San Francisco, Calif. ― After six years at the helm of one of the oldest women’s philanthropy organizations in the world, Cynthia Nimmo will be stepping down from her role as President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network (WFN), effective Feb. 17, Julie Castro Abrams, Governance Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors announced today.
“I am so proud of what we have accomplished at WFN,” Nimmo said. “We are on a strong trajectory for continued growth and expansion. After 13 years with the organization, the last six as President and CEO, I believe that this is the right moment to create space for new leadership to build off of this momentum and take WFN into 2020 and beyond.”
The Board of Directors appointed seasoned national leader and gender equity advocate Elizabeth Barajas-Román to succeed Nimmo as the organization’s fifth President and CEO. To support a successful transition, Nimmo will remain connected to the organization in a senior advisory role through May 2020.
“I am elated that the Board has appointed Elizabeth. I have worked with her for years and admire her strategic thinking, deep policy background, and national expertise.” Nimmo said.
Most recently Barajas-Román was CEO of the Solidago Foundation. For more than 20 years, she has been a leader in progressive movements, including advocating at the national level for the health and rights of immigrant women and their families. Previously, she served as the CEO of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She also served as a manager at The Pew Charitable Trusts, and before that, the Director of Policy at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, where she opened and directed the organization’s Washington, D.C. office. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and received her master’s degree in international policy from Harvard University.
“I’m excited about the opportunities to expand the importance of women-led solutions within philanthropy as a pathway to lasting social change,” Barajas-Román said, “I also look forward to creating new ways for Women’s Funding Network members to connect as a community of practice.”
“It is precisely the work of WFN to support, amplify and connect the local, state, national and international gender equity movements for maximum impact,” Castro-Abrams said. “I am incredibly thankful to Cynthia for her dedication to the mission, her innovations in programming, her excellence in partnership development, and for always being a fierce advocate for all. We are also thrilled to have a collaborative and visionary leader like Elizabeth who will ensure we are broadening our impact.”
Nimmo is transitioning from her role after the organization’s most successful biennial conference, Women Funded 2019, which convened hundreds of influential women from around the world. WFN is in a phase of significant growth in membership, a long period of organizational stability, and a track-record of partnerships with national institutions to fund and examine a range of issues affecting women. Under Nimmo’s leadership, WFN membership expanded to include many funders of gender equity and its audience ballooned to include a social media following that grew from 3,000 to 90,000. A model for cross-state collaborations was created and replicated; and two digital platforms for data-sharing and story-telling were developed, further elevating the value of women-led solutions for social change. Currently two national research projects on both the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) practices within women’s foundations, as well as participatory grantmaking, are underway, with plans to share the findings broadly.
“I am immensely grateful to have been a part of this indefatigable network of leaders, advocates, change-makers and movement builders across the nation and globe,” Nimmo said. “Through our collaborations, we have increased critical investment in gender equity, underscored the intersection with racial equity, and together institutionalized the values of funding through a gender lens within the philanthropic community.”
The Women’s Funding Network, comprised of more than 100 women’s foundations and gender equity funders, is the largest philanthropic network in the world devoted to women and girls. The Women’s Funding Network is the community of thought leadership and practice for all funders and allies engaged in the fight for gender equity. WFN harnesses the collective power of this network to leverage a powerful platform for change, aligning funding in support of network members and initiatives critical to the well-being and economic security of women and girls worldwide.