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Philanos Thanks Retiring Board Members

Tuesday, July 05, 2022 3:50 PM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

June 30, 2022 6 board members retired after years of Philanos service.  Several were founding board members who have exceeded their service both in term limits and development of the Philanos Network.

Colleen Willoughby 
Washington Women’s Foundation, Seattle, WA

Colleen Willoughby is a force for women’s leadership development and their engagement in civic life.  It began early.  Visiting Washington, DC as a high schooler and sitting in the seat of the first ever female US Senator Margaret Chase Smith during Girls Nation, Colleen had an epiphany which has been her North star.  Like the Senator, she inherently believed in effective civic leadership and respect for women’s roles in our civil society. She has dedicated much of her life to creating opportunity for women to learn, participate and to continue their leadership development.  Read more

Laura Midgley 
Washington Women’s Foundation, Seattle, WA 
Wood River Women’s Foundation, Kechum, ID

Laura served as the founding board chair of Philanos (then called WCGN) from 2013 to 2015. She’s an active member of two Philanos affiliates, the Wood River Women’s Foundation in Ketchum, ID (since 2014) and Washington Women’s Foundation in Seattle (since 2002), where she was a WaWF director for nine years and served in numerous leadership roles. She proudly co-chaired PowerUP! The Spark That Ignites Change, Philanos’ national conference in February 2020 for 370 leaders who convened in Seattle to advance their understanding and commitment to equitable grantmaking and inclusivity in our organizations. She led securing nearly $200,000 in grants, major gifts and earned revenue for the network that still contributes to its sustainability today. Read more

Virginia Mills 
GIVING WoMN, Minneapolis, MN

Virginia is a founding board member of Philanos (formerly WCGN) and served as the second board chair of Philanos, from 2015-2017. She is a member of GIVING WoMN in Minneapolis, MN and past member of both The Philanthropy Connection and Womenade Boston, MA.

When asked how she came to this network, Virginia tells of a “completely freaky” set of circumstances that led her to this board, but those who have known her well would reply that this was no coincidence.  In 2009 she had just joined the GIVING WoMN Board in Minneapolis as a co-chair of marketing.  Her fellow co-chair told her, “We can go to this event in Boise and meet some other women leaders of like groups,” and Virginia agreed.  When her travel partner got ill and couldn’t attend, Virginia showed up alone to a meeting where she knew no one.  She met Vicki Sheehan from St. Louis in the hotel restaurant, who took her under her wing and introduced her to the group of women that would become the founders of WCGN (Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network), now Philanos.  Read more

Avani Desai 
100 Women Strong, Orlando FL

Avani credits Paula Liang, past Chair of Philanos, for bringing her onto our national board.  Avani was, at that time, President of her affiliate, 100 Women Strong in Orlando, FL, when Paula engaged with her around the planning of the national WCGN conference in Jacksonville in 2017.  She was recruited to the board to assist with technology, social media and building a partnership for DEI work among their affiliates. Read more

Karen Holly
Impact 100 Indianapolis, IN

Karen Holly, like retiring board member Avani, has also served for two terms (six years) on the Philanos Board – beginning when it was still the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN).  Karen is a past president of her affiliate, Impact 100 Indianapolis, where she demonstrated a real heart for membership as their membership chair.  Read more

Gwen Wesley 
Spirit of St. Louis Women's Fund, MO

Gwen came to the Philanos Board, and the Board went to her because of her expertise in strategic planning.  Founder Vicki Sheehan was instrumental in this match, and they both are members of Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund.  Gwen came on the board in 2019 to craft a strategic plan during a period of rebranding and renewal, and six months into her work, the pandemic hit. Read more

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