The Evolution of DFW’s Board

The gravitation to Dining for Women’s philanthropic model is evidence of the power of collective action. In the last decade, giving circles have emerged as a driving force for social impact. Dining for Women is a powerhouse, blending traditional nonprofit values with those of a grassroots movement. We are the largest giving circle globally — with 400 chapters — focused on women and girls.

In 2005, the New Ventures in Philanthropy Initiative first studied 70 giving circles in this highly-engaged and flexible form of philanthropy.  Dining for Women was one of those circles. Since then, several studies have been published, including New Ventures follow-up studies in 2007 and 2009, all validating the increasing popularity of collective, engaged giving. According to leading expert, Dr. Angela Eikenberry, a new study is under way which will be looking closely at long-term implications, and has identified up to 1,000 circles in the U.S.

Extensive media coverage following the first study, and the world’s focus on the importance of investing in women and girls propelled several surges of DFW growth. Today, about 8,000 active members represented in 46 states, and nearly 30,000 alumni members have been educated and inspired by our mission.  What began as an all- volunteer organization now operates with a small professional staff and a governing Board of Directors.

As much as evolution can be strategized, DFW’s Board of Directors is intentionally a small group, which fosters adaptive decision-making. We’ve created opportunities to tap into member expertise and input as organizational needs evolve, including advisory members on board standing committees, an appointed Panel of Experts, and several operational committees.

Always on top of our agenda is remaining true to our culture and founding values, while developing a framework for collaborative decisions and resources to support our four programs: Grants, Member Education and Engagement, Partnerships, and Grassroots Advocacy.

Adapting to these changes, recent Board decisions include:

A board level oversight committee was established for our Member Education and Engagement program. Director Sandy Ward leads this effort.

Newly-elected director, Carol Kissal, Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for Emory University in Atlanta, will serve on the Resource Development Committee as we focus on securing resources to fund our 2020 Vision.

Susan Stall moves into the Vice Chair position as we recognize the value of succession planning.

Barbara Wagner shifts to Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair, and also serves on the Governance Committee.

Cythnia Radford is now our Secretary. She joined in 2015 with expertise in working with leaders around the world to develop leadership capabilities for mobilizing and energizing organizations.

Susan Garrity and Susan Negrin serve in stakeholder roles, providing the lens for member and grant selection perspectives.

In May, the board also promoted Beth Ellen Holimon from Executive Director to President, in a vote of confidence in the exemplary leadership she brings to the staff, volunteers, and to every level of the organization.

On behalf of the board of directors, we thank each of you for being all in for Dining for Women, and encourage you to deepen your involvement through volunteerism within your chapters, and to watch our website and The Dish for announcements of volunteer opportunities within the DFW community.