Board of Trustees Activates National Search for Successor

Today, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota announced the retirement of Lee Roper-Batker as President and CEO, effective January 3, 2020.

Roper-Batker has served as President and CEO since 2001. In 2000, she joined the Board of Trustees and transitioned to Foundation Vice President that same year. Over the course of her 18-year tenure, the Foundation has experienced its most prolific periods of organizational growth and impact since its launch in 1983.

“The Board of Trustees is deeply grateful to Lee for her nearly two decades of outstanding leadership and strategic vision that has transformed the Foundation to be a leader in seeking racial equity and the advancement of women and girls not only across our state, but in our nation” said Susan Segal, Women’s Foundation board chair.

“Under Lee’s leadership, the Foundation has increased its grantmaking from $319,000 to $3 million a year (840% increase) and endowment from $8 million to $26 million (213% increase); established girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) in 2002 and created the first permanently endowed fund just for girls at any women’s foundation in the world; launched MN Girls Are Not For Sale in 2011, a $7.5 million cross-sector campaign to end sex trafficking, which resulted in a sea change in Minnesota’s response to this issue and leveraged a $27 million state investment; and launched the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota in 2016, a seven-year, $9 million public-private partnership with the Governor’s Office of the State of Minnesota to ensure equity in outcomes and center the leadership and solutions of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities,” said Segal.

Upon her retirement, Roper-Batker will leave the Foundation with a legacy of leadership, innovation, and impact to drive gender and racial equity in Minnesota.

“I am tremendously proud of what we have achieved together toward a Minnesota where all women and girls are guaranteed economic opportunity, safety, and leadership. Serving as President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation has been my calling, a culmination of my life’s work, and among the highest honors in my life,” said Roper-Batker.

“I leave behind a women’s foundation that is grounded in research, community wisdom, intergenerational equity, and with a model of innovation, responsiveness, and impact. I am excited to see what the future holds as we pave the way for the Foundation’s next CEO and the fresh perspective, innovation, and leadership they will bring,” said Roper-Batker. “I retire with hope, appreciation, and unwavering belief that we will, one day, see a world where women, girls, and all people hold the power to create and lead safe prosperous lives.”

Prior to joining the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Roper-Batker held leadership positions in the anti-poverty, social justice, and disabilities communities, and owned her own business. She graduated summa cum laude from Augsburg College and studied at the Higher Trade Union College (Soviet Union) and Program in Global Community (Central America).
The WFMN Board of Trustees has formed an internal committee to implement the leadership transition process, including selection of Korn Ferry to conduct a national executive search. A formal position announcement will be released at the end of April.

All inquiries about the executive search should be made directly to Divina Gamble, Senior Client Partner and Co-Leader of Nonprofit Practice in Washington, D.C., at

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