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Good morning, happy Tuesday and happy September!

As we’re gearing up for our annual profile series featuring stories of fearless Iowans, we want to hear from YOU. So, tell us: When have you been fearless? We may use your story in a future Fearless newsletter!

Have a great week.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Iowa Women’s Foundation announces $3M Legacy Fund campaign
Ten of the 27 founders of the Iowa Women's Foundation pose for a photo at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Aug. 27. Photo by Emily Kestel.
When a group of 27 women met at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was weeks away from becoming law. Hillary Clinton was a year away from giving her famous "women’s rights are human rights" speech. Third-wave feminism was in full force.

But as the group of women all agreed, Iowa women’s needs weren’t being met, and something had to be done about it. None of them had experience running a philanthropic organization, yet they unanimously voted to start the Iowa Women’s Fund – now known as the Iowa Women’s Foundation – as a way to help improve the lives of women and girls across the state through grantmaking, education and advocacy.

Exactly 28 years later to the day, 10 of the founders reunited in the Iowa Memorial Union for the public announcement of the Iowa Women’s Foundation Legacy Fund on Aug 27.

The fund, which has a goal of raising $3 million by the end of the year, will be the foundation’s first-ever source of ongoing revenue. Money raised through the fund will specifically go toward grantmaking and programs, rather than its operational budget.

In its 25-year history of grantmaking, the Iowa Women’s Foundation has operated without an endowment or long-term fund, choosing instead to only redistribute the funds donated each year. That means donors know their gifts are immediately being put to use, but the downside to that is there are no reserves in the bank, advisory board member Judy Leavitt said at the event.

On average, the Iowa Women’s Foundation has 3,000 donors every year, with most of the support coming from the Waterloo-to-Iowa City corridor, Iowa Women’s Foundation CEO Dawn Oliver Wiand said.

"We know that 40% of our grantmaking went into Des Moines, and we’ve only received 5% – if we’re lucky – of our support out of the Des Moines area," Oliver Wiand said.

She said the Iowa Women’s Foundation began the Legacy Fund in order to have a long-term fund available to increase their grantmaking across the state.

"We’re hoping to be able to double our grantmaking in the end," she said. As of Aug. 27, the Legacy Fund has reached 79% of its goal through the first two private phases, the first of which began in 2019.

To date, the Iowa Women’s Foundation has distributed more than $1.3 million in grants to 151 organizations for 280 projects benefiting women and girls in all 99 counties.

Currently, the Iowa Women’s Foundation has three grant opportunities: Core Grants, the Building Community Child Care Solutions Fund and Emergency Grants, all of which address one or more of the six areas that the Iowa Women’s Foundation has identified as barriers to women’s economic self-sufficiency, including employment, child care, housing, education and training, transportation, and mentorship.

At the event, the founding members reflected on the past successes of the Iowa Women’s Foundation and discussed their hopes for the future.

Founding member Dolores Gutiérrez said she wants to see the foundation raise "oodles of money" so they can support even more women and girls in the state. Another founding member, Jean Jew, said she’d like to see the state become a leader for women’s and girls’ success.

"When they do the national surveys of the best places for women to live, work and have children, I want it to be Iowa," Jew said.

Right now, Iowa is ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of best states for women and girls. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research places Iowa at No. 22.

Founding member Stephanie Clohesy said women’s philanthropic organizations are key players in movements of social change.

"In the midst of inequities that are still so pervasive in so many women’s lives, women’s funds are often the very first lifeline of support," she said.

Iowa Women’s Foundation board chair Jen Neumann agreed, adding it takes money to get something moving in order to create societal change.

"Women’s organizations are where the rubber meets the road. I’ve always thought that when women get involved – and pardon my French – but shit gets done," she said. "Is there a better investment than women’s equity? I don’t think so."

When was a time that YOU were fearless?
Fearless is a Business Record initiative with women-centered content and events designed to help women and the companies and allies who both value and support them. The elements of this brand can be simplified into one goal: We want to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life.

As part of our ongoing profile series on stories of fearless Iowans, we want to hear from YOU. Tell us: When have you been fearless? At the time, these experiences may have felt minor, momentous or anywhere in between. We want to know about moments because we believe that sharing stories of courage can inspire others to take leaps of faith.

We'll select some of the submissions to be featured on our website, social media and e-newsletter. Note: These will get shared throughout the next year, so keep that in mind if you are sharing a time-sensitive story. By filling out the form, you agree to have your submission published by the Business Record.

In the headlines
  • Mary Petola, who defeated former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in a special election for the state’s sole U.S. House seat, will be the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress.
  • Pakistan’s historic flooding has killed more than 1,100 people since June and led to $10 billion in damage. As aid has trickled in, one lawyer said access to assistance has become a gender-sensitive issue because women are less likely to receive food and resources, and they are in desperate need of hygiene products.
  • When popular Canadian news anchor Lisa LaFlamme announced the end of her 35-career at CTV, rumors swirled that a network executive had questioned LaFlamme’s decision to let her hair go gray. The situation is resonating with women around the world, some of whom are asking if ageism will be at play in their own careers.
  • Women who get promoted to high-ranking executive roles at Fortune 100 companies tend to get there faster than men, according to new research. Yet these women, who hold roughly a quarter of leadership positions, still don’t often break into the highest echelon of management to hold the title of chief executive, president or chief operating officer.
  • The average life expectancy of Americans fell in 2020 and 2021. The average American could expect to live until the age of 76. When broken down by gender, women can expect to live 79.1 years, whereas men’s average life expectancy was 73.2.
Worth checking out
One year in, parenting has taught us about vulnerability and gratitude (Pete Buttigieg Medium). The women who finally got their chance to play soccer (New York Times). Maternal instinct is a myth that men created (New York Times Opinion).
2022 Women to Watch in Hospitality honorees announced
The Iowa Restaurant Association has released its 2022 40 Women to Watch in Hospitality list. The honorees represent nearly every segment and function in the industry, including purveyors, entrepreneurs, chefs and business development professionals. More than 100 nominations were submitted for consideration.

Honorees will be featured in Food and Beverage Iowa Business Quarterly as well as during the association’s annual Celebrating Excellence Awards Ceremony on Nov. 14.

To view the list of honorees, click here.
Watch Billie Jean King deliver a heartfelt speech to Serena Williams
After the first match of the U.S. Open last week, tennis legend Billie Jean King gave a speech about Serena Williams’ legacy as part of the tournament’s tribute to Williams on the eve of her retirement.

A fitting quote from the speech: "You are fearless. … You’ve touched our hearts and minds to be our authentic selves, to use our voices, to dream big."

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