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AFP Launches Women’s Mentoring and Development Program

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Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access (IDEA): Diversity and Inclusion (IDEA)
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As part of its Women’s Impact Initiative, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has launched a new mentoring and development program for highly talented women in the fundraising field.

With women composing about 70 percent of the profession, but only holding approximately 30 percent of senior-level fundraising positions, the Women’s Impact Initiative (WII) was created in 2018 to address the specific issues and challenges that women in the fundraising profession face.

The new mentoring program (expected to expand in 2020) is the latest facet of WII that will provide support and guidance to women in fundraising with an interest in securing senior-level positions.

“The gender leadership gap in the profession is significant, and it will take many years to properly address the systemic deficiencies,” said Tycely Williams, CFRE, chair of WII. “We’re starting by piloting and learning from this extensive mentoring program. It builds upon the success of our chapter-based mentoring while delivering upon AFP’s commitment to access. We’ve structured an educational experience that connects women to industry resources and we’re eager to test the short and long-term impact.” 

Mentees in the AFP program will receive many benefits and services, including:

  • Complimentary AFP membership for one year;
  • $500 education credit to any AFP educational offering (online or onsite);
  • One-hour coaching session with a certified executive coach Regina Huber;
  • Complimentary registration to the 2019 Women’s Impact Summit;
  • 2 education webinars presented by Catherine Wemette & Kishshana Palmer;
  • Waived Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) initial certification fee, if the CFRE exam is taken within two years of graduation;
  • Recognition at the International Fundraising Conference, Leadership Academy, and the Women’s Impact Summit; and
  • Mentors who are fundraising superstars and committed to a mentee’s growth and development.

Mentors will receive similar training and benefits, including programming designed for experienced professionals to help them become better mentors and trainers, including two inclusive leadership education webinars presented by Fielding Graduate University.

“Our mission at AFP is to ensure that every fundraiser—regardless of gender or any other characteristic—has the same opportunities for success and advancement in the profession,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “Our WII mentoring program is one way we’re addressing this issue, one step at a time. Many thanks to the Support and Guidance Work Group, chaired by Helen Choi, CFRE, for leading this project, as well as the organizations supporting the program, including CFRE International and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.”

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy will evaluate the program and measure the impact it had on the participants, while CFRE International will be waiving the initial certification fee for mentees if the CFRE exam is taken within two years of graduating from the mentorship program.

“CFRE International and AFP are long-time partners in advancing professionalism in fundraising through CFRE certification,” said Eva E. Aldrich, Ph.D., CAE, (CFRE, 2001-2016), President and CEO of CFRE International. “As women increasingly take their rightful place in the ranks of fundraising leadership, achieving CFRE certification is an important career milestone that signals their confidence, ethics, and professionalism in fundraising.”

Mentees and Mentors

Five mentees and mentors have been named to the pilot program. Mentees include:

  • Daina Porter, Manager, Communications & Donor Relations, Lakeridge Health Foundation, Oshawa, Ontario
  • Erin Cizan, Consultant, d8Q quest, San Jose, Calif.
  • Holly Drummond, Director of Development, Time Out Youth Center, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Nur Rashidah Binte Abdul Rahman, Events and Fundraising Executive, Singapore
  • Shelly Mehra, Consultant, Woodside, N.Y.

“I am delighted and feel honored and grateful to be accepted in the WII Mentoring and Leadership Development Program,” said Mehra. “I feel the valuable mentorship, training, networking and accountability partnership opportunities available through this program will be instrumental in fulfilling my purpose of ‘fundraising to bring equality for women and girls.”

Mentors include:

  • Heather Hu, Senior Vice President of Resource Development, Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Kathy Rabon, CFRE, CFRM, Executive Director, Suncoast Hospice Foundation/Empath Health, Clearwater, Fla.
  • Chandra Alexandre, CFRE, Ph.D., CEO, Community Action Marin, San Rafael, Calif.
  • Leah Eustace, M.Phil, MInstF, CFRE, ACFRE, President and Head Paddler, Blue Canoe Philanthropy, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Scott Fortnum, CFRE, MA, ACFRE, President and CEO, Children's Health Foundation, London, Ontario

"I am truly honored to join such an impressive group of leaders and rising stars, and I am sure the process will be as enriching for me as it will be for my mentee,” said Hu. “I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience as we work together to promote equity and diversity in nonprofit leadership!"

More information about WII and the Mentoring and Development Program can be found at the WII website:

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