The Women's Endowment Fund faces the challenges of the present and future
Letter from Women's Endowment Fund Advisory Board President Laura DiCola
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Women's Endowment Fund, creating a special opportunity to reflect on our past, celebrate the present and set a vision for the future. Several themes stand out to me to describe our journey here and to guide our journey forward: values, impact, growth and sustainability. Over the course of the last three decades, the fund has grown from $106,000 to nearly $4.4 million, granting more than $2 million to almost 100 local organizations that positively impact women and girls, consequently creating a better community for us all. But the Women's Endowment Fund has done more than just grow – it has evolved and adapted. Although the fund of today looks different than the fund of 1993, our values have remained constant. These values – including our commitment to uplifting women and girls, our dedication to community-informed grantmaking, and the emphasis we place on female-driven philanthropy – are what guide the fund.
We can expect many new challenges and unforeseen community needs in the years ahead. Who, even just four years ago, could have imagined how our world would be fundamentally altered by a global pandemic and the many new challenges that emerged in its wake? Yet we responded with creativity, resiliency and innovation. As the Women's Endowment Fund continues to grow and evolve, the best way to honor our history is by meeting the new challenges of today and tomorrow in innovative ways that remain true to our core values.
Thank you to our sponsors, donors and supporters who attended our unique celebration at the Akron Civic Theatre earlier this month. I can't think of a more fitting setting to celebrate together, reflect on our history, and look ahead to a bold future. Together, we raised well over $100,000 to support the work of the fund. We had a wonderful evening celebrating our 2023 grant recipients; honoring the 2023 Judith A. Read Tribute Award recipient, Tracy Carter; and being inspired by the evening's keynote speaker, National Geographic Media Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Debra Adams Simmons.
As I wrap up my final month as president of the Women's Endowment Fund, I'd like to personally thank the many women who supported, uplifted, guided and empowered me. This experience not only allowed me to serve the community that I love, but it has also helped me build deep and lasting bonds with amazing women who are the changemakers of today and tomorrow. I am proud of the work we accomplished together, and I look forward to where we are headed under the new leadership of the incredible Pam Kiltau.
Through the sustaining power of our 100-plus Circle of Empowerment members, our sponsors, donors and countless advocates and volunteers, the Women's Endowment Fund is poised to expand its impact for decades to come. Thank you for amplifying our collective voice to catalyze a bold vision for tomorrow so the Akron of the future is an even stronger, better place for women, girls and all of us.