Advisory Board Chair Says ‘Thank You’

As the Community Fund for Women & Girls Advisory Board Chair Janna Wagner reaches the end of her term, she extends her gratitude and reflects on her tenure in an open letter to the community.

The Community Fund for Women & Girls Advisory Board Chair Janna Wagner addresses the crowd with excitement at the Women and Girls 2017 Annual Meeting. Photo Judy Sirota Rosenthal

Dear friends and supporters,

I am at the close of my term as chairperson of the Fund for Women & Girls and it is bittersweet. The Fund has held a special place in my heart for well over a decade and I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past few years while I was chair.

In 2016, when I was nominated to chair the Advisory Board of the Fund I was simultaneously honored and apprehensive. How could I chair an organization that I so admired and, which has been led over these many years, by so many passionate and energetic women, the opportunity seemed daunting. When I looked around the boardroom, however, I knew I would be surrounded and supported by the sturdy foundation of the Fund's twenty-three-year impact and the many passionate, committed and fierce women who came before.

Two years flew by and as I reflect on all our board has accomplished I could not be prouder.

We redesigned the grant guidelines to focus more clearly on a gender lens and this focus has impacted local organization programming. As a result, thousands of women and girls in Greater New Haven were influenced through Fund supported activities.

The Fund began advancing multi-year funding that targeted investing in organizations tackling strategic and policy efforts through substantial multi-year grants.

We are more diverse across religion, race and ethnicity and age than we have ever been in our twenty-three years. As a result, we give voice to a range of identities and beliefs, and we unite over our commitment to feminism, equity and fighting injustice.

The Fund has moved towards a more activist stance. The last two years challenged even the strongest and most positive of us. Gun violence has increased. Hate crimes have been on the rise. Women, who are more likely to be poorer than men, are plunging deeper and deeper into poverty. Young children wait in detention centers to reunite with their families.

The Fund's innovative work—impacting the lives of many women and girls each year—gives me hope. Our work, to promote the social and economic advancement of women and girls, continues to be necessary. We must doggedly press on since there is so much work to do, and because "a better world for women is a better world for all of us."

I am sad to leave the board but, as I have observed, no one ever really leaves the Fund. The alumnae are active and involved, helping to shape grantmaking and leadership, raising and donating funds, and acting as Fund ambassadors in their neighborhoods and towns. Count me in!

Thank you for the opportunity to work with each of you. I have learned so much and am grateful for the chance I had to contribute my small part to something extraordinarily special and transformational. We are building a strong, united community of women, courageous and powerful, fighting for a just world.

With all my gratitude,

[Download the Community Fund for Women & Girls' Special Edition Winter 2018 newsletter here]

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