(Photo by Jay Wiley)
This article is sponsored by The Fund for Women and Girls and was reviewed before publication.
Growing up in Mt. Airy in the 1970s, Kim Andrews dreamed of a more equitable world. It was inspiring to be raised in a “free to be you and me era,” she said.
Years later, Andrews is stepping into a role that allows her to create more equitable opportunities. In May, Andrews became the executive director of The Fund for Women and Girls. The Fund is based in Chester County and has been supporting women and girls since 1996 through grantmaking, educational programs and advocacy.
Andrews leads a team of four full-time employees who run day-to-day operations. She also collaborates with The Fund’s board of directors, meeting with the entire board six times a year and having regular conversations with board chairs and its executive committee.
“It’s really exciting having a board of directors that is all women. They’re highly accomplished women, and they’re all so committed to the work that The Fund does,” Andrews said. “Having this kind of support group helping to move the mission along at such high levels of attainment and passion for the mission is really exciting.”
Before The Fund, Andrews was the executive director of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia for over 12 years. The Fund began searching for its new ED in September 2021 when Michelle Legaspi Sanchez departed the org after six years; Mary Beth Morrissey served as the interim ED until Andrews’ start date.
“The work of the Search Committee and our recruitment firm JANE.hr was an extensive, thoughtful process in selecting The Fund’s leader. We are very excited about Kim’s experience, skills, and ideas to propel our future,” said Judi Bell, the chair of the Search Committee and a former board chair at the time Andrews was hired.
More than a month into her time at The Fund, Andrews said the organization’s work aligns with lessons she’s learned, such as the value of her network. One of her career-long passions is mentoring young people, but she said a personal network of women helping women is just as important as a professional one.
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“If you don’t have your family around to help you watch your kids, how do you get to work when your kids are sick? If you don’t have somebody to check in on your kids because you’re coming home late from work, then you’ve got the stress of abandoning your kids at home,” Andrews said. “If women aren’t able to have strong networks full of other women, it can cause a lot of struggle.”
The Fund helps women and girls foster meaningful connections with one another through its programs, such as GirlGov and Girls Advisory Board. Annually, The Fund allocates about $250,000 for grants distributed to Chester County organizations that support women and girls.
During the search for a new ED, The Fund told Generocity that its search committee was looking for someone who could help the org fundraise and double its existing $5 million endowment, which funds its annual Core Grant program. The Fund also wanted a leader who would continue the conversations about diversity and inclusion that Sanchez started.
Andrews said she’s currently in the midst of a strategic planning process for The Fund, including organizing an equity assessment.
She said the assessment will go further than the representation of The Fund’s personnel. It will also catalog the demographics of the women and girls who participate in its programs, how they find participants and detail how equitable the grantmaking process is.
“We want to look at every piece of what we do,” Andrews said. “That means we have to take a look at how we are implementing our programs, how we are planning our programs, who helps us plan our programs. Exploring all of these questions will help us enhance our commitment to diversity and equity.”
Andrews is also excited about the upcoming release of The Fund’s 2022 Blueprint Report in September. The report is released about every five years and is compiled in partnership with West Chester University.
Andrews said the report is a crucial tool for The Fund’s advocacy, due to its long-term, comprehensive data on the education, economics, racial justice, wellbeing, politics and reproductive rights of women and girls in Chester County.
Andrews, who is not from Chester County or a current resident, said she’s relying on her outsider’s perspective to bolster The Fund’s work. Prior to her new role, most of her time in Chester County was spent riding motorcycles with her partner, David.
Now, she is learning about the disparities within the state’s wealthiest county, including clusters of economic inequity, lack of women’s health centers and social services for a large Spanish-speaking population, she said.
“It’s given me a fresh eye. I’m not part of any of the existing power structures or even social structures there,” Andrews said. “I’m getting a sense of how Chester County treats its women and girls and how Chester County treats its racial and economic minorities. It’s eye-opening and there is a lot to do. I’m very encouraged by the work that we will continue to do.”-30-
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