The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has named Blanche Hawkins as the 2017 Mary Lee Dayton Catalyst for Change. The Women’s Foundation presented the award to Hawkins at its annual Leadership & Legacy Luncheon for donors on October 11.

Established in 2009 in honor of its namesake, Mary Lee Dayton, the Foundation presents the award annually to elevate and recognize philanthropists who use their resources and leadership to advance gender equity in Minnesota to ensure that all girls and women hold the power to live lives of opportunity, safety, and leadership.

Blanche Hawkins is a community leader and philanthropist who has devoted her life to creating a Minnesota that ensures safety and equal opportunity for all girls and women.

After earning a Master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Minnesota, Blanche’s career was put on hold while her husband underwent several back surgeries. With two children approaching their teenage years, Blanche looked for other ways to contribute.

Ensuring Safety

In partnership with other volunteers, Blanche helped launch Cornerstone Advocacy Service, a Twin Cities’-based agency that provides emergency housing and services for victims of domestic violence. Its programs target teen violence prevention and services for children caught in the cycle of violence. This involvement began a lifelong interest in safety for women and girls.

Blanche feels privileged to lend her support to efforts like the Woman’s Foundation’s MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign. “It’s great to partner with Lee and her team to advance systemic change as is happening through its anti-sex trafficking leadership,” said Blanche. “I’m proud to add our financial resources to support work that reflects my husband’s and my values.'”

To ensure girls and women have equal opportunity to succeed in life, Blanche was board president of the Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund (now Women Winning), which has helped hundreds of Minnesota women achieve elective office. Blanche chaired the Jungle Theater board during its move to its current location and transition to new leadership, which resulted in hiring its first female artistic director.

Innovative Leadership

Blanche was a trustee and the board chair of the Woman’s Foundation from 2001 through 2007, and provided strategic leadership during a key period of growth and innovation in the Foundation’s history. She has been steadfast in her generosity, leadership, and legacy.

Her clear, visionary leadership and commitment has had a profound impact on the Women’s Foundation and strengthened our ability to create pathways to prosperity for all women and girls in the state. Under her leadership as board chair, the Foundation developed its signature girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) program.

“Blanche’s leadership helped make the Women’s Foundation an enduring institution, able to listen and respond to communities needs and increase opportunities, safety, leadership and respect with and for all women and girls across Minnesota.”
Lee Roper-Batker, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

The Women’s Foundation’s future is strong because of every donor, advocate, trustee, staff member, and woman who shares our vision for a world where women and girls can thrive and be the champions of their own lives. We are grateful for Blanche Hawkins’ leadership as a Catalyst for Change.

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