We live in one of the fastest growing, highest living standards, best wage equity, lowest unemployment, and lower poverty areas in the United States. It is because of this that we feel incredibly fortunate to be citizens of the Triangle region.

While those accolades make our community great, we know it’s not the whole story. Along with many other friends and colleagues, we have been very interested in understanding what all these record-setting measures look like when they are sorted by gender — and then again — by color. As baby boomers, we have lived through a slow but continuous narrowing of the wage equity gap; in fact, we have lived to see some of these major national gains:

• 45% of millionaires are now women

• 48% of estates > $5 million are owned by women

• 60% of high net worth women made their own fortunes

• If projections are correct, as much as two-thirds of all wealth in U.S. will be controlled by women by 2030

We firmly believe that with these gains, comes a debt to ensure that for those of us who have benefited, our abundance is translated into strategic philanthropy; philanthropy informed by data and stories, and inspired and compounded by working together to find effective solutions to the barriers that face our region’s most vulnerable.

On April 24th, the Triangle community will come together to celebrate our region and to learn more about opportunities to make it even stronger, particularly for women and their families. We will have the opportunity to hear from a legend, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, author, first black female president of both Bennett and Spelman colleges, and past director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art. Her insight into diversity, leadership, inclusion, and women’s issues in our nation is sought after, and we are thrilled to bring her to this year’s What Matters: Women in downtown Raleigh.

But before Dr. Cole takes the stage, our local partners and experts will engage participants in dynamic discussions that allow them to delve into the data surrounding women in our community; and learn how women philanthropists and nonprofit leaders are grappling with the root causes of inequities that do exist and are how they are helping women to become vital community members.

Near and dear to our hearts, though, there will be an opportunity to understand how women’s tendencies to collaborate, to volunteer, to serve with others, translates into collective giving — combining and amplifying their gifts to create positive change in their communities. Our experience, through our careers in the not and for profit sectors, and our volunteer work, has allowed us to witness first-hand the power of women helping women. How when women come together to solve a problem, and give back their time, talent, and treasure, anything seems possible. We are excited to share this, to celebrate it, and to work together to dig into some really embedded issues in our region, and make change as a community.

As Dr. Cole famously says, “Working collaboratively is far better than working alone.” We hope you’ll join us on this journey of change.


Contributing writers Dianne Birch and Pat Nathan are Triangle Community Foundation Board Members, and have been active volunteers in every facet of the Foundation for years. The title quote is attributed to Helen Keller.

Tickets to What Matters: Women can be purchased by clicking here.