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On September 6, Donna Haghighat, new CEO of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, joined national and international stakeholders at the 2017 Women’s Funding Network (WFN) Conference in San Francisco. Haghighat accepted the LEAD Award for the WFWM Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) Springfield Partnership, a groundbreaking multi-sector partnership aimed at driving economic prosperity for young women.

Donna Haghighat comes to the WFWM with over 12 years of experience developing programs, cultivating relationships, fundraising, directing communications strategy, creating strategic plans and building advocacy programs. Most recently Principal at the Collabyrinth Collective, LLC., Haghighat’s previous roles have included Executive Director of the Aurora Women & Girl’s Foundation, Chief Engagement and Advocacy Officer for YWCA Hartford Region, a strategic consultant, Chief Development Officer for Hartford Public Library, Interim Director and Grants/Program Manager of the Women’s Education and Leadership Fund, and Co-President of AAUW CT.

“I am thrilled to join the Women’s Fund as our transformative leadership programs expand to include young women,” said Donna Haghighat, new CEO of the Women’s Fund. “It is a tremendous honor to accept this award, honoring a program that brings so many stakeholders together to foster greater opportunity for the young women of Springfield, particularly young women of color.”

The Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) is a national multi-sector project aimed at creating sustainable prosperity for young women. YWI is led by a coalition of eight women’s foundations across the United States, in Birmingham AL, Dallas TX, Los Angeles CA, Memphis TN, New York NY, Washington DC, and the state of Minnesota, as well as western Massachusetts. The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is piloting the Springfield Partnership, a unique program that will produce systems change on behalf of young women in our region’s largest city.

This year’s conference, Women Funded 2017: Tools for Turbulent Times will convene over 300 foundation and non-profit leaders. Joining them are corporate foundation directors, senior business and tech executives, and issue experts from around the world, convening for two and a half days of interactive workshops, labs and plenaries on tools and strategies for improving the lives of women and girls around the world.

“I’m delighted to announce that each of the eight women’s foundations who pioneered a Young Women’s Initiative will receive a LEAD award…the organizations have shown ingenuity and determination in their vision of young women, with a focus on young women of color, as advocates, and spokespeople with direct access to legislators and other decision-makers.  This is exactly the kind of leadership we love to highlight and celebrate!” said Cynthia Nimmo, President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network.

The Women’s Funding Network Leadership in Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Award celebrates outstanding risk-takers and innovators in the philanthropic community who, through their determination and leadership, have increased funding for programs that promote gender equity and diversity. Award recipients have demonstrated a commitment to social change and actively address gender, race, class, (dis)ability, age, and sexual orientation when making grants. The W.K.Kellogg Foundation has endowed this award since 1997.  Women’s Funding Network has held responsibility for the award since 2003, and announce and celebrate the winners at each international conference.

The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts fuels progress toward gender equity by funding the most promising solutions, collaborating with results-oriented partners, and by elevating the collective power of local women to take charge, and to lead with purpose.