Faces of WID - May 2020

Joana OrtizName:  Joana Ortiz

Title & Organization: Interim Executive Director, Boston Women’s Workforce Council

WID Role: Member, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Lives Currently: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Education: BA in International Relations, St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas; Mid-Career Master in Public Administration, Harvard Kennedy School, 2021
Hobbies: Tweeting, drinking coffee, listening to music, walking, and reading foreign policy magazines and memoirs by women.

When and how did you join the development field? What path brought you to your current role?

My background is predominantly in the nonprofit sector, not development in particular, but my roles have always been adjacent to it. From a young age, I wanted to have an impact on global human rights issues. As I progressed into my career, I realized there’s a lot you can do from a local standpoint that can have a larger scale impact. The nonprofit sector can be a great way to see firsthand how different issues are being approached and where resources are coming from.

My first job out of undergrad was at Goodwill Industries in Austin, working with their Workforce Development program. The program only received about half its funding from local government sources and the other half was through store revenue/donations. That really taught me about the role of government in social issues and their relationships with nonprofit organizations, often lacking the sufficient resources to address critical issues.

Tell us a bit about the organization for which you currently work and why fundraising is important to it:

I’m currently serving as Interim Executive Director for the Boston Women’s Workforce Council (BWWC), a public-private partnership between Mayor Walsh and the business community. Our work is an entirely employer-driven initiative. Through the 100% Talent Compact, a first-in-the-nation approach to reaching pay equity for working women, employers of all size and industry pledge to make Boston the best place in the country for working women. To date, over 260 employers have signed the Compact.

We fund our biennial data measurement cycles, quarterly programming and other Compact member benefits through annual membership dues, tiered by organization size.

When you think about the pay equity conversation in the last 5-10 years, it has shifted and expanded rapidly. People are beginning to realize that this isn’t just a moral imperative, it’s an economic one. In addition to measuring the pay gap, we want to serve as a central resource for employers to address the many visible (and invisible) barriers women face, preventing them from advancing in the workplace. We bring the experts to our Compact signers but we also celebrate their innovative initiatives that are advancing women of color, decreasing the time to promotion for women, increasing the ratio of women on the C-suite, etc. 

Being part of the Compact means being part of a community of like-minded organizations where they can learn from one another and understand which practices are and aren’t working.

The events we host and the research we conduct is not only for them, it’s also made possible by them. For us, it’s not just membership fees – it’s an active partnership.

Why did you join WIDGB? How long have you been a member?

I was introduced to WIDGB by longtime member Rachel Jellinek. I met Rachel four years ago when she and her company, Reflection Films, did some work with my former employer Mass Mentoring Partnership. Rachel reached out to me this past summer to see if I’d like to get involved with WID and help launch the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee, which she now co-chairs. I officially joined WID in September 2019 and serve on the D&I Committee. I also sit on the Marketing & Communications Committee as a representative for the D&I Committee.

I’d never heard of WIDGB before Rachel reached out to me. As I started to learn more about the organization, I noticed it was lacking diversity and saw an opportunity to help change that. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with new people, be inspired by other women who are doing impactful work in the non-profit sector, and see how they address diversity and inclusion in their respective fields.

I’ve been a part of different networking groups and boards – but had never seen a board or group that was so specific to a field and well-established.

Do you have a favorite WID moment or memory?

I love being a part of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and getting to sit in with the Marketing & Communications (M&C) Committee, as well. One of my favorite moments so far was when I attended my first M&C Committee meeting this past fall, hosted by Raquel Rosenblatt at the Dimock Center. I saw how organized, committed and passionate everyone is, and how welcoming everyone was to me. I realized then how robust and a bedrock WID is in the community.

Describe your biggest development success story to date Or Can you share with us an inspiring development story from your career?

Even though I’m not in a development-specific role, I’ve worked on a lot of projects to help enable development. When I worked at Mass Mentoring Partnership, a statewide youth development advocacy organization, one of our biggest and annual campaigns was to ensure that the state budget included increased funding for mentoring programs across the state. I was the first to implement a digital advocacy campaign – for a month, we hosted social media chats, shared public awareness graphics, and created videos with key experts and stakeholders in the field to show the importance of youth-adult relationships. Our efforts culminated in a 50% increase, the largest grant the organization had received in over 10 Years. Because of this, we were able to not only sustain existing beneficiaries but we were also able to give grants to new beneficiaries!

What advice would you offer to someone new in the field of development?

Boston is a unique space regardless of industry. It can feel competitive or exclusive at times – at least in my experience. My advice is to recognize that all departments within a non-profit are interconnected and should never be siloed. I would encourage people to “reach across the aisle” and collaborate for funding opportunities and seek out input and feedback from others for support.

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