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Women’s Foundation Celebrates Rise + Thrive, a 40th Anniversary Celebration

On Friday, October 6, 2023, the Women’s Foundation hosted its 40th anniversary celebration with trustees, founders, trustee alumni, community partners, colleagues in philanthropy, donor advised fund holders, members of our Legacy Circle, 1983 Society, and former staff.

The afternoon celebration included a pre-event reception featuring food from Chopped & Served and beverages from Flava Café. Emcee Jasmine Brett Stringer kicked off the event, which included a welcome from Board Chair Chanda Smith Baker, grounding poetry from Autumn White Eyes, and a keynote address from Rep. Leigh Finke, who spoke to our transformative era, from the political victories and threats at the legislature to the potential we hold for change.

Finke called attendees to action in reflecting on a year of historic change at the legislature. “It was a transformational year. There is no other way to describe it. In fact, it was such a transformational year that the word transformational became a cliche on the house on the floor of the House of Representatives. Every single bill was transformational because nothing had come even close to what we had done in any one bill and we passed dozens and dozens of those bills. So it’s through Minnesota rose up. And in doing so we transformed the landscape of our political and legal Minnesota. But rising is not the same as thriving. And our theme tonight is rise and thrive. I think thriving is actually going to be the hard part. Because thriving depends on following through. We must follow through on our promise to trans kids, we must follow through on our promises to protect abortion. We must reach every Black, Latine, and indigenous person who needs the resources we have passed. We must reach every one of our homeless neighbors, are victims of police violence are victims of domestic violence, and let them know not just that we have acted, but how they can benefit from those actions. If we pass a law, but that law cannot be accessed by those who need it, we have done nothing.”

Panel featured grantee-partner leaders Zedé Harut from Seeds Worth Sowing, Khadijah Cooper from Annex Teen Clinic, Sarah Curtiss from Men As Peacemakers, and Ruth Richardson from Planned Parenthood North Central States.

In a panel conversation with emcee Jasmine Brett Stringer, grantee-partner leaders shared what it means to grow a culture of collective care — Khadijah Cooper from Annex Teen Clinic, Sarah Curtiss from Men As Peacemakers, Zedé Harut from Seeds Worth Sowing, and Ruth Richardson from Planned Parenthood North Central States.

Zedé Harut shared one story from her day that illustrated the gaps she sees in our systems on a daily basis. “There’s a misunderstanding and a misconception about how Black and brown mothers and caregivers should be supported. On a social level, people kind of don’t understand what it looks like to give support to us. They think that, you know, the common law of babies being born and getting health care access is enough. And I just think that doesn’t scratch the surface. So when you ask, what’s the trends that I see, there’s a misunderstanding that Black and brown mothers, parents, caregivers have what support looks like. A lot of us navigate in isolation, which adds layers and layers of problems. We nourish our futures with children, we are sometimes caregivers of our elders. And so, there’s just a huge gap in understanding what it looks like to care for people that nourish vulnerable individuals, because sometimes it’s not mothers, sometimes it’s parents, sometimes it’s children taking care of each other. Sometimes it’s undocumented families taking care of one another, you know, it’s a different kind of embodiment of taking care of vulnerable people.”

Ruth Richardson reminded the audience that it was the anniversary of Fannie Lou
Hamer’s birth. “When you think about intersectionality, and you think about the power of
storytelling, Fannie Lou Hamer is essential to that. A poor black, disabled woman in the south. And when we think about so many of the intersectional issues that we face today, she was facing them back then. She was a sharecropper. And she was kicked off of the land that she sharecropped on because she refused to do away with her voter registration card. […] And so I think that it’s important that we recognize that so many of these intersectional issues that we’re talking about today, they’re not new issues, they’re things that we’ve been grappling with, for decades.”

We honored the recipients of our Rest Up Awards, which invest in rest and wellness for local leaders from 40 organizations.

As the presenting sponsor, Best Buy Chief Marketing Officer Jennie Weber shared remarks and addressed Best Buy’s commitments to focusing their social impact investments on creating access and expanding opportunity through technology for teens in disinvested communities. “Best Buy has partnered with the Women’s Foundation for many years now, and it’s been our honor to support the organization as it has grown and matured into what it is today: a leader in facilitating meaningful, sustainable, community-led change for women and girls in Minnesota.”

Dancers from Ananya Dance Theatre

To close out the event, members of Ananya Dance Theatre led a performance for an abundant, feminist future with an excerpt from Michhil Amra / We Are The Procession, which premiered on September 22. The performers invited the audience to learn dance moves that they can participate in during the performance. The energy and movements brought power, strength, and hope to our celebration. Ananya Dance Theatre is an ensemble company of BIPOC women and femme professional dance artists who create original contemporary dance theater at the intersection of artistic excellence and social justice.

We invite all supporters to join us in resourcing a culture of collective care that sustains our communities, movements, and leaders. Our thanks to Best Buy, the presenting sponsor of this celebration, and to each Rise + Thrive sponsor for your generosity and commitment to ensuring all women, girls, and gender-expansive people thrive. “As a major employer in the area,” she said, “we have a responsibility to actively participate in creating positive changes that will support a diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce.”

After investing nearly $50 million across the state since 1983, we are rallying the state towards a culture of generosity and abundance for women, girls, and gender-expansive people. In this milestone year, we are growing our collective power for gender and racial justice in Minnesota. Our history of investing in movement-building and grassroots leaders has made us a trusted community partner, convener, and collaborator.

Make a 40th Birthday Wish

To continue the celebration, share your story and make a birthday wish to celebrate our past, present, and future. What does a culture of bold, feminist generosity to sustain the next 40 years looks like? What wish do you have for women, girls, and gender-expansive people? What’s the future you imagine for the next 40 years?

Missed the event? View the recording.

Our Gratitude

We are grateful for the generous support of our wonderful event sponsors. Thank you to our local and woman-owned event partners and the businesses who helped make our celebration special.

5IVE • Blackbird Revolt • Chopped & Served • Elliott Park Hotel • Flava Café • Flowers By Miss Bertha • Girl Friday • Hacienda San José Chocolate • Keystone Interpreting Solutions • LaBang Studio • Legacy Production Group • Mercy’s Media • Min Enterprises Photography • Mosaic • Niniijaanis One of Ones • North Star Events • The Traveling Photo Booth

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