On May 24, 2018, Northern Trust co-hosted an intimate panel conversation with the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle about the growing economic power and influence of women and the positive change we make in the world. The event featured moderator Marguerite H. Griffin and panelists Denise Barnett Gardner, Nancy Searle and Marty Wilke. Panelist bios below.
The statistics about women as philanthropic change agents are powerful. Women are expected to control two-thirds of private wealth by 2020 (MarketWatch, May 2017). In 2009, nine years ago, a Harvard Business Review Article stated, “Women now drive the world economy,” (Harvard Business Review, Sept 2009).
The influence comes not only from access to wealth but also how women choose to invest. Studies show that women give more, and do so with a socially conscious outlook.
In March 2018, The Economist stated that “84% of women said they were interested in “sustainable” investing, that is, targeting not just financial returns but social or environmental goals.”
According to Debra Mesch, the director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy, in an interview with Make it Better, “In the top 25 percent of combined income and assets, women give 156 percent more than men.”
“Every woman up here uses her superpowers for good,” said Marguerite Griffin to open the panel conversation. And it’s true. The panelists created change by combining their economic power with their talents and drive for change to create an exponential impact in our communities.
Marty Wilke, recently retired general manager of CBS 2 Chicago said, “We had the recession, we had the newly introduced iPhone, Facebook had just hit their 1 million mark. In that ten-year experience of mine in running two news organizations, I was a product of change that was coming at me from every angle.” Resistance to change comes out of fear, said Marty, but when done right, it is incredibly rewarding.
Women continue to gain an influence and make an impact.
“[It is] Important to know the change you want to accomplish and really own that change,” said Nancy Searle, who raised $60 million dollars in a year to open new schools in Chicago. “It was just an idea that I had that got us going.” Nancy looks at the intersection of her passions and values to determine which organizations to support with her time and talent.
A real turning point for many individual donors, was when Warren Buffet decided to donate to other foundations and organizations rather than starting his own. But, the collaborative nature of philanthropy is complex and full of opportunity. “You have to have thriving nonprofits to have a really thriving city,” said Denise, who hopes over the next twenty years to continue to develop ideas that will have an impact even if she’s not the one leading them.
Women are giving back with their treasure, but also their time, talents and their “turn-up” – their ability to get other people to turn up to support a cause.
As women philanthropists look to the next generation of change makers, they watch millennials constantly asking, “What are we doing to change and influence the world?” As Nancy said, we’ve seen “the power of one,” – the ability for one voice on social media to mobilize thousands more voices toward change.
Thank you to Northern Trust and the Tiffany Circle for co-hosting this incredibly meaningful conversation filled with an abundance of wisdom and advice for fellow women philanthropists. Keep your eye on what your end game is. Take a step back and take another look at what’s going on from a new angle. And, build consensus and plan for change.
About the Tiffany Circle
The Tiffany Circle is a national and international leadership network of women who work to change lives, save lives and strengthen communities through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure in the American Red Cross. By making a $10,000 minimum annual investment, members of the Tiffany Circle stand proudly with an extraordinary group of women committed to ensuring the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross is available to all.
About the Moderator
Marguerite H. Griffin is a Senior Vice President at Northern Trust. As director of Philanthropic Advisory Services, Marguerite is responsible for the delivery and growth of Northern Trust’s philanthropic advisory services to Wealth Management clients. She specializes in administering charitable trusts and private foundations and facilitating family philanthropy retreats. She also advises clients regarding impact investing, strategic philanthropy, international philanthropy, family succession planning and board development, governance and risk management for nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Northern Trust, Marguerite was a Vice President and Trust Administrator within the Private Clients Division of First Chicago, Bank One. Before joining First Chicago, Bank One, she practiced law as an Associate with Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz where she specialized in estate planning, nonprofit organization law, charitable trusts and private foundations. Marguerite received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. Marguerite is a member of the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council on Planned Giving and the Chicago Estate Planning Council. Marguerite is admitted to practice before the Illinois Supreme Court. She is a sought-after speaker in the areas of impact investing, strategic philanthropy, board development, managing private foundations and family legacy philanthropy. Marguerite is an active volunteer, advisor and board member with several charitable and cultural institutions, including Aeris, the Art Institute of Chicago, Audubon Great Lakes, Chicago Foundation for Women, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Community Trust, Forefront, The Ravinia Festival and WTTW/WFMT.
About the Panelists
Denise Barnett Gardner is a retired marketing executive and former president of Insights & Opportunities, a research-based marketing and strategic planning firm. She is also the co-founder of Namaste Laboratories and former VP, Marketing at Soft Sheen Products Company. During her tenure at each company, they enjoyed #1 market share in the ethnic beauty industry. Denise is the vice chair of the Board of Trustees at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the former chair of the museum’s Leadership Advisory Committee and former vice chair of its Marketing Committee. She also serves on the Board of Governors of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and The Chicago Public Library Board. Denise served for ten years on the Executive Committee of The Chicago Community Trust where she chaired the board’s Donor Relations & Civic Engagement Committee. She also chaired their African American Legacy Initiative. She is a former member of the Board of Visitors of Northwestern University’s Weinberg College and the Chicago Humanities Festival. She is former president of the Chicago Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and is currently treasurer of their philanthropic arm, The Chicago Chapter Charities Foundation. Along with her husband, Gary, she has invested significantly in improving college access in Chicago. They also have a long-time commitment to supporting critical educational needs at the high school level, and with supporting arts programs in Chicago’s African American community. Denise began her professional career at Leo Burnett Company after graduating from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She also holds a B.S.J. from Northwestern University in Advertising and Social Psychology.
Nancy Searle served as the lead Searle consultant to the Chicago Community Trust from 2003-2010. The Searle Funds focused their efforts on biomedical research, education, community renewal and conservation. Projects funded by the Searle Funds reflected the intent of the donor, John G. Searle, and the values of the Searle family. During her tenure, the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust supported the development of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, the Searle Life Sciences Fund at Northwestern University, the Frances Searle Health Center at Northwestern University, the John G. Searle Chemistry Building at the University of Chicago and the business development of CARA. Of all the projects that the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust funded under Ms. Searle’s tenure as lead consultant, New Schools for Chicago is one of her most important legacies. Ms. Searle started New Schools with funds from the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, joining forces with the Civic Committee, foundations and individual donors to turn the original $2.5 million donation into over $50 million to launch more that 70 new schools. Since 2005, New Schools for Chicago has launched more successful charter schools than any other organization in the city. Ms. Searle continues to be committed to improving educational outcomes for all children in Chicago. She is also a Trustee of the Shedd Aquarium where she chairs the Animal Collection Committee and is the President of the Women’s Board of Lyric Opera.
Marty Wilke, a media executive, was the first woman to serve as President and General Manager for two Chicago television stations: WGN-TV and WBBM-TV (CBS 2 Chicago). After graduating from DePaul University, Marty began her career in television working as a media buyer at several advertising agencies until, in 1993, she shifted her career to television sales, working as an account executive at Katz Television. In 2008, Marty became the General Manager of WGN-TV where she launched Antenna TV, Tribune Broadcasting’s first digital sub-channel network. Considered an industry change agent, Marty is credited with bringing the Chicago Blackhawks broadcasts back to WGN-TV and profitably leading WGN through the Tribune Company bankruptcy. At CBS 2 Chicago, under Marty’s leadership, viewership and revenue increased, and the community presence of the station was reestablished. The first and only all-female anchor team in the market was created during her tenure, and partnerships with area organizations like the Chicago Urban League, the Business Leadership Council and the DuSable Museum of African American History were all established to bring awareness to issues of importance in the Chicago African American community. In her position, Marty advocated for many nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, Chicago Says NO MORE, and the American Diabetes Association. In her personal time, Marty is a member of The Chicago Network, The Economic Club of Chicago, The Commercial Club of Chicago, and is an ardent supporter of American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Chicago.