After interviewing hundreds of people over the years, and learning about everything from knee replacements to presidential politics, it’s not often I meet someone who I continue to think about long after our conversation. It’s even more rare that they tell me about something I didn’t know even existed.
I had that experience with Sabrina Slade, director of the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem. She is our Woman to Watch for this month and I’ll get to why in a paragraph or two, but first I want to tell you what the Women’s Fund does.
In existence since 2007, the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem is a collaboration of 800 women who collectively work together to improve the lives of women and girls in their community. Together, they’ve contributed more than a million dollars in grants to organizations who do everything from helping women afford their first home to helping teenagers continue school after having a baby.
They do this by creating “giving circles” of women who contribute anywhere from $30 to $150 annually and together they decide how to spend the money they gather. To reach their decision, they perform site visits to grant applicants and learn about the process involved in running a nonprofit. Pretty amazing, right? It’s like a Book Club, without having to read the book (which none of us do anyway, right?). Together, these women are pooling their buying power to fund causes that are important to them.
So back to our Woman to Watch … Sabrina Slade is qualified to run a for-profit company, or head a corporate HR department, with her degree in industrial psychology and 20 years of experience. Instead, an entry-level job with the Boys and Girls Club two decades ago introduced her to the world of nonprofits.
“I fell in love with the nonprofit world. My mother was a huge volunteer. I knew about nonprofits in college, but it was only from the volunteer aspect,” she told me.
Two years ago, Slade joined the Women’s Fund as its director. While she’s worked in nonprofits her entire life, she says there’s something particularly special about the work she does now.
“What I’ve seen is women who are empowered, understand more about philanthropy, understand what it takes to make a nonprofit work,” said Slade.
Through the process women from all walks of life – working women, entrepreneurs, retirees, stay-at-home moms – build friendships as they help their peers advance forward in their lives.
“When women get together, we are able to tackle an issue, organize, and not worry about who gets the credit. We don’t have that hanging over our head – we know the job that needs to get done,” she candidly shared with me.
The “job that needs to get done” — and that these women have done — has impacted the lives of 3,300 women in the area. Now those women are better equipped to help themselves, and perhaps one day to help other women, or serve as a role model to their daughters.
Slade is quick to point out the wage gap that exists between men and women isn’t going to disappear overnight, but she and the Women’s Fund Giving Circles are doing their part to help women overcome the glass ceiling that exists.
“It’s rewarding, it doesn’t pay a lot – but at the end of the day everyone wants to feel better about what they do,” she shared.
Feeling better about what you do … I hadn’t thought about my job like that in a long time. If we all tried to enact positive change in just one aspect of our life, imagine what we could accomplish.