for women, who often lack connections needed to access and influence decision-makers. Charity’s long-ago support of the League of Women Voters laid the groundwork for her ability to influence access to good, clean, fair food for all through her leadership in the Slow Food Movement, first through her local chapter and, now, as a national governor.
  • Childhood experiences lay the groundwork in unexpected ways. Dorka’s dad raised her as a girl who could do anything; seeing so many women who lacked this support and confidence inspired her to found Emerge and Ignite as organizations to encourage women and girl’s political leadership. Charity’s trip to study abroad in Denmark exposed her to the challenges of family farming in a way that was eye-opening. This planted the seed for her work as chair of a new committee for Slow Food, helping foster collaboration on statewide policy issues that find creative ways of meeting the challenges of small rural nonprofits.

Dorka Keehn and Charity Kenyon are two amazing women. Yet their message involved a beautiful simplicity of focus and action. Their journeys started in their own homes and backyards, and they hit their stride during the busiest times of their lives.

And neither story is about women, per se. Dorka shared a critical lesson learned by Emerge in the early days: “Gender is secondary to the issue. At Emerge, we learned that having more women in political office wasn’t a concern for most people, but the impact of these elected women’s unique communication style and approach to leadership was highly effective.” Sometimes isn’t not even about what we do, but the way we do it.


Charity saw the magnificent Great Central Valley of California and the world’s most productive farmland disappearing under subdivisions. Perhaps her career as a First Amendment, environmental and appellate law attorney shaped her passion. She asked around her own community: What organization addresses this issue? Restarting the local Sacramento Chapter of the Slow Food Movement led her to deep involvement in their work across the US and the globe — from her backyard of Sacramento (Well, actually, Galt. I couldn’t resist the reference, knowing Ayn Rand’s book will become a film this year.) to the 1,000 Gardens in Africa project.

cw_blogEcoAmazonsDorka’s “other life” is all about art: as an award-winning conceptual artist, avid speaker on art in the public sphere, writer of EcoAmazons and the recent article for San Francisco Magazine on The Philanthropists: Eleven Women Who Exemplify the Power, Economic and Otherwise, of Social Entrepreneurship. She works in diverse mediums including radio, film, and sculpture — and women’s leadership.

Interesting that both women, from their unique paths, have developed a shared passion for environmental sustainability. So what’s next for these women?

Charity is enjoying retirement with her husband, Mike Eaton, on their 5-acre Kingbird Farms, a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), site and has hosted some 85 young farmers from around the world at their home.

Dorka’s interests have expanded beyond women-focused issues to the issues themselves. She sees the opportunity for creativity and consciousness to impact our world, and to focus on how we approach and engage around the larger concerns that affect us all.

Stay tuned. More to come from these Catalytic Women.


A Gender Lens: Women In Film And Stem

What an inspiring discussion—to hear women leaders in film production and social ventures inspire us with their experiences and wisdom on Film and Philanthropy at Google. Our panelists—Susan Cartsonis, Eva Maria Daniels and Vivian Kleiman—are blazing a trail to transform the way people see women and the world, through film and video.

Before I share their fabulous resources for film philanthropy from our discussion on November 15 at Google, I want to ask your help in directing our programs in 2013—join the Launch Team of our all-new Partners program and connect with experts, best practices and other smart women seeking innovations in philanthropy. Start now and let Catalytic Women help you make yearend giving decisions with ease, impact and confidence. As with all our programs, they start with smart women like you and I’d very much like to know what else we can include in benefits for Partners to meet your needs.Will you join us now and help shape the future of Catalytic Women? Your support is instrumental to our success.

I’m still thinking about high impact organizations focused on the issue of gender equality in the media, and the resources shared by our panelists. Read on!

Susan Cartsonis is founder of Storefront Pictures and would love to hear from youS.Cartsonis at: She suggests:

  • Women in Film (WIF), a nonprofit that helps women thrive in the global entertainment, communication and media industries, and also preserves the legacies of professional women who came before. Susan is the board chair of theirWomen in Film Foundation, offering funds for film finishing, mentoring and other important issues.
  • educates, advocates, engages and collaborates with entertainment creators on leading positive change through varied portrayals of female and male characters in movies and TV. They have some powerful research from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on images aimed at children 11 and under.
  • Women and Hollywood has a blog and weekly e-news on new films by and for women.
  • Catalyst does amazing research on women leadership in business, science and technology, including the increased ROI of publicly-traded companies with gender diversity on their corporate boards.
  • Taking action: buy tickets to major motion pictures with strong women characters, especially since the vast number of movie tickets are purchased by women.

Eva Maria Daniels is founder of Impact Emotion Films and can be reached at She shared:

  • Impact Emotion Films, a new film fund co-founded by Eva Daniels Productions and led by two women partner, which seeks to produce smaller movies with social impact that are box office successes.
  • The power of collaboration, since virtually every film made now is the product of several people who had a vision and started talking with friends and funders.
  • Use social media to tell friends about a great film with a social impact, raising awareness to influential others like the Motion Picture Academy that chose impact film The King’s Speech for best picture last year.

Vivian Kleiman is a documentary film consultant, director and electronic mediaV.Kleiman producer, and can be reached at She had great practical suggestions to support documentary film makers, such as:

  • The ability to leverage our professional expertise for documentary films in need of assistance with legal, accounting or publicity.
  • Voting with our dollars at our many wonderful local film festivals, which can attract press and have a big impact on the mainstream distribution of a documentary film.
  • Crowdfunding for early investment in film production, such as the first crowdfunding platform for creative projects, for artists and films, and the largest crowdfunding site,, which had 730 projects in their Film and Video category when I checked today.
  • Become an advocate by buying copies of DVDs of the films you love for your community, school or college library.
  • Follow the advice of author and speaker Scott Kirsner, whose recent book Fans, Friends and Followers presents creative possibilities for online video and new technologies changing the entertainment industry.
  • Media Impact Funders (formerly Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media) has an online database that connects seekers of funding and donors to media projects in the public interest.

And a few others we mentioned:

  • The School Fund, founded by our Google host Matt Severson three years ago as a platform to help students in the developing world to pay for books and supplies, provides the opportunity to pursue secondary school when they otherwise could not afford to do so.
  • GoldieBlox: The Engineering Toy for Girls and their fabulously successful Kickstarter campaign, was created by Stanford engineering graduate Debbie Sterling to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Roominate is another building toy for girls who are artists, engineers, architects and visionaries.

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to Devi Kamdar, who was too sick to moderate our panel, and the Palo Alto International Film Festival she helped launch, which completed its second year in September 2012. Catalytic Women was proud to sponsor their local documentary film program. Tremendous thanks also to our partner in creating this 2012 series for Women Giving Under the Radar, the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership at UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business. And thanks to Albayk in San Mateo for the great Mediterranean food.

Read more about opportunities to promote film and media for and about women on our last blog post on November 9 below

How can we help you leverage your scarce time, abundant intellect, and resources at any level to give well? Email me at or call my cellular at 415.999.3197. Very much looking forward to our next conversation—I hope when I welcome you to the Partners Launch Team of Catalytic Women!

High Impact Gifts

Our webinar this month addressed a concern of many donors: impact. How do I know that my donations create meaningful change? What do I need to know to make gifts that leverage impact in our communities? And how can I fund the best nonprofit models addressing the issues that concern me?

There is some exciting work being done on collaboration and impact within the nonprofit sector. This presentation was an opportunity to share studies, trends and best practices in ensuring that our gifts make the greatest impact in the communities we support. I got to explore (and draw heavily upon) the findings of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, and Hope Consulting’s Money for Good research on donor behavior and philanthropic impact—both with thanks to our respective advisors who are leaders there, Kat Rosqueta and Hope Neighbor. I hope you’ll make good use of the download of this practical discussion on how to make gifts that create impact in the world around us—and address challenging community issues in a meaningful way.

Let’s face it. Women make most giving decisions. And, by leveraging our time and talent into funding high-impact nonprofit models, women are funding critical social services and serving as catalysts for broad global change.

Inspiring Women Impacting Poverty, Film and Philanthropy

Talk about inspiring women in philanthropy… This past week I’ve been in Boston and beyond, meeting the leadership of Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute, 100 Women in Hedge Funds, 85 Broads, Criterion Ventures, and others at the Convergence XII gathering on gender lens investing. Wow. It’s a reminder of our powerful, understated approach to philanthropy, and the diverse ways that women have an impact on really big issues.

And, speaking of an inspiring woman, I have a request form Katherina Rosqueta, a member of Catalytic Women’s advisory board and executive director of The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. They have been commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to conduct a study on donor learning groups—especially for funders in the area of vulnerable youth and families.

This is right up our alley of convening women who exert their financial influence on our communities—so we’re asking on their behalf… Do you have some experience with this issue, including significant annual philanthropic contributions? Do you know someone who does? If so, please consider a phone interview with Jennifer Landres.

Another recent conversation—this time with two thought leaders in film, Executive Director Devyani Kamdar and Founder Joon Yun of the Palo Alto Institute and International Film Festival—reminded me of the close link between film and philanthropy as powerful strategies for achieving impact. Catalytic Women is thrilled to be sponsoring the Local Shorts Program on Friday, September 28, at 6:30, which includes several Bay Area documentaries illuminating a cause.

All this talk about documentary film made me curious about producing a film to raise awareness of an issue. Like many of our programs, I reaching out to others I admire to see if it was a topic on their minds. With the help of these creative thinkers, we will launch on October 9, in Silicon Valley, a series for Women Giving Under the Radar—and looking for high-impact giving opportunities at all levels. I am thrilled to be working with Nora Silver, Director of the University of California Haas School’s Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership, Linked In, ImpactAssets and Kim Wright-Violich on this program.

This series will profile favorite high-leverage giving tools from a dynamic panel of experts, followed by “open space” (attendee-directed) small group discussions on topics related to women’s wealth and giving. We’re trying it out in Silicon Valley—come let us know what you thnk and how we can expand it to smart women in other regions.

Women, Wealth and Giving

Two Catalytic Women discussions in August addressed the significant influence of women in wealth and philanthropy—giving through a gender lens. I had the pleasure of co-presenting with Kirby Rosplock, another catalytic woman, at the Purposeful Planning Institute annual conclave and rendezvous in Denver, and it was also the topic of our monthly webinar.

The webinar recording will give you a good idea of both. Download a phone-friendly file to hear about the trends and best practices that we shared on where women gather information and how we are a substantial, influential clientele that is not being well served by traditional practices in financial advising and wealth management. If you’ve been thinking about: How do women make decisions about wealth and giving? What is most important to women as we build our own relationships with advisors and community organizations who speak to our—and our family’s—interests? then this is a program for you to see and hear.

Why women?

  • Women aged 50 and older own over 75% of wealth in the U.S. and are largely dissatisfied with their financial advisors.
  • A recent study found that 70% of widows dismiss their advisor within a year after their spouse dies.
  • Women aged 22-30 earn more than male counterparts in 147 of the largest 150 US cities.
  • 75% of senior male executives have a stay-at-home partner; 74% of senior female executives have a partner who works full time. These women rely on good advice from outside experts.
  • As for the upcoming wealth transfer shift, women will control two-thirds of U.S. consumer wealth in the next 10 years.
  • Women are 53% of the global population and 9 out of 10 women will be on their own financially at some point in their life, thanks to women’s longer life expectancy.

Women are making most household decisions about spending, saving and giving. Yet women make decisions differently then men. This presentation shared fascinating demographic trends and best practices about how women approach wealth. Whether you are a woman who gives (or is thinking about it) or an advisor who works with women, listen to this webinar to learn more about the largest potential market for financial decisions: women.

For starters, women make decisions based on relationships and people. Whether a woman’s wealth is inherited or earned, she may feel ambivalent about it. A woman defines wealth broadly and brings her values to the discussion. As women, we think of “wealth” in the larger context: to share values across generations, to make our positive mark on the world around us, and to build our own financial knowledge from peers and trusted advisors. Women also think about choices that have a community impact now—Why wait for retirement or legacy planning? Women are a creative new force for innovations in wealth and philanthropy.

Big thanks to Kirby Rosplock’s extensive research on women and wealth, whose examples and case studies were included here. I had the pleasure of presenting with Kirby at the Purposeful Planning Institute conference this month in Denver. Whether you are a woman who gives, or a wealth advisor seeking to serve these valuable clients, I hope you’ll listen to our webinar for a practical discussion of the needs of those who are financially most influential—women—and, of course give me your feedback in how you leverage a woman’s unique perspective on wealth!

Where Women Gather in May and Inspiration Follows…

Admittedly, we’re a bit biased. While Catalytic Women gatherings may be the best place to engage with women who are thought leaders in wealth, philanthropy and social innovation, we do hope you’ll support these upcoming events among friends and collaborators:

Kirby Rosplock on the Power of Women


This month, I had the great pleasure of hearing expert Kirby Rosplock speak on The Power of Women: Our Global Economic Influence—at a Catalytic Women forum on the growing influence women have on global wealth. Kirby address the big questions, like As a woman, how do I engage, empower and inspire myself and others? How do I lead a fulfilled and productive life with wealth?

There is unprecedented emphasis on the global impact brought about by the power of women. Today, over one billion women participate in the workforce worldwide and, within the next 10 years, women will control 2/3 of the consumer wealth in the U.S. Over the next few years, women will spend an incremental $5 trillion or more on goods and services – a sum that is larger than the emerging markets of China and India combined. Representing 51% of the global population, women are now more than ever poised for leadership and are uniquely positioned to influence change … in themselves as well as others.

Dr. Kirby Rosplock discussed the growing influence women have on global wealth and giving, shedding light on gender differences in the perception and knowledge of wealth. Kirby’s engaged and interactive conversation with Catalytic Women made clear how women approach wealth management, legacy and philanthropic intentions, and the important role women play in our global economies and communities.

As Director of Research and Development in the Innovation and Learning Center of GenSpring Family Offices, Kirby oversees the development of GenSpring’s Wealth Management Process and directs corporate research efforts. In 2006, she completed GenSpring’s Women & Wealth Study involving over 100 affluent women from across the country whose combined net worth exceeded $2 billion. The study explored women’s approach to managing their wealth, involvement, awareness, decision making, attitudes, values and practices for wealth preservation, as well as wealth transfer intentions. The next year she led a follow-on study with affluent men to learn the differences and similarities of their views, attitudes, involvement and practices around wealth. And in 2008, she spearheaded the Alignment Study, comparing and contrasting men’s and women’s different approaches to wealth along with their similarities. She recently led an international study exploring the relationships among family business owners and their advisors.

Kirby is a popular speaker on topics related to family wealth. She has presented at the Women and Wealth Forum, Family Firm Institute, Family Office Exchange, Institute for Private Investors, UW-Madison’s Family Business Center, Family Wealth Alliance, Family Office Symposium, Family Enterprise Research Conference, Family Capital, International Family Enterprise Research Association, and at GenSpring’s Women’s Retreat and Family Symposium. She has been interviewed by Robert Frank, author ofRichistan, and Sean Cole of NPR’s Marketplace, and has been featured in Wealth Manager Magazine. Kirby has authored articles, white papers, scholarly writings and book chapters on women, families and wealth, including a doctoral dissertation on “Women’s Interest, Attitudes and Involvement with their Wealth.”

One thing I love about Kirby is that she walks the talk. Before joining GenSpring in 2004, she was in management consulting as a business consultant, coach and facilitator to entrepreneurs, affluent families, family offices and family businesses. She has helped manage private equity funds as a licensed broker-dealer. But here’s what really gives her uniquely valuable perspective on these issues. Having grown up in a large, complex, affluent family with multiple family businesses, her personal experiences compliment her professional expertise. She is a 4th generation member of a male-dominated family business and is a trustee of her family’s foundation. It hasn’t been easy for her to get there and it’s inspiring to hear her story.

Let me know if you’d like to know more about Kirby’s journey and expertise—I’m happy to introduce you to one of my very favorite catalytic women.

Yvonne Hunt on Women’s Intellectual Capital

Yvonne Hunt

Lucky me to get to hear talented Yvonne Hunt, of Legacy Ventures, speak at our March program on Amplifying a Woman’s Financial Capital with her Intellectual Capital. She discussed the human capital that women and others bring to decisions about nonprofit organizations and the serious social and environmental issues they address, answering some of these questions: As a woman, how do I amplify my financial capital with my human capital? How do I go beyond making a gift to bring the breadth of my life experience to the issues that are my passion—and with the limited time I have available?

Given the opportunity, most of us want to make a positive difference, but may need guidance in how to do that more effectively on the issues we care about most. By sharpening and achieving our philanthropic goals, each of us has the ability to make a profound impact in the world around us, leveraging our resources—both our money and, especially, our unique life experience.

Yvonne Hunt offers a unique perspective to the work she does to cultivate and connect the Legacy Venture community of entrepreneurs, leaders and philanthropists, enabling them to exchange ideas, insights and inspiration that help make a bigger difference in the world, individually and together. She brings a passion in the area of diversity and inclusion, with an emphasis on advancing issues critical to women and girls, and has long recognized and supported the important role women play in the world and the need for empowerment programs. Yvonne talks about real life examples of women making a significant difference in the world, and offers guidance on how we, as women, can best approach philanthropy work—amplifying financial capital with human capital. Hearing her talk really allowed us to explore and discuss the important role women play in using our unique expertise, insights and human capital in creating meaningful change in our communities.

As Chief Philanthropy Officer of Legacy Venture, Yvonne works closely with Legacy’s management team and members to amplify their impact as catalysts for change. A native of Great Britain, Yvonne joined Legacy Venture in 2009 from Hewlett-Packard, where she served as Vice President of Global Philanthropy and as Executive Director of the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation. In that capacity, she guided HP’s global philanthropic efforts and helped direct $47 million in grants to non-profit organizations in education, microenterprise development, and the environment. Prior to her philanthropic role at Hewlett-Packard—where she worked for 24 years—Yvonne served as the company’s Vice President of Internal Communications, responsible for advising the CEO and engaging 200,000 employees in HP’s strategic initiatives. Today, in addition to her work at Legacy Venture, she is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Silicon Valley, on the Advisory Board for Shriver Reports (focused on Women in America), and an alumna of The Philanthropy Workshop West program.

This is a catalytic woman who knows her stuff, and has seen the issue from all sides. How lucky I am that my work has brought me into contact—and friendship—with Yvonne.

Elizabeth Share on Focused Philanthropy

Founder, Wise Giving

Founder, Wise Giving

I always enjoy seeing Elizabeth Share, an member of our advisory board who has become a good friend. This month she spoke to a group of catalytic women on Focused Philanthropy: Clear with Yes, Kind with No, offering strategies to solve a challenge for any among us who faced an onslaught of year-end requests for help in 2011. When to say yes? When to say no? How to decide which are the “right” gifts?

You know how it feels: making giving decisions requires difficult choices and potentially awkward conversations. Hearing Elizabeth’s wise counsel made be feel like I could start off 2012 right and learn when to say yes, when to say no, how much to give, and how to measure the impact of my giving over time on the issues I care about most.

Elizabeth has worked with many well-known women philanthropists in identifying a framework for giving that allows a woman to be clear, consistent and gratified with the impact of her philanthropy. Decisions about where to focus gifts can be much easier if you have a giving plan that articulates your family’s community values, the areas of interest that are your personal priorities, and the impact over time that you’d like to have on those issues. Elizabeth brings 30 years experience as an advisor to private foundations, a nonprofit fundraiser, and a foundation executive to her work with Wise Giving. She helps individuals, family foundations and those with donor-advised funds find greater purpose, joy and satisfaction in their philanthropy. She has worked with many family and private foundations, including the Isabel Allende Foundation, Wise GivingKhaled Hosseini Foundation, Chez Panisse Foundation, Grace Family Foundation, and Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation.

Before founding Wise Giving, Elizabeth served for ten years as Vice President of the Autodesk Foundation, overseeing operations and finances, and working closely with the president and executive team on major programmatic, strategic, personnel, and funding decisions for this nonprofit giving arm of the nation’s fifth largest software manufacturer. During her tenure there she facilitated a network of corporate funders (Autodesk, Sun Microsystems, Apple Computer, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Charles Schwab, Arthur Andersen) to share crucial information and develop collaboratively funded philanthropic initiatives. She’s also served on the board of CompassPoint, where she led the Technology Task Force and played a key role in the merger of the Support Center for Nonprofit Management (in San Francisco) and the Nonprofit Development Center (in San Jose). And, like many of us, she started her career in corporate finance—as a financial analyst in the capital equipment leasing industry, where she priced leases, limited partnerships and leveraged buyouts.

Elizabeth always brings a calm, gentle, persuasive, and sensible approach to strategic giving. Sounds so simple but, as we know, it isn’t. Perhaps it’s her unique blend of talents, from social work to financial analysis. Elizabeth is just plain good at what she does. Sound like someone who can help you focus your own giving? I’d love to introduce you—just email me.