Reflecting on a Decade of Leadership in Iowa

Dear Colleagues, 

The New Year brings new opportunities, and new adventures. In our work to build women’s economic power I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with a number of leaders in this network, including Dawn Oliver-Wiand, CEO of the Iowa Women’s Foundation. On the eve of Dawn’s retirement, we welcome the new CEO, Deann Cook, I asked Dawn to share a reflection of her decade of leadership in Iowa. Please find her letter below and join me in wishing Dawn well in her next adventure. 

Elizabeth Barajas-Román

Letter from Dawn Oliver-Wiand, President and CEO of the Iowa Women’s Foundation

Dawn Oliver-Wiand

When the Iowa Women’s Foundation (IWF) was founded, there was—and still is—no other organization in the state dedicated solely to improving the economic success of women and girls. 

As I prepare to retire, I want to express my profound appreciation and gratitude for the people I have had the good fortune to work with—both internally and through partnering organizations like the Women’s Funding Network (WFN) where I’ve had the opportunities to learn, share, and support one another in their common goal to uplift women and achieve gender equity and justice around the world. 

The work we’ve done through our Mobility HUB and Building Community Child Care Solutions (BCCCS) collaborative was inspired by the work of other state women’s funds. Through WFN, those leaders had the opportunity to share their work across the globe to make a greater impact on women everywhere. 

I am thankful and humbled to have led the IWF with all my support systems by my side. Like many of my non-profit sister leaders working in gender justice, we hold both the aspirational values of justice and equity, while also building sustainable organizations and taking care of our staff, partners, and communities. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, including:

The IWF established a network of 56 communities with hundreds of volunteers working together to increase access to quality, affordable child care at the local level. This access allows women to stay in or return to the workforce or access the education/training needed to enhance their careers and achieve economic self-sufficiency. The increase in visibility, presence, and statewide understanding of IWF’s work and tremendous growth in recognition and impact as a statewide organization with the Building Community Child Care Solutions Collaborative.

Becoming a top resource for the media and elected officials at the local, state, and national levels regarding the childcare crisis. Building relationships with invaluable community partners to implement IWF’s advocacy program to educate policymakers and other civic leaders regarding issues that impact women’s economic security, as well as proposing functional solutions. Iowa’s childcare crisis is the first public policy focus area. 

The establishment of IWF’s $3 million Legacy Fund—the largest and only long-term fund of its kind in the state dedicated to improving the lives of ALL Iowa’s women and girls. The expansion of our staff from 1.5 FTE’s to a team of 5 full-time employees, all helping to stabilize and increase the effectiveness of IWF’s statewide work. Diversifying and stabilizing revenue strategies and growing financial resources from $143,536 in 2012 to $951,773 in 2022—an increase of 563%. 

The expansion of IWF’s grantmaking to include Core and Emergency Grants and the Child Care Solutions Fund (CCSF). This went up from $13,250 in 2012 to $370,000 in 2022—an increase of 2,692%. IWF has awarded funding to 274 programs across 145 organizations, reaching women and girls in all 99 Iowa counties. 

With my retirement fast approaching, I take with me memories and friendships I will cherish forever. I pledge my ongoing support to Deann Cook, the next President and CEO of IWF. I look forward to the impact her vision and leadership will have, and I rest assured knowing that she will receive the same support from WFN and its member funds that I did.

Thank you for your trust in and support for my role as President and CEO these past 10 years. It has been my absolute pleasure to work with you and to be a part of WFN!

Dawn Oliver-Wiand
President & CEO of the Iowa Women’s Foundation

Member Bureau