Sketch by Amanda Goss

New Mexico, USA
Former Board President and Board Member

Barbara tells us how she got involved with VGIF and how the organization has transformed since the early 1990s:

“In 1992, at the International Federation of University Women’s (now Graduate Women International) triennial conference at Stanford University, Elizabeth May, one of VGIF’s founders, invited me to a VGIF luncheon. The program highlighted some of the amazing indigenous projects funded by VGIF, some for as little as $300-500 each.

At that time, one was invited to join VGIF. How things have changed! I was pleased to accept membership, and shortly thereafter was appointed to the Global Outreach Committee. As a committee member, I started traveling to participate in the meetings in the New York City.

It is not too much to say that VGIF changed my life, nor to observe that vast changes that have occurred over the years. Many of the dearest friendships of my life have come through VGIF, and the opportunities for leadership and travel that it provided have proven infinitely enriching. Among them are the three living former presidents Virginia Maynard, Sema Faigen, and Eileen Menton. My understanding family - my husband and three children - always supported me in this work, allowing me to devote time, resources and attention to VGIF matters.

During this time, VGIF’s part-time secretary, Fay, was promoted to a full-time paid executive officer. Virginia Palmer generously donated funds for VGIF to move to an office at Marble Collegiate Church. There were advances in other areas, too: Louise McLeod created our website; Carrie Gallagher transferred the grant application process online; Virginia Maynard and Leslie Wright advanced our presence at the United Nations; during the “great recession”, our financial advisor, Nancy Vang, kept enough grant money coming to enlarge the maximum grants available to $5000 each; Evelyn Cummings initiated on-site visits which have become central to our grant-making process. Finally, bequests from Virginia Palmer and Ester Scher provided the funds to hire full-time professional staff, and interns, to improve our overall efforts. These resources also made possible a move to the Broadway office, and to re-organize VGIF’s Board structure to a governance form, moving away from the historic managerial model.

I am gratified to be a part of a dynamic organization that has moved with a firm sense of high purpose in all of its dealings for as long as I have been a member. This determined spirit powered by devoted supporters provides an ongoing inspiration. It has been, and continues to be, one of the great pleasures of my life.