That’s how I feel about the Women’s March this past weekend.  

What an honor it was to be part of the Montpelier march with its dignity, pride and purpose - and humor!

It was even more powerful to see that spirit replicated across the country and across seven continents . Wow. We are not alone.

It is so gratifying to be working for the Vermont Women’s Fund at this particular time in our history. To have our work ( that’s the work that you and thousands of other Vermonters have supported for the past 23 years ) validated by millions of people around the globe is beyond powerful. We are a force for change! And we are so ready. We are in the right place at the right time.

So let’s capitalize on this energy!    
First off, there are several things we can do individually*:
  • BE INFORMED: Sign up for the Vermont Commission on Women's newsletter to find out what is happening in the statehouse on legislative issues pertaining to women and other events. Peruse their website and check out the events calendar - better yet, use it! It's a great resource for all of us to know what is happening around the state.

  • BE ACTIVE: Write a postcard to your state representatives every month to thank them and let them know you are counting on them to support women’s issues.

  • BE A LEADER: It’s time to consider running for office in your own town – selectboard, planning & zoning, school board or any of the offices that make up our democracy. We need women to step into leadership positions at all levels! Not only will you learn a lot, you’ll set an example for others. Speaking of….

  • BE A ROLE MODEL: Mentorship is SO important to the development of women, at every age. Be it at your place of work, or in your community or in our schools, think of yourself as a role model and mentor to someone else - no matter what your age. Women need to help one another to build on the confidence and skills that we all possess. There are mentorship programs like Mobius for school-aged children, or consider what it’s like for a younger co-worker to navigate her way in the workplace - showing interest and sharing a little of your own story goes a long way. I know a law firm where the women lawyers have lunch together almost every day. It’s a great way to discuss their respective cases and they support one another at the same time. Could you organize a lunch for women where you work, as a way to talk about issues or just support one another?

  • BE A VOLUNTEER: Where do you start? Look through our list of nonprofit organizations that the Women’s Fund supported in 2016. These nonprofits have offered programs for young women and girls, teaching financial literacy, job skill development and more. Consider this just a starting point but it’s a vetted list of great programs all across Vermont. If you need more information, please contact me!

  • BE A DONOR: This is what we are about - investing in women and girls. For every one of you who don’t have the time or are unable to volunteer, a direct donation to a nonprofit is invaluable. Even smarter, give a monthly contribution to your causes via a credit card. It provides stability and regularity to the organization, and helps them defray fundraising costs. 

  • BE GENEROUS: We are in a new era and as we witnessed last Saturday, women are uniting on many levels. We can no longer be passive and take a backseat to our future. We need to fund the organizations and causes we believe in with serious dollars. Give what you can and inspire others to give with you. Champion the organizations you believe in - word of mouth is powerful! 

    From my perspective, I know that every dollar you give to the Women’s Fund makes our grant giving that much more impactful. And it’s time we step up to the challenge we know lies before us. When women succeed, entire families thrive. It’s imperative that we increase our funding and thus, our influence statewide.
  • HELP CHANGE THE STORY: In addition to our grants, your contributions to the Women's Fund fuel the groundbreaking initiative, Change The Story. Change The Story is putting women’s economic security on a fast-track in Vermont. After three major reports on women’s work, a fourth report is about to be released on women in leadership. This research lays the groundwork for fundamental change at the highest levels.

  • BE ONE OF US: The Vermont Women’s Fund is a well-established leader in women’s rights. The Vermont Commission on Women and Vermont Works for Women are just a few of our partners. Together, we are part of a rising tide to lift all boats. Send this email to your friends and encourage them to sign up for our newsletter! Check out the links to other organizations. Let's strengthen our communication channels!
The Vermont Women's Fund is in the right place at the right time to make a difference. 

Following the energy and enthusiasm of the Women’s March,we are more committed than ever to see change happen in Vermont.

To quote one of the many fantastic posters and placards from the march last Saturday, “Hell Hath No Fury Like 157 Million Women Scorned!”


* This is by no means a complete list. It is just a starting point. Please send additional ideas and suggestions for collective action to me as well - the Women’s Fund wants to be a resource in this way.

Business Peer Exchange Helping Businesses Examine Practices Through a Gender Lens
Lindsey Lathrop-Ryan is one of the three women working on the Change The Story initiative. She shares this report on an exciting ancillary group called the Business Peer Exchange.

What are we doing in our workplaces that helps and hinders women's advancement?

This is the question that brought twelve Vermont employers together last year, in a group called the Business Peer Exchange (BPE). Guided by Lindsey Lathrop-Ryan as the facilitator, members dedicated themselves to a year of awareness building and examining their workplaces through a gender lens.

"What we've created is really unique. It provides a space for businesses to exchange best practices and ‘lessons learned’ and offers the accountability we know this effort requires. The bottom line...we want Vermont to be the best place for women to work ," shares Lindsey.

The 2016 cohort included: Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, SunCommon, Renewable NRG Systems, Seventh Generation, Vermont Gas, Casella Resource Solutions, Green Mountain Power, Burton Snowboards, City of Burlington, Main Street Alliance of VT, Shelburne Farms, and Logic Supply.

Recruitment for 2017 is currently underway!

If your business could benefit from learning how others are approaching gender diversity and equity, this group is for you. Participation includes:

  • Monthly two-hour cohort meetings for you and a colleague or two (beginning in March 2017 in Chittenden County)
  • Two larger networking events for you, your CEOs, and colleagues
  • Ninety minutes of on-site consulting (tailored to meet your organization’s needs)

To learn more, visit BPE page on the Change The Story website or contact Lindsey Lathrop. 

Gathering Inspiring Women with Marlboro College
On January 12th, I was invited to attend two events for the Women’s Leadership Circle of Vermont program at Marlboro College’s Graduate Program for Professional Studies I had an opportunity to speak about the work of the Vermont Women’s Fund. It was an honor to be there among this dynamic group in Windham County! 

Founded by Kerry Secrest, the Women’s Leadership Circle of Vermont is a program specifically developed for established women in leadership positions across all sectors - nonprofit, business and government. Kerry, principal of Watershed Coaching and a Commissioner on the Vermont Commission on Women created the program to help professional women grow as leaders in their respective communities.

The first event was a special “Gathering of Inspiring Women” where Circle participants invited their own role models, mentors and heroes for a facilitated conversation - and wow, did I learn a lot in a short period of time! In a “world café” setting where you sit at tables with several prompt questions at the ready, we discussed a variety of leadership-related topics from our own personal perspectives. It was fascinating to hear how each woman advanced her career and what elements shaped it.

Following the discussion was a book launch party with Kerry Secrest and her co-author, Marla Solomon, Director of Partnership Programs for Five Colleges. They wrote a chapter for the book, Managing in the Social Sector: Strategies for Advancing Human Dignity and Social Justice in which they shared the scholarship and research behind the Women’s Leadership Circle model and presented at the Global Conference of the International Leadership Association this past fall.  

Pictured in photo above: Meg Smith, Kerry Secrest (Watershed Coaching), Mara Williams (Curator, Brattleboro Museum & Arts Center), Kate Jellema (Associate Dean of Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies)

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