In keeping with its double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating 25% of the box office proceeds from Ann to its 14th and 15th beneficiaries, The Denise Kaley Fund and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ 2018 Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI).
LIPPI participants come from all four counties in western Massachusetts, but WAM’s donation will provide scholarships for Berkshire participants in the 2018 LIPPI cohort.
Donna Haghighat, the new CEO of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, took a moment to talk about the LIPPI program and what this collaboration with WAM means to their work.
“The Women’s Fund was WAM’s very first local beneficiary back in 2010, and we are thrilled to have been selected again,” Haghighat said. “Supporting our LIPPI program is really paying it forward by developing some great Berkshire women leaders.” Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, Multicultural BRIDGE CEO and Founding Director Gwendolyn van Sant, Jeanet T. Ingalls, President of Shout Out Loud Productions, Erika Allison, Director of Member Services at 1Berkshire, and former North Adams City Councilor Kate Merrigan are all LIPPI alumnae or current participants.
“We’re very excited to partner with WAM not only because our missions align but also because LIPPI is all about giving voice to those women’s stories we don’t always hear. Ann Richards was a woman ahead of her time. I’ve been doing some reading about her and I am excited to see the play!”
This is Haghighat’s first year as a CEO. “I had the chance to attend several LIPPI classes, and I am so excited we’re bringing in Carla Oleska and Daisy Hernandez to run the program this year.”
Oleska is a former Women’s Fund CEO who led the formation of LIPPI in 2009, and Hernandez, is an alumna of the LIPPI Class of 2017. They will oversee the program as consultants for the next year as the WFWM Board and staff envision the future of LIPPI as it reaches its tenth year. Hernandez said “It is exciting to return to the LIPPI program as an instructor who will gain insights from both Carla as lead facilitator, but also from the women in the next cohort.”
“It is such an honor to be back working with a program that has, and will continue to have, transformational impact on so many women and in turn the communities in which they live and work,” Oleska added.
“I look at LIPPI as this amazing catalyst to create the change-makers who are going to change the world,” Haghighat explained. “We’re not only providing access and opportunity for our lifetime but we’re working to safeguard and preserve it for future generations. You need to create women leaders who will write and protect the laws, who will raise their voices, who will raise their hands and say ‘I’m going to run, I’m going to apply, I speak not only for myself but for others in the room.’”
“The secret sauce that makes LIPPI so successful is the bond of sisterhood created in the room. For many of our participants this is the first time they’ve been in a room learning with just women. It’s the first time they get to really root for each other.”
“I love the idea that this a theatre that is specifically promoting women and girls, and our LIPPI program is a great fit as a beneficiary,” Haghighat enthused. “Kristen van Ginhoven was so visionary bringing a specific gender lens to the theatre. I am on the board of a playhouse Connecticut, so I know how hard it is to run a theatre company. She has really brought some amazing women into the WAM ecosystem.”
About Beneficiary the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ 2018 Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI)
Since 1997, the Women’s Fund has been supporting women and girls in the four counties of western Mass through grant making and leadership programs. Their Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, or LIPPI, is a non-partisan initiative that provides women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become our region’s community leaders and elected officials. LIPPI trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from a citizen perspective and develops leadership confidence through 11 intensive workshops held in over 10 months.