Interview with Rebeca Gonzalez

How Women’s Giving Fund Transforms Lives Within and Outside of Its Membership

Rebeca Gonzalez is a board member of Park City Community Foundation and has served on our Women’s Giving Fund grants committee for three years – most recently as the chair of the grants committee. She’s a dedicated and passionate board member, and we are so thankful for her service and the unique and valuable perspective she brings to our organization.

What makes you passionate about supporting women and children in our community?

As a teacher in the Park City School District, as a daughter, and sister, I’ve always been very passionate about supporting women and children in my life. Growing up Mexican American, I had a lot of female role models – I’d see them work so hard, for so long, and still face oppression despite their important role in the community and in children’s development. Similarly, the well-being of children always had my attention as I’ve aspired to be a teacher for a long time.

Women’s Giving Fund gives me a platform to connect with others and share my voice. It makes me feel good to be in a cohort with strong, bold women that inspire me and a lot of people in our community: moms, girls, grandmas, teachers, philanthropists, etc. You may see a woman at the grocery store and not know that she’s a Women’s Giving Fund member until you spark a conversation with her and start to see that commonality.

I’ve also had the opportunity to see the program evolve. I first joined the group as a 22-year old college student; I was the only voice in my age group, so I took it upon myself to inspire other young women from different backgrounds to get involved. In 2017 other members also expressed an interest in broadening the views and voices of Women’s Giving Fund by honoring deserving women in our community with new memberships. Donors are stepping up and saying: We want to have a woman of color or the mother of a young leader in Park City be involved with us. Most recently, Mary Wright was so kind to gift a membership to my mom! Witnessing the diversification and participation of our membership has made me feel much more connected to the group.

Why did you want to be a part of the Women’s Giving Fund grants committee?

About three years ago, I was approached by Diego Zegarra and Blayne Harper. Blayne got to know me though stories in the Park Record and my involvement in the community. My story resonated with Blayne so much that she knew she wanted to sponsor my membership to Women’s Giving Fund. It was my first time hearing about the group and its incredible mission. I was surprised to learn that this program existed in my community and I didn’t know about it!

Once I got involved and learned about the work, it made me feel inspired to give back in a way that I hadn’t in the past – by joining the committee, and I’m so grateful that I did. Every committee member brings incredible value and differing perspectives. We’ve debated which organizations deserve a site visit from us, and which ones should be semi-finalists. We get to see the data behind the stories that each nonprofit illustrates through their application. Many times, nonprofits are led by women; seeing how those leaders demonstrate why they wholeheartedly believe their organization should be considered for our grant is powerful.

Can you give us an overview of what the Women’s Giving Fund committee members do on an annual basis?

  • Of course! Our grant cycle opens the first week of January and closes late February for nonprofits that serve women and children, and that need our support.
  • Sometime in between we hold a Q&A session where prospective applicants have a chance to connect with committee members and previous grantees.
  • In March we review applications and select semi-finalists to include in site visits. These visits are a great opportunity to learn about the work being done in our community.
  • In April/May we participate in those site visits and select the top three-grantee finalists.
  • In June we encourage Women’s Giving Fund members to vote for our final grantee.
  • In July we attend our beloved annual grant announcement celebration with other members.
  • Women’s Giving Fund Grants committee nominations open in August
  • Around September we review the grant making process and assess lessons learned.
  • And at year-end we develop guidelines for the upcoming years grant making.

We know that this is a process that takes time, effort, and dedication, but we also know the grant money will be going to directly support women and children, and that’s very rewarding.

How has your experience been participating in the grants committee in the past and this year with COVID-19?

Committee members will tell you that it’s truly been a transformative experience, and that’s true for me, too. When I started, it was a warm and fun welcome. The other members made me feel visible and cheered as I led conversations. Talking to existing members allowed me to get comfortable with my role as a committee member, and later as chair of the committee. In the last three years, I helped change some policies to ensure we host an inclusive environment where all members feel heard, valued, and respected in the decision-making process.

This year we realized how nice it is to have different perspectives in our own committee given the COVID-19 crisis. I was able to share my viewpoint as a teacher, I’ve talked about how organizations like People’s Health Clinic and Holy Cross Ministries have helped my family in multiple ways for a long time. Others shared more about their work in mental health. This lens helped us prioritize projects that meet the need of our moment. In the process, we learned a lot about how local organizations are changing and adapting to our new reality with COVID-19. These organizations are still fully committed to doing the work with or without our help. This is why I’m grateful that Women’s Giving Fund members generously offered to support the semi-finalists this year with $20,000 grants. Serving on the committee during COVID-19 was interesting because we thought we weren’t going to have the same impact, but we actually had greater impact! We had more money to grant – thanks to increasing participation in membership, and we raised more awareness in support of local women and children. We were still able to hold site visits virtually, and we just adapted, that’s what helped us along the way.

My three-year term on the committee has come to an end. I encourage anyone who’s a member of Women’s Giving Fund to apply. It’s a great committee to be a part of and I feel honored to have had the chance to serve. To this day, I know I can call any of my fellow committee members, we can have discussions about community issues and keep building our friendship. I hope to continue to attend events, build my network, get to meet new members, and see the next generation of grantees and leaders in the group.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I love the fact that I’ve been able to work closely with Community Foundation staff. It was a huge honor and I’m happy to work with an organization that helps team members and committee members evolve professionally.

Every year is a new opportunity for anyone to join our group, for me, that’s the magic behind it. We continue to add new members, we continue to encourage other women to donate, so we can continue to grow and create long-lasting impact in our community.

I framed my new member name badge and certificate because I’m proud of it!

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