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February 20, 2019
President’s Message
Ellen Wiss

I, mistakenly, thought that the months of January and February would be a bit quieter after our typical busy holiday season with family and traditions.

But I was wrong. Not only are all of our committees busy working but the wonderful season with our neighborhood Connectors meetings has begun. The Grants committee is gearing up for three months of thoughtful deliberation on a larger-than-ever pool of requests from worthy agencies. The Advocacy Committee had a long day of meetings with many of our area’s legislators in Tallahassee. Sometimes what we heard was disheartening, but nonetheless it was a great educational opportunity for all of us.

The Education Committee has some great programs lined up for the coming weeks, and the Impact Committee just sent out a survey to our full membership asking for their input. I hope many of you took the time to complete it and help WGA in our work to measure the impact of our grants in Mental Health.

Thanks again for all you continue to do for WGA and the women and girls in our community.

If you have not yet renewed your membership, please take time to do so. As someone pointed out to me the other day, “Without our happy check writers, we would have no grants pool.”

Please join us!


Members Advocate at State Capitol

The eight WGA members who traveled to Tallahassee on January 22 spent a busy day visiting 16 legislative offices. Our goals were twofold: to continue to establish a relationship with our elected officials and to encourage passage of SB 70, which encourages funding already dedicated to affordable housing to be used for that purpose.

We felt successful on both counts, knowing that there is a long way to go until the legislative session comes to a close. Between now and the end of session, there may be additional opportunities to advocate for affordable housing. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Pam Field ( and Kristi Brandon (

Education Committee Needs YOU

WGA's education committee is growing, and we need you! Serving on this committee allows you to meet with our membership at our great programs while connecting with and hearing from industry experts and agencies in NE Florida as you learn about our region's assets and needs.

You can make a difference with as little as three hours a month! A typical commitment is to agree to attend one of our wonderful education offerings and be at the check-in table, giving attendees name tags to fill out and sharing any appropriate handouts. As you can see it is not a huge job, but it is such fun to meet and greet so many great people from our community.

Please reach out to Sabeen Perwaiz at if you are interested or with any questions.

Grant Spotlight: Nonprofit Center

WGA partnered with The Nonprofit Center to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations and to improve their ability to measure and evaluate the impact of their work. This research project included a survey and follow-up interviews with WGA Mental Health Grantees and the NEFL nonprofit sector as a whole.

The respondents showed a keen appreciation for WGA for having this conversation about their experience with and perspectives on program evaluation. There was strong agreement that evaluation is an integral component of a program’s success, but there is a significant need to build expertise and capacity to perform program evaluation at a higher level. It is hoped that the cost of “evaluation” becomes a built-in part of project cost and not a “nice to have” on top of the other costs of implementing programs.

As one survey respondent put it: “If we are required to evaluate, we will. I think we are only required to track ‘how much’ and that is a very limited way of reflecting on such important work. We barely get to ‘how well’ and the only ‘Is anybody better off?’ is the stories we tell each other.”

Anecdotally, this project helped form the basis for one pillar of the Nonprofit Center’s strategic plan, which is oriented around Capacity Building.

Honoring Our Leaders during Women’s History Month

These leaders made it happen!  (left to right) (first row) Joan VanVleck (2007-08), Paula Liang (2015-16), Helen Lane (Founder); (second row) Ellen Wiss (2017-18), Julia Taylor (2013-14), Susan Schantz (2011-12), Barbara Harrell (2009-10), Courtenay Wilson (Founder and President 2002-04),  Mary Pietan (2019-20); (not pictured) Sandy Cook (2005-06), Delores Barr Weaver (Founder)

Upcoming Events

United Way Poverty Simulation
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 8:30–11:00 a.m.
Florida State College at Jacksonville Nassau Center
76346 William Burgess Blvd., Yulee 32097

The poverty simulation experience is designed to help participants begin to understand what it might be like to live in a typical low-income family trying to survive from month to month. It is a simulation, not a game. The object is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by those living in poverty. It includes an introduction and briefing, the actual simulation exercise, and a debriefing period in which participants and volunteer staffers share their feelings and experiences and talk about what they have learned about the lives of people in poverty. REGISTER

Women in Business
Tuesday, April 9, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
WJCT Studios
100 Festival Park Ave., Jacksonville 32204

The last decades of the 20 th century brought considerable progress in women’s professional advancement in the US. The gender wage gap narrowed, sec segregation in most professions greatly declined, and the percentage of women climbing the management ranks steadily rose. Yet, the progress has been uneven and is slowing –there are significant racial and ethnic differences in terms of women’s success in moving into the top-level jobs, and overall, women continue to fall far short of matching the success of their mail counterparts in breaking into the top jobs. Hear a presentation by Bonnie Low-Karmen followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ellen Sullivan of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center. Bring your lunch. REGISTER BY APRIL 2.

Welcome New Members!

Judy Addison
Julie Bessent
Kelly Bomar
Elizabeth Calvert
Donna Deegan
Karen Feagins
Jennifer Glassman
Susan Kelly
Rachael Mueller (4Sight)
Shannon Nazworth

Paola Parra Harris
Kellie Prusiecki
Latonja Richardson

Sally Baker Lee
Nancy Jones
Paula Liang
Julia Taylor
Ellen Wiss

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