7 Inspiring Female Nonprofit Leaders to Watch in 2018

By Nonprofit HR
In March 21, 2018

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “Untapped Potential of Women in Nonprofits” report, 57 percent of women working in the sector –– and 72 percent of women aged 18 to 24 –– want to someday be CEO of a nonprofit. This is not the case in the private sector. In another study of for-profit companies, only 31 percent of female millennial respondents said they wanted to be a CEO. It seems that, despite some existing gender leadership and pay gaps, nonprofits will be at the forefront of women in leadership in the years to come.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re feeling inspired to feature women paving the way for future female nonprofit leaders. Here are seven of the many inspiring women in nonprofit leadership we’re celebrating in 2018:

Female #nonprofit leaders are paving the way for future professionals in the sector. Click To Tweet

Cristina Jiménez

Executive Director & Co-Founder, United We Dream

In recent months, conversations about DACA and the Dreamers have been on everyone’s lips, but immigrants’ rights network United We Dream has been around far longer. Cristina Jimenéz (on Twitter @CrisAlexJimenez) founded the group in 2008, and played a pivotal role in influencing Obama’s 2012 executive action to protect young undocumented immigrants.

Cristina Jiménez, whose own brother is a Dreamer himself, immigrated to the United States from Ecuador at the age of 13. Since founding United We Dream, she has been named one of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40, and is a 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

Anne Wallestad

President & CEO, BoardSource

As we noted above, females are under-represented in the executive leadership seat in every industry, even the nonprofit space. Leading the charge in highlighting this disparity and striving to steer nonprofit boards toward championing equality and gender diversity is Boardsource President and CEO, Anne Wallestad.

Boardsource’s mission is to inspire and support excellence in nonprofit governance and board and staff leadership. Anne Wallestad (@AnneWallestad) also spearheads national conversations about harassment prevention and diversity to influence leaders and board members in organizations all over the country to not just talk about change. She pushes those leaders to take actionable steps toward improvements in both their own organizations and the sector as a whole.

Brittany Packnett

VP of National Community Alliances, Teach for America

Teach for America’s mission to strengthen education equity and excellence wouldn’t be possible without their diverse community of teachers all over the country. Representation is crucial for students, and in her time with the organization, VP of National Community Alliances Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) has spurred a much more diverse stream of applications to Teach for America from individuals interested in teaching in high-needs, high-poverty schools where students of color are the majority.

Brittany is a powerhouse champion of racial justice and equality. In addition to her work  withTeach for America, Brittany is also a prominent Black Lives Matter activist. A native of St. Louis, she joined the protests that began in Ferguson in 2014 after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.

Shannon Watts

Founder, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Between the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 and the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February 2018, it can feel like no progress is has been made in attempts to protect students from gun violence. This does not deter Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts), founder of Moms Demand Action, from her goals.

In fact, the former Fortune-500 communications executive, turned stay-at-home mother of five, turned gun control activist, has built a large grassroots movement that has resulted in the passage of laws that disarm domestic abusers in 25 states and require background checks for every gun sale in eight states, with more change to come.

Monisha Kapila

Founder & CEO, ProInspire

Monisha Kapila (@monishakapila) founded ProInspire in Washington, D.C. in 2009 to help other nonprofit organizations develop their leadership to better achieve their missions and goals. In 2012, the organization expanded to the San Francisco area, and its impact continues to grow.

Monisha, a strong, positive influence for the nonprofit sector as a whole, frequently writes for the Chronicle of Philanthropy on topics like diversity and bias in the sector and other talent-related issues and is known across the social sector as a champion for diverse and equitable talent management practices.

Nancy K. Kaufman

CEO, National Council of Jewish Women

The National Council of Jewish Women’s history dates back all the way to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Since then, the organization has fought for immigrant women and children and their civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights and justice.

Nancy Kaufman, CEO of NCJW has had a long, distinguished and inspiring career in the social sector, including twenty years as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston. Nancy (@NCJWCEO) frequently uses her platform to speak out on issues like health care and threats to our country’s judiciary system under the current administration.

Sarah Bruno

Executive Director, Public Leadership Education Network

When women do not hold leadership roles in public policy, they don’t have the opportunity to influence important policies that affect women. That’s why the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) and its Executive Director Sarah Bruno are dedicated solely to preparing women in college for public policy leadership roles.

Through PLEN, students meet with female leaders in Congress, courts, federal agencies, the private sector, policy research, advocacy organizations and the media to be mentored and taught about roles they can pursue.

Sarah (@sngngbruno) speaks out about how the public can support women leaders, including at a recent event on International Women’s Day in Washington D.C. She says: “Each of us has the potential to change the world. Ordinary women, who work hard each day to take care of their families, are also bringing change and innovation within their communities.”

At Nonprofit HR, we’re committed to diversity, inclusion and equity in all of its forms within the nonprofit sector, and believe all organizations can look to leaders in organizations like these for guidance and inspiration. We couldn’t be more excited to watch the great work these women and others like them accomplish in 2018 and the years to come.

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