2017 Annual Summit – Session Highlights

The magic of the Summit is as much about the attendees as it is about the outstanding speakers we bring onstage. While we cannot recreate the magic that happened in the room, we’re delighted to share highlights from each session in this post alongside the art created during the Summit by Peter Durand.

Thursday, September 7, 2017 | Summit Pre Event: Film Preview & Conversation

Film for Social Change: Fighting the Backlog

Speakers: Mariska Hargitay (Emmy & Golden Globe Winning Actress and Founder & President, Joyful Heart Foundation), Kym Worthy (Wayne County Prosecutor), Maile Zambuto (CEO, Joyful Heart Foundation), Sukey Novogratz (Board Member, Joyful Heart Foundation) 

Moderator: Pat Mitchell (Curator, TEDWomen)

We kicked off the sixth Annual Summit with a preview of the film, I AM Evidence – a documentary film produced by Mariska Hargitay that highlights the reasons behind the alarming United States national rape kit backlog – followed by a discussion on what this film will mean to survivors across the U.S as they continue to seek healing and justice.01-Mariska Hargitay_I Am Evidence (1)

Friday, September 8, 2017 | Summit Day One

Welcome & Nice to Meet You!

Speaker: Lisa Witter (Summit Facilitator and Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, Apolitical)

Lisa Witter opened the first day of the Annual Summit by inviting each person to identify and share his or her community archetype followed by a polling question: how do you FEEL about the state of the world??

00 Welcome

Power of Our Community

Speaker: Courtney Harvey (Executive Director, Women Moving Millions)

Courtney Harvey officially welcomed Summit attendees and shared the story behind the inspiration of this year’s theme, The Power of Community.


02 The Power of Our Community
Challenging the Boundaries: Building Intersectional Movements

Speakers: Ai-jen Poo (Director, National Domestic Workers’ Alliance & Board of Directors, Ford Foundation), Kimberly Peeler-Allen (Founder, Higher Heights) & Leah Hunt-Hendrix (Member, WMM & Founder, Solidaire)Moderator: Kavita N. Ramdas (Strategy Advisor, MADRE & Principal, KNR Sisters)

In this session, we explored the power of moving together and discussed the challenges that arise from building intersectional movements to achieve greater gender, racial, economic, political and social justice.


03 Challenging Boundaries


Our Brains on Race & Gender 

Speaker: Alexis McGill Johnson (Executive Director, Perception Institute)Through showcasing recent studies in social psychology and neuroscience, Alexis McGill Johnson dove deep into the concepts around bias, and how we can override and disrupt commonly held assumptions about race and gender that limit us.


04 Our Brains on Race and Gender

Embodied Leadership: Advancing Women’s Rights On & Off the Field

Speakers: Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir (Athletic Director, Pleasant View School, Motivational Speaker & Basketball Trainer), Julie Foudy (Two-time Olympian Gold Medalist & Former US Women’s Socer Team Captain) & Liz Wolfson (Founder, Girls Athletic Leadership School)Moderator: Minky Worden (Director of Global Initiatives, Human Rights Watch)

As we know, women face major barriers to participation in sports globally. These barriers reflect the status and role of women in different societies. This discussion examined the powerful role sports play to develop strong female leaders, build resilient communities, and advance women’s rights around the world.


05 Embodied Leadership


Climate Change: It’s Every Woman’s Issue

Speakers: Rachel Kyte (Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sustainability for All) & Vien Truong (CEO, Dream Corps)Rachel Kyte and Vien Truong shared powerful stories of the very real risks women face from climate change, why natural disasters are more likely to threaten women than men, and how access to sustainable energy is essential to the liberation of women and girls.


06 Climate Change

Universal Access to Contraceptives

Speakers: Dr. Pauline Muchina (Director of Healthy Families, Healthy Planet, United Methodist Church) & Ugochi Daniels (Chief Humanitarian Response, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA))Moderator: Seema Jalan Ignacio (Executive Director, Universal Access Project & Policy, United Nations Foundation)

In this conversation Seema Jalan Ignacio, Dr. Pauline Muchina and Ugochi Daniels shared the challenges that they have individually faced from advocating for women’s reproductive rights. They also explored how access to contraceptives can have a transformative effect on women, their families, and the economic development of communities.

07 Universal Access to Contraceptives

Exploding the Binary

Speaker: Dr. Caroline Heldman (Associate Professor of Politics, Occidental College)Through a critical analysis of how we construct “masculinity” and “femininity”, Dr. Heldman unpacked the differences between sex, gender and sexuality to better understand how they are distinct and how they interact to shape common notions of “gender”.


08 Exploding the Binary


Friday, September 8, 2017 | ALL IN FOR HER 10-Year Anniversary Celebration


From Campaign to Community & Beyond: Celebrating 10-Years of Women Moving Millions

Speakers: Helen LaKelly Hunt (Co-Founder, WMM), Jacki Zehner (Co-Founder, WMM) & Jessica Houssian (Founding Executive Director & Senior Advisor, WMM)In this talk, we heard from two of WMM’s Co-Founders, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Jacki Zehner, along with Founding Executive Director, Jessica Houssian who shared the unprecedented journey of how Women Moving Millions moved from campaign to community and highlights from 10 years of big + bold giving.



Fireside Chat: Being Bold in Community

Speakers: Diane von Furstenberg (Founder & Co-Chairman, DVF Studio) & Lisa Witter (Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, Apolitical)In this conversation with Lisa Witter, Diane von Furstenberg shared her story on how she has always been bold, not only in philanthropy, but in the way she leverages her business and personal platform to amplify others.



Saturday, September 9, 2017 | Summit Day Two


Civil Conversations: Speaking Together Differently in Order to Live Together Differently

Speakers: Krista Tippett (Peabody Award-winning Broadcaster & NYT Best-Selling Author) & Dr. Stacy Smith (Associate Professor, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism)In this discussion, Krista Tippett and Dr. Stacy Smith spoke about how to create more intention around the connection between inner self and outer presence in the world – who we want to be and who we will be to each other.



Finance: Feminism’s New Frontier

Speakers: Suzanne Biegel (Founder, Catalyst At Large), Elizabeth Carlock Phillips (Board of Directors, WMM & Executive Director, Phillips Foundation) & Abigail Noble (CEO, TheImpact)Moderator: Jacki Zehner (Co-Founder, WMM)

How do we have social as well as financial impact? In this session, we learned how to align our investment capital with a vision for gender equality.



Anu Jain on Using Technology to Make Women & Girls Safe

Author: Anu Jain (Member, Women Moving Millions)
Originally posted on March 31, 2017 – Women Moving Millions Member Bulletin

I have always been passionate about empowering girls and women around the world, and today I am inspired by the potential of technology to scale our impact.

I have spent the majority of my career in technology, co-founding companies that scaled access to information: Lavish Life (educating people about safe natural skincare/beauty products), InfoSpace and Intelius (making public information accessible to individuals).

I am excited to now be working at the intersection of impact + technology. My husband and I recently launched a $1 million Women Safety XPrize competition to incentivize innovators to design a technology-based solution that sets a new safety standard for girls and women. The winning technology solution will autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert while transmitting information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds and for less than US $40 per device. Our hope is this solution will avert the assault and also help change the mindset of the attacker as he will think twice before attempting an assault again.

We have used technology to solve so many problems in our lives (from tracking our steps to building driverless cars), and yet women all around the world – regardless of where they live – still feel unsafe. I believe that we can use technology to create a world where women don’t have to worry about their safety, and can instead focus on pursuing their dreams.

As an advisory board member of Girl Up, a campaign of the UN Foundation, I have been lucky enough to visit some of the programs they run for the hardest to reach adolescent girls in Udaipur, India with my 23 year old daughter, Priyanka. These programs bring young village girls together on a monthly basis to build awareness around issues of health, their rights, education and child marriage. It was heartbreaking to see these girls being pulled out of school because parents didn’t feel their daughters would be safe walking a few miles to school or getting married off at such a young age.

I know that if we can empower girls with true safety, we can change this picture.

Once a girl is safe, she can go to school, get a job, and build a business, creating ripple effects that are felt throughout her family, her community and our world. This has certainly been the case for myself and my two sisters and brother; our father wanted to ensure we were equipped with the best education so that we could be independent and on as equal footing as men. He strongly believed that education was the secret to a life of freedom.

I share my father’s beliefs and view education as the most effective tool in transforming the trajectory of a girl’s life. Since women typically reinvest 90% of their income back into their communities, as compared to only 35% for men, when you educate a girl and help her get a job, you are bringing prosperity not only to her and her family, but to our world.

I am honored to be part of WMM, a community of women leaders who believe in our individual and communal power to change what our world looks like. I hope that my story highlights the opportunity to leverage technology for social good to create deep, lasting, and scalable change. Please help spread the word for teams to register by April 28th to come up with a safety solution for women.

Anu Jain holds a BA in business administration and economics from SUNY, Stony Brook, NY, and an MBA from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She grew up in Jerusalem, Israel and the neighboring countries as a UN child. Anu is on several non-profit boards focused on making a positive impact in the world. She and her husband have three children who are all entrepreneurs and actively involved in giving back to the community.

Kylie Schuyler is Helping Girls Become Empowered Leaders

Author: Kylie Schuyler (Member, Women Moving Millions)
Originally posted on January 31, 2017 – Women Moving Millions Member Bulletin

“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way”, a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher, has resonated with me throughout my life. My life and work have truly been transformed by the light I see in young girls’ beautiful faces, their stories of strength and overcoming challenges, and the monumental shifts that occur in families and communities when girls are empowered.

My point of inflection came while traveling in Cambodia. While living in Tokyo (with my husband and seven children), I traveled with passionate co-adventurers and devoted NGO community members and witnessed – firsthand – the plight of young girls who are often denied education in favor of domestic or factory work. The image of young girls looking longingly in from outside the school gate was emblazoned in my thoughts and I knew that I had found a way to make a difference in the world. From then, I have devoted my energy, time, and resources to girls and championed their freedom to be the author of their own lives. I returned from Asia as a full-fledged ambassador for gender equality, and ...Global Girls Leading Our World (G.L.O.W.) was founded.

We began in 2011, with a mentorship and curriculum model to build self-esteem, leadership and resilience in girls from vulnerable communities. In 5 years, we have grown rapidly to meet the needs of girls and young women around the world. Today, Global G.L.O.W.’s programs ignite the power of girls in 25 countries across 5 continents through the HerStory Campaign, a joint initiative with our N.Y.- based nonprofit partner, LitWorld. I have witnessed astonishing changes in thousands of girls around the world as they become confident self-advocates and leaders who are emboldened to follow their dreams. Their stories light my path and fuel my drive to expand our work to promote an “upward spiral”, a beautiful image which depicts the way an empowered girl alters the trajectory of her own family which, in turn, transforms her community and ultimately, changes the world.

March 20-24, 2017 marks a milestone in Global G.L.O.W.’s work as we co-host the 2nd annual Global HerStory Summit, to be held in partnership with UN Women at the 61st Annual Commission on the Status of Women. At the Global HerStory Summit, we will bring 60 Youth Ambassadors from 12 countries together, at the United Nations in New York City, to represent their communities. Together, Youth Ambassadors will develop Community Action Projects to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) for education, gender equity and women’s empowerment. These goals impact poverty reduction, health improvement and economic growth, around the world. Each Ambassador will have the opportunity to present their action plan to an audience of UN officials and global leaders. Upon their return home, Youth Ambassadors will implement their Community Action Projects with the support of the HerStory Campaign, local leadership and our global partners. At this time next year, I look forward to sharing stories of success, growth and girls’ empowerment that arise from these global Community Action Projects.

I have seen, firsthand, the power of girls’ voices when they are educated and encouraged to share their stories. I have witnessed the profound impact a girl can make on her community. I have shared in the transformative moments that occur when a girl is mentored to become a leader. These moments define me, they inspire me and they light my path.

To attend or to support the HerStory Campaign and/or the Global HerStory Summit, please visit: http://globalgirlsglow.org/contact-us/.

Kylie Schuyler, PhD – Founder, Global G.L.O.W. & Founder, California Bliss (Social Enterprise supporting Global G.L.O.W.)


Natalie Rekstad on Claiming Your Superpower as a Female Philanthropist

The following post is authored by friend of Women Moving Millions, Kiersten Marek of Inside Philanthropy.

“What box?” Natalie Rekstad has a reputation for being an “outside-the-box thinker” who is so innovative, the box is no longer relevant.

She has advised dozens of local and global nonprofits, including the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Campus Election Engagement Project, Pencils of Promise, Bridges to Prosperity, and World Pulse.  With her gift for reaching the hearts of donors to make big things possible, I wondered if she had any advice for women with lesser financial resources who want to become more involved in philanthropy.

“You have to look at your own life experiences to find your purpose, to figure out what unique perspective and power you can bring to bear on an issue,” she said. “So if you don’t have a lot of money, maybe the best way to be a philanthropist is to start giving in a way that feels vital to you, that feels essential. You might start by giving your time and gain experience from that,” said Rekstad, in a recent interview with Inside Philanthropy.

Read the original post here.

My Passion, My Philanthropy

lauren blog photoLauren Embrey on Giving Bold and ‘Now’
Author: Lauren Embrey (Member, Women Moving Millions)
Originally posted on August 9, 2016 on Women’s E-News

“There is no such thing as a lesser person.” That is the motto of the Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University, and something I innately knew from birth.

When I was young, I wanted to drive a moped, but was told I couldn’t “because I was a girl.” I did not understand this. When I was a few years older, I was asked to train for the Olympics in swimming, but my mother’s response was, “Why would you want green hair and big shoulders?” I didn’t understand that either.

Then at the elite girls’ school I attended in Dallas, my hometown, the message changed. I was taught that I could accomplish anything any man could. I was not to consider myself “lesser” in any regard, and definitely not because of my gender.

Read more from Lauren here.

What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?cynda blog image
Author: Cynda Collins Arsenault (Member, Women Moving Millions)

As someone who grew up reading Little Women and Five Little Peppers and feeling that the way to happiness was to be poor and struggle together, I had “issues” with people who had money.  Attending Berkeley in the late 60’s only confirmed those issues.  When my husband’s business began to be successful, I definitely struggled with being part of the 1%. As I began my philanthropic journey, I saw no reason to have my name on donations and reveled in my “anonymity”.  I felt that by giving secretly I was beyond the “ego trappings” associated with the feel good component of philanthropy. But gradually as I became more serious about what money can actually DO and saw how other women were stepping into their power to have serious impact, I recognized that being public had its advantages too.

I like to think that I bring my whole self into my philanthropy. It’s not just about writing a check but trying to think strategically about the world I would like to see and how I can contribute to it. I am personally involved with most of the organizations I fund and firmly support their missions by sharing the work they are doing with others. This often means leveraging my donations.  I have found that by sharing my passions with others, I am often able to bring in additional funding for the organization.

I have also found that through my membership in affinity groups such as Women Moving Millions, Women Donors Network, and Beyond Our Borders I learn so much from the other women. I gain new insights into funding strategies, I learn about new opportunities and I experience the power of collective funding for greater impact. I am proud to have my name associated with others.

When my husband and I first started our philanthropy, I spent a couple years reading, researching and trying to figure out what to do. I read about social change, philanthropy, evolution, evaluation, peace, etc. and had an “aha” moment when I recognized that we live in a world that has been “male” designed. From a species viewpoint, there may have been a reason for this (strength, linear focus, survival, etc.) but now the world desperately needs what women have to offer (nurturing, collaboration, communication skills, etc).

This is not about women claiming their place at the table of existing power structures.  It’s about reaching that tipping point of women who create a paradigm shift to bring about a world that is more just, sustainable and peaceful. I want to be a part of that world and so I am proud to put my name out there and be “all in for her”.  Won’t you join me?


Cynda Collins Arsenault is co-Founder and President of Secure World Foundation, an operating foundation working for the secure and sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of humanity and contributing to global stability on Earth. She focuses her personal philanthropy on women, peace and security. She is active with Women Building a Just Peace Circle in the Women Donors Network and part of the Women, Peace and Security Working Group of the Peace and Security Funder’s Group. She is on the family Boards of One Earth Future Foundation and the Arsenault Family Foundation.

Giving Out Loud

natalie lrGiving Out Loud
Author: Natalie Lynn Rekstad (Member, Women Moving Millions)

As I mark my 50th year on earth, I reflect upon a harrowing and rich “soul curriculum” that fuels a passion for impact, particularly around issues facing women and girls.  In short, our deepest passions often spring from our deepest wounds. 

I discovered this truth early, moved to action by seeing a filmstrip in my 3rd grade classroom of starving children in Africa.  By then, I’d already had my share of deeply painful experiences and I found it baffling that the teacher would share haunting, heartbreaking images with a room full of eight-year-olds, yet offer no way to help solve the problem.  I staged backyard fundraisers, which led to the realization that I didn’t have to sit with heartbreak, but could take action toward creating a better world.

A notable discovery was that I was resource-rich in a way that had nothing to do with money; in fact, at the time, my mother, four siblings, and I were living on food stamps and other government assistance.  While today I have financial resources added to my arsenal, my heart of service, strategist brain and grit trumps my bank account in terms of the level of impact I’m able to have upon the world.

This resource-richness is a cornerstone of effective philanthropy.  Giants like Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Melinda & Bill Gates, Abby Disney, Pierre & Pamela Omidyar and more have two key things in common:  They lead with humility and are strategically outspoken about their giving.  By putting a very public stake in the ground for the issues they want to help solve, they awaken others to their own potential as change agents.

Yet as I consider the journey toward impact, I admit my motives were not always lofty.  Having founded and run an arts-based nonprofit for a decade, I found it was a vehicle for recognition and accolades, landing me on magazine covers and in the national arts press.  I loved being behind the podium, aware of a “Look at me” quality that I grappled with.  It wasn’t a “Look at me, I’m so great” missive; it was a “Look at me, I have worth” plea.

The stories that shaped that need to be seen and valued are all too common among women of my generation who spent their early years being marginalized or worse. The more I suffered through those identity-shaping experiences, the more I developed a “Not on my watch” warriorship on behalf of others.  Yet, after bequeathing my nonprofit to the Denver Art Museum in 2011, I became an increasingly private person.  My ego sated, a servant quality to my philanthropy reemerged.  I found myself among the throngs of women who shy away from philanthropic recognition, feeling it sullied the purity of the intention.  I found peace in the decision to back away from the spotlight.

Within a year, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado invited me to share my story publicly to help inspire others to bold action and giving.  I initially declined for a number of reasons many private philanthropists identify with; but at the end of the day, I have a strategist brain and a voracious appetite for impact.  While I gave financially and served quietly, I realized I had taken my two most powerful resources out the narrative:  my voice and my ferocity.

And I felt like a hypocrite.  All my life I knew, deep in my bones, that if I lived during the Civil Rights movement, I would have marched.  If I had lived during the Civil War, I would have spoken out against slavery.  Yet, by flying below the radar, I stopped inspiring others to think about their resources, financial and beyond, diminishing my own effectiveness.  There is nothing to be gained for causes by keeping quiet about philanthropy, as it is a powerful call to action for others.  It is also an indescribable joy, bringing kindreds together in a fulfilling and world-changing way.  In the words of social impact leader Jonathan Lewis, “It’s as much fun as I have in public.”

The causes I care about need me to take my full space in the world.  I ultimately got out of my own way, taking bold action toward greater impact by launching Black Fox Philanthropy and joining Women Moving Millions.

While I don’t seek the spotlight, I no longer shy away from it because it isn’t really about me.  It’s about living a fully expressed life as a woman in an era that needs every woman’s voice at the table, at the podium, and in the halls of power that shape our world.  Together, we are a FORCE.


Natalie Lynn Rekstad is an innovative strategist who helps raise vital funds for social change organizations around the globe via her consulting firm, Black Fox Philanthropy.  She is a frequent panelist, speaker, and resource for a variety of organizations on the topic of philanthropy.

An active supporter of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado since 2007, Natalie now serves as a Board Trustee, and her firm funds the scholarship “Black Fox Scholars,” rewarding high school girls for excellence in philanthropy.  Her ultimate vision: A world where men and `women lead together with full opportunity and equality. In addition to being a Women Moving Millions member, Natalie is an MCE Social Capital Guarantor, infusing $1 million in microfinance to women throughout the developing world; and is on the Global Advisory Board of World Pulse.