Leaders in Action

The mission of the Women’s Foundation of California is to invest in, train and ignite grassroots leaders and gender justice philanthropists to take bold action on behalf of women in our state.

Every Tuesday, starting March 8, 2016, International Women’s Day, we’ll introduce you to a leader who is transforming California in inspiring and unorthodox ways. These visionary women and men are organizing, mobilizing, agitating, starting movements, developing new ways of thinking, working on cutting-edge legislation and community-lead philanthropy. They have come up with brilliant solutions for how we can improve women's health, safety and economic wellbeing, but, most important, they’re leading with courage and love for their communities and our state.

All ten of these men and women are connected to the Women’s Foundation of California as grant partners, Women’s Policy Institute Fellows, community allies and philanthropists. They exemplify the kind of leadership we need in California if we wish to achieve gender equity, create equal opportunities and ensure women’s economic wellbeing, especially for low-income and middle class women, women of color, women from the immigrant communities and LGBT women. 

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Our Leaders in Action



We Want Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

In fairy tales, the good and the fair always prevail and everyone lives happily ever after. In the real world, though, women must take leadership and demand the change they wish to see.

Jessie joined our Women’s Policy Institute and helped pass legislation that transformed California’s community college system and the way students get their associate degrees and transfer to four-year colleges.




We Want Affordable Housing

Kim Carter’s organization, Time for Change Foundation, has been a grant partner of ours since 2005 and has received 18 grants totaling $440,000.

Carter is an affordable housing and homeless rights advocate who works with formerly incarcerated women. She's successfully helping them get back on their feet, find housing and jobs, reunite with their children and become self-sufficient.




We Want Overtime Pay and Labor Protections

The very nature of their work keeps domestic workers hidden from view. It might have stayed that way, were it not for organizers like Katie Joaquin.

In 2013 Joaquin attended our Women's Policy Institute and worked with brave women leaders in the domestic rights movement to pass a groundbreaking law: the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. Now, she is advocating again to make permanent this important law.




We Want Reproductive Freedom

Griselda is teaching Mixteco, Zapotec and other immigrants from indigenous backgrounds in Ventura County about their reproductive health and rights. She believes—and knows from personal experience—that reproductive freedom translates into social and economic freedom.

Basurto works for our Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice grant partner Mixteco/Indígina Community Organizing Project.




We Want Political Parity

"There was a need for local voices," said Margarita Luna, program officer with The California Endowment. She was talking about Eastern Coachella Valley, where the predominantly Latino farming communities faced many barriers including environmental degradation, poverty and the subpar transportation system.

Last year, TCE funded our inaugural WPI-County program and helped us train 20 local women leaders in Riverside County. This year we are also training women from Los Angeles, Monterey and San Bernardino counties.




We Want Women's Work to Have Equal Value

Sabrina Johnson is a therapist with a vision: She wants San Francisco’s home care workers to be treated with dignity because she knows that their contributions to our society are tremendous. “Home care workers need to be valued like we value the tech industry. Tech cannot get elderly people out of bed and feed them.”

Sabrina works for Homebridge, our Women's Economic Mobility grant partner.




We Want Affordable, Accessible Childcare

Childcare is not a luxury, but a necessity for working mothers. It is key to both women’s and children’s success, said Mary Ignatius, who organizes women to advocate for increased public investments in subsidized childcares. For low-income and many middle-income women, subsidized childcare is out of reach. At this very moment, some 200,000 children are on a three-year waitlist.

Mary works for Parent Voices, a grant partner of our Economic Development and Justice giving circle.




We Want a Strong Safety Net

The son of an immigrant single mother, California state senator Kevin de León has an intimate understanding of women’s hardships, especially those faced by low-income women and women of color. “I have the political space and credibility to act upon polices that are critical for the overall wellbeing of families, particularly single mothers,” he said.

As the highest-ranking Democrat in Sacramento, de León is now using his power to elevate the state’s economy by advocating for women.




We Want an End to Mass Incarceration

One in four women in the United States has a family member in prison. For Black women, the number is even more disturbing: nearly one in two. “We already know mass incarceration is a human rights issue, an economic justice issue, and a race issue. But it’s also a women’s issue,” says Clayton.

Gina Clayton's mission is to harness the collective power of women with incarcerated loved ones. Her organization Essie Justice Group is a fiscally sponsored project of ours and a grant partner of our Race, Gender and Human Rights Giving Circle.




We Want Equal Pay

Farrell leads an inspiring organization, Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), which has been working to close the gender pay gap in California. "Pay secrecy is the number one reason why pay discrimination exists,” said Farrell. “It’s hard to unearth discrimination when you don’t know about it."

In 2015 Farrell, ERA and their incredible partners in the Stronger California Advocates Network lead the effort to pass what is now the nation’s toughest anti-discrimination law. ERA is our grant partner.

We'll share stories throughout April and May 2016, so come back every Tuesday to read a new inspiring story. You'll meet a woman who organized domestic workers, some of the most vulnerable workers in the United States; a woman who helped pass one of the toughest pay laws in the nation; a woman who is teaching Mixteco farmworkers about reproductive health and rights; and an elected official who is an outspoken legislative champion for women's rights.