MakingWaves in Honor of Friends and Loved Ones

MakingWaves in Honor of Friends and Loved Ones

The MakingWaves Leadership Giving Program launched in 2015 to grow the Community Fund for Women & Girls endowment. Below are highlights of two of the new funds supporting women and girls.

Dr. Miriam Birdwhistell

The Dr. Miriam C. Birdwhistell Fund

“My mother was the first person I was aware was a feminist,” says Nan Birdwhistell. "She was a 4 foot 11”, petite, ball of fire. Born the year before women got the vote, she was the first woman Department Chair at the University of Virginia Medical Center, where she headed the Medical Social Work Division and among the first women to serve on the faculty of the University of Virginia.”

Nan says the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Community Fund for Women & Girls, featuring Gloria Steinem, was an appropriate time to memorialize her mother, who died 7 years ago - just short of age 90.

“Gloria Steinem was a hero of my Mom’s,” she says. “Sexy, smart, accomplished – and an articulate fighter for the full life women could and should have - Steinem reminds me a lot of my mother, who was a well recognized political activist and dedicated leader in the women’s movement in Virginia. To be able to honor my mother at an event with Steinem present, while helping women today in our Greater New Haven community to fulfill their potentials, was 100% a win-win. My mother would have adored it!"

Phyllis Z. Seton

The Phyllis Z. Seton Fund

Phyllis Z. Seton is no stranger to philanthropy. In addition to establishing one of the early donor advised funds at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven more than three decades ago, she and her husband, Fenmore, created the Elm-Ivy Awards to honor Town and Gown community members whose service has strengthened the ties of New Haven and Yale.

“When 20 years ago my mother told us about the proposed Community Fund for Women & Girls, it was the first time that my husband Charles and I had heard about an effort specifically focused on the social and economic advancement of women and girls in the region,” explains Dinny Wakerley. “Her enthusiasm was so infectious that we too made a founding donation, despite the fact that we had moved away decades before.”

When the Wakerleys returned to New Haven in 2001, they continued to support the work of the Fund.

“And with the 20th Anniversary, we had a wonderful opportunity to create the Phyllis Z. Seton Fund, enabling us to recognize not only my mother’s generosity and philanthropy but also as a way of saying thank you for the wonderful example that she and my father set for us, and that we hope will continue in future generations of our family.”

Creating a Legacy that Supports Women & Girls

Donors can create individually-named funds that benefit women and girls' programs in perpetuity. If you are interested in establishing a named fund, please contact Sharon Cappetta at 203-777-7071.


70 Audubon Street
New Haven, CT 06510



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