Celebrate Female Generosity With These 10 Women

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Women are incredible, aren't they? They provide their labor, time, wisdom, and emotional support in diverse settings. At work, women are still compensated less than men and, often, in a “second shift,” take on unpaid obligations like caregiving, housekeeping, homeschooling, and other crucial contributions. The pandemic has exacerbated some of these imbalances, making it especially important to honor all the ways women support and replenish our society. To honor these sometimes unseen heroes, CircleAround spoke to 10 women who shared how they are proud to give back to their communities, personally and professionally. 

Many of the women we spoke with are engaged in the nonprofit realm, including in grassroots movements and philanthropy. They shared some of the creative and impactful ways they exhibit solidarity and generosity, ranging from teaching solar cooking and creating AI portraits that illuminate Black beauty, to raising future generations and mentoring entrepreneurs.

1Verna Volker

Verna Volker is a second-grade teacher and marathoner from the Navajo Nation who founded the Native Women Running (NWR) community. She says she brought NWR to Instagram “because I never saw myself in running, so this account has become a place for our Native women, where they can find a sense of belonging.”

“I never thought I would ever be considered a leader as a Native woman,” she says. “I was the youngest of 10, so I was always the follower. Now, people look up to me for leadership. This really hits me on a personal level, that I can stand up for our [Native women].”

2Erin Mulcahy Stein

Erin Mulcahy Stein is executive director of the Women's Alzheimer's Movement (WAM) and was involved in the creation of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic, the first U.S. medical center to offer a women-specific Alzheimer’s disease program. Stein says, through work with WAM, “I have had the privilege and the pleasure of sharing critical information about brain health with my community and beyond.”

She says busy community members often “don’t have time to focus on their health and well-being, [or] to stay current on what research has revealed about a healthy lifestyle, ways to prevent disease, and the connection between the brain and body. I am happy to offer them what I learn about these things every day from my work.” And, Stein is an active volunteer, including with United Friends of the Children, a nonprofit dedicated to helping foster youth successfully transition into adulthood.

3Jennifer R. Farmer

Jennifer R. Farmer is an author, a lecturer, mother, and publicist who focuses on social and racial justice. “The strategic communications work I do elevates the voices of marginalized communities who are often excluded from local and national media coverage,” she says. “By helping them secure media coverage, they position themselves for funding to continue and propel their work. … By promoting their work in the media, I help to advance justice in the world. That makes me incredibly proud.”

Farmer gives to her community by “being an intentional parent, an active church member, and a good neighbor.” She says, “Being a parent is my proudest accomplishment, and I want to be known more for being a good mother than a good entrepreneur.”

4Nettrice Gaskins

Nettrice Gaskins is assistant director of the Lesley STEAM Learning Lab at Lesley University and a 2021 Ford Foundation Global Fellow. She produces educational materials and wrote the book Techno-Vernacular Creativity, which she says “offers a novel approach to STEAM learning that engages students from historically marginalized communities in culturally relevant and inclusive maker education.”

Gaskins also gives through creativity and curation. She collaborated in the multimedia Carnival AI project, which combines art, AI, architecture, digital heritage, and other content to celebrate the Trinidad Carnival, as well as Black and Caribbean cultures. And, she creates “gilded” AI portraits that “show [her] community the beauty in being Black.”

5Deb Markowitz

Deb Markowitz is director of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Massachusetts. “At TNC, we are focusing on addressing the most pressing environmental challenges of our time: climate change and species die-offs. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are one global community, and that science matters,” she says.

Markowitz shares that she and her husband, Paul, donate to multiple groups working with food security, emergency assistance, and other causes. They also open their home “to refugees and asylum seekers as a temporary place to stay” — an undertaking Paul spearheaded for their family. “These experiences always resulted in an incredible exchange of culture that I found personally enriching, and it has been inspiring to see how the people we met have overcome real hardship to start new lives [here].”

6Michele Bailey

Michele Bailey is founder and CEO of The Blazing Group, a brand and culture agency, and the mentoring program My Big Idea. She is also the author of The Currency of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures Into Powerful Business Results.

“I am proud to give back to my community by supporting women-owned businesses, promoting women to positions of power, and ensuring equal representation within my own businesses. I [deliver] My Big Idea workshops for women business owners and leaders so that they can create a work-life blend and achieve their personal and professional goals,” Bailey says. She also personally mentors many women.

7Maggie Z. Miller

Maggie Z. Miller co-founded Magnify Impact, which helps business leaders develop social impact strategies. She also founded a nonprofit: “I spent three years in the mountains of Peru creating a [nonprofit] focused on empowering women who lived on a dollar a day. By providing microcredit loans of $150 to launch small businesses and supplemental training, we [built] a sustainable portfolio of over $1 million for generations of women and their families.” As a former NCAA college player, Miller is passionate about soccer, and she and her husband contribute to multiple soccer nonprofits that engage children in poverty.

8Neidi Dominguez

Neidi Dominguez is executive director of Unemployed Workers United and a co-founder and leadership circle member of Mijente, a digital and grassroots hub for the Latinx community. A formerly undocumented person who migrated to the U.S. at age 9 with her mother and younger sister, Dominguez has been organizing for much of her life.

“I am proud of giving back to my community by empowering everyday regular, poor, and working-class people to assert their rights as workers.” Personally, Dominguez practices generosity “by making nourishing meals and being a doula in training. Being witness to the birth of a human being is one of the most profound and grounding experiences in my life. It is a reminder that everything I do now is for our seven generations ahead.”

9Denella Clark

Denella Clark is president and CEO of the Boston Arts Academy Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds for the Boston Arts Academy, the city’s sole public high school for visual and performing arts. She says 84% of the school’s students identify as Black or Latinx, and most “come from low-income families. I believe all Boston students, especially those talented in the arts, deserve equitable access to opportunity.” Clark is also passionate about gender equity.

“When I immigrated to Boston from Jamaica, it became clear to me early on that women were not being treated equitably in the Commonwealth,” she says. She was recently reappointed for a third term as chairwoman of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, and she is the first woman of color in this role.

10Erin Axelrod

Erin Axelrod is the project director for Jonas Philanthropies’ Trees for Climate Health project, a campaign that aims to grow 10 million trees by 2025. “We’ve helped Jonas Philanthropies donate $610,000 to more than 38 organizations, 52% of which are Black- or [Indigenous-led], to support tree-growing,” she says. 

Axelrod is also a partner at LIFT Economy and is involved with the Agrarian Trust and the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative. In her personal life, Axelrod is “most proud of being able to teach skills of financial freedom to my friends, family, and youth.” With the LIME Foundation, a workforce training program for at-risk young people, she’s taught students about “solar cooking, growing, and harvesting [food] through agroforestry, and how to reuse gray water and rainwater,” among other skills. 

Tags: Giving, Groundbreaking Women, Women in Business, Entrepreneur, KNOWHERNAME

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Written By

Julia Travers

Julia Travers is a writer who often covers social and cultural topics. Find her at NPR, Art News, YES! Magazine and other outlets. See Full Bio

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