In 2016, the web magazine Inside Philanthropy listed its 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy in an article by Kiersten Marek and the magazines’s founder and editor, David Callahan. The women weren’t ranked, but they were categorized as Mega-Donors, Foundation Leaders, Corporate Funders, and The Catalysts. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are eight influential women, two prominent names from each category.
- Priscilla Chan. Chan, a pediatrician and new mother to daughter Max (dad is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg), makes health care and education her top social reinvestment priorities.
- Melinda Gates. Gates and her husband preside over the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works in four areas of philanthropy: Global Development (working to solve world hunger and poverty problems), Global Health (working to save lives in developing countries), the United States Division (working to improve education), and the Global Policy and Advocacy Division (promoting public policies that support the other three divisions).
The Foundation Leaders
- Julia Stasch. The president of the MacArthur Foundation, since taking the reins in 2015 Stasch has focused the foundation on tackling some of the world’s toughest problems, including climate change, mass incarceration, and nuclear security.
- Carole Larson. Larson is the president and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which she joined in 1995. The formerly corporate lawyer became president of the foundation in 2004, overseeing donations of $300 million a year. Climate change is one of her top priorities, along with reproductive health and children’s well-being.
The Corporate Funders
- Deb Elam. The president of the GE Foundation has a diverse range of philanthropic interests, including disaster relief, women’s economic empowerment, women in STEM and manufacturing, domestic health and education, and an overseas project aimed at making surgery safer. Under Elam, the foundation is one of the top 10 corporate funders.
- Sally McCrady. The president of the PNC Foundation, McCrady’s top project is Grow Up Great, an early childhood education initiative praised by former president Obama. Launched in 2004, Grow Up Great is still America’s most prominent corporate-funded early childhood education program.
- Amy Danforth. Danforth is the president of Fidelity Charitable, the largest donor-advised charitable fund in the U.S. As senior vice president in 2008, she pushed the fund’s grantmaking capabilities, and by 2013, grants had nearly doubled.
- Donna P. Hall. The president and CEO of Women Donors Network and her more than 200 donors tackle issues including racial equality, economic opportunity, and reproductive justice. Hall’s best-loved cause is women’s civic equality, pushing for women to be fairly represented at all levels of government.