WhoIsShe? SHEGIVES Founding Board Member Laura Gassner Otting

STAT BOX

Killer networking pro

Served on the team that created Americorps

Founder of Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group

Married mother of 2

Ran the 2012 & 2014 Boston Marathon and the 2012 Chicago Marathon

Q: What is the most exciting thing happening in your life right now?

A: I just got back from celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of AmeriCorps, with Presidents Obama and Clinton, on the South Lawn of the White House.  I was lucky to be part of its founding so many years ago, and was honored to be on the South Lawn with old friends as 500 new AmeriCorps members took that original oath of service. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed some tears.

Q: That sounds amazing! So what is something interesting about yourself?

A: I have the distinct privilege of being the mother to a 12 year old Roman history buff, and to the Junior Sartorialist (juniorsartorialist.com), my ten year old TEDx’er fashion blogger who has been written about in over 20 different languages all around the globe. 

Q: Finally, who brought you into SheGives and what do you like best about her?

A: Kirstan Barnett sat me down in a coffee shop about two years ago and laid out this idea of kick ass women getting together in super fun events to support highly vetted nonprofits, and before she’d even finished her first sentence, I said, “What can I do to help?”  To know Kirstan is to be energized by Kirstan; she is idealism and brilliance and fast forward in a bottle.

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SheGives connects committed, inquisitive, engaged donors with a slate of diligenced nonprofits in the Greater Boston area. We provide members with relevant data about the nonprofits in our portfolio and an opportunity to meet directly with our nonprofits’ Executive Directors and senior staff in small settings that promote in-depth q&a’s and, ultimately, informed giving. Giving is personally driven, but because we give side-by-side our collective impact is greater. See a list of the vetted nonprofits selected for our slate here.

WhoIsShe is a regular column featuring an appreciative but sometimes irreverent conversation with a SheGives Member.

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SheGives Celebrates Ada Lovelace Day

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Hulton Archive, via Getty Images

In the history of computer sciences, the contributions of women are often omitted. History has always wanted heroes, individuals who do not need to collaborate to create world-changing work. In these cases, history books show that it is usually the man who gets the credit and is remembered. This is the way the story goes for many women in STEM fields and it is the way the story goes for Ada Lovelace.

Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer who lived from 1815 to 1852. She wrote the first computer algorithm in 1842 and thought up the idea of artificial intelligence. In 1843, Lovelace presented her notes on computing to the English scientific journal Scientific Memoirs. The editors of the journal told her colleague, Charles Babbage, that he should sign his name to the notes. Thus, Lovelace was written out of history and someone else received credit for her work.

This is far too common, leaving girls without historical role models, without proof that women are  capable and have been successful in this field before. This leaves young people with the view that men have always been the successful, active members of the technology field and allows for the stereotypes that men are simply better at math to pervade our culture. The lack of role models and the stereotypes about men being better at STEM fields creates a culture in which girls are not supported in their interest in computer science and lose their passion for it early, leaving only .4 percent of female college freshmen to state they are pursuing a major in computer science. 

“If women had been more prominently talked about tin computing, both in the history books and schools, we literally would not have the lack of women programmers that we do today. It’s about role models. You can’t be what you cannot see.” says Reshma Saujani, founder and chief executive of Girls Who Code, in this New York Times Article.

So how can we change this? We can start by celebrating Ada Lovelace Day, celebrating women in science, technology, engineering, and math. And we can continue to talk about women’s role in the history of technology every day of the year.  

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SheShinesOn…Beth Niernberg, My Life My Choice

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Clinical Director at My Life, My Choice for 4 years

She provides professional development and clinical support to the whole MLMC program, staff and children.

She's a phenomenal personal chef and mother to three boys and two dogs

Grew up in New York

Q: Tell us a little more about what you’ve done in this field.

I have been a clinician for 20 years. I have a great deal experience working with folks with a great deal of trauma, multigenerational trauma and poverty. I have extensive experience working with systems of service delivery in and around the Boston area.

Q: What previous job or training best prepared you to work here?

Working with trauma and poverty, abuse, and neglect in all of my previous positions has prepared me for working with exploited children, but the best training I have had was actually sitting and listening to the people I have had the honor to work with.

Q: What did you have to learn to do in order to be able to do your job with MLMC?

I’ve learned to deal with uncertainty and sometimes a lack of control over how to help change things for folks.

Q: What would the world be like without MLMC?

Children in our community would be at huge risk for exploitation.

Q: What advice would you give to people who are interested in your org’s type of work?

Find ways to contribute a little bit at a time. You don’t have to commit your whole life – just stick your toe in.

 SheGives Black Circle Logo[2]

SheGives connects committed, inquisitive, engaged donors with a slate of diligenced nonprofits in the Greater Boston area. We provide members with relevant data about the nonprofits in our portfolio and an opportunity to meet directly with our nonprofits’ Executive Directors and senior staff in small settings that promote in-depth q&a’s and, ultimately, informed giving. Giving is personally driven, but because we give side-by-side our collective impact is greater. See a list of the vetted nonprofits selected for our slate here.

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Pygmalion Effect for Teachers and Students

The Pygmalion effect links expectations placed upon people with their performance. The higher the expectations, the better they perform.

The Center for American Progress recently conducted a study on teachers and the expectations for their students. The study found that teachers don’t always have high expectations for all students, especially ones of color or those who are poor. The achievement of these students, therefore, may be influenced by the teacher’s low expectations.

A study by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that students whose teachers had high expectations for them graduated from college at three times the rate of the students whose teachers had low expectations.

Teacher expectations have been very predictive of a student’s success. It was found that teachers can predict the success with more accuracy than parents or the students themselves.

One of the nonprofits on our slate, Teach Plus: T3 Initiative, is a program that recruits, develops and supports effective, experienced teachers to serve as teacher leaders in low-performing schools. The “T3″ stands for Turnaround Teacher Teams. These teachers can really make a difference by going in and having high expectations for all students, regardless of demographics.

SheGives Black Circle Logo[2]

SheGives connects committed, inquisitive, engaged donors with a slate of diligenced nonprofits in the Greater Boston area. We provide members with relevant data about the nonprofits in our portfolio and an opportunity to meet directly with our nonprofits’ Executive Directors and senior staff in small settings that promote in-depth q&a’s and, ultimately, informed giving. Giving is personally driven, but because we give side-by-side our collective impact is greater. See a list of the vetted nonprofits selected for our slate here.

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SheGives celebrates the launch of its second year with a party with RAW Art Works

Picture1On Monday October 6, SheGives held a celebration with Raw Art Works at Space 57 in Boston’s Back Bay to launch its second year. The walls were lined with incredible art pieces by RAW students that SheGives members were able to discuss and explore with other member and members of the RAW community. Art reflected the students’ views of themselves, aspects of their lives, and their reactions to the world around them. RAW founder Mary Flannery was on hand during the evening’s cocktail hour to answer questions about the art and RAW Art Works. Members spent  the first half of the evening enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres provided by Space 57.

 Cocktails were followed by a presentation by RAW staff members. Mary Flannery, Kit Jenkins, Kathe Swaback, and Masiel Encarnacion took turns speaking about the importance of RAW and what RAW does for students in the Lynn area. RAW students provided a heart-warming short film showcasing how they felt about RAW: RAW is a second home for students who want and need a sense of belonging. SheGives members were provided with a better understanding of RAW, how it operates financially, and how it has expanded and how it plans to expand in the future.

The presentation ended with Mary Flannery leading SheGives members in a guided art therapy session. Members teamed up with the woman sitting directly opposite them and told to draw each other without looking down at the paper. A feeling of nervousness was quickly replaced by a palpable sense of fun and bonding as everyone let go of their worry about doing a poor job of drawing their partner and focused on having fun with the task at hand. After the drawing was complete, everyone colored their portraits and had their pictures taken next to them. The portraits were taken home as souvenirs on RAW clipboards. 

SheGives Founder and President, Kirstan Barnett finished off the evening by informing members about what they can expect from SheGives this year. This year, SheGives will be selecting four new nonprofits to add to the slate. These nonprofits will be chosen from one of four different tracks. Members who wish to get involved with choosing can contact Carrie Greenaway for more information. 

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SheShinesOn…Emma McCarthy, Lovin’ Spoonfuls

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Lead Development Officer since June 2012

Grew up in Atlanta, GA

Would love to have a dog, but is currently stranded in a no-pet building

Formerly worked at Flour Bakery, one of Lovin' Spoonfuls' key partners

Q: Lovin’ Spoonfuls runs a tight ship – tell us about your role.

My job revolves around raising funds for the organization, but since our team is so small, I have a hand in a lot of other areas as well.

Q: What have you done previously that’s influenced your work with Lovin’ Spoonfuls?

Working at other small non-profit organizations prior to this one helped provide a bit of context to the nature of the job, but every day is a learning experience – even after 18 months of working here!

Q: What advice would you give to people who are interested in food rescue?

The most effective and immediate way for people to have an impact (aside from donating to Lovin’ Spoonfuls!) is to reduce their own food waste footprint at home. Simple things like eating leftovers, taking advantage of the freezer, making shopping lists and planning out meals can really make a difference – on both your environmental footprint and your wallet!

SheGives Black Circle Logo[2]

SheGives connects committed, inquisitive, engaged donors with a slate of diligenced nonprofits in the Greater Boston area. We provide members with relevant data about the nonprofits in our portfolio and an opportunity to meet directly with our nonprofits’ Executive Directors and senior staff in small settings that promote in-depth q&a’s and, ultimately, informed giving. Giving is personally driven, but because we give side-by-side our collective impact is greater. See a list of the vetted nonprofits selected for our slate here.

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College Bound Dorchester is Hiring

College Bound Dorchester is now hiring for these positions:

·         Development Communications Associate

·         Manager of Corporate and Foundations Relations

·         Data and Systems Administrator

·         Executive Assistant to the CEO

·         OST Group Leader

·         Lead Teacher: Center-Based Early Education

If you have the following qualifications, one of these positions might be for you.

  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Results and solution oriented
  • Passion for urban education

College Bound Dorchester serves close to 900 children and adults (ages 3 months-27 years) from different populations, among them immigrants and at-risk youth. They provide educational services and lay the groundwork for future success. Their work is the cause of the increase in college graduates in Dorchester and has changed the community’s perspective on higher education.

Click here to learn more and apply.

SheGives Black Circle Logo[2]

SheGives connects committed, inquisitive, engaged donors with a slate of diligenced nonprofits in the Greater Boston area. We provide members with relevant data about the nonprofits in our portfolio and an opportunity to meet directly with our nonprofits’ Executive Directors and senior staff in small settings that promote in-depth q&a’s and, ultimately, informed giving. Giving is personally driven, but because we give side-by-side our collective impact is greater. See a list of the vetted nonprofits selected for our slate here.

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SheGives Founding Member Erin Gates Featured in Boston Globe

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SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF

We Are So Thrilled for Founding Member Erin Gates!

A wonderful human being who is committed to giving, we want to congratulate SheGives Founding Member Erin Gates on the launch of her first book Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life which is already #1 in its category on Amazon.  She is getting some much deserved local press on it, too!  Check out today’s piece on Erin in the Boston Globe.

Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life, is a book about Erin’s life and her style, and in it Erin shares her raw and heartbreaking experiences with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which she has written very honestly about on her Elements of Style blog here and here.  In her stylish book, Erin keeps it real.  We applaud her for that.

Order Erin’s book – a #1 in its category at Amazon here!!

We ♥ Erin.

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SheGives Fellows Learn New Skills with the Boston Foundation

TBF Color

On September 30, SheGives Fellows gathered at the Boston Foundation’s lovely offices in Back Bay to meet with SheGives Board members and The Giving Common’s Katherine Scott and Leigh Handschuh. 

The Giving Common, an initiative of The Boston Foundation, is a detailed online resource that connects donors to in-depth information about nonprofit organizations working to enhance communities across Massachusetts, built around the belief that data is a critical part of driving social change.  The Giving Common is a publicly accessible site with considerable information about Greater Boston nonprofits that has been an efficient and important tool for SheGives’ diligence, and we were thrilled to have the benefit of Katherine and Leigh’s expertise. 

SheGives’ fellows got to a powerful crash-course in research as Katherine Scott and Leigh Handschuh of the Boston Foundation’s Giving Common brought the fellows together with the SheGives board members to review the due diligence process that is so important to SheGives when selecting nonprofits to add to the slate. Fellows were taught the indicators of organizational effectiveness, such as history and track record, governance, and executive leadership, and where to find this information when reviewing nonprofit organizations. Fellows were also taught how to use 990 tax forms and audits to answer important due diligence questions, such as “Are there diverse sources of revenue?” and “How are the board and staff structured?” among many others. Scott and Handschuh also taught fellows about red flags to be aware of when reviewing 990 forms and audits of nonprofits and what questions they should be prepared to ask if these red flags should appear. Fellows were given resources for thoroughly researching and understanding nonprofits and their financial and community standing.

SheGives’s research fellows will be taking this information and moving on to begin the process of researching new Boston-area nonprofit organizations to add to the SheGives Slate in the next year. Fellows will be looking into years of financial reports and breaking down how these organizations are run to ensure that the next SheGives grantees are truly effective in the areas they serve and, thus, ensuring that new grantees are the best possible fit for SheGives and its members.

More on the diligence process and good resources, including the Giving Common, can be found here

We are incredibly grateful to The Boston Foundation and its Giving Common initiative. Check out its website here.

SheGives Black Circle Logo[2]

SheGives connects committed, inquisitive, engaged donors with a slate of diligenced nonprofits in the Greater Boston area. We provide members with relevant data about the nonprofits in our portfolio and an opportunity to meet directly with our nonprofits’ Executive Directors and senior staff in small settings that promote in-depth q&a’s and, ultimately, informed giving. Giving is personally driven, but because we give side-by-side our collective impact is greater. See a list of the vetted nonprofits selected for our slate here.

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SheShinesOn… Käthe Swabeck

STAT BOX

Program Director

Has been with RAW Art Works since 1994

Grew up in Sacramento, CA

Mother to adopted twins

Q: Please describe your job in one sentence.

A: The Program Director oversees the development, coordination and administration of all aspects of RAW’s 50+ programs including planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and supporting staff in their roles and program activities.

Q: And what previous job or training was best able to prepare you for your work at RAW?

A: Before RAW, I worked as a psychiatric aide and art therapist for an 8-year-old boy with Bi-polar illness for 35 hours a week for an entire year. This was a deep intensive humbling experience where I learned a lot about working with explosive children, creative limit setting and positive reinforcement, the power of art therapy, and how to support families who are giving it their all and who are depleted.

Q: What would the world be like without your organization?

A: I think the world would be ok but 1400 youth each year would be missing a rich, deep experience in creativity, problem solving, and connection to this world.

Q: Finally, what has most surprised you since starting your with with RAW?

A: The good side: How deep engagement with youth in the arts can lead to such positive outcomes in skills, identity, and connection to others.

The hard side: Our society’s lack of resources, lack of skilled workers, and lack of funding for our youth – especially for our youth who have suffered trauma, sexual abuse, and have other forms of PTSD.

 SheGives Black Circle Logo[2]

SheGives connects committed, inquisitive, engaged donors with a slate of diligenced nonprofits in the Greater Boston area. We provide members with relevant data about the nonprofits in our portfolio and an opportunity to meet directly with our nonprofits’ Executive Directors and senior staff in small settings that promote in-depth q&a’s and, ultimately, informed giving. Giving is personally driven, but because we give side-by-side our collective impact is greater. See a list of the vetted nonprofits selected for our slate here.

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