WIP Chair Arlene Greenfield

WIP Chair Arlene F. Greenfield (left) with recent OHIO graduates Samantha Baker (2011 alumna) and Christopher Nierstheimer (2013 alumnus). Photo taken at WIP event in the home of David and Michelle Paris.

Photographer: Heather Anerino

WIP founding member Sheila McHale

WIP founding member Sheila Rowan McHale, a 1968 Arts & Sciences alumna, attended a WIP event at the home of David and Michelle Paris with her daughter-in-law Amanda Seifert, a 2003 Arts & Sciences alumna.

Photographer: Heather Anerino

OHIO's Director of Development for WIP and the 1804 Fund Dorothy Schey greets WIP members.

Chair of Ohio University Cleveland Women's Club Yolanda Sutyak (1959 alumna) speaks with OHIO's Director of Development for WIP and the 1804 Fund Dorothy Schey (middle) and 1965 alumna Bonna DeMarco during a recent WIP event held in Cleveland.

Photographer: Heather Anerino

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Women in Philanthropy marks 10 years of giving time, talent and treasure

When most of us hear the word “philanthropist,” we think of Bill Gates or Andrew Carnegie — fabulously wealthy men giving huge chunks of their fortunes for worthy causes. 

Women in Philanthropy of Ohio University (WIP) wants you to think differently about what it means to be a philanthropist.

“When people hear ‘philanthropy,’ they immediately say, ‘I don’t have millions of dollars,’” said Arlene Greenfield, WIP’s current chairwoman. “We stress that ‘philanthropy’ equals time, talent and/or treasure.”

WIP got its start 10 years ago with a group of women then serving on the Ohio University Foundation Board who were intrigued by research about the unique attributes of female donors. 

“Women wish to be involved so they can test the waters before giving, pool their resources, and leverage their gifts to make a large impact from many donors,” said Dorothy Schey, director of Development for Special Fundraising Initiatives and one of the founders of WIP. 

And that is what the group originally did, forming a “giving circle” in which each woman donated a predetermined amount of money for the group to allocate by consensus. That Founders Circle established an endowment to support the Student Community Outreach Resource Endowment (SCORE) grants to help student organizations fund service projects; to date, SCORE has disbursed a total of nearly $19,000 to 71 projects. Another giving circle was started to fund programming at Baker University Center and the Amanda J. Cunningham Leadership Center. In all, WIP has raised more than $1 million in gifts, pledges and planned gifts to the University since 2003.

But economics and demographics have shifted the group’s emphasis away from the Giving Circles model toward a more inclusive one that embraces not only established alumnae and friends, but also students and younger alumnae whose gifts are likely to be time and talent than treasure.

WIP particularly seeks opportunities to collaborate with campus units on projects that not only serve students, but also teach them. For example, the SCORE grant program originally was a mini-grant program through the Community Service Center (now the Community Involvement Center). WIP saw in it an opportunity not only to help student organizations undertake community service projects, but also to teach students about nonprofit leadership. So in addition to funding the grants, WIP advises the all-student Community Service Leadership Council that administers them. 

“Students learn about the grant process from application to review, selection and post-event report,” Schey said.

In a similar vein, WIP has worked with faculty and staff on a series of financial literacy initiatives, including seminars, panel discussions and workshops, as well as the MoneyU online course for students on the Athens, Zanesville, and Chillicothe campuses.

“It is important for students to be able to handle their financial matters for many reasons, including being able to give back part in the future to Ohio University,” Schey said.

Although the group’s programs are intended to support all students, and men are encouraged to participate as donors, WIP does emphasize leadership and service among women. Every other year, WIP sponsors the OHIO Women Making a Difference Conference to highlight the accomplishments of female students, faculty, staff and alumnae. The group has worked with Provost Pam Benoit to identify high-potential women to send to the prestigious Higher Education Resource Services Institute for women faculty and administrators. And it recognizes outstanding women with the Leona Hughes Inspiration Award, named for a founding member of WIP and a generous donor to the University.

“The award highlights exemplary women with integrity, who have led by example and shown leadership in philanthropy,” Schey said.

Looking ahead

In this 10th anniversary year, WIP is reviewing all that it has achieved to form strategies and priorities for its future, Greenfield said. With the help of Judith Millesen, director of the master of public administration program in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, the group is identifying its strengths for future growth.

“We’re focused on where we want to go as an organization — where we feel it’s necessary to go,” Greenfield said.

Wherever that is, it will likely be collaborative, creative and connected.

“Women in Philanthropy is building a networking community of dedicated and passionate alumnae, students and friends who are happy to help OHIO,” Schey said. 

OHIO history through the eyes of women

For most of its first century and a half, Ohio University was a fairly small institution. From the 1940s onward, though, OHIO underwent massive changes, from the influx of students on the GI Bill through the tumultuous cultural changes of the 1960s to the University’s transformation into a major research center in the 21st century.

A new documentary looks at those changes through the eyes of 16 women who lived through them—and were profoundly changed by their time at Ohio University.

“OHIO Women through the Decades, 1940s–2010s” is the brainchild of executive producer Peggy Viehweger, an Athens native who received a bachelor’s in English from OHIO in 1971. (Her grandfather was former OHIO coach Don Peden, for whom the University's football stadium is named.) 

“She wanted to make sure that these women’s stories and memories were recorded,” said Dorothy Schey, director of Development for Special Fundraising Initiatives and, like Viehweger, a member of Women in Philanthropy. 

The documentary was produced, filmed and edited by Andie Walla, assistant video producer with University Communications and Marketing.

Walla will be on hand to moderate a panel discussion with the documentary’s subjects after the film’s premiere at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, in Baker Theatre.