An Update on What Matters: Women

Last April, nearly 800 guests left fired up to create a region of opportunities for women and girls in the Triangle after attending What Matters: Women. But there were so many questions about how we could help women and girls feel empowered and provide them the resources they needed to succeed. In October, the Foundation hosted more than 60 donors and community leaders at Meredith College to continue the What Matters conversation and work together to take action.

President and CEO Lori O’Keefe addressed the group, focusing on the importance of improving the lives of women in the Triangle. She reminded us that “this work cannot be done alone” and that we must look for ways that we can come together to make real change in our community.

Jennifer Clark from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research discussed their Status of Women in North Carolina report and highlighted the research on employment and earnings of women in the Triangle and across the state. Clark spoke on the progress in the Triangle as the region holds four of the eight counties in North Carolina where women’s earnings exceed the national median, but there is still a long way to go to ensure women have the economic opportunities to thrive in the Triangle. “If the current trends continue, working women in North Carolina will not see equal pay until 2060,” said Clark.

Mary Williams Stover, Executive Director for the Council on Women and Youth Involvement, described the importance of the report and other topics the Council will explore over the next few years, including Health & Reproductive Rights, Poverty & Opportunity, and Political Participation.

Attendees participated in roundtable conversations with local nonprofit leaders who described the issues they saw in their work impacting women and girls, such as employment, housing, and lack of resources. Each nonprofit discussed the impact they were making in the area, what gaps and needs they were seeing, and how they were pushing the needle towards progress.

The Foundation’s Board Chair, Pat Nathan brought the forum to a close with a passionate call to action to join the Foundation’s new donor impact group which will likely begin by focusing on supporting low-income mothers’ entry into non-traditional fields through affordable child-care and opportunity creation.

An impressive $160,000 has already been raised by generous donors dedicated to this work, and $200,000 has also been allocated from the Foundation’s Fund for the Triangle, totaling $360,000 at the start of this initiative. If you are interested in being part of this donor impact group and taking action for women and girls in our community, please contact Treat Harvey at or 919.328.4007.