If the New York Women’s Foundation (NYWF) hadn’t existed, Jean Shafiroff would have created her own 501 (C)(3) for women to empower women. So, Shafiroff brought her passion to them. And the yearly luncheon she hosts at Le Cirque on behalf of NYWF has become our first philanthropic flirt with fall. Soledad O’Brien moderated this year’s panel discussion, on generational giving, with Helen LaKelly Hunt (Founder & President of The Sister Fund; Founder & Chair Emerita of The New York Women’s Foundation) and her daughter Leah Hunt-Hendrix (activist, organizer and Co-Founder/Director of Solidaire). The Hunt mother/daughter team recently launched The Hildegard Fund, which is partnering with the NYWF to address the persisting wage gap that exists, particularly for women of color.
“Women and girls receive seven percent of the funding from foundations nationwide and many of us know instinctually that women are disproportionately affected by poverty,” said Board Chair Anne E. Delaney. “We all know women make 80 percent of the dollar that men make. But, did you know that women of color make 50 percent less than white men or that 40 percent of single mother households live below the poverty line and are three times more likely to live in poverty than two parent households? Or that 25 percent of homeless women become homeless through domestic violence? Facts like these make it crucial for women to instill in their daughters and families to support women and girls.”
Just as the Hunts brought their generational perspectives and passions to each other, Jean’s daughters also lit a philanthropic fire in their mom. “About four or five years ago, my two daughters started adopting animals, and then placing the animals in shelters,” Jean told the room. “I had been very involved at that time with Southampton Hospital and the girls were getting involved with Southampton Animal Shelter. So Jackie and Elizabeth actually recruited me,” she explained. “I went on to chair their gala, changing it from a cocktail party to a dinner. And they went from raising $78,000 their first year to maybe $400,000, and this last year I chaired it, it went up to about $680,000. And I never would have been involved without my daughters.”
Soledad O’Brien’s young daughters have a way to go before becoming involved in her Starfish Foundation and become honored by the NYWF, as was their Mom. We wondered what O’Brien thought of the women’s issues bubbling up in the Republican Debates. “Do you know how much time we have left til the election?” she mused. “I think we’re going to hear a lot of people make some big fumbles, make mistakes. They’re going to talk about how they feel about women’s issues — about all the issues — and then we’re going to have the opportunity to pick and choose very carefully the candidate we want to support.”
Other guests supporting the NYWF at the luncheon included Ana Oliveira (NYWF President and CEO), and members of the NYWF Board of Directors, including Joyce B. Cowin, Susan R. Cullman, Virginia Day, Jennifer Giacobbe, Grainne McNamara, Michele Penzer and Janet M. Riccio; Margo M. Langenberg, Francine Lefrak, Margo Catsimatidis, Sharon Bush, Judith Price, Dana Auslander, Kamie Lightburn and Elise McCabe Thompson.
Hoda Kotb will emcee the New York Women’s Foundation’s annual Fall Gala on Thursday, October 15th at The Plaza. It will honor the creators of the Tony Award-winning musical, Fun Home, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori; Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and Citi (the award will be accepted by Barbara Desoer, CEO of Citibank).
For more information on the Gala, please visit www.nywf.org.