Above the Fold, December 4

Left, Neera Tanden, US Department of Labor, Shawn T Moore, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Right, Cecilia Rouse and Christina Romer watch Barack Obama sign the economic report, The White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dear Colleagues,

There are many reasons to feel optimistic about the outlook for women and girls, especially women of color. The incoming U.S. presidential administration has vowed to make diversity a priority in selecting a Cabinet and staff who better reflect the diversity of the U.S. and the central role of women in strengthening communities and shaping our collective future. Already, they have announced a number of historic and glass-ceiling-shattering appointments, including an all-women senior White House communications team of which, marking another milestone, six are mothers of young children, and a diverse economic team that puts four women in key leadership positions, including Neera Tanden, the first woman of color and first South Asian American appointed to lead the Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse as the first Black woman and first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. 

The continued support of women’s leadership, especially women of color, at all levels — from communities and grassroots organizations, to the top, most senior levels of government — is critical.

Advocates from across the globe must continue to pressure the new administration to center diversity in all areas of its top-level leadership teams, as well as demand the same high standards in how the White House and Congress implement their agenda and public policy decisions on the issues that matter most to communities of color and all genders. 

Steps in the right direction include new leadership in the White House, a coalition of major donors, foundations, and high-profile philanthropy leaders bringing reform to Congress, and pledges to give more so grassroots groups can do more. But these efforts will be lacking without the expertise and trust-based philanthropic practice of women’s foundations.

Women’s foundations center the voices and leadership of local women and girls and apply a racial justice and gender equity lens to help solve our world’s most challenging problems. 

Thank you for continuing your work and leadership to break down barriers and lift up the leadership of communities of color and marginalized genders. Your efforts and commitment to our movement for equity and justice are integral to transformative and lasting change.

Yours for equity and justice, 

Elizabeth Signature

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network 
President & CEO

Letters from Elizabeth