The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham announced on Saturday the expansion of its operations statewide, becoming the Women’s Foundation of Alabama (WFA). The new name reflects the transformation of the organization as the leading voice and philanthropic engine for women in the state.
As the state’s only philanthropic organization investing with a gender lens, the Women’s Foundation of Alabama will continue to drive the mission of gender and economic equity. A trusted leader in the philanthropic sector for more than two decades, in recent years, the Foundation has strategically expanded its power and influence beyond Greater Birmingham and even beyond philanthropy, creating systemic change through ground-breaking research and legislative advocacy.
“Where women lead, change follows,” said Melanie R. Bridgeforth, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Alabama. “I came here three years ago with a vision of building the most powerful philanthropic and leadership voice for women the state has ever seen. At the same time, women were calling for an organization to stand in the gap with them. We listened and answered the call to unify women diverse in background, perspective, geography, race, and lived experience.”
Bridgeforth went on to say that the successful implementation of the vision would not have been possible without the support of the dynamic Board of Directors and team, donors, and community allies.
“Becoming the Women’s Foundation of Alabama was the result of an intentional, extensive, and thoughtful process over more than a year,” said Rosanne Crocker, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Foundation of Alabama. “Barriers exist for women across our state, not just in the Birmingham region. Based on the history of the organization, and the success of the last three years, the Board has tremendous confidence in our leadership and organizational structure, voting unanimously to formally expand the organization statewide.”
The Women’s Foundation of Alabama is committed to gender equity and will continue to convene partners, community leaders, lawmakers, and donors to center the unique needs of women. The Foundation will advance opportunities for women through expanded giving initiatives, dissemination of economic impact research and advancing commonsense, non-partisan policies to drive economic opportunity for women.
In 2018, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced a plan to grow Alabama’s skilled-labor pipeline by 500,000 workforce-ready employees by 2025 in order to fill existing labor gap and compete for new business. Our 2019 Clearing the Path report shows that if Alabama increased the labor force participation rate for women just to the national average, 80,000 more women could join the workforce and help meet this tremendous need.
“While the old ‘solution’ to women’s underemployment was to create more jobs, it’s clear that in just a few years, our state will have more work than workers. Alabama needs critical workforce supports such as quality child care, flexible hours, and equal pay. We need a system that works for women, so women can work,” said Bridgeforth. “Expansion of our scope, efforts, and initiatives allows us to better tackle our most pressing issues and shift the economic paradigm for women across our state.”
“At a time when our state is hungry for change, women like me in West Alabama, the foothills of North Alabama, all the way to the Coast are eager to partner with an organization representing the voice of women at the state level,” said Cathy Randall, Women’s Foundation of Alabama Board member and Chairman of Pettus Randall Holdings, LLC. “My service on the Board of Directors is a clear example of our commitment to geographic representation and the aspiration to reflect the unique experiences of women regardless of the city they call home.”
“Solutions come from those most impacted by the problem,” explained Bridgeforth. “Through the Women’s Foundation of Alabama, we connect networks of women and movement leaders to co-create economic solutions that drive women and our entire state forward.”