Preparing to Depart the Women's Foundation with Gratitude and Certainty

It’s tough to write a departure letter! First, I went hard at the “transitions are a natural part of life” metaphors. Then I broke my internet trying to find the right quote. I even considered riffing on my 7-year-old’s love for David Bowie: “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!” In the end, I figure direct is best. This summer, after seven years, my time as Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation will come to an end. 

As I approach this transition I’m filled with two things: stratospheric gratitude and deep certainty. Serving as Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation has been the great honor of my professional life. And, now is exactly the right time for a new leader. 

I’m feel-it-in-my-bones grateful for all we’ve accomplished over the past seven years. Together, we have:

Extraordinary staff and Board members, working in partnership with over 100 grantees and nearly 5,000 incredible supporters and members, made this work possible. Collectively, you’ve fueled our mission through the gifts of your time, labor, engagement, donations, and the pursuit of justice in your own lifes. 

For the last few years, I’ve shared openly that I intended to step down from my role as Executive Director. I believe that those most impacted by intersectional gender oppression—who’ve always been the driving force of the gender justice movement—should be leading organizations like ours. As part of that intention, I sought a point of natural closure, a moment when our growth and learnings to-date had been meaningfully integrated and the organization was ready to take the next leap forward.  

That moment arrived at the end of 2020. The Foundation’s current Board, bolstered by the courageous efforts of past Board leaders, is one of the most transformational and values-aligned set of leaders I’ve ever worked with. In December, we shared the new mission and values that emerged from two years of intensive organizational redesign. Those were my cues! And in the wake of a year filled with uncertainty, it feels great to be absolutely certain that it’s the right time for new leadership. 

Since this transition is driven by organizational progress, rather than a timeline for my next professional step, my focus until the new ED arrives will continue to be stewarding the Foundation’s ongoing work and ensuring a smooth transition.

In the coming days, the Foundation’s Board of Directors will announce the details of our forthcoming Executive Director search. They’ll be looking for a visionary leader who puts into daily practice our shared dedication to the Foundation’s new values and mission. As we prepare to welcome our new ED together, I have three requests that will help keep up the incredible momentum we’ve built:

  1. Spread the word far and wide about the forthcoming ED search!
  2. Make a gift of any size, or—even better—make a monthly recurring gift so the new ED can count on your support year-round.
  3. Stay in touch through social media, our email list, or dropping us a line. We want to hear from you.

I can’t wait to see the ways in which the Women’s Foundation continues to evolve under new leadership. To me, the best leadership transitions are a natural exchange of energy, care, and passion that’s generated by the power of our connections with one another. You’ve given me the tremendous gift of connecting with you through this work over the past seven years, and I’ll be forever grateful.

With so much love,

Emily Evans

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