WFN’s peer communities of practice

The Women’s Funding Network’s peer communities of practice provide intimate virtual spaces that enable members to tap into one another’s expertise and knowledge for collective organizing and mutual support. Peer communities are a place for WFN members to share experiences, expertise, challenges, solutions, and resources that collectively move us forward, and members can engage in the following ways:

There are currently six peer communities that each meet monthly. Continue reading to learn more about these peer groups and their co-chairs, leaders from within the WFN community.

Contact WFN Community Engagement Coordinator Sam Hopper to register for a peer community or with any questions.

Become a Peer Leader

Peer community groups are co-chaired by WFN members with interest or professional expertise in the relevant subject matter. WFN is seeking industry leaders to co-chair available peer communities on a continual rolling basis. If you’d like to nominate yourself or others to lead a peer community, please contact WFN Community Engagement Coordinator Sam Hopper.

Advocacy & Public Policy Peer Community

This peer community focuses on policy priorities and advocacy tactics, and has the opportunity to organize to move regional, state, and national policy priorities forward.

This community is currently co-chaired by Chika Onwuvuche, Program Officer at Washington Area Women’s Foundation and Gauri Gladish, Director of Research and Advocacy at Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona.

Advocacy & Public Policy Co-Chairs

Chika Onwuvuche manages the youth and safety grant portfolios and supports the advocacy efforts of Grantee Partners at Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Chika is committed to ensuring Washington DC area residents are afforded equitable resources and services to live self-determined productive lives. In the past, her role as a social worker has helped her assist, learn from, and work alongside youth who have emancipated from the child welfare system and navigated the higher education and immigration systems. Her personal philosophy in the necessity of engaging those most affected as decision-makers for policies and practices drives her passion for the change that needs to happen to invest in women, girls, and gender expansive folks of color. Chika has an undergraduate degree in political science and social work from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a master’s degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania.

Gauri Gladish brings a combination of statewide nonprofit and federal consulting experience to her role as Director of Research and Advocacy at Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona. During her 10 years of nonprofit leadership, Gauri directed youth, family, and coalition building programs in rural and underserved communities throughout Arizona. These programs addressed the root causes of poverty, including unemployment, substance use, housing insecurities, family cohesion, and youth skill-building. In 2017, Gauri moved to Washington, DC and spent 3 years as a Manager of Technical Assistance and Training at a federal consulting firm. She supported Advisory Committees and Workgroups and provided technical assistance and training to federal grantees. Her portfolio focused on Maternal Health and Obstetric Care Inequities, Statewide Preschool Development Systems building, Veteran Caregiver Support, and Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Health Services. At WFSA, Gauri will manage the public policy and legislative agenda, and strategic advocacy plan. Gauri holds a Bachelor’s in Public Health from the University of Arizona and Masters’s in Health Sciences Administration from Northern Arizona University. As a Military Spouse, Gauri volunteers with Military family support programs, and advocates for Military Spouses’ employment equity.

Communications Peer Community

This community welcomes all staff working on communications strategies to join this group. Together, peers share ideas and work through challenges as well as refining messaging where groups can find alignment and opportunities for amplification.

Jill Heggen, Communications Director at Women’s Fund of Omaha, is leading this community as current Chair.

Communications Chair

Jill joined the Women’s Fund in October 2016. As Communications Director, she works with grantees, funders and the general public to ensure consistent messaging and a clear understanding of all initiatives—internally and externally. From orchestrating public relations strategies to pulling off every detail of a campaign, Jill utilizes strategy, bold perseverance and passion for gender equity to create dynamic and lasting change in the community. 

Her past experience includes working as a public relations counsel for Swanson Russell, a local advertising agency; serving in the role of director of communications at Bethany College; and working as a community pledge/development associate at KPTS, a public TV station in Wichita, KS. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with minors in business and multicultural studies from Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS. Jill served as President of PRSA Nebraska in 2021 and is a member of Leadership Omaha – Class 45. 

Development Peer Community

This peer community welcomes all staff serving in development positions to connect monthly and explore topics, opportunities, and challenges relevant to this important work. As a community-guided space, this peer community will source topics top of mind from the members and engage outside expertise and learning around particular areas of interest.   

Ashley Harris, Vice President Development at Texas Women’s Foundation, and Macy Vintson, Director of Development at Women’s Foundation of Alabama, are leading this community as Co-Chairs. 

DEVELOPMENT CO-CHAIR

A passionate advocate for social justice and life-long learner, Ashley brings twenty years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, consulting and management and litigation to bear. With a roll up her sleeves approach to work and clarity of thought and purpose, Ashley excels at moving nonprofits to financial and institutional success. As a nonprofit staff member, Ashley has led multi-million dollar annual fund campaigns for two of Dallas’ premier human services agencies, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity and The Bridge where she served as Chief Development Officer. Her development and consulting experience with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations continue to provide qualified insight into today’s fundraising environment as the Vice President of Development at Texas Women’s Foundation where she leads a team of four and serves on the senior management team.     

Executive Leaders Peer Community

This peer community is just for executive leaders and a chance to connect with other executive directors, CEOs, presidents, board leadership, and individual practitioners to share best practices with a network of women’s philanthropy peers. Senior leaders enjoy exclusive access to our CEO/executive directors’ discussion group, connecting our network’s leaders to create a collaborative environment of shared expertise, professional development and peer learning. Membership of this peer community is automatic for executive leader members.

Join over 100 women’s foundation CEOs and executive directors in this essential knowledge-sharing tool, in addition to exploring the Women’s Funding Network’s learning labs, research cohorts and other opportunities for learning and collaboration. 

From Margin to Center Community

This new community group evolved in response to member requests and feedback. The purpose is to provide a forum for connection and learning among members who self-identify as PGM (People of the Global Majority), BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), or who are from a marginalized racial/ethnic group in their region. This peer community is a place of learning for people with a shared lived experience, while honoring that there is a variety of PGM and BIPOC experiences within a larger shared experience.   

This community is currently co-chaired by Felicia Davis Blakley, President and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women, and Mary Valadez, Associate Vice President – Grants of Texas Women’s Foundation.

From Margin to Center Co-Chair

Felicia Davis Blakley is a life-long Chicagoan, self-described “girl from the South Side,” deeply committed to community through inclusive service to others. She believes in the power to transform lives, families, and communities through collective efforts and that advancing equity is worth fighting for. Her career in the public sector demonstrates a record of accomplishments in public policy, higher education administration, and public service. As President and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women, she leads the strategic efforts to invest in women and girls as catalysts, fight for gender equity, and build stronger communities for all.

Research & Data Community

This community shares strategies for research design, data collection and database platform integration. In addition, they discuss how to use these tools to make the case for funding and public policy initiatives that support marginalized genders.

Viviana Alvarado Pacheco, Senior Research Associate and Operations Manager at The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, leads this community as Chair, supporting the design and focus of our sessions and shared community work and learning.

Research & Data Chair

Viviana Alvarado Pacheco is Senior Research Associate & Operations Manager at The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade. She holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs, Conflict Resolution and Civil Society Development from the American University of Paris and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Virginia Tech. Throughout her professional career, she has focused on gender studies, international law and sustainable development working for international organizations such as UNESCO and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center. Having lived in different countries, Viviana has experience working in various international environments and is fluent in in English, Spanish, and French. She is a fierce advocate for women’s rights and climate change action, promoting a better world for our future generations.