Meet a Philanthropist | A Conversation with Helen LaKelly Hunt

Meet a Philanthropist | A Conversation with Helen LaKelly Hunt


WEBSTER: Good morning everyone.
I’m Maggie Webster the Associate Director for External Affairs. And it’s my pleasure to welcome
you to your National Museum of American History where we preserve and share
national treasures to help visitors understand the past in order to make
sense of the present and help shape a more humane future. Our Philanthropy
Initiative was launched in 2015 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation and David Rubenstein, and it connects directly to this mission by
examining how philanthropy has helped to shape and reshape the nation. Our annual
program, the POWER OF GIVING: PHILANTHROPY’S IMPACT ON AMERICAN LIFE
and its accompanying exhibition, GIVING IN AMERICA, explore how Americans have
mobilized resources to affect change in America. The Philanthropy Initiative
continues to expand and grow with additional support from Fidelity
Charitable Trustees Initiative, a grant making program of Fidelity Charitable
who we’d like to thank for making today’s program possible. It’s really
hard to think of a better person for this first “Meet a Philanthropist”
conversation than Helen LaKelly Hunt. She’s made history through her giving
and appreciates how important and powerful it is to tell the inclusive
stories of women’s philanthropy. Helen has been a leader in the women’s funding
movement. She co-founded the New York Women’s Foundation, the Dallas Women’s
Foundation, the Sister Fund, and the Women’s Funding Network.
She and her sister, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, established Women Moving Millions,
a global network of donors who have made gifts of a million dollars or more for
the advancement of women and girls. Part of her efforts to catalyze that group
involved writing a book about notable women givers—therefore writing them into
history. Helen recognizes the importance of women flexing their financial muscle
and elevating the stories of their doing so. She’s also written about
women who pioneered in their efforts to form a more humane
nation. She has a doctorate in church history and recently published a book
about an interracial group of feminist abolitionists in the 1830s and early
1840s. One of the women whose story she tells in AND THE SPIRIT MOVED THEM: THE
LOST RADICAL HISTORY OF THE FIRST FEMINISTS, was Lucretia Mott. We were
delighted to be able to put Lucretia Mott’s shawl and bonnet on display for you
to see out in the lobby. While you’re here today I hope you’ll also take the
opportunity to see the portrait of Eliza Hamilton on view in the GIVING IN
AMERICA exhibition on our third floor. Eliza Hamilton helped found one of the
earliest private orphanages in the United States and helped forge
opportunities for women’s public leadership in the early United States.
Eliza Hamilton and Lucretia Mott helped shape the country in its early years,
Helen is helping to reshape it today. She’s been a leader in the women’s
movement for many years and is an inductee in the National Women’s Hall of
Fame. Please join me in welcoming Helen and the museum’s David M. Rubenstein
Curator of Philanthropy, Amanda Moniz. [applause] MONIZ: Such a pleasure to be able to sit down
and talk with you. Not everybody knows, but several months ago I conducted an oral
history with Helen and this conversation builds on that conversation. Let me start
by asking about how you learned about your wealth and became a philanthropist—
not everybody knows the story of how you discovered your financial power and how
you became a philanthropist. You grew up comfortable but you didn’t appreciate
how much wealth you had inherited. So could you, could you tell that story
please? HUNT: Yes. So how’s this sound? Raise your hand, raise your hand if you can’t hear
well in the back. So yeah, I grew up a daughter of H.L. Hunt who discovered the
East Texas Oil Field. And when other people asked me about what was growing
up like I say, what I’ll say to you—has anyone ever seen
the TV show Dallas, would you raise your hands? [laughter] Like JR, Sue Ellen.
Anyone? You didn’t see Dallas? You didn’t see it? OK, well those of
you who saw that TV show, that was what it was like growing up for me. Dad had
three families and—and—when the first Mrs. Hunt died, my mom and Swanee and my
two siblings moved into the mansion. And dad had set up a trust for us that was—
allowed anything in the trust like the company stock, to go to his daughters and
sons. But suddenly there was money apparently for me, but no one told me
about it until Swanee called me one day and I was in my early 30s and she said,
“Helen!” And I said, “What?” And she said, “Have you seen FORBES
magazine?” I said, “Well it’s at the— it came in the mail but no, I haven’t read it.” “Well we’re,
we’re mentioned in it!” I said, “You’re kidding.”
And she said, “Yeah and do you know how much were worth?” and I said, “No,”
and she told me what it said in FORBES magazine. I just went, “Where is this money?”
[laughter] It was like $200 million—that’s what FORBES
said. And she said, “I don’t know,” and I said,
“Well we gotta find that money,”
and she said, “I just don’t know what to do.” I said, “Well
I’ve read—you know Nancy Drew is my favorite author—let’s find the
money.” And that’s how I learned about my wealth. And Swanee was just my guiding
light and such an inspiration. MONIZ: And could you talk a little bit then
about how you grew into being a philanthropist? HUNT: Yes, so we found the money—and so in the, so it
took—so Swanee was the heroine of the story. So we started talking and learned about distributions we were entitled to
receive. And we took that money and began to do what we felt called to do. MONIZ: So I know you were raised Baptist and
religion is so important in motivating your giving. Could you talk about
how your faith, what it means to you and how it shapes your philanthropy?
HUNT: Yeah because my faith so shapes it I thought I would say more about my giving. And
there’s three things about my faith— being raised as a Christian. I
didn’t have a relationship with my mom or my dad or really anyone in my family
except Swanee. And she got me through life with a couple other things, but
especially my faith. My faith was my salvation, going through life. Second
there are two kinds of Christians, one are good at judging, and I think many for
the right reasons. They, they, they judge well—in the best
sense of the word—many times. There’s a second kind of being a Christian which
is you’re just a follower of Christ, and Jesus Christ on earth—apparently
according scriptures—walked with the marginalized. And that’s what I felt
called to do. My mother had put us at a Christian church, and I just felt—
and I think Swanee and June, my other sister—we just all felt called to do
what we could do for the marginalized. There’s a verse, “To
whom much is given, much is required,” so this was not a casual thing for us.
When you have suddenly— suddenly learn you have that much
money, its like what do we do with this? Now a last point I want to make is—speaking of the
marginalized—well are women really that marginalized? I mean there a lot of other,
you know, wealthy white women, I was in that class. You know there are so many
other people who are so, so broken—your low-income and then race and there are other
things. So should women—why would a woman like me fund women? And I’ll just say
that there was a group of women who rose up in the 1830s that not too many people
know about—and they rose up during the time of slavery growing exponentially in
the country. Every year there were more and more slaves and I think the founding
fathers thought, there were slaves, but it’s gonna die out so, you know it’s a
democracy—but of the nine presidents I think seven were slave owners—and there
was sort of a dissociation about what’s really going on in the country with the
growth of slavery. And these women rose up and said slavery should be abolished,
you know, it’s a sin. And I know I can’t vote against slavery,
and my church says I can’t speak out because women don’t speak in public.
But God’s telling me I gotta speak out against slavery. And so they rose up and
broke the social taboo of speaking out and they were ridiculed, slammed, and
just criticized and one woman said, “This is a cause worth dying for.”
It was so dangerous for them to speak out against slavery. And when the
Emancipation Proclamation was finally achieved—they—these women had woken up
to ways they were slaves. That they weren’t—they were citizens of the United
States and, and they paid their taxes and they couldn’t vote, they didn’t
have a voice, they couldn’t speak in public. And these women suddenly
wrote, “OK we freed those slaves, what about us? We need to be freed too.”
And that’s when I just realized why—it’s not that women—but I was a part of a
group going, “We have to fund women.” Like that’s the one thing I think is one of
the most important things to do—learn, you know, we have to fund women—for this
culture to get better. MONIZ: So you’ve written that you were depressed that you had
read that wealthy women didn’t fund the women’s suffrage movement and that you
wanted to change this dynamic, could you talk more about why that motivated you?
HUNT: Yeah, this was really the galvanizing thing on my end that led to Women Moving
Millions. I took time off as an activist going
back to school and I thought, I want to read about the history of feminism—
because I was working on behalf of the women’s rights movement. And
the history of women’s suffrage and I I was reading the letters and I was
working on a dissertation and I discovered a letter of Matilda Joslyn
Gage writing Elizabeth Cady Stanton and she had read in the paper that a wealthy
woman had given a million dollars to a museum. And her words were—in her
letter to Stanton—“Is it not strange that women of wealth are constantly giving
large sums of money to colleges and boys exclusively. To churches where they’re not
allowed to speak from the pulpit—or speak—they have no voice and yet they
give no thought to funding their own sex. Who are crushed in ignorance and poverty
and the hopeless victims of a social custom and no one offers them a helping
hand. And the whole world unites to help the boy and glorify the man.” And that
just broke my heart when I read it because I didn’t realize
women hadn’t even funded suffrage. Two men funded suffrage and there was one
wealthy woman but there was and then a problem—the men and her family sued the
estate and the money that she wanted to go to suffrage didn’t go, as much. There was one
woman in the decades that—about ninety years—and two men funded suffrage. And
those suffragettes— there was no women of wealth stood
beside them. And so, so that’s when I also was growing aware
that as I was working in women’s foundations—as mentioned earlier—
that a few women have given a million dollars to women’s funds,
Abby Disney, Anne Delaney, and some others. I began to try to count them and I
thought, these women are making history! My goodness, I’m gonna write a book about
these women because didn’t happen the nineteenth century and these women were
writing history. So I went around and interviewed the women who’ve made
million dollar gifts and that’s when I got a call from Swanee. And Swanee said to
me, “Helen are you sitting down? I want to tell you something.”
I said, “What?” And she said, “Well I’ve been doing my will and I’ve done it a couple years—there’s
something I haven’t told you about it but…” She said, “Would you like to know?” And I said, “Yes.” She said, “Well I left
you in my will, I left you some money.” I said, “Oh
Swanee, thank you.” [laughter] She said, “I left you five million dollars.” I said, “Really, me? Thank you.”
And she said, “I want you to take this money and raise the bar of women’s
giving. I’m busy—I’m doing some other things—you can do it, I want you to do it.”
I said, “Oh, I thank you very much!” And she said, “But there’s a problem.” I said,
“What?” And she said, “I think you’re gonna screw everything up.” [laughter] I said, I said, “What do you mean?” She said,
“I think maybe you might die before me and you’ll ruin my plan.” [laughter] “OK Swanee, what’s your point?” She said,
“Well I want to give you the money now. Would you take this
money and see if you can galvanize—I’m starting the
women and public policy at Harvard, I don’t have time but you take
this and see what you can do with it.” So I did my best and it’s just—
that was catalyst, she was the catalyst of Women Moving Millions. MONIZ: Seems like when the
phone rings and it’s Swanee, its something. [applause] So in 2005 then
you started Women Moving Millions as a collective of women who each made a million dollar
gift for the advancement of women and girls. Could you talk about why it’s
important to you that there’s a special community for these donors? HUNT: Yes, well I’ll just say that in starting I thought, where’s the best way to do
this? And there were a community of women’s foundations around the world.
I’ve been a part of helping them grow— and Swanee too—to grow and proliferate. That was a community but—so I asked the, Chris Grumm, who is the head of the Women’s
Funding Network, to co-chair and we created a Women Moving Millions campaign
and we started asking—I think our goal was $120 million. And, and
so we did this by trying to create a community and—is there another, are
you gonna ask about the Trailblazer book? MONIZ: Yes.
HUNT: OK, so in this one I’ll just mention that, that for years I had gone to women saying the Dallas Women’s
Foundation is trying to get started, or New York Women’s Foundation,
could you give $50,000? And they’d go, “Gosh, well I mean I have to ask my
husband.” But anyway, finally they would get or $75,000 or maybe $100,000,
that was huge. And they would say, “OK, I talked with Larry and he said we can
do $50,000.” I’d go, “Thank you so much!” It was very bizarre, when I would ask
women to give a million dollars. First time in the history, women of wealth are
stepping up and unleashing their money, would they unleash their money too? The women would
tear up and they would thank me for asking them.
And they’d go, “Oh Helen, thank you so much. Oh, let me think about it.” You know,
and they’d go, “I’d love to do this, thank you, thank you, thank you.” Well this was
sort of crazy. So I called Carol Gilligan— the women’s psychologist who has studied
the psychology of women—and I told her this story, I said, “Why are these women
thanking me?” And she said, “Helen, women are disassociated, they don’t know what
they know. And how many of you have read Carol Gilligan’s A DIFFERENT VOICE? And
they don’t know who they are in the patriarchy, they’re slammed by all this
testosterone and masculinity in the culture and they’re split inside. And
women can know things but they don’t know what they know—and women of wealth
are powerful but they don’t know it and you’re inviting them to step into their
power and heal their dissociation and suddenly they’d be like, the person they
really are that they have power to change the world.
And especially now you’re inviting them to unite and become a group and to step into their power. And they know now they
can change the value system of the culture, their voice, they can
unleash their voice, not just their money. It’s about transforming the culture—that
patriarchy—the vertical into the horizontal. MONIZ: So you mentioned your book,
the TRAILBLAZERS book, you’re writing that book about the historical
significant—how recent major female donors helped to catalyze the founding of Women
Moving Millions. You said you were, you’ve said you were raising funds as well as
voices. Why did you take this approach? HUNT: Raising funds instead of voices?
MONIZ: Yeah, why do you take this approach of writing a book telling stories about major donors?
HUNT: Well it’s like I didn’t have a voice growing up. And I was struggling, I had a very broken
life in my twenties and thirties and forties, and I couldn’t find my voice.
And, and I was struggling to find my voice. And I was beginning to find it working for
women’s philanthropy. But I thought, when we do this and we ask women for a
million dollars, why don’t we tell them they can be in a history book? These
are women making history and you are making history. And we’ll ask you—we’ll
have a page with a picture about the fact that you’ve made a million dollars.
First time in the history of the world women have ever funded women. Big
and bold. First time and you’re making history. So these women, like a big
percentage were anonymous, they’ve given money throughout the years
but they didn’t want anyone to know. So we asked them three questions—I see heads
nodding, OK—we asked them to answer three questions. Why now—you’ve made a
commitment to a million or more to women girls—why now? Why women? Why big and bold?
So like I did at the beginning, I would ask these women to tell their story and
I wanted it succinct, just two or three paragraphs—they had to be succinct.
And so I had some people around me and then they would try to help these women
say it succinctly, and a lot of them by the time, it sometimes took months to get
their little answers exactly how— they would go, “I think this is why I’m
doing it but I’m not sure can I, can we talk next week?” And, “Oh, I just realized
it’s this.” And so anyway, it was like giving each of these women came to voice
as they were writing their page in the TRAILBLAZER book. And a lot of these
women after they did this said, “I don’t want to be anonymous anymore, put my
picture and my name there.” So it was, it was just a beautiful process that—Oh I
didn’t tell you I was gonna say this. MONIZ: Go ahead please, we’d love to
hear your stories. HUNT: So know the Giving Pledge? Bill Gates— I’m sorry Warren Buffett, Bill, and Melinda. So one day I get a call from Melinda’s office
and she goes—and the person calling says, “Look we’re doing the Giving Pledge,
we’ve heard about Women Moving Millions.” I said, “Yes.” And she said, “Well we
understand all these women come to your meetings.” And I said, “Yes,”
and so I told them about the TRAILBLAZER book. That we’re not just unleashing women’s
pocketbooks, we’re unleashing their stories. And they’re able to talk
and in talking they—I told Carol Gilligan I love this quote, she
said I didn’t say that but I think she did, I heard Carol say once, “Voice
without echo dies.” And you can have a thought and an opinion and a
purpose, but if no one echoes you, it withers away. And women have moved—Women
Moving Millions became an echo chamber of women echoing each other’s voices as
they wanted to unleash their money, their voices and values and vision for the
culture, for the decades ahead and change the world. MONIZ: It’s so powerful
because you were telling their stories and also helping them to understand
their stories. You’ve also in addition to that and other books, you’ve written
about the 1837 anti-slavery convention of American women, can you tell us about
that convention and those women? HUNT: Yes, when I did go back to school for a while
after, as I was saying, I just sort of wanted to study the movement that I was
trying to support—the women’s rights, feminist movement. I thought I was
going to write a dissertation on faith and feminism. How are we doing on time? MONIZ: Oh we’re good, we have plenty of time.
HUNT: A book on—I was interested in faith and feminism and
at the core there was faith—like Lucretia Mott—but as I was going through
the stacks of the different universities on the north east coast
I accidentally discovered a history of American women—a history of
invention of American women in 1837. So I thought there was a typo and it was the
convention of Seneca Falls because there were no other conventions of American
women back then and it said 1837 so I was really curious. But it turns out,
there was a group of women—the ones I mentioned—that rose up in a time
that women had no right to speak in public and they felt called to speak out
against slavery. And they created anti-slavery conventions—female
anti-slavery conventions—because the men abolitionists wouldn’t let the women
join their conventions. It is so pitiful. So they started their own and so they
began to spread, and they decided to have a national convention—they were writing
letters to each other. Well they put on their little bonnets
and they had their bustles and their shawls and they got in their
stagecoaches or they got on steamboats or buggies and they came to New York
City for the first ever women’s convention in the United States—and
women weren’t supposed to travel unescourted at that time, so they knew they
were radical revolutionaries. So the diaries of this these women at the time
said, “We’re turning the world upside down, this convention is…” And they just were—
“Yay us!” And they knew Robert’s Rules of Orders because
women were very smart at that time— and anyway, so the first proclamation that
they worked on for weeks was that women have the
right to speak in public. So that was what
interested me. So I ended up doing my dissertation on this group of women
whose history was lost to almost everybody, like no one’s ever heard— and I said goodness gracious. Like once I finished the dissertation I
thought, Ken Burns had it wrong. Has anyone seen Elizabeth and Susan’s
documentary on Seneca Falls? Oh, y’all haven’t seen it.
Well Harville and I went back and I had said, “Harville, I want to see that Ken
Burns documentary on Seneca Falls that— MONIZ:
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady— HUNT: Yes, and
throughout the documentary it talks about the women’s rights
movement began in 1848 at Seneca Falls and they have feminist historians quoted
and it’s all about this is the first time women have had ever gathered to
lift up their voices, so their voices would matter. And I was in tears at the
end of this Ken Burns documentary and I called Gloria Steinem the next day I
said, “Gloria, Ken Burns just got it wrong.” And she said, “Well Helen,
kids history isn’t always totally accurate and he needs a new haircut—” [laughter] “And yeah,
your book is, you know, all about it.” So it was such an honor. Number one bringing these things women of the shadows of history and letting them
stand tall—in my book anyway—but the the book is about, is that the
earliest feminists on this, in this country had an organizing methodology that
was very different from the suffrage movement catalyzed by Susan and
Elizabeth and the group of suffragettes. In the beginning these women feminist
abolitionist, which historians now call them—the few that know about it—were,
were organizing in a relational organizing methodology in a couple ways.
So I’ll share the couple ways. One, they petitioned—they couldn’t vote and they
couldn’t speak in public but they could circulate petitions for people to sign
and send them to Congress. Smart. So, they go door to door and they go, “What is
your name?” You just introduced yourself, what is your name again? AUDIENCE: Kathy. HUNT: “Kathy, I’m so glad
to meet you. I’m Helen and I have a petition and I’d like you to consider signing this. We think
slavery should be abolished, it’s not healthy for a country and it’s inhumane—
obviously—and would you be willing to sign this petition?” And sometimes the
woman would go, “I’m not sure,” or whatever or, “I’ll sign!” Or, “Can
we come in and talk about it?” And in reading the records they said some
people didn’t know slavery existed in the United States because this was rural
New England, there was no TV, no radio, no cellphone, they didn’t know
slavery existed. But these women would go in and sit with other women and it was
so moving, you know, and and then they got radicalized and they
became part of the feminist abolitionist movement, but they flooded Congress with
petitions. Congress got so upset with all these letters that they passed the
Pickney Gag Rule in 1838 and refused to receive any more of the
women’s petitions and they ended up taking them and burning them, they were
so angry. But these women, also another thing they did that was so relational
was called—a woman named Elizabeth Chandler created something called mental
metum psychosis. The women regularly had weekly sewing groups, right?
Imagine 1830, where Walmart isn’t nearby, so they’re fixing their clothes
for their family, and those just existed, that’s how women were. And
Margaret said, “OK, in all the slave sewing circles there’s a process I’m
suggesting we use which is called mental metum psychosis and one of us will
stand and read a slave narrative while the others are sewing and while we hear
that slave narrative let’s send our soul to our sisters in the South who are put
on the auction block and let’s pretend for a moment we’re on the auction block
and we’re being sold to one plantation, our husband sold to another plantation,
and our children are being sold to that plantation, and that’s let’s experience
for a moment what it’s like for that woman but her family’s just bought by
other people and let’s develop sympathy for our sisters in the South.
What is it like for them? And we got to do something to end slavery in this
country.” And she called it mental metum psychosis and the women practice
developing sympathy for their sisters and this is something that today if we
learned how to practice sympathy and empathy for others sometime instead of
combating each other and trying to win and compete, this is the kind of
thing that could bring about the kind of relational culture that so many
feminists sociologists have talked about. MONIZ: I know relational culture is really
important to you and that’s something that you and your husband work on
together that’s really one of the greatest joys of your life. Could you say
a little bit more about that work and about safe conversations? HUNT: Oh yeah, so
I am just so blessed these days to be married to Harville Hendricks, who wrote a book published
in 1988 and I didn’t think anyone was gonna buy it. Who’s ever bought a book by man named Harville? [laughter] I was a behind-the-scenes
worker on the book and but six weeks after it came out, I picked up the phone
and we were living in New York, and it was the Oprah Winfrey studio
and she wanted him on the show. And she took his show and submitted to the
Emmy committee and it won Oprah her first Emmy. So she had him on 17 times. And
she would always go, “This is the best relationship expert in the world.” So I
get to be married to him. And we—the books there are 60 languages—and he had
the idea which he often starts the sentences but I help him finish it. He
had the idea of getting this out of the clinic and into the public because the
relational sciences have gotten very easy to teach for the first time in
history—it was a murky science for decades but now you can teach it simply.
And so we’re doing something called Safe Conversations in Dallas, teaching
people to shift from conflict to connection. You can disagree—mightily
disagree, I would never have your opinion— but you can do it in a way that it
doesn’t rupture connection and that’s our specialty, we teach people how to
talk, and so we’re just sort of teaching people that technology and it’s spreading.
And my joy is that all the women who have, for years, talked about wanting to
create a more relational culture instead of a competitive—get to the top of the
ladder, I win you lose,
who’s the best, be the best—that kind of culture doesn’t reflect who we really
are, we’re really relational creatures and people want to be relational but
they don’t have the technology. So we’re getting that out and we think of this as
cutting-edge feminism. MONIZ: What a contribution.
When one of the women who was practicing the sort of relational culture in the 1830s was Lucretia Mott,
and you’ve written about her—and when everyone came in people had the
opportunity to see Lucretia Mott’s shawl and bonnet which are in our collection—I
wonder if you could talk about what Mott means to you? HUNT: Knowing you would ask that question,
my favorite quote of Lucretia’s—it just, it’s just—she said, “Let us speed the messiahs of our age.” She was just whipped and beat up and you know
when they went to London—went across the ocean to go to the London world
abolition meeting—it was a three day meeting and the women were there and
the first day they debated, should women even be allowed at the meeting? And the
women had to sit in the balcony behind a screen—a curtain—and listen the next
two days but they wouldn’t let the women attend the metting. Does anyone know that
story? I mean these women abolitionists were just so, treated so horribly and
this frail little lady just would not give up. She was so delicate
and gentle and soft-spoken, but she was a radical revolutionary—and she
reminds me of Gloria Steinem actually. And I actually wore today a
bracelet that any of us can buy, that friends of Gloria Steinem have made and
Gloria has been saying for the last 15 years that I’ve been around her, we need
to be linked, not ranked as a culture. Let’s learn how to link together not
rank who’s the best, we need to be linked not ranked. And this bracelet says,
“We need to be linked not ranked.” So it’s a daily reminder, what are we doing
to change the culture from that vertical patriarchy to the horizontal? And so
I’m actually wearing two other things— I told Amanda and she went, “Oh my
goodness.” So a year ago Bonnie Wheeler—a feminist scholar at SMU—
gave me a Susan B. Anthony dollar to wear as jewelry. So Susan B. Anthony is
here now and the country fused women and money for little while on this
dollar. That’s where it should be, we need more—any other money made, women’s on the dollars,
right? And and then I also wore an un-locket that the Women Moving Millions
women created. Anyone who’s a part of the Women Moving Millions gets an un-locket
when they become part of the community and the point of Women Moving Millions
is to unlock it. So that like some people are powerful by hoarding their money, and
we think we’re powerful by unleashing it and giving it away. And so we created, for
each of the women who become a part of Women Moving Millions—and this is what
these women did in becoming a community that the Giving Pledge,
the billionaires didn’t do. Like we would have them come together and they
got—I don’t even know if these are mint things—and they created little boxes and
they’re un-locket’s were given, you know, every time a woman would join and they
have little—I mean I remember, and it’s so cute,
when I would go to meetings and they’re putting red-hots around. This one says,
“We have unlocked it!” And that one says, “Unlock it!” And so you know, really you
know, who needs this much money? I mean in the
country, I mean, it’s not right that some people are so
wealthy while some people are so struggling to get through life and so we
need to unlock this money to go into the world. And before closing I did want to mention
Carol Gilligan. MONIZ: Oh, sure. That’d be wonderful, mention her and then
I think we could open it up for questions, we’d love to hear this story.
HUNT: So how many of you read David Brooks, the editorial of the NEW YORK TIMES editorial
guy? Did you all read two weeks ago, him writing about Carol Gilligan’s
new book THE CRISIS OF CONNECTION that she wrote with two other people? And
this is a great book and David Brooks said, this book, we need the women of this
culture to heal the fact that this culture doesn’t know how to be in a
relationship. We are a broken society. If we can’t talk to each other respectfully,
if we can’t be a community—as Serena Connelly she goes we need to be a community here—
if we don’t know how to do that,
cities are never going to make it. This country is not going to make it if we
can’t be in relationship. They said everyone should read this book and Carol
is talking about the patriarchy is alive and well. We are still surrounded
by a patriarchal energy in this culture thats all about competing and dominating
and winning and she is brilliant, echoing so much that Harville says
and Kristi Carter says—who flew in from Dallas. This is healing the culture,
learning how to talk together and be together in a different way.
MONIZ: In the spirit of talking together, why don’t we open it up for a few questions? MONIZ: Yes.
AUDIENCE: My name is Adrian Arscht and I’ve read a little about what you’ve done—
are doing. The million dollars that a woman gives, is that done to
your organization or directly to the charity of their choice? HUNT: That is a great question. So there were
two phases of Women Moving Millions— the one that Swanee catalyzed and then
I helped her with her vision and we did that within the Women’s Funding Network.
Every woman who made a million or more— and some did five or ten—did it to the
Women’s Foundation. There was a struggle and would Women Moving Millions live
on, since we had become such a we? And we did and Jackie Zaner then took—and so
we had a Women Moving Millions campaign, could we raise $120 million? The Women’s Funding Network had raised
$850, could we do the last $120 to take women’s foundations
crashing through the billion-dollar mark? So that was our goal. As we did this
campaign, from 2007 to 2009, there was an economic collapse. Do you remember that
economic collapse? [laughter] That’s when we were doing our fundraising
campaign and those campaigns didn’t make it and the LONDON
TIMES said when they—in the next, after the next year—said that we
were the only campaign, fundraising campaign, that exceeded their goal.
We raised $180 million during our campaign, most of the
campaigns didn’t make it. And then when it became a community under Jackie Zaner
they opened it up and it’s giving to anything—a million or more—where
women’s voices and vision are expressed. AUDIENCE: Sonya Michelle. Thank you so much
for your talk. I wonder if in your research on the nineteenth century,
I’m sure you came across Dorothea Dix and I wonder if you know about the
memorials that she wrote when women couldn’t be Sydney’s legislators and
couldn’t even testify in legislatures— she would write these reports that
were called memorials and then she would prevail upon some male
legislator to present them to the body. And she wrote a lot about—of
course her main focus was on reforming insane asylums. And so I just
wonder if you came across that, that method—that technique—on the part of any
other women in your research? HUNT: You mean the women writing and the men as a
megaphone? MICHELLE: Yes, exactly. HUNT: No, but that’s really depressing. [laughter]
MICHELLE: But it was also very effective. And fortunately
we now have 100 new women in Congress, speaking for themselves.
HUNT: Can we applaud that? [applause] HUNT: So, yeah. She refused to be
silenced and she would do it in any way possible.
And these women were so cunning, oh my word, what they had to do to get their
voice out. But I thank you so much for the lifting up as her example and that
population she cared so much about and this is why we need to remember these
women in history and how hard it was for them to do. That is so humiliating I
can’t talk and but— but that was a powerful strategy wasn’t
it? MICHELLE: Amanda, do you have any of those in your collection?
MONIZ: Of the memorials? I don’t know, I would have to check. But thank you for
pointing that out, I will look for that. HUNT: Thank you for mentioning her. I love
it when women in history who aren’t here now are just named and, you know,
there’s so many women who suffered and died for our rights. MICHELLE: I believe that
she was able to get her bills through Congress to create the insane asylums and to get mentally ill
people out of the jails, and being chained up, and the president vetoed it.
HUNT: Thank you Swanee. This is a special— MICHELLE: And then she died. HUNT: And this is a real important area
for us and I had family with mental issues—that we’ve had in the family.
And as recently as 20 years ago, women in prison who were often there for reasons
that it was a man, you know drug mule or whatever, if she was
pregnant she was shackled trying to give birth and that had to get changed.
There’s so many problems still today. MONIZ: We have time for a final question.
AUDIENCE: Hi, so thank you for the time. I’m actually researching for an article
about giving circles, so I am a reporter for the CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY so I’m
interested in learning more about that. So I got some research that I’m working
on now that’s from the Collective Giving Research Group and they did some work
with the Women’s Philanthropy Institute and they sort of found that the
interesting thing with giving circles is that even with the growth of so many
of them—I think it was about 1,500 in the past 10 years—more of them are sort of
serving sort of low-income and different groups. So they’re becoming more diverse,
they’re sort of that data behind it. So I was kind of interested in, you know,
because the Giving Pledge is a different version of a giving circle, but much
larger, I’m wondering from your perspective about that sort of example
being set for smaller giving circles—and I spoke to someone from the Dallas
Women’s Foundation and they mentioned that too—so I was just curious from what
you thought about giving circles. HUNT: May I ask who you spoke to?
AUDIENCE: Hallie Lee. I spoke to Hallie Lee and some other—
HUNT: Holly Lee? AUDIENCE: Sorry, yes, Holly Lee. HUNT: Well in a way I think the Dallas Women’s Foundation was, became
like a giving circle actually that helped birth Women Moving Millions.
And that was the last thing I was going to say. I’ve not been able say everything
but thank you for that segway because women’s giving circles are very
important. A woman named Betty Regard gave the first million and because of
that it was just such a wow. A woman named Sarah Loesinger sort of
validated, this thing can probably make it. But the women who stepped out
when no one else did—Cecilia Boone— anyway these women formed a very special
giving circle in Dallas because we didn’t know if it would work and it was
scary. To ask women for a million dollars, it
was scary back then. But the power of a giving
circle, we became each other’s, there’s safety in numbers. And Sarah Loesinger,
when I went to her and said, “Is anyone gonna do this?” And she said,
“Feminists are just flooded with—donors are flooded with requests and they’re
all good.” And she said, “What I think a woman would want to do is if their
grandchild could look back and go, look at what granny did. I think, I think maybe
this would work.” And a little circles surrounded Cecilia Boone and others and
the power of a giving circle, now that little group in Dallas really catalyzed
Women Moving Millions. Thank you for being here. Who was the
person that said never underestimate the power of a small group
to get something done? MONIZ: Margaret Mead. HUNT: Margaret Mead.
Yeah never underestimate what might happen when a small group gets together in
a given way. MONIZ: This has been a fascinating conversation, I really want to thank you. Can we give
Helen a round of applause. [applause] Thank you.

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