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IT MAY BE SAID THAT THE Women’s Fund of Omaha is “invisible,” but only in the same sense that oxygen is invisible. Just as the most common of gases has the power to sustain life and to spark a flame, the Women’s Fund provides needed resources and is a catalyst that feeds the fires of service that burn brightly all throughout the area.


They don’t have an extensive, cast-of-thousands roster of volunteers, nor do they administer a wide array of household name, logo-branded programs of their own, but they prepare women for leadership roles in the many roll-up-your-sleeves organizations that do.

Part research-conducting think tank, part advocacy group and part educational entity, the nonprofit has in its 20-year history invested over $3 million to fund initiatives that build stronger communities by providing opportunity to women and girls.

“Over the past two decades,” said Women’s Fund Executive Director Ellie Archer, “the Women’s Fund of Omaha has become a respected, expert and effective voice of empowerment for the women and girls of our community.”

The organization that publishes Today’s Omaha Woman has released over two dozen research reports on a wide variety of topics and retains a focus on programs that combat intimate partner violence and promote economic self-sufficiency, but its leadership efforts are equally notable in terms of developing the next generation of women who will lead our community.

Its Ready to Serve series works to prepare women for leadership roles on the boards of area nonprofits and civic commissions and its Ready to Run program aims to position women for the same success at the ballot box. Recent Ready to Run participants who went on to secure elective office include Lorraine Chang (elected to the inaugural Learning Community Coordinating Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2010) and Marian Fey, whose political debut landed her a spot on the Omaha Public Schools Board in last year’s election.

“Women are underrepresented both on local boards and in elective office,” said Fey, who now serves on the Ready to Run steering committee. “Just as women bring such a different perspective to elected office – different, not better – we also approach the very idea of running in a different way. We represent half of the population but, unlike men, often need to be coaxed into running. The Women’s Fund’s Ready to Run program does a vitally important job. It says ‘not only do we want you to do this, but we need you to do this and we’ll help you do this.’”

The next Ready to Run session will be held in February.

For young women looking to enhance their personal and professional growth, a new program offers opportunities to become familiar with the Women’s Fund’s work while also connecting with prominent female leaders in the Omaha area. Women’s Fund Circles will launch in December and applications for the inaugural class are being accepted through September 30th.

And up next for this most visible of “invisible” nonprofits is the October 27 Women’s Fund of Omaha Fall Luncheon, where the featured speaker will be Carla Harris, a managing director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. Harris is also an avid gospel singer who has released her own recordings. She has been named to Fortune Magazine’s list of 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America, Black Enterprises’ Top 75 Most Powerful Women in Business and Essence Magazine’s 50 Women Who are Shaping the World.

Visit www.omahawomensfund.org for ticket information for the Women’s Fund of Omaha Fall Luncheon and for more on its initiatives and programs.


-end- metroMAGAZINE



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