Women’s Fund Presents, 2022… The F Word, Reclaiming Feminism


This event brings humor to shine the light on the complexities of feminism. We reflect on who we are as feminists, and how we can do better for ALL women in Greater Milwaukee. Join us for laughs and conversation about feminism being for everyone, because everyone needs it! Event proceeds work to advance equity for women…by providing HER Scholarships, supporting Grants to area NFP organizations addressing systemic issues, and convening the community to change attitudes, behavior, and culture. Thank you for your investment.

Featured Guest: Marina Franklin

Event Committee

Ashton Henry, Chair

Cassandra Abarca

Amira Adams

Megan Anderson

Kate Brejcha

Laura Lutter Cole

Jo Houck

Paige Hunt

Gillian Lester-George de Montesinos

Cheryl Moore, Ph.D

Heather Walker

Event Sponsors


Named by our event sponsors — these people are advocating for gender equity and building solidarity to ensure advances for all women. Each is committed to challenging the systemic barriers and creating social change shifting attitudes, behaviors and culture so women realize their full potential and everyone thrives. 


This discussion localized the experiences our special guest. Marina Franklin, highlighted and provided ideas for action by attendees.


Women’s Fund Presents, 2021 Disruptors, Changing the Power Dynamics


This annual educational event is designed to inspire new perspectives, help shape the narrative, and celebrate women, in our community.

Our theme, Disruptors, Changing the Power Dynamics, deepened the community conversation about gender and race, and how intersectionality impacts women in Greater Milwaukee. We were especially pleased that Johnson Controls, as Speaker Sponsor, helped bring Abby Phillip to Milwaukee. Abby Phillip, Correspondent, Anchor, and Author, and Dr. Joan M. Prince had an important conversation about their lived experiences. To ensure their stories reverberate in the community throughout 2022, we are promoting “35 Books to Read” and are hosting book discussions regularly.

The 12 bold Disruptors named by our Event Sponsors offered inspiration that we are committed to making Milwaukee a place where everyone thrives. Together, these Disruptors are changing the power dynamics, in their workplaces and our community. Monica Shah-Davidson was Event Chair and Emcee. We celebrated being together in the Grand Ballroom at the Pfister Hotel. We are grateful for the tremendous support from our Event Sponsors, especially, Associated Bank, our Signature Sponsor and Baird, as our Visionary Sponsor.

To all, a heartfelt, thank you…together we are advancing equity for women.

Featured speakeRS

Event Committee

Monica Shah-Davidson, Chair

Ashton Henry

Nicole Horvath

Paige Hunt

Li Jacobson

Gillian Lester-George de Montesinos

Melissa McCord

Joell Poole

Heather Walker





Watch all the highlights


Women’s Fund Presents… Game Changers, Driving Equity Forward

Keynote Address by Meghan Duggan, Olympic Gold Metalist and Captain of the USA Women’s National Hockey Team. She and her teammates on the USA Women’s National Hockey Team took a stand for pay equity, threatening to boycott the 2017 World Championship Tournament.

Friday, October 23, 2020 Virtual Event





This annual educational event is designed to create new perspectives, help shape the narrative, and celebrate women, in our community. Our theme, Game Changers, gave us the chance to hear an uplifting message about how one woman, and her teammates, put the issue of fair compensation ahead of the game and bonded on the path to winning, both on the ice and in the boardroom. Meghan Duggan shared stories that underscore how trust, communication, and unity, are important to achieving a goal and having success. The 11 bold Game Changers named by our Event Sponsors offered inspiration that we are committed to making Milwaukee a place where everyone thrives. Together, these Game Changers are helping change the norm and drive eq

uity forward, in their workplaces and our community. Celeste Cuffie did a fantastic job as emceeing our first ever, virtual event. While a small group functioned from Studio A at Majic Productions, hundreds of people watched the event via Zoom. We are grateful for the tremendous support from our Event Sponsors, especially, Associated Bank, our Signature Sponsor and Johnson Controls, as our Visionary Sponsor.


“Kudos to all and especially the Women’s Fund for a truly exceptional program!  Terrific honorees and presentations and loved how it really worked to make you feel as if you were there and participating. Well done!!”

“The event was incredible! I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it! The WF event was the BEST virtual event I have attended!”

Event Emcee

Celeste Cuffie

Event Committee

Marilka Vélez, Chair

Nicole Horvath

Melissa McCord

Debi Miller

Monica Shah-Davidson

Carla Washington

Emily Wright



Watch all the highlights of Women’s Fund Presents… Game Changers, Driving Equity Forward


Women’s Fund Presents… The Future, 2030

Keynote Address by Rebecca Ryan, Economist and Futurist.

Friday, November 1, 2019 at The Garage, Harley-Davidson Museum, 12-1:30PM

Our theme in 2019 gave focus to what we need to do today, to ensure the future is what we all want now. Rebecca Ryan delivered an inspiring three-part keynote that ended with recommendations of action that ensures a future that we all want now. She challenges us to ask two questions: “Who are we?” and “What do we stand for?” During the event 12 inspiring women were recognized as Futurists, named by our Event Sponsors, for their efforts in working and leading for a more equitable future. We heard the value of lifting others from Bridgett Wilder, our emcee and HER Scholar, who shared her powerful life story of perseverance. We learned that with support from others, she overcame grief and a string of hardships to achieve her dream of a college degree, and so much more. We had a pop-up book store created by the local, Voyageur Book Shop that offered books by both Rebecca and Bridgett. It was a powerful luncheon that was captured in photos by Shela Grant, a budding entrepreneur. We are grateful for the tremendous support from our Event Sponsors, especially, Associated Bank, our Signature Sponsor. We acknowledge that progress is best measured over time and the arc of history proves we have had success. Success demonstrated by Marilka Vélez, Event Chair, who has the ability to secure a mortgage for a home in a neighborhood that once prevented people like her from moving in.

Event Emcee

Bridgett L. Wilder, Founder
PERSEVERANCE Health and Wellness
Coaching and Nutritional Consultation

Event Committee

Marilka Vélez, Chair

Nicole Horvath

Melissa McCord

Debi Miller

Monica Shah-Davidson

Carla Washington

Emily Wright



Futurists…Our Event Honorees

Named by our Event Sponsors, these women are working and leading for a better future!


The Power of Philanthropy with Joan Marie Johnson, PhD.

Keynote Address by joan marie johnson, ph.d., author of funding feminism: monied women, philanthropy and the women’s movement

Friday, November 1, 2018 at The Garage, Harley-Davidson Museum, 12-1:30 PM

In 2018, in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, our celebration featured a powerful keynote by Joan Marie Johnson, Ph.D. who authored Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy and the Women’s Movement. Joan detailed how women wielded their social and financial influence to make change. The results include the right to vote, access to higher education, birth control, and better working conditions. She brought to life stories of various women who have been overlooked in history. Joan encouraged attendees to think about the power of their own philanthropy. She reminded us, “We have to understand that as we move forward it is certainly not a straight line. We have come a long way since 1900 but certainly there is far to go.” We were also proud to honor nine women, named by our Event Sponsors, who are using their philanthropy to make change in our community. Congratulations to these outstanding women. Let’s stand on their shoulders and use the power of our philanthropy to advance equity for women, today and forever.





  • Holly Baumgart, Sargento
  • Jane Durment, retired, Marcus Corporation
  • Kristine L. Havlik, Foley & Lardner
  • Patti Keating Kahn, PK2Group
  • Jean Kreiser, Baird
  • JoAnne McGrath, Highland Street Foundation
  • Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, LOTUS Legal Clinic
  • Joan Robertson
  • Deb Roesner, BMO Harris Bank

Watch all the highlights of Women’s Fund Presents… The Power of Philanthropy with Joan Marie Johnson, PhD.


Women’s Fund Presents…Donna Orender and the 45th Anniversary of Title IX


Keynote Address by Donna Orender, CEO of Orender Unlimited and former president of the WNBA

October 25, 2017 at The Garage, Harley Davidson Museum

In 2017, we celebrated the 45th Anniversary of Title IX. This important legislation from the 1970’s mandates equal opportunity for women in sports, access to higher education, opportunities for STEM careers, and so much more. Today, for example, this law remains critical to protecting the LGTBQ community and helping survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. Our celebration featured a powerful keynote by Donna Orender, CEO of Orender Unlimited and former president of the WNBA. She explained in her closing remarks, “when we expect the best from each other, we rise. When we support the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee, we rise. We know how to compete, the game is in our hands. Let us all be game changers because when we are, we all rise.” We were also proud to recognize 14 “Title IX Athletes,” named by our Event Sponsors, each of whom leveraged or supported inclusive sports to advance her education, career, or leadership skills, or those of other women. Congratulations to these outstanding professionals.



Title IX Athletes

  • Melissa Moore Baldauff, Milwaukee County
  • Nicki Barnes, Robert W. Baird
  • Bet-z Boenning, Walker’s Pint
  • Kareeda Chones-Aguam, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Janine A. Emmer, Associated Bank
  • Jacyln Gruber, Johnson Financial Group
  • Gabrielle Hood, Alverno College
  • Bernell Hooker, Midwest Women’s Sports Group
  • Rebecca Hulce, BMO Wealth Management
  • Natalie Maciolek, Kohler Company
  • Kathryn Markgraf, Markgraf Sports and Leadership Academy
  • Kathryn Muldoon, Quarles & Brady LLP
  • Kelsey Peterson, Mt. Mary University
  • Heather Tiltmann, Adient

Bernell Hooker and Nikki Barnes Participated in a Pre-Event Panel on June 23, 2017 in recognition of the 25th Anniversary of the day Title IX was Ratified

Bernell Hooker, Founder and CEO of Images of Us

Principal Owner
Midwest Women’s Sports Group

Bernell Hooker is the Founder/CEO of Images of Us (IOU) Sports a nonprofit organization empowering girls to achieve their best through sports. With 15 years leading IOU Sports, she’s worked with over 1,500 girls and women teaching life lessons through sports, careers in sports and a host of programs and events. In 2014, Bernell acquired a Semi-Professional Women’s Basketball Team, the Milwaukee Aces to complete her mission. She believes Wisconsin lacks pro women’s sports and girls need to see firsthand women playing professional sports and the careers that derive from it.[/one_half]


Marquette athlete, Nicki Barnes, shares Title IX experience

“Being an athlete prepared me for the workforce”

Today, women are able to benefit from Title IX, signed into law, 45 years ago. Title IX is a law banning sex discrimination in publicly funded institutions, giving female students access to play sports, a privilege their male counterparts have always been able to take advantage of.


Women’s Fund Presents…Kate Schatz and Rad Women

Keynote address by kate schatz, new york times best selling author


October 20, 2016 at the Italian Community Center

In 2016, there was a Rad Women Celebration, a celebration of the fact that American history was made by countless rad—and often radical—women. Leading our celebration was New York Times bestselling author Kate Schatz with a keynote on “Being Rad for Social Change.” Her book, “Rad American Women A to Z,” illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl, documents America’s famous and unsung heroines. Like all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet—but instead of “apple,” A is for Angela—as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist; B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta, who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped shape the Civil Rights movement. The inspirational and uplifting conversation highlighted rebels, trailblazers, and visionaries who shaped our history and our future on a national and local level.


Rad Women MKE

  • Linda Benfield, Foley & Lardner LLP
  • Corey Joe Biddle, FUEL Milwaukee/MMAC
  • Sandra Botcher, Northwestern Mutual
  • April Calvert, FIS
  • Katherine L. Charlton, Hawks Quindel, S.C.
  • Dr. Darienne Driver, Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Janel Hines, Greater Milwaukee Foundation
  • Kara Kaiser, BMO Private Bank
  • Carmen Pitre, Sojourner Family Peace Center
  • Molly Snyder, OnMilwaukee.com
  • Teri Sullivan, Arts@Large
  • Deborah Telman, Johnson Controls, Inc.
  • Amalia Todryk, Quarles & Brady LLP
  • Tammie Xiong, Hmong American Women’s Association


Women & Public Policy Event…Let’s Talk About It

September 30, 2015 at the Harley Davidson Museum Chrome 

In 2015, the focus was on economic empowerment, education, and leadership equality for women and girls. This groundbreaking program featured a panel of men, leaders in our community, who help to make social change happen. Our Panelists and Honorary Hosts worked towards changing public opinion and policies that provide ways for women to attain economic empowerment and serve in leadership roles. Their inspirational stories and experiences reached deeper into the business community to foster a greater awareness of what needs to be done for equal treatment of all women. We are proud to highlight men empowering men to do the right thing!


  • David Gay, Ernst & Young LLP
  • Doug Harris, The Kaleidoscope Group
  • Stephen Johnson, BMO Private Bank
  • John Kissinger, Graef – USA
  • Kevin Long, Quarles & Brady LLP
  • Barry Mandel, Mandel Group
  • Mark Sabljak, Milwaukee Business Journal
  • Todd Teske, Briggs & Stratton Corp.

Sangita Kasturi, Women’s Fund board member served as the panel moderator. Ms Kasturi is the principal and founder of Tan270 Consulting. She helps public and private organizations maximize their potential for inclusive leadership and gender equality.