From the Editor

7 Pioneering Women Who Started Nonprofits

That statistic, which was revealed in the 2012 Current State of Women in Leadership report from the Women’s College of the University of Denver, proves that women have a lot of power when it comes to philanthropy.

We rounded up the following female non-profit founders because they are taking risks, pushing boundaries, and making changes that support and benefit other women. These innovative leaders are worthy of celebration not only for their innovative ideas but also for their ability to execute them in a fearless fashion.

Shaney jo Darden: Keep A Breast Foundation

It took a very personal experience to inspire Shaney jo Darden to take action. When her close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to use art to raise awareness around the challenges that come with the disease: She commissioned well-known artists to paint a series of customized breast casts, which were showcased in an exhibition.

Darden soon realized that she wanted to do more than simply raise awareness, and so she developed educational and support programs specifically geared toward young people with the disease—which, ultimately, became the basis for the Keep A Breast Foundation. The organization, which was officially founded in 2005, encompasses multiple fundraising methods, from a DIY Action program to educational booths hosted at music festivals and tours.

Jenny Gaither: Movemeant Foundation

This organization is dedicated to a highly relevant and crucial cause: empowering young women to feel confident about their bodies. Founder Jenny Gather was inspired to launch the Movemeant Foundation after struggling with unrealistic body standards issues herself. She hoped that, by providing women with health education and tools to encourage an active lifestyle combined with positive mentorship, she might help to change the way they perceive themselves.

The foundation’s flagship body-positive event, “Dare to Bare,” is focused around overcoming insecurities and getting out of your comfort zone. Thousands of women gather in a public park to participate in a variety of fitness classes.

Lucy Langley & Laura Delaflor: The Undies Project

For many of us, buying new underwear is a no-brainer—a routine necessity—but not everyone is fortunate enough to have the funds to wash their underthings as often as they should, or purchase new pairs when they need it.

Enter: The Undies Project. The concept came to co-founder Lucy Langley while she was volunteering for the CT nonprofit Neighbor to Neighbor and noticed that the most needed but also least donated item for low-income families was underwear. She teamed up with friend Laura Delaflor, and the two co-founded The Undies Project in 2015, which became a registered 501(c)(3) public charity the following year.

They take new or gently used bras, as well as new panties, men’s boxers and briefs, and children’s underwear. These items can be dropped off at several CT locations or mailed in. Brands can also donate as well—Glamorise is one company that supports the organization by contributing new bras and underwear to the program.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Zainab Salbi: Women for Women International

Perhaps most remarkable is that Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi-American humanitarian, was only 23 years old when she founded Women for Women International (WfWI), which offers practical and moral support to marginalized women in countries affected by war and other kinds of conflict, such as Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Rwanda and Northern Iraq.

The organization has helped more than 462,000 women since 1993, empowering them with the skills they need to earn income, improve their health and well-being, and become educated about their legal rights so they can make a difference in others’ lives as well as their own.

Salbi has been honored with a slew of awards for her efforts, including being been named a Clinton Global Initiative Leader and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Today, WfWI has raised more than $120 million in funds from more than 402,000 supporters worldwide. Laurie Adams is now WfWI’s CEO.

Nancy Lubin: Dress for Success

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1996, Nancy Lublin, who was in her second year of law school, was granted a $5,000 inheritance from her great-grandfather. She decided to invest that money into a worthy cause and founded Dress for Success in the basement of a Manhattan church. The mission was to provide women in need with business attire so that they are more likely to secure employment.

But the organization doesn’t simply give these women blazers and pencil skirts—it also offers them a powerful network of support to help them thrive in the workplace and, ultimately, gain a sense of self-sufficiency.

Within only two years of operation, Dress for Success was present in 22 different cities throughout the U.S. Today, there are more than 149 affiliates in 26 different countries. Lubin went on to take over the nonprofit DoSomething.org, and Joi Gordon is now the CEO of Dress for Success.

Christy Turlington Burns: Every Mother Counts

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that every year, 303,000 women die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth? Every Mother Counts is a non-profit aimed at making those experiences safer.

Founder Christy Turlington Burns went through such complications during childbirth herself, which inspired her to produce a documentary focusing on maternal health challenges across the globe.

Then, in 2010, she started Every Mother Counts with the hope of raising awareness around this crisis, as well as ensuring that quality maternal healthcare is accessible to all women. Every Mother Counts’ grants have allowed the organization to properly train midwives in Haiti, train activists and lawyers in India to document maternal health rights violations, provide transportation vouchers to pregnant women in Uganda and provide prenatal care to low-income, at-risk mothers in central Florida.

Burns has been named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year and Time’s 100 Most Influential People. Additionally, Every Mother Counts was recognized as one of Fast Company magazine’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Not-For-Profit (2016).

 

Article submitted by: Bra Designer and Women’s Rights Advocate Angela loves empowering others. She had the pleasure of working with the female-positive bra maker Glamorise.com. Located in New York City she finds endless style inspiration just walking to the subway. Angela’s hobbies include reading, traveling and writing insightful blog posts.

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