Opening Remarks, Women & Money: Making Money Moves that Matter

Opening Remarks, Women & Money: Making Money Moves that Matter

On September 16-17, I joined my Changemaker Strategies team in partnership with What Will It Take Movements for “Women & Money: Making Money Moves that Matter” in Austin, a unique gathering of leaders and activists in the fields of strategic philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, angel investing, and impact/gender lens investing. Here are my opening remarks below.

Good afternoon. I’ll start by introducing myself as we’re inviting you all to introduce yourselves here.

My name... I go by she/her and I welcome they/them pronouns here as we practice gender inclusion across the continuum. Just a reminder that they/them pronouns are the neutral ones that have already been historically available in our English language.

This follows one of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz below, agreements which are based in Toltec Wisdom.

  1. Be impeccable with your word

  2. Don’t take things personally

  3. Don’t make assumptions

  4. Do your personal best

There is also a fifth agreement, which I always share as “use your power of discernment.” Speak your truth and ask questions.

My Home... Berkshires, Mass., specifically Great Barrington where we are soon to be celebrating the home site of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois.

Who inspired me to be here today? Tuti Scott and our many shared hours of imagining, dreaming, and working on embodied leadership, and of course my family who forever support and believe in my eternal optimism for what can be accomplished in community.

My day job... Equity and Inclusion Consultant with Changemaker Strategies and CEO and founding director of BRIDGE a social justice organization with a gender race and poverty/privilege analysis at its core. I also provide equity and inclusion coaching to corporate executives and board leaders of financial institutions, community foundations as well as local and nationally renowned arts organizations located in the Berkshires.

What does it mean to be an “Accountability Host” here at Women & Money?

My intention is to welcome you all here not so much from inclusion lens, but rather from a sense of place connectedness and belonging for all. If you want to know more about what I mean by this or our process around equity and inclusion, you can find more info in our program.

Liberated relationships are one of the ways we actually create abundant justice, the understanding that there is enough attention, care, resource, and connection for all of us to access belonging, to be in our dignity, and to be safe in community.” 

― adrienne maree brown

As we move through the next two days together, we also want to honor the land we are on. I will begin with a statement that was prepared for me to share. I apologize for any mispronunciations.

We open this conference with an acknowledgment of the land on which we stand.

We honor this land, which has been the ancestral home of the Karankawa, Caddo, Apache, Atakapan, Comanche, Wichita, Coahuiltecan, Neches, and Tonkawa tribes. In partnership and solidarity with Native Americans in Philanthropy, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this week, we affirm our commitment to equity and to acknowledging that much of the wealth in this country was created through the exploitation of its people and resources. We recognize our opportunity to disrupt that model, and to use our philanthropy and investments to heal and create a more equitable world. To date Native Americans receive 1% of our philanthropy.

Alongside this acknowledgement, I invite us to hold and remember together that it is the 400th anniversary of 1619 of the enslavement of Africans and the continued quest for liberation for us all from this history. Fast approaching as well is the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment for a women’s right to vote.


Dear friends,

Women and Money: Making Money Moves that Matter has intentionally convened a diverse group of women in the business of supporting women and girls by leveraging their resources because we know the positive social impact we can achieve together. 

Our mighty team of 30+ professionals have been asked to prepare their expert presentations with a race and gender lens toward social equity and positive social impact. I, Gwendolyn VanSant, have been asked to take lead on this event as an Equity and Inclusion consultant, and I’m delighted to serve as the Accountability Team Leader and an event Co-Host. Additionally, our team plans to host intentional spaces during the event to address the multiplicity of gender and racialized oppressions (for example, a session I am co-hosting with Susan Witt of The Schumacher Center for New Economics, among others).

Our hope is that by leveraging our collective power as those of us who identify as women and/or feminists, we will make the cultural shift required for our nation to thrive and disrupt all systems of oppression across religion, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Read Our Values below.

Serving the work forward,

Gwendolyn VanSant, Equity & Inclusion Consultant, Women and Money

Co-Founder and CEO of BRIDGE
Equity & Inclusion Team Lead, Changemaker Strategies

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