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This Chester County fund is taking a stand for local women

Michelle Legaspi Sanchez. September 7, 2016 Category: FeatureFeaturedMediumMethod
Yes, women are faring a lot better these days in the leadership realm than we once were. But we still have a ways to go before we reach equal representation.

In Philadelphia, we have groups such as the Leeway Foundation, Forum for Executive Women, 100 Women PhiladelphiaImpact100 and a handful of others supporting the work of local women. In nearby Chester County, there’s the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls (CCFWG).

Last month, the fund published a strongly worded rebuttal to a recent Daily Local op-ed that stated that in the county, “women at the helm is business as usual.” CCFWG’s counterargument was that, though the county does, indeed, have a female sheriff and female county commissioners, it also has only one female state legislator out of 13 and few women of color in elected leadership positions. What’s more, of 20 of the state’s members of Congress, none are female.

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For newly appointed Executive Director Michelle Legaspi Sanchez, the work is personal, not only because she’s a woman who lives in Chester County.

It’s because the former social worker has five sets of eyes watching her as she shapes CCFWG’s legacy: Legaspi Sanchez is the mother of five daughters — a 10-year-old, a 7-year-old and 1-year-old triplets.

CCFWG's Girls Advisory Board.

CCFWG’s Girls Advisory Board. (Courtesy photo)

“It’s personal to me in terms of making sure my girls understand that they live in a community where they know that the sky’s the limit” — that they know they have as many opportunities as their male classmates, or anyone else, she said.

CCFWG funds organizations that help women and girls gain more economic opportunities and betters their health and wellness, as well as orgs that support “systems and sustainable change efforts to challenge gender inequality,” as its website states.

“The importance of funding focused on women and girls is undeniable,” Legaspi Sanchez said. “Across all cultures, women tend to use what is given to them for their families and for others. When it comes down to it, the investment in women and girls is an investment in a better life for the community. The ROI is immense.”

There’s a challenge there. In the five-county region, we’re lucky to have organizations such as CCFWG and the aforementioned Philly-based funding orgs, as well as a city government that values women’s issues enough to form the Mayor’s Commission for Women. But there’s still work to be done.

We all have a new generation of eyes watching us.

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