In Spring 2023, a gathering hosted by the Annenberg Trust at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, brought together 22 remarkable women leaders in philanthropy. They were united by a shared purpose: to forge an empowering community of women chief executives to exchange and cross-pollinate ideas, share experiences, and explore collaborative opportunities.

Curated to ensure a rich tapestry of organizational types, issue areas, and  personal backgrounds, the event was planned by steering committee members Melissa Berman, CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; Diane Kaplan, former CEO of Rasmuson Foundation; Judy Belk, then CEO of the California Wellness Foundation; and Cinny Kennard of the Annenberg Foundation, along with the program team that included Susan Feeney of GMMB, Jim Ferris and Alexandra Graddy-Reed of the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy and Renee Karibi-Whyte of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Attendees hailed from states across the United States, from Maryland to California on the east-west axis, and from Alaska to Texas on the north-south. The represented organizations included community foundations, LLCs, family offices, family foundations, and independent philanthropies. Some were place-based, some national, and others had an international footprint. The focus of these organizations spanned areas such as health, education, climate, systems change, race and equity, economic opportunity, youth, immigration, democracy, and many others.

Notably, the group featured a balance between experienced leaders, with four individuals having recently retired or announced their retirement, and emerging leaders, and a similar number had less than two years of experience at the helm of their current organizations. Emphasizing the importance of diversity, invitations prioritized a variety of ethnicities and experiences in order to foster a truly inclusive and representative gathering.

With all these differences, the women leaders shared a common drive for continuous learning, a commitment to improving society, and exceptional leadership qualities. The candid and insightful discussions surfaced several prominent themes, reflecting the insights, vision, and passion of women philanthropy leaders in today’s fast-changing and complex environment.

Read the full article about women leaders in philanthropy at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.