Friday, April 24, 2015

In Her Spirit: an UnRetiring Passion Prevails

It really stuns me that two years after the death of Happy Fernandez, her legacy continues -- and is building. That's how much she inspired some two dozen women she brought together after retiring as president of Moore College of Art. Of course, she wasn't retiring. She was putting together a new challenge for herself -- trying to help women improve their leadership skills and rise in the ranks of non-profits, especially boards of trustees.
Since she died in January 2013, this rump group, made up of leaders of a number of Philadelphia non-profits as well as women on executive boards and high-ranking university officials, has met numerous times. At first, it was to honor Happy. But then it began gathering its own head of steam. The group's signature accomplishment so far was convincing the Forum of Executive Women to gather statistical information about women on non-profit educational and medical boards in the region for the Forum's annual report.
The results proved painful. Most of these boards had fewer than 1 woman for every 5 men. Some had none. And that despite the extraordinary number of women now holding high level jobs in all areas of the economy.
Happy's group hasn't stopped there. Now it is trying to use connections and persuasion to convince those who govern the Philadelphia area's non-profit universities and medical behemoths to address the lack of board diversity.  In today's Philadelphia Inquirer,  Jane Scaccetti -- a member of Temple University's board who also runs and is a founding member of a professional tax accounting firm -- partners with WHYY (public broadcast) president Bill Marrazzo to make the argument publicly.
Jane Scaccetti, CEO Drucker &Scaccetti

Bill Marrazzo, WHYY
This is not simply a question of gender equality.  As the article states, "We are not making the argument that women are 'better' than men. We are, however, making the suggestion, one firmly rooted in evidence, that perspectives informed by the different life and professional experiences men and women bring to the table yield new and often better decisions."
Stay tuned...


Jane Scaccetti said...

I am proud to be part of this inspiring group of women. Our hope is that with the Forum's study, we can encourage other leaders to step forward on the important issue of Gender Diversity.

Dave Fernandez said...

I remember my mom starting this and how excited she was to find ways to open doors for young women. Thank you Vicki Kramer for sharing and to all of you for building on this important work!