Start small. Think big. Recognize an issue, come up with a solution.
All around us, local organizations are doing things to make our world better. At Helen Jon, we are thrilled to highlight good work being done well. In doing so, we hope these stories inspire ideas, light a fire within, and bring change.
Consider this: Even in the wake of a record-breaking wave of women candidates who ran and won in recent elections, women are still underrepresented at all levels of public office, including appointed positions, where their voices desperately need to be heard.
The Women’s Foundation, a nonprofit in Kansas City, Missouri, is making a point to close this leadership gap.
In 2014, the Women’s Foundation created the Appointments Project® to address the gender disparities in local leadership.
The issue was real. Research indicated more than half of county boards across the United States had no women on them at all. Over the past five years, the Appointments Project® has increased the number of women serving on civic boards and commissions by helping women navigate the appointment process and engaging elected officials to make appointments that reflect their communities.
No women at the table? Anachronistic. But why did it persist?
Wendy Doyle, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation, explains, “Our research showed us the reasons women don’t become civically engaged and too often, the answer was simple: they weren’t being asked.”
The Women’s Foundation decided to take action.
The solution, the Appointments Project®, is two-fold: (1) Educate and inform women about opportunity and need. Demystify the selection process and coach them throughout the application process. And, (2) work with elected officials to educate them on best practices and help them identify strong women candidates for vacancies. In short, create a wider and more diverse pool of highly qualified candidates. Better for all.
To date, the Appointments Project® has placed more than 110 women on state and local boards and commissions. In Kansas City, where the program was piloted, the Appointments Project® increased the percentage of women on city boards and commissions from 33% to 42%.
What’s next? Take it one step further, grow it, trailblaze. The Appointments Project® is currently accepting applications in Missouri, Kansas, and Arizona and are actively pursuing collaborations with states and cities around the country. Women interested in taking the next step and serving on a civic board or commission can learn more and apply at www.appointmentsproject.org.
What can you do?
Help us celebrate five years of the Appointments Project® by shopping at www.HelenJon.com. We will donate 10% of all website sales in the month of August to honor the great work being done to help put more strong, qualified women on local boards, and to close the leadership gap.
Start small. Think big. Great things will happen.