01 November 2010

A Tribute to Sara K. Gould: Katie Grover

Dear Sara:

I've put this off a bit as I so quickly get choked up just thinking about writing this.

First there is the story of your professional trajectory. I remember being at an event twenty-some years ago when Marie introduced you as "the" authority on economic development. So from the very beginning, I respected what you contributed to a discussion. Your expertise in your field of study and your evident empathy and compassion for the lives of women and their families, who are impacted by unjust societal norms and structural policies, have always been impressive. As you became more and more entrenched at the Ms. Foundation, you got to know and understand every part of it.

Becoming the COO, you were a trusted manager and your leadership charted a course for the Foundation to pursue "best practices" around all of its internal operations and to project those best practices beyond our own policies and serve to inspire our grantees and colleagues to follow suit. Then as CEO, you moved to play a more external role, projecting the work of the Foundation, and taking it on the road. Your leadership has been marked by your pursuit of excellence; in your work with the Foundation staff, in our work with grantees, in our ability to collaborate and motivate partners to join our work (or us to join theirs), and in our drive to impact policy on behalf of women, especially women at the intersection of race, class, and gender.

Your great good judgment and personal style have placed the Ms. Foundation at the center of much of the work being done on social justice for women in this country. And your personal warmth, vision, and authenticity have made you a beloved figure in this field.

Now we get to the hard part. Anyone who has been in your orbit, or that of the Foundation's, could have said what I just did. But I, as the immediate past Board Chair, who served in that capacity for five years and as a board member for four years before that, have had the privilege and profound good fortune to have worked very closely with you over a significant period of time.

You've led the Ms. Foundation through many challenges and triumphs over those years. I watched you grow and push yourself to be a better leader. And I am humbled by the knowledge of how much I learned working with you. While I am proud to have been a partner in such a leadership team, I am even prouder to admit that it was not without its difficult moments; moments that we always managed to negotiate with respect, trust, an interest in understanding all sides of an issue, and a deep commitment to moving forward in the best possible way for the Foundation and the work that we feel so strongly about.

And since all of that time was also full with more than its share of laughter (think about the taxi ride at a conference in Salzburg) a lovely friendship was born. We've done what women have done for millennia: supported each other in our work, in our roles as wives, mothers, and daughters, and in our aspirations. I treasure that. And make no mistake...I'm counting on it going forward too!!! So thanks, for all you have given me and all you have made happen in your work at the Ms. Foundation.

Lots of Love and Best Wishes - Katie

Katie Grover, Immediate past Chair of the Board of Trustees

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