About WFC

15th December, 2010 - Posted by salliegratch


Why WFC?

Women Founders Collective (WFC) was created to maximize the effectiveness and experience of women founders of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) globally by connecting them, their ideas and their resources. These connections are made primarily on the internet through a website dedicated to provide a support network devoted to women founders everywhere. Regional face-to-face connections among women founders are also encouraged.

No matter how connections among women founders are made, WFC is there as an important resource to women founders as they birth, grow and finally let go of their NGO.

When did WFC begin?

The idea of WFC lived for several years in our founder, Sallie Gratch’s, head. Already the founder of another NGO, Project Kesher, www.projectkesher.org, the need for starting another NGO did not feel pressing. However, checking out her new concept with other women founders, Sallie recognized the time for founding this particular NGO was NOW.

To include more women founders in the formation of the concept, Sallie called together a Founders Meeting at the Alma Mathews House in New York City the weekend of February 25, 26, 2006. The following women participated on the Founding Committee:

Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Stacy Berrin, Betsy Chandler, Dr. Juliette Engel, Sallie Gratch (founding chair), Blu Greenberg, Rita Henley Jensen, Rabbi Goldie Milgram, Rekha Mody, Gail Reimer, Ronit Sherwin, Cora Weiss, Joan Whitacre, Svetlana Yakimenko with Joan Roth as the photographer.

Through the combined wisdom, passion and energy of these women, WFC was launched!

What are WFC’s mission and values?

As defined by the WFC Founding Committee:

Women Founders Collective is a global movement of women founders of nonprofit organizations – connecting for the purposes of:

  • Learning from and supporting each other
  • Collecting, documenting and giving voice to experiences and practices of women founders
  • Mentoring current and future women founders.

Our core organizational values include:

  • Personal, interpersonal and global awareness and responsibility
  • Respectful and compassionate interaction
  • Authenticity
  • Equality
  • Risk-taking
  • Growth
  • Joy

Who is involved with WFC today?

The following women represent the brain and the heart of WFC:

Board of Directors

Sallie E. Gratch, chair Founder:

Project Kesher

Women Founders Collective

Deepa Chatrath Regional Managing Director,

Corum Singapore Pte Ltd.

Rabbi Goldie Milgram Founder:

Reclaiming Judaism

Rekha Mody Founder:

Divya Chaya Trust

Habiart Foundation

Stree Shakti–The Parallel Force

Chigozie Udemezue Founder:

The Healing Hearts Widows

Foundation, Nigeria

Networking Committee

Stacy Berrin

Manisha Gupte

Nancy Handwerger

Rose Oby Nwosu

Shulamit Reinharz

Lily Thapa

How can other women get involved?

As a Collective, WFC welcomes women and women founders of NGOs from around the world to join us on one of our committees. As we continue to be a work in progress, we welcome suggestions to our development. More important, we welcome women to step forward and join us in our work.

Please use the CONTACT US button to share your interest in becoming involved with WFC through joining one of our committees or our Board of Directors. Meetings are held through email, teleconferencing (using Skype or LD carriers) and, when possible, face-to-face meetings.

What other ways can women get involved?

Easy! Spread the word about WFC. We need help to grow in numbers. Inform your network of women and women founders about WFC. Link them to our website, www.womenfounders.org

You are also encouraged to make a contribution to WFC. All contributions to WFC are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.

No Replies  |  Reply

Angel of Kathmandu

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

Kathmandu, Nepal, January 16:

Question: when do you know a woman trusts you?
Answer: when, in a public toilet, she asks you to watch her purse while she goes into the toilet stall.

This is what happened in the Kathmandu airport. I walked into the women’s toilet to be confronted with a familiar stench and a row of urinals. Spotting several enclosed toilet stalls, and refusing to leave, I dismissed the urinals and started to head for a stall when a lively woman walked in and exclaimed, “what are those urinals doing here?” We laughed about it, the stench, and our shared intent to ignore the possibility we may be in the men’s room.

We quickly forgot the primary reason we both had entered the women’s toilet, and began to ask questions of each other. Before long, she knew about Women Founders Collective, about our travels, in particular, our search for women founders in Kathmandu. Betsy soon joined us, and within moments, the three of us had decided that our new friend would host our WFC Kathmandu meeting at her house.

You won’t be surprised to know that this woman’s name is Angela, truly our angel here in Kathmandu! She has kept close tabs with us during our stay, offering to take us to our hotel from the airport, inviting us to her home for dinner, planning an outing to view the Himalayas from a hilltop…and the list goes on and on.

The women we have been meeting on our travels are very much like Angela, eager to assist us, to share their lives with us, to welcome us into their work, to learn about WFC. Rekha Mody, our host in Kolkata and the reason for our being here, has orchestrated our movements within India and Nepal. Although originally planning to be with us throughout our travels, Rekha is heading to Los Angeles where she will be working on an exhibition to mark India’s 60th anniversary, their independence from the British. The exhibit opens in August, 2007.

So Betsy and I are on our own now. Equipped with Rekha’s network, names and phone numbers of women in both Kathmandu and Delhi (with a side trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal), and with the prospects of meeting more Angela’s along the way, Betsy and I are in good hands!

And yes, Angela did ask me to watch her purse when she walked into the toilet stall!

To be continued. Sallie January 16, 2007


No Replies  |  Reply

A message from Rekha Mody, India host: January 14, 2007

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

Sallie and Betsy in India Women Founders Collective “I was the first to touch the tree of knowledge first to bite the red apple… I was first to distinguish between modesty and immodesty… I was the first to break the golden shackles of luxurious pleasure. I was the first rebel banished from paradise, exiled. I learned that human life was greater than paradise. I was first to know.” Kabita Sinha

Beginning January 2007, two American ladies have ventured out of America to understand the women’s movement in India and Nepal. Stree Shakti The Parallel Force has volunteered to connect them to many women founders in these two countries. Stree Shakti is a networking movement, a collective voice of women seeking justice and equality. Stree Shakti is working for the cause of women’s upliftment and awakening, but it does not have a feminist bias. On the contrary, this organization is giving a new orientation to women power for fulfillment in life, not only for itself but also for those who come into the sphere of its influence. This organization is not working for woman as a power, but for the power, which emanates from her and sustains all human life. When we conceive of Shakti in an Indian cultural context, Shakti is capacity rather than power. She is a source of energy to man. Man can function only when his capacity is activated. No male god in the Hindu Pantheon functions without being activated by the female energy. In other words, it is concept of complimentarity between man and woman rather than that of equality. Egalitarianism has led to undesirable conflicts. Complementarities are the principle in consonance with the corresponding modern theory in physics. The entire Cosmos functions in harmony and harmony alone. The Indian way of living has been based on harmony, not only between man and woman, but also between men, women and nature. To elaborate; one harmony leads to another and brings happiness to all.’ www.streeshakti.com The trip is divided in three phases , Kolkata , Kathmandu and New Delhi. I took on the host responsibility of their trip in Kolkata. They attended the Annual Stree Shakti Awards, Sallie as a special guest explained the importance of women founders network . One day was dedicated to field visit where they visited projects of Divya Chaya Trust a member of Stree Shakti network which I founded in 1984.  www.divyachayatrust.org.in . They met up Women founders at a tea hosted by Neeru Poddar co founder of DCt , the group was diverse with women working in field of women empowerment, children with disabilities and mentally challenged children. Sallie and Besty also met women founders in private interview working in theater, writers and political issues. In total they met 11 women founders. Second phase of their trip in Nepal women founder Indra Shreshtha will link them up with other founders . In Delhi Kamal Chugh is hosting a tea on 22 January to introduce them to women founders and Kiran Modi is networking to make it a success. All three are powerful women founders, and I am sure they will make it a success. I will meet Betsy and Sallie on 27 January in Delhi and we will review the connections they have made. There is one mission to which I am dedicated is to establish a women’s Centre in India so that the networking may happen naturally and not be linked to individual or organizational initiative. I would request any one who shares my vision to contact me . “If only the women of the world would come together they could display such heroic non-violence as to kick away the atom bomb like a mere ball.” M.K. Gandhi Rekha Mody Founder Stree Shakti The Parallel Force streeshakti@hotmail.com

No Replies  |  Reply

WFC India Diary: London meeting, January 8, 2007

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

With a 12 hour lay-over in London Heathrow Airport, Betsy Chandler and I rushed into town to attend a WFC luncheon meeting. The idea of making good use of those 12 hours was suggested by Rekha Modi, our host in India. And, tapping into the remarkable network of Zerbanoo Gifford, Rekha’s and my mutual friend, Dorothy Dalton was asked to organize the details of the meeting at an Accounting Firm in London’s Financial District. (Thank you again Dorothy!)

All the details were taken care of. However, I was still concerned how WFC would be received, whether the invited guests would welcome an idea imported to London by someone totally unfamiliar to them. Added to my discomfort was the unexpected London traffic we encountered riding the underground, causing us to arrive at the meeting 30 minutes late. However, walking into a brightly lit conference room, we were greeted by 12 smiling faces, a room filled with women enjoying both the sandwiches and each other’s company.

We started the introductions almost immediately; I added my one request to include in their narrative a brief sketch of their nonprofit as well as a reflection on some aspect, a high or a low, of each woman’s founder journey. The energy in the room mounted as the women’s sharing began; women pulled in closer to one another, sitting forward in their chairs. Lively interaction among the women, reflecting on specifics issues raised began to flow. One young woman, originally from Dominica, now living in London, expressed her belief that nothing happens “just by chance”, that everything is purposeful. She used her coming to this meeting as her example, that she hadn’t planned to come, but that her colleague encouraged her to. She went on to discuss her reluctance, up until minutes ago, to begin her own nonprofit. However, with the encouragement she had received from this group, and the women’s promised support, she now wanted to announce that her nonprofit will be launched, thanks to what had happened at this meeting. Applause followed.

Our two hours together passed very quickly. Names and emails were shared. A group photo was taken. (To be posted on the WFC website.) I encouraged the women to become familiar with our, now their website, to use it to reach out to one another as well as to connect with women founders in far distant places. I especially asked them to add their comments about this meeting to my London meeting blog, a great way for anyone who visits this site to meet these fantastic women!

Our London meeting demonstrated once again the appeal of WFC, the powerful attraction it has as a support network to women founders and the ease with which a WFC group can move ahead (if so desired) on their own. That’s empowerment!

Saying our goodbyes, Betsy and I shifted back to Heathrow Airport to begin our second night of air travel, to land in Delhi for one more late evening flight to Kolkata (Calcutta) and finally, on January 9, to arrive at the home of our India host, Rekha Mody. To be continued. Sallie Posted: January 11, 2007

No Replies  |  Reply

Rekha Mody

24th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

Founder, secretary, Stree Shakti The Parallel Force
Kolkata, India

There is no tragedy greater than a woman being forced to abandon her child in order to allow the child to survive.

I founded in 1984 the children’s charity, Divya Chaya Trust, as a result of being exposed to many such children, especially girl children who were abandoned by their single mothers.  God’s natural plan is that every mother looks after her child; yet the plight of these women was such that they chose the terrible option of child abandonment.  It became very clear to me that I have to work for women’s empowerment to avoid this tragedy; otherwise my work would remain incomplete.

Hence, in 1998 I founded Stree Shakti The Parallel Force.  Stree Shakti aims at harnessing individual and collective energies of organizations engaged in human welfare. This forum, apart from providing a platform of joint action, also aims at the collection of related information. It is a movement to rouse and activate women of every class and creed and empower them with the necessary inputs to work as catalysts for fundamental social change. It is not an exclusive forum and it would like to have a helping hand from everyone, men, women and children.

  • Creating visibility of women achievers
  • Working with the grass root women –  Swayam Siddha  Self Empowered
  • Working towards an Equal Opportunity Commission

As the journey goes on, my involvement is increasing as new challenges are thrown open. It has also enhanced my commitment as now I see myself as not just a community worker but as a women empowerment campaigner.

November 2007

No Replies  |  Reply