Honoring International Women’s Day year-round
“Who run [sic] the world? Girls!”
If you’re a Beyoncé fan, you know the lyrics. If you’re a girl who grew up to be a strong woman, you know the unstoppable adrenaline rush when you’re supported and free to grow without boundaries.
International Women’s Day, now celebrated each year on March 8, was introduced by Clara Zetkin in 1910 and officially celebrated by the United Nations in 1975. It has grown to be a worldwide symbol of gender equality to elevate women of all walks of life.
In the Fox Cities, the following clubs align with that mission year-round.
Mid-Day Women’s Alliance
Mission: “To promote equality for all women and to develop their potential through networking, advocacy, mentoring, education and skills-building.”
“What can we do to help?”
The seemingly simple question is the core of Mid-Day Women’s Alliance (MDWA) in Appleton.
MDWA prides itself on their ability to support and connect women to people and resources with a nonjudgmental, flexible approach to further their business and self-development.
“You can hardly empower or help or support or advocate for if you’re judging. We don’t,” Mary Ann Bazile, Co-President, says. “There are no rules or requirements. We’re open to everybody. This is a group of women that really supports each other.”
Programs happen in person, virtually and in conjunction with Fox Cities First Thursday Networking, and fit into one of the following categories: Networking, Advocacy, Mentoring, Education and Skills-Building (NAMES).
“Every month on the third Wednesday we do a program,” Sara Mullen-Hornung, Co-President, explains. “Education or mentoring, or a combination. We have three networking events every month: a lunch one, a breakfast one and an evening one so we can try to catch everybody.”
Topics range from public speaking and enhancing leadership skills to business branding and navigating social media. They also present Women in Leadership Workshops (WILD), and bring in guest speakers to help hone existing skills and learn new ones.
“We educate, take care of our members and then give back to the community in some way.” Bazile says. “That’s really our mantra.”
Woman of Distinction Award
MDWA annually accepts nominations for Fox Cities women who, “due to her strength of her character, the selflessness of her effort and her dedication to our community,” deserves the distinction. Applications for a woman who has “shown strong leadership, family connection and volunteering for the betterment of the community that she lives, works, and plays in” are welcome.
Nominees and Nominators are not required to be existing members of Mid-Day Women’s Alliance. Nominations for 2022 will be open this summer through August 31, 2022.
Co-sponsored by CAP Services, MDWA’s annual grant is given to a woman entrepreneur who aligns with the group’s mission. The grant includes $2,000 to be used in ways to best support her business; one-year of business coaching; a one-year free membership to MDWA and a multitude of opportunities to connect with other local entrepreneurs.
The 2022 application is open from late spring to June 30, 2022. Mid-Day Women’s offerings are vast, and often underestimated. It’s difficult to encompass everything they offer.
“We do so much! On the surface we look like a tiny house, but inside we’re a mansion,” Yule says.
The nonsectarian, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization has a rich history in the area and has seen change on both national and local levels in their decades of existence. However, there’s still work to be done.
“There are a number of people, women included, who think that in our Bill of Rights, there’s something about ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). It’s not in there yet!” Bazile, explains. “That’s why this is still a movement, to get those words in there, that we are equal to men. We’re still behind in different things.”
“There is supposed to be equality for women but it’s not always practiced and it’s not always felt,” Shana Yule, Marketing/PR Chair, adds. “For me, Mid-Day is a really safe place to be a woman-business owner, or just a woman in business… I know that I’m going to be supported and lifted by the sisterhood.
“I think women need to see women succeed. This organization is so impactful and powerful and needed. As females, we need to surround ourselves with like minded women and we can do that here in the Fox Cities. We can help empower, lead and grow.”
“We’re always seeking new members to join us,” Mullen-Hornung says. “In all walks of life, all ages.” Membership of Mid-Day Women’s Alliance is $10 a month.
For more information and to get involved, visit www.middaywomensalliance.wildapricot.org.
The Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region
Mission: “To promote the advancement of women and girls in our community, reflecting our vision of a community of equality where power and opportunity are not limited by gender.”
“The Women’s Fund supports women and girls in the Fox Valley by investing in projects and programs designed to meet the unique needs and challenges of women and girls,” Julie Keller, Executive Director, says. “In addition, the Women’s Fund educates the community on issues important to women and girls and advocates for solutions that will not only impact women and girls but our entire community.”
Why is it important for the Fox Valley to have you as a part of the community?
The Women’s Fund was formed to focus philanthropic dollars on the unique needs of women and girls. When we come together and have a focused approach we can have an even greater impact to meet these complex needs and challenges. We also conduct research through the Status of Women in Northeast Wisconsin report to highlight how women in our region are faring and what areas we need to focus on to have the greatest impact. This report will be updated this year. In addition, a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University found that in 2018 nonprofits focused solely on women and girls’ received 1.9% of all charitable contributions, despite making up 3.5% of all non-profits. It is critically important that we invest more in women and girls. ”
The Women’s Fund empowers women and girls in the Fox Valley region through grants, advocacy, and education. How do these programs work?
These are not necessarily programs but how we do our work and make (an) impact. We grant out more than $150,000 annually into the community through project grants, donor advised funds, field of interest funds and scholarships. In addition we invest in programs such as Starting Point and EmpowHER that is a collaboration between the Women’s Fund, FVTC and B.A.B.E.S. Child Abuse Prevention Program to help young women, single moms and their kids get out of poverty through education. Education examples include the Status of Women in Northeast Wisconsin report and COVID’s Impact on Women in Northeast Wisconsin Report. An area where we are involved in advocacy is through our participation in the Greater Fox Valley Childcare Alliance.
How do mentors and mentees get involved?
Currently mentees are graduates of the Starting Point and EmpowHER programs and they are matched up with women in the community who volunteer to support young women through mentoring. My colleague Amanda Louden coordinates that program and she interviews all mentors and mentees and makes matches. We have 7 pairs that are just starting.
Please explain the Women’s Fund Luncheon.
Our 22nd Annual Women’s Fund Luncheon will be on September 8, 2022. We are planning on being in person for the first time in two years. This event draws 800+ women (and some men) to the Red Lion (soon to be Hilton) Hotel in downtown Appleton. This is our largest fundraising event and supports all the work of the Women’s Fund. Guests will be inspired by a keynote speaker (we haven’t announced yet who that will be) and hear about the impact of the Women’s Fund. It’s a celebration of women’s philanthropy and the impact we can make by all coming together.
When you choose to be a part of the Women’s Fund you are joining others who have made a commitment to support women and girls in the Fox Valley. We will work with you to be sure that your interests, time, talents and treasure achieve maximum impact in the lives of women and girls.
For more information and to get involved, visit www.womensfundfvr.org.
The Nest Cowork + Club
Mission: “A 24/7 space for mission driven women and moms to get work done, launch a dream business, connect with others, create or to simply have ‘me time.’”
Coworking spaces are popping up more in Northeast Wisconsin after remote work and working from home became popular in the last couple of years. The Nest Cowork + Club in Green Bay isn’t exclusive, but finds it especially rewarding to focus on advocating for women.
“One thing we say is that we are very female forward and women-driven. We’re supporting women in business,” Lauren Bond, Co-owner and Community Manager, says.
“Yes, women in business have been around for a long time but there’s still an inequality. There’s a masculine energy that can be represented” Bond says. “Here it’s more of an open gathering, a coffee shop vibe. We want people to feel welcome to connect but also have their individual stations so if they need to be doing their own thing, head down, they can.”
Members of The Nest have access to the modern, open concept space 24/7.
“They can use the open space or we have conference rooms they can use. They can rent the whole space for a discounted price for private events. You need a spot to host a team get-together? You can do it for free,” Bond explains.
Hosted events at The Nest run the gamut from entrepreneurial-focused workshops like how to survive your first year in business to meditation classes and book clubs. “Small Business Resource Week” in August brings together local experts to provide complementary resources to the public (the public is welcome!).
“It’s a free event all week long. If you’re a business starting out or thinking about it, you could come in and have access to a bookkeeper, a social media strategist, a branding person, someone for your website,” Bond says. “If you’re looking to build relationships or just meet somebody who understands what you’re going through or what you’re trying to do—like build a business—this is the best place for that.”
Local businesses also play a part in the supportive nature of The Nest.
“We have certain businesses that, because you are a member, you can get a discount,” Bond explains. “Like Kavarna (Coffeehouse) is one of them. A few boutiques that give you a discount, a photographer. We like to try to partner with local businesses so we encourage our members to support them… we’re all about celebrating the community and being a part of the community.”
The Nest has a noticeable entrepreneurial spirit, but being a part of the club goes beyond coworking and swapping tips about the corporate world.
“We’re making a space for women that caters to women and creates that community where we lift each other up. We create support for each other,” she says. “It’s a safe space to bring ideas, to have venting sessions. Getting things off our chests and supporting each other with questions and situations we’ve been in.
“We can be our own worst enemies, but there’s nothing better than having a connection with another woman. We get each other,” Bond says. “We’re here for all of it: the good, the bad, the ugly. No matter what you’re going through, we’re like a family… we rally around each other.”
The Nest Cowork + Club offers day passes and 3, 6 or 12-month membership commitments. For more information, visit wwwthenestcc.com.