5 Female Leaders I Admire For Empowering Through Philanthropy

August 23, 2012 at 6:00am

This Note is inspired by Shot@Life, United Nations Foundation movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines in developing countries. 


For every comment left on this post, $20 will be donated to help save a child in need. 



31 bloggers, one on each day in August, are writing about people from our communities who inspire us. Today, I’m honored to take my turn with the baton to help. $20 is what it costs to give one child four life-saving vaccines to help protect them against measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio - and with your comment, not only are you saving a child, but you’re also making a difference for the child’s mother and family.



What I love about this Shot@Life campaign is the fact that anyone with a computer can save a life through leaving a simple comment that spreads the word. So today, I’m writing about a few of the many female leaders who I have admired over the years for their dedication to philanthropy and efforts to empower people who don’t have a voice. Despite their success, each of these women strongly believe that anyone can make a difference - money, age, or social status are not necessary for impactful giving.


Who do you admire? Tell us in a comment below!


Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen:

President of the Marc & Laura Andreessen Foundation and Founder of Stanford PACS 



Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen just recently published New York Times bestseller Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving And Our World to redefine how we think about philanthropy. In the past, people tended to think of philanthropists as those who give big financial donations. Now, she claims that “a philanthropist is anyone who gives anything - time, money, experience, skills or networks - in any amount, to create a better world.” She’s passionate about empowering individuals - of any background or age - to make giving matter more.


Andreessen's determination to redefine and democratize philanthropy so that more people can make their giving impactful comes from her belief that today, our communities and economies depend on it. She advises people to connect with their own passions and give strategically by researching that passion and giving their time and expertise to the right organizations.


It’s important to understand the meaning our gifts have in the organization and lives of the people we’re improving, because that's what will make us want to give and give again. Andreessen inspires all of us to start thinking of ourselves as philanthropists and prepares the new generation for careers in philanthropy and social innovation through her classes at Stanford.


Nancy Lublin:

CEO of Do Something and Founder & Former Executive Director of Dress for Success


At the age of 23, Nancy Lublin founded Dress for Success, an international nonprofit organization promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing them with suits for interviews, business attire to build professional wardrobes, and career development training. By initiating this movement, Lublin has enabled thousands of women in the United States and abroad to find and keep their jobs long-term. She’s passionate about helping women unlearn the labels that defined them their whole lives - in high school, college, and even by their own families.


Now as CEO of the nonprofit Do Something, an organization that empowers and enables teens to create social change, Lublin leads the effort to award more grant money to young people so they can get involved in community outreach programs. Teens have so much energy and passion for the causes they care about, and Do Something harnesses that power by inspiring them to volunteer and join cause projects and national campaigns. She personally manages the organization’s Twitter account - and it’s actually the fifth largest charity on Twitter with over 563,000 followers. I admire her for believing in young people and low-income women and for knowing that they can succeed on their own when they are given the resources and tools to take that first step.


Josette Sheeran:

Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum and Former Head of WFP


I was thrilled to sit down with Josette Sheeran a few weeks ago at a Creative Lounge dinner and discuss how she is tackling some of the most challenging global issues we face today in her new role as Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum. You can check out our blog post on some quotes overheard from the evening’s discussion with her: Ten Quotes Overheard At The Creative Lounge WIth Josette Sheeran. Prior to her current position, she was the 11th Executive Director of the World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian agency. She has dedicated herself to save lives in disasters and emergencies, develop innovative tools to build food security, and find ways to solve hunger and poverty through technology and reforms at the grassroots.


Sheeran believes that both immediate actions and long-term policies are necessary in ending world hunger. She advocates creating change by inspiring self-sufficiency through empowering small farmers, women, and vulnerable communities. I have seen her passion, empathy, and hope for those who suffer in the world shine throughout her work and speeches over the years.


I admire her desire to engage thinkers and leaders across all industries - not just those involved in policymaking and government organizations - to think outside the box when trying to solve global challenges in this modern and rapidly transforming world. Technology must be leveraged to solve big issues, and never before has there been a time when millions of people anywhere around the world can work together to profoundly change whole structures and policies.


Jennifer Aaker:

General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford's Graduate School of Business


A social psychologist and marketer, Professor Jennifer Aaker dedicates her research to studying how huge changes in the world can be fueled by individuals taking action through social media. Her book, The Dragonfly Effect, reveals how everyday people can achieve unprecedented results by harnessing the power of social media. For example, she highlights case studies of people who have found bone marrow matches for their friends, raised millions for cancer research, or elected world leaders and overthrown governments through social media.  


Aaker launched 100K Cheeks, a movement to enroll 100,000 people in the bone marrow registry, with a focus on minorities. Two parties must have a close genetic match for bone marrow matches to work best, but since there are fewer minorities registered as donors, their chance of being matched becomes drastically lower. She was inspired by the story of two South Asian friends diagnosed with Leukemia, whose friends used social media to enlist over 24,000 South Asians into the bone marrow registry within 11 weeks and find a match for both. 


Just ten minutes and a cheek swab are all it could take to save a life. Small acts like these can create significant change, and it is inspiring to see the Dragonfly Effect model working to impact so many lives around the world.  


Rachel Sklar:

Co-Founder of Change The Ratio, Founder of Charitini, and Co-Founder of The Li.st


Rachel Sklar founded social microgiving site Charitini to encourage nonprofits to consider birthday-driven fundraising as a new avenue to raise money. Sklar launched Charitini during the economic recession, when nonprofits were taking a huge hit. In lieu of buying her drinks on her birthday, she asked her friends to donate to the charities of her choice. For that first birthday, she raised $2,000. It’s always someone’s birthday somewhere, and it definitely adds up when you scale this one small request to friends.


As co-founder of Change The Ratio, Sklar is passionate about increasing visibility and opportunity for women in technology and new media. When she saw that a ‘power list’ of 100 digital industry leaders included only seven women, she wanted to raise awareness about all that women are accomplishing in the tech industry. She's currently developing The Li.st, an email newsletter to improve visibility and opportunity for women in tech.


Just yesterday, she was featured by Forbes as part of the 5 Most Powerful Women Changing The World in Technology. I admire her fearlessness in tackling the gender divide in the tech industry and paving the path to uncover and recognize amazing leaders who are making their marks in the tech industry.


These women are only a handful of the many extraordinary women I haven’t been able to include. Tomorrow, Jeannette Kaplun takes the baton in the blog relay and will post her note. You can leave a comment on her post and every one before and after this one to continue to make a life-changing contribution.



For more information and to read previous blog posts, check out the Shot@Life campaign on Facebook


A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. SAVE A LIFE NOW: Comment below and tell us about an amazing leader or philanthropist who inspires you.


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