WhoIsShe? SHEGIVES Member Elizabeth De Montigny

STAT BOX

Grew up in St. Louis, MO – mom was a nun and dad was a priest (no scandal – they both left and THEN met!)

Has run three marathons (Boston, Paris, and Chicago)

Married with two kids

Enjoys spending time with her family, travel, reading fiction

Favorite places: In the world: Istanbul, Bangkok; Locally: Woodstock, VT and the South End

Vice president at a global investment banking firm

Q: TO START US OFF, COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT ON THE BOARD OF CRITTENTON WOMEN’S UNION?

A: Yes, of course. I am on the board of Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU), a non-profit that – at its core – is trying to pull women out of poverty. Not just with a Band-Aid of temporary housing or a six-week literacy program, but with comprehensive, long-term, multi-faceted programs aimed at teaching women self-sufficiency. I am very proud to be associated with CWU’s work on this big, hairy, complicated problem of “poverty” that means so much more than just one word. It means raising children without a support network; it means trying to find work without much by way of resources and education; it means being poor and trying to understand the logic of spending money on school rather than taking the only job you can find (even though the wage is so low, you’d still be considered “poor”).

Q: PLEASE GO ON.

A: I find being a working mom of two kids to be a challenge…and I have a graduate degree, a (more than) self-sustaining wage, a supportive husband, and a network of friends and family to lean on for advice. Most of the women and families that CWU serves have none of those things. So I’m here to spread the word about the great work that CWU is doing in this space and would love to introduce the organization to any interested She Gives members. (Shameless plug!)

Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE HOBBIES, BESIDES YOUR PHILANTHROPIC ACTIVITIES?

A: My favorite things to do are spend time with my family (two little kids and husband) because it is so easy for other parts of life to take over, so I cherish the free evenings or completely free weekends when it’s just us. Outside of that, I love traveling both near (for a weekend, places we haven’t been in the area) and far (recent trips have been to Turkey, Croatia, Morocco, Mozambique…hoping to go to Portugal this year). I also am an avid fiction reader; I read books on my iPhone in taxis, standing in line when getting my coffee, while feeding the baby, and before bed at night. I read two to three books a month…ranging from book-snob-worthy to chick-lit.

Q: FINALLY, WHO BROUGHT YOU INTO SHEGIVES? WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT HER?

A: Elizabeth De Saint-Aignan introduced me to SheGives, and what I like best about her is her name. I’m kidding…I like many, many things about Elizabeth. She’s a great friend and someone I try to emulate in many situations both personal and professional. She gives really candid, honest advice, and she is funny. But the thing I like best about her is her instant openness and her willingness to just be herself and “tell it how it is.”
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.

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

Posted in WhoIsShe? | Leave a comment

Engineering is Elementary Expands West

The Engineering is Elementary curriculum is being implemented in schools in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin and California this fall. Programming began with the start of the Fall 2014 school year and aims to integrate engineering into the science and mathematics curriculum at the select schools. 

Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools will introduce the curriculum in kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms. Students will learn the fundamentals of engineering as well as what engineers really do. Complexity of the lessons will grow with each grade level. For example: kindergarteners will learn about engineering through popular fables such as “Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf.” In this example, the children will learn to understand why the brick house stayed standing while the straw and wood houses did not. The goal of WRPS is to spark an interest in engineering early in the students academic careers, inspiring them to stay active and interested in STEM fields. Further expansion of the program in Wisconsin Rapids schools will be considered based on the success of the 2014-2015 school year. 

California has recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards to emphasize the connections between science and engineering. These standards state that students should be able to “analyze data obtained from testing materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose” and “analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.” Engineering is Elementary will help California teachers to meet the new standards by integrating science, math, and engineering.

Follow the links to learn more about the programs being implemented in Wisconsin Rapids and California.

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.

Posted in News, SheGives Slate | Leave a comment

SheShinesOn…Connie Chow, Science Club for Girls

STAT BOX

Executive Director of SCFG for 8 years

Her mission is to galvanize individuals and institutions to support girls' equitable engagement in STEM

Claims to be not responsible enough to have children

Grew up in Hong Kong

What did you do before taking the helm at Science Club for Girls?

I was a tenure-track professor in biology at Simmons College. I’m trained as a molecular microbiologist, and always had an interest in education, in creating the a-ha moment – where beauty and certainty intersect. 

Being a faculty member is actually great preparation for being an executive director. You coach, create, read, research, experiment, represent, tell stories, write. Independent most of the time. Lots of multi-tasking and translating. 

Every step along my winding and varied career path has prepared me for the next step. Having started with a background in science, I am better able to make the connection between STEM professionals and the importance of our mission.

Sounds like you were able to hit the ground running! Did you have to learn anything in particular to do your job?

Accounting — somehow adding and subtracting seem much harder than calculus.

What has been the hardest part of running SCFG?

Effectively and creatively harnessing the amazing variety of experiences and people who want to contribute to our cause. Volunteer talent management CAN be a full time job! 

And has anything surprised you about your work?

Im surprised by how aware young women, especially young women of color, of the negative stereotypes and barriers society places upon them, and how eager they are to transcend those and prove that they are ambitious, hard-working, giving and joyful if allowed.

Okay, last question. What would the world be like without SCFG?

Homogenous and joyless! (Only partially joking). Without SCF We’d see yet another generation of women who would grow up and say, “I wish I had this when I was growing up. Then my life choices would be different”.

Dr. Chow will be stepping down from her position as Executive Director of SCFG as of December 12 of this year. More information regarding the search for a new Executive Director can be found 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.

Posted in SheGives Slate, SheShinesOn | Leave a comment

Lovin’ Spoonfuls Ultimate Tailgate Party

lovin spoonfuls

Lovin’ Spoonfuls will host the 4th annual Ultimate Tailgate Party on Sunday, November 9th from 7-10pm on the waterfront lawn at Sam’s. The event will feature 16 of Boston’s all-star chefs cooking their favorite tailgate food, a silent auction, entertainment, a photo booth and more. This year’s event is also a celebration of the organization’s upcoming 5th anniversary.

The event will start with a VIP hour, featuring sparkling wine, cheeses and charcuterie. Founding Culinary Board members Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers will be honored during this time for their support of the work Lovin’ Spoonfuls does. A limited number of these tickets are available for $250, which includes a meet and greet with the chefs and a gift bag full of swag. General admission is $100, which includes access to chef tasting stations, signature cocktails, beer and wine. Complimentary valet parking will be available to all.

This year’s chef tastings will include food from Jamie Bissonnette (Coppa and Toro), Michael Scelfo (Alden & Harlow), Asia Mei (Sam’s at Louis Boston), Louis DiBiccari (Tavern Road), Will Gilson (Puritan & Co), Steve Postal (Commonwealth) and Jason Albus (Fairsted Kitchen), among several others.

Since Lovin’ Spoonfuls was founded in 2010, the team has collected more than 1.75 million pounds of fresh food to redistribute to local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and crisis centers throughout Boston at no cost. The money raised from last year’s Ultimate Tailgate Party was put towards getting another truck on the road to redistribute rescued food.

Register here for the 2014 Ultimate Tailgate Party.

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.

Posted in News, SheGives Slate | Leave a comment

WhoIsShe? SHEGIVES Member Janelle Woods-McNish

STAT BOX

Always up for an adventure, whether it’s New England or abroad

Best birthday gift was a Pony my grandfather gave me for my 2nd birthday (who I named Thriller after Michael Jackson)

Married

Self-proclaimed fat girl in a skinny girl’s body, and a total foodie!

Loves trying new restaurants, especially while traveling

Q: SO, WE’RE DYING TO KNOW, HOW WAS IT SERVING AS MRS. MASSACHUSETTS?

A: A truly life changing experience! I was honored and humbled to represent the remarkable married women of Massachusetts. Armed with my crown, heals and lipstick I travelled around the state making appearances, participating in community service activities and speaking at numerous events. The best part of my time at the Mrs. America pageant was hearing my name called for winning the Best State Costume – Mrs. Boston Strong. Honoring the city who united in support and love after a tragedy that was meant to tear our city apart.

Q: AND DURING YOUR REIGN YOU WERE ALSO BALANCING LIFE AS A MOTHER (TO TWINS!), WIFE, AND YOUR CAREER AS COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT MANAGER FOR HARVARD PILGRIM HEALTH CARE! HOW DO YOU DO IT?!

A: I never slept, sleep is totally over rated, and I am secretly superwoman! In all honesty though, I have an amazing support system that is led by my husband. He was a life saver and took on so much during this very busy time in my life. I also made sure that I scheduled time to spend with each area of my life: dinner with the hubby, study groups, outings with the kids, even down time. I went so far as to schedule travel time. I did not want to miss out on any aspect of this special time in my life and made every effort to not drop any major balls.

Q: OK, WE ALL SHOULD TAKE A PAGE OUT OF YOUR PLAYBOOK! SUPERWOMAN INDEED! AND TO WRAP THINGS UP, WHO BROUGHT YOU INTO SHEGIVES? WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT HER?

A: Laura Gassner Otting. What can I say- she’s the total package. Smart, beautiful, funny, compassionate and has some of the best outfits around. Laura is someone that I deeply admire and am fortunate to know.

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.

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

Posted in WhoIsShe? | Leave a comment

Collaborative Philanthropy: SheGives Takes A Lead

SheGives Cited for Its Role on the Leading Edge of Collaborative Philanthropy

shegivesbuild060

SheGives’ innovative model is turning heads! Jeff Poulos, executive director of Associated Grant Makers, mentions SheGives in a recent article about the evolution of philanthropy stating, “SheGives… [is] challenging the status quo of philanthropy – or pushing the boundaries of the sector.” There has been a huge emphasis over the past few months highlighting collective solutions to critical issues. As philanthropy evolves the “option to go it alone seems like setting oneself up for failure, rather than positioning oneself for the best chances for impact and success,” Poulos says.

SheGives’ mission to increase considered and informed giving to effective nonprofits, by bringing together committed donors, is on the cutting edge of this idea of collaborative philanthropy. In July, SheGives Founder and President, Kirstan Barnett spoke at the AGM Annual Meeting about the importance of connecting donors to effective nonprofits in a manner which un-complicates the diligence process and is efficient, both for donors and the nonprofits they are supporting. James Canales, of the Barr Foundation, also spoke to the importance of this during his presentation saying, “In today’s complex environment, it will be our ability to collaborate—not just with other foundations but also with government, industry, and nonprofits—that will lead to greater effectiveness in philanthropy.

Launched in September 2013, SheGives is a private foundation that connects dynamic, inquisitive, committed donors to a portfolio of diligenced and diverse nonprofits around Greater Boston. We provide relevant research and data about our portfolio and access to nonprofit leadership in intimate settings to inform the giving of our members. Our members give as individuals and also as women who direct the giving of a foundation or donor-advised fund. Each member contributes to SheGives at an amount that makes sense for her (above a minimum) and then ultimately, each member determines how much, and to which, of the nonprofits on our slate she wants to direct her giving. She elects whether to be anonymous during all or any phase, or whether/when to identify her name or that of her foundation or DAF.

SheGives has pioneered a new model of philanthropy that leverages the time-consuming diligence process of evaluating nonprofits in order to inform giving by its 90+ members, and also leverages the impact of its members’ giving. Its mission is to encourage giving to nonprofits whose operations, finances and impact have been considered so that effectiveness is rewarded. The nonprofits in its portfolio were selected with the goal of finding nonprofits that are examples of effective work in their respective areas.

SheGives Members have found that a key benefit to membership is not only the ability to learn about a portfolio of eight extraordinary nonprofits in an engaged but discreet (and potentially anonymous) way, but also to discuss and compare notes honestly with other donors.

As an additional element of its commitment to collaborative philanthropy, SheGives is exploring partnerships with other foundations around Greater Boston to leverage their expertise in various giving areas for SheGives’ next slate of nonprofits. Stay tuned.

 

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.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Science Club for Girls Announces 2014 Catalyst Award Recipient

Science Club for Girls announced the recipient of its annual Catalyst Awards. Luba Greenwood was selected as one of three individual recipients of the award. Ms Greenwood is receiving the award for her role as an advocate for women in science and for her role in mentoring women and students not only in science and technology, but also in the fields of entrepreneurship, law, and finance. The Science Club for Girls Catalyst Award is granted yearly to individuals and institutions that show a commitment to making science, technology, engineering, and mathematics diverse and accepting fields.  

Luba Greenwood displays the values that are essential for a SCFG Catalyst Award recipient: she is strategic and innovative in her pursuit of diversity in STEM. Ms. Greenwood is the Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Pronutria, a Cambridge-based company that uses the proteins found in the human diet to deliver health benefits in precise doses. Her background includes a deep knowledge of business, most notably in mergers and acquisitions and strategic partnerships. Ms. Greenwood is also a strategic advisor for science and technology start-ups and is an adjunct professor at Boston University’s School of Management and Boston University’s Law School. Ms. Greenwood is a mentor to female students and an advocate for women-led companies. Her work as a judge for MassChallenge and the Young Entrepreneurs Initiative has helped to advance companies led by women.

Ms. Greenwood  will be honored at the Awards Celebration and Benefit on October 27 from 6 to 9 pm. The event will be help at the Newton Marriott. The event will feature a reception, silent auction, and raffle. Science Club for Girls participants and their projects will also be featured in a showcase. Proceeds will benefit hands-on, free STEM programs by SCFG for over 1,000 girls in eastern Massachusetts. This event will be open to the public. More information about tickets, sponsorships, and current sponsors can be found at http://scienceclubforgirls.org/catalyst-awards-2014.

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.

Posted in News, SheGives Slate | Leave a comment

SheShinesOn…Monique Burns Thompson, Teach Plus

STAT BOX

President of Teach Plus, co-leader with Celine Coggins

Previously served as Co-founder, President & Chief Curriculum Officer of New Leaders for New Schools

Serial entrepreneur, consultant, educator, and change-maker

Q: You have quite a depth and breadth of experience across sectors – where did you get your start?

I started my career in the business sector (Quaker Oat Co.) in marketing and brand management before moving to the education sector as a consultant for McKenzie Group, opening model middle schools in Washington, DC. My experience as a social entrepreneur, management and human capital consultant and reform-oriented district administrator have all been important to prepare me for my work at Teach Plus.

Q: What has surprised you most in working in the nonprofit/education sector?

I have been focused on the use of human capital as the key to turning around failing schools for most of my career in the education sector. This work started with New Leaders for New Schools and the training of high quality urban principals. What most surprised me about the work of developing teacher instructional leaders for turning around schools is how they take on this work in such an authentic, earnest and ego-less way. I have always been a believer in the power of an amazing teacher to change a student’s life; I am now equality as impressed with their ability to do this and grow the capacity of their peers at the same time.

Q: Do you have any kids of your own?

I have two amazing daughters. First, I won the step-daughter lottery with my 16-year-old Mikaela, who is a state champion diver, honors student, and responsible and loving big sister. Second, I have my firecracker six-year-old, Isabelle, who loves first grade, sparkly fashion, theater and dance, and in the winter is an accomplished black diamond skier. I work very, very, hard to keep up with the two of them!

Q: That’s quite a range in age, interests, and skills! What kinds of activities do you do as a family?

My family and I prefer physically active vacations. This summer has brought us to Hawaii to hike volcanoes, snorkel in coral reefs, tour Pearl Harbor, and learn how to surf. Aloha!

Posted in SheShinesOn | Leave a comment

College Bound Dorchester Graduation

cbd

Since 2009, College Bound Dorchester has helped 63 students to earn their HiSet certification (high school equivalency diploma) and move on to college. This year was no exception to their success, as 41 students graduated in the basement of St. Cecilia’s in Back Bay.

The nonprofit is focused on students who are not likely to succeed, including gang members, inmates and dropouts. As one student pointed out, it “is not full of people who don’t want to try or don’t want to work. College Bound is really recovery for your life.”

Several of the graduates have children, some didn’t speak English when they started and many held jobs in addition to attending school. All of them suffered hardships of different kinds, which makes it all the more impressive that they were able to graduate and now they are moving on to college.

The speakers at the graduation ceremony, including Greg Shell from the investment firm of GMO LLC, told the students “I want you to be the reason that somebody can persist and move on and graduate.” These students are certainly an inspiration to many and College Bound Dorchester is a major reason for their success.

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.

Posted in News, SheGives Slate | Leave a comment

New York Times Article Explores Sexual Exploitation in Britain

This week, the New York Times reported a story concerning the trafficking of young girls in a small England town (the full article is available here). Between 1997 and 2013, over 1,400 children living in Rotherham, England were subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse. Despite reports to the police, those responsible for this horror were not prosecuted. Law enforcement routinely looked the other way, losing evidence and fining concerned parents for wasting the police officers’ time. Meanwhile, children as young as 11 were groomed for routine rape and exploitation. These girls were treated with contempt by police, who referred to their abusers as “boyfriends” and stated that they believed the girls consented to the sexual acts forced upon them, despite their young age. In response to this revelation, the leader of the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has resigned and the police chief is being pressured to do the same. This is not the only case of routine rape and exploitation coming from England at this time: in 2012, nine men were sent to jail for abusing up to 47 young girls. 

When being groomed for exploitation, these young girls are often “courted” in public places, such as shopping malls, by young men. They are introduced to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs and a sexual relationship with one man follows. This man will often then insist that the girl engage in sexual activities with other men. Finally, the girls are blackmailed and threatened to discourage them from telling others, especially law enforcement, about the abuse.

Sex trafficking continues to be a very real problem across the world and we must remain aware it. This event shows our need for continued vigilance and support of organizations such as My Life My Choice, which aims to eradicate sex trafficking in the state of Massachusetts. Says Kirstan Barnett, SheGives founder, “This happened in England. To over 1,000 young girls. Recently. Sex trafficking is real and it is a threat to our girls everywhere. We are so proud to support My Life My Choice as they lead the fight against the trafficking of young girls in our home state.” My Life My Choice works to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of girls in Massachusetts through programs that educate and empower vulnerable young girls while changing the community discourse surrounding survivors.

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.

Posted in News | Leave a comment