11 March 2013

Carol Pencke: Ms. Foundation Donor, Seattleite

The Ms. Foundation for Women is celebrating Women’s History Month with a blog carnival featuring the voices and profiles of women across the country. This Month of Action is generously supported by our friends in Seattle.

Why you are committed to supporting women and girls? 

I became involved in the women’s movement from racial justice work; they were so similar. Then I became active in reproductive rights because, as a mother and former teacher, I value children above everything. All children should be born into wanted families and then nurtured by the whole of society. The idea that some people value fetuses above living children is still obscene to me.

Why is the Ms. Foundation important to you? 

The Ms. Foundation is the national and regional model for women’s funds. It provides not only cash grants, but also wonderful technical support, networking and advocacy and public education on women’s issues. I was privileged to be a project manager for the Ms. Foundation for three years so I saw that the organization does exactly what it purports to do – build sustainable organizations that support women and girls.

What are the milestones to be celebrated this year for Women's History Month? 

That the Ms. Foundation is 40 years old! That many of us who worked in the women’s movement at its start are now retiring from paid work, yet still proud feminists. That when I started working, women were paid 59 cents on the dollar for work comparable to a man – and now that has risen to 77 cents.

That we have more women in government, as corporate leaders, and foundation and nonprofit directors. Our girls see themselves as capable of opening any door. Title IX is a huge step forward. We need to recognize those gains.

At the same time, reproductive rights are under attack again, despite overwhelming support for Roe v. Wade by the general populace. So, we need to avoid complacency. 

What do you wish for Ms. Foundation at 40? 

Much more funding, especially building its endowment as women do their estate planning. Aggressive outreach to communities of color, LGBTQ people, low-income people and younger people in both granting and giving.

What do you hope to see happen for women over the course of the next 40 years? 

The continued march to full participation in this society and in the world. This will come with much hard work, but we see that women have the abilities and strengths to persevere, even under the most dire circumstances of poverty, war and oppression.

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