Fairfield County Residents Rally to Raise Vital Funds for Local Women and Girls

Apr 22, 2024

Journalist Jane Pauley Joined Fairfield County’s Community Foundation in Support of the Largest Fund for Women and Girls in New England

(Norwalk, CT) (April 12, 2024) – Fairfield County’s Community Foundation today announced that donors pledged more than $65,000 to support women and girls across the region during the 26th-anniversary celebration of the Fund for Women & Girls held Thursday at the Greenwich Country Club.

“The Fund for Women & Girls is a cornerstone of the work of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and has always embodied our mission of creating a Fairfield County where every person has an equitable opportunity to thrive,” said Mendi Blue Paca, president and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. “Women-led efforts such as the Fund for Women & Girls are working to confront the harsh reality that deep-rooted inequities in women’s health plague our community.”

The Fund for Women & Girls is the largest women’s fund in New England and has improved the lives of tens of thousands of women and girls in the region with more than $10 million in grants.

Thursday’s event featured powerful remarks from legendary journalist and mental health advocate Jane Pauley, who emphasized the stark disparities that women and girls face — particularly in health care — across Connecticut.

Pauley shared her own personal mental health journey of being diagnosed with bipolar depression at the age of 50. Her journey of self-reflection and wellness, chronicled in her New York Times bestselling memoir Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue, has inspired countless individuals to see themselves in a powerful new light and to embrace the possibility of reinvention.

Pauley is also a tireless advocate for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), including an FQHC in her hometown of Indianapolis that was named the Jane Pauley Community Health Center in recognition of her ongoing support for the center.

“Jane Pauley is not just a name in the world of journalism and television, she is a force to be reckoned with, an inspiration and a true champion for change in mental health,” said Mary Grace Pagaduan, director of the Fund for Women & Girls. “Jane also has a deep understanding of the vital role of FQHCs, which are a critical component of the Fund for Women & Girls’ work through our emme Coalition and Black Maternal Health Initiative.”

The celebration also included the presentation of the 2024 Anne S. Leonhardt Award to Charlotte Suhler, longtime Darien resident and philanthropist, as well as one of the founders of the Fund for Women & Girls.

“My journey has always been guided by the simple yet profound belief that change starts with one person, but it gains momentum when individuals unite,” Suhler said. “The Fund for Women & Girls stands as a testament to what is possible when hearts are full and determination knows no bounds. It’s a beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all.”

Over the years, the Fund for Women & Girls celebration has featured prominent speakers such as Misty Copeland, Dr. Anita Hill, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King and Madeleine Albright.

Serving as the flagship fundraiser for supporting the Fund’s work, the celebration spotlighted its two signature investments, the emme coalition and the Black Maternal Health Initiative. The emme coalition is an innovative program that works at the intersection of physical wellness, behavioral health and case management to connect women and girls with lifelong tools for wellbeing that can be passed along to future generations. Meanwhile, the Black Maternal Health Initiative, the Fund’s newest investment, aims to eliminate systemic racism and implicit bias embedded in the healthcare system that leads to disparate outcomes for Black women in Fairfield County.

“The Fund for Women and Girls’ annual celebration is a time for all of us to come together and think deeply about what kind of community we want to live in,” Blue Paca said. “At Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, we firmly believe that women and girls are the backbone of our society and deserve an equitable chance to create a life where they are not just simply trying to survive but are equipped with the tools necessary to thrive.”

About Fairfield County’s Community Foundation
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation is partnering with our community to create a county where every person has an equitable opportunity to thrive. We work closely with community organizations, nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropists to address challenges and identify opportunities to create a stronger, more vibrant community. Informed by three decades of partnering with and serving our community, we have awarded more than $390 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. Sign up for Foundation email updates here. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Scott Westcott | scott@turn-two.co | 814.881.0389