Three women got together for dinner, and chatting over the meal, they decided that it would be a great idea to develop a program that would address the power of women to impact their communities.
Those women were three presidents: Dr. Kathy Krendl, president of Otterbein University; Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey, president of Bowling Green State University; and Dr. Katherine Fell, president of The University of Findlay.
From their vision came a series of programs on “Women in Philanthropy,” with the first program held at The University of Findlay on Oct. 12, 2013. More than 120 people participated from across northwest Ohio. Otterbein will host in 2014, and BGSU will follow in 2015.
Anne Pramaggiore was the honorary chair for the October event. She is the first female president and CEO of ComEd, based in Illinois, which is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities. She called women in philanthropy a topic that is “important, powerful and timely.”
Representatives from each university presented “Perspectives on Philanthropy.” “Women have been on the forefront of bringing their resources together and leveraging them,” said Theresa Popp Braun, president of Belvedere Investments LLC and a BGSU alumna, who cited the collective impact of women. “Look for the opportunities in your life to make a difference in someone else’s.”
Encouraging women to “find what it is that speaks to you and then educate yourself,” Rebecca Princehorn noted, “Every pair of hands is needed and no contribution is too small.” An attorney, Princehorn is an alumna of Otterbein and serves on its board of trustees.
The Honorable Jo Ann Davidson, the first female speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives (1995-2000), and currently a member of the board of trustees for The University of Findlay, affirmed “Yes, we can make a difference, and we do make a difference.”
The Honorable Betty Montgomery gave the keynote address on “Women in Philanthropy: Making a Difference.” Holding prior positions as prosecuting attorney and an Ohio state senator, Montgomery was elected in 1995 as Ohio’s first woman attorney general, serving two terms, and she became the first female auditor of state in 2003.
She pointed out the unique character of the American people, who are the most generous in the world, and who have subscribed to the idea that “it is our responsibility to make a difference in other people’s lives and to take care of each other.” She cited it as a revolutionary concept from the inception of our country and rooted in our history. Montgomery challenged women to “go out and do something, make a difference. It will change you and the world at the same time.”
Pramaggiore moderated a panel discussion. Panelists included Marcia Sloan Latta, Ed.D., Findlay’s vice president for university advancement, discussing “Getting Started in Philanthropy: Following Your Passion”; Nadine Block, founder of the Center for Effective Discipline in Columbus, Ohio, representing Otterbein with “Making a Difference: Using Your Time, Talent and Treasure for the Greater Good”; and Jaclyn Schalk, director of development and assistant director of gift planning at BGSU, presenting “Leaving a Legacy: Planning for Future Generations.” Breakout sessions on each of the topics followed.
Dr. Latta presented statistics in which 56 percent of college students nationally are women; 62 percent of women are employed; and 42 percent of the nation’s top wealth holders ($2 million plus) are women. Women also live, on average, more than five years longer than men. This means that women are increasingly able to control finances, and at the end of life, they disperse the funds, she said. In the breakout session, she was assisted by Dr. Janet Krzyminski and Marie Swaisgood, who talked about instituting women’s giving circles.
Block reflected on the power of passion and perseverance. She invested her time and her money into seeing that Ohio’s school children can live without fear of physical assault. Block worked from 1984 until 2009, when Ohio became the 30th state to ban school corporal punishment. “Philanthropy is responding to a need with whatever you have of your time, your money,” she said.
Schalk addressed leaving a legacy, noting that since Ohio law exempted estates under $5 million from taxes, family and philanthropy are now the major issues in estate planning. She encouraged women to start small and give to organizations that are well run. Ultimately, estate planning is for everyone, she said, adding that her favorite part in assisting people is seeing the “joy of those who are giving and the joy of those who are receiving.”