Ms. Foundation Leans Forward with 'Women of Vision'

Now that the number of organizations that support women and girls have increased, the Ms. Foundation isn't the only game in town anymore.

Yet, CEO and president Anika Rahman is not swayed. Forty years after its inception, the Ms. Foundation is still thriving, she says.

And despite donations to nonprofits dwindling, the Ms. Foundation has seen some growth, according to Rahman. They've  also set a huge fundraising goal: to raise $40 million in five years.

But Monday night's annual Gloria awards, named after one of Ms. Foundation's  founding mothers, Gloria Steinem, was also a chance to celebrate the tradition of women who have answered the call to advance equality and justice. 

The honorees were a multi-generational mix that spanned from fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg to Sunny Clifford, a Native American reproductive rights advocate.  

Rahman, who became the president and CEO in 2011, wants people to remember that the Ms. Foundation has a long comittment to diversity and building the power of low-income communities, immigrant women and women of color.

The organization is also on a mission to rebrand itself and to leverage their expanded base to increase supporter engagement. 

Rahman is also working to make the Ms. Foundation an even bigger power player by launching a major rebranding campaign. To increase its influence, she has pared its focus to three main issues: prevention of child sexual abuse; reproductive rights; and access to safe, affordable child care. In the past year, the foundation has started a social-media campaign, given its website a makeover and replaced its logo.

"The Ms. Foundation is the only national women’s organization with an economic justice program.  And recently, we became the first national foundation to focus on ending child sexual abuse – an epidemic that disproportionately affects girls," Rahman adds. 

The Ms. Foundation is expanding its online community engagement as well. Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader “People’s Choice” Awardee Sunny Clifford was chosen online by popular vote.  

Commenting on social media, Rahman was proud to note, "We have been tremendously successful in increasing our reach." Their Facebook fans have grown from 5,000 to 35,000 in just the last year, in large part because of revitalized messaging capabilities.

"The Ms. Foundation for Women is a multi-issue women’s organization, and we’re unapologetically progressive in our approach. The Ms. Foundation demands change on all of the most pressing issues facing women today because we recognize the interconnectedness in women’s lives."

The other Gloria Award honorees:

Lauren Embrey, president and CEO of the Embrey Family Foundation.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Melinda Wolfe, global head of professional development at Bloomberg

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Cenver of New York and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United. 

Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA


Photos: Thos Robinson of Getty/Provided by The Ms. Foundation



Gloria Awardee Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York