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The Edward and Beth Honig Family Foundation

Powerful Women in Philanthropy

Beth Honig blog on powerful women in philanthropy

More women are leading powerful foundations and at forefront of grant-making endeavors. Inside Philanthropy reports that in the U.S. “women are taking the lead in building donor networks and donor-advised funds, which play a fast-growing role in tapping new sources of funding and aggregating resources for different causes.”

Earlier this year, Inside Philanthropy published a roundup of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy. While the editors published the list with a disclaimer, saying “don’t take it too seriously; we do not see this list as definitive, but as evolving, with important women continually crossing our radar,” the full list is a great read and a terrific primer if you want to get to know the many women in the charitable sector who are making a huge difference.

Here’s a snippet of three of the influential female leaders from the list.

Melinda Gates

As the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates’ name has become synonymous with the term philanthropy power player. Gates has demonstrated a strong commitment to women’s empowerment and closing gender gaps. Last month, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $80 million to closing the gender data gaps and accelerating progress for women and girls.  “We cannot close the gender gap without first closing the data gap,” said Melinda Gates during her keynote speech at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen. “We simply don’t know enough about the barriers holding women and girls back, nor do we have sufficient information to track progress against the promises made to women and girls. We are committed to changing that by investing in better data, policies and accountability.”

Susan Buffett

Buffet is the chair of three philanthropic outlets: The Sherwood Foundation, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund.

As you might suspect, Susan Buffett is related to the other famous Buffett (Warren is her father). She has been called “the most powerful woman in U.S. philanthropy not named Melinda.” Her namesake foundation is lauded as the biggest private funder of reproductive health initiatives throughout the world. Additionally, Buffett is at the helm of the Sherwood Foundation (which awarded more than $101 million in 2014) and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund (total given: more than $18 million in 2013).

Diane von Furstenberg

The fashion icon leads the Diller-von Furstenberg Family foundation with her husband Barry Dille. The couple’s focus: Community revitalization and renewal by creating new urban designs and reinvigorating existing landscapes, especially in New York City. The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation was instrumental in creating the High Line, backing the project with a donation of $35 million. The park has transformed Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and is now one of the city’s most prominent tourist destinations. Additionally, von Furstenberg’s foundation supports other great initiatives for education, human rights, arts, health and the environment.