I’ve been looking forward to this interview with Lauren Casteel, the President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado since the day I started Extraordinary Women Radio. For Lauren is the epitome of an extraordinary woman. In those early days of planning my podcast, when I was thinking about the women whose stories I would like to tell, Lauren certainly was at the top of the list.
I can easily name Lauren as the best leader I’ve ever had an opportunity to work with in my life. She’s a changemaker, a trailblazer and a woman who can move mountains. Lauren is the first person in Colorado to lead three foundations and possesses more than 20 years of philanthropic leadership as well as a dedication to inclusiveness across gender, racial, economic, ethnic, military, abilities, and sexual orientation perspectives in Denver and throughout Colorado.
I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Trustees of the Women’s Foundation for the past 2 years under Lauren’s leadership. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is a unique community foundation that creates more pathways to economic security for Colorado women. We use the power of community, philanthropy, and impact to help women thrive, which builds a more prosperous state for all of us. I passionate about this cause, and I think our tagline says it all! Women Thriving. Colorado Rising.
In our interview, we talk about what it means to lead now, in whatever role we each have. This is a very important time for all of us. Lauren shares her philosophies on leading change and what it means to lead with substance and not just symbols. She shares her perspectives around how creating more pathways for economic security for women, builds a more prosperous state for us all. Lauren tells her own personal stories of growing up in a household with her civil rights leader father, Whitney Young and how that has shaped her life. Her wisdom is rich and deep.
Throughout her career, Lauren has gained numerous accolades. In 2014, Lauren was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. She has been named as one of the 25 most powerful women in 2015 by the Colorado Women’s Chamber; one of the Denver Business Journal’s 2015 Nonprofit/Foundation Newsmakers; a “Timeless Legend” by Denver’s Urban Spectrum Newspaper; received the “Trailblazer Award” from the American Association of University Women, Denver Branch; received the Girl Scout’s “Woman of Distinction” award; and in 2016 she was honored with the Monte Pascoe Civic Leadership Award, to name a few.
So let’s talk about how the Women’s Foundation has thrived under Lauren’s leadership, for it’s been an incredible year for us! Here’s an overview of this year’s journey!
- We launched our five-year strategic plan focused on creating a livable wage for women and their families. What does a livable wage mean, you might ask? When a woman earns a livable wage, she escapes the fear that one car repair will mean she can’t pay the electric bill. She can invest – financially and with her energy – in her family’s future. She has the freedom to make choices for her family that are less about surviving and more about thriving. As a former single mom, raising a young son – I am so committed to creating this type of future for the women of our state.
- In July, we hosted former First Lady Michelle Obama for her first publicly ticketed appearance since leaving the White House. More than 8,300 community members gathered with us at Pepsi Center, drawing inspiration from Mrs. Obama’s vision for “a world that values its women,” and helping us net over $1 million for WFCO’s work.
- The words of award-winning actress Octavia Spencer moved and motivated attendees at our sold-out Annual Luncheon in late September. We hosted 2,400 at the Colorado Convention Center and a record number of sponsors joined us in 2017.
- We relaunched Dads for Daughters, a giving vehicle for fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and more, to honor the women in their lives and build opportunities for all women throughout Colorado.
- Our regional committees hosted dynamic community events in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Pueblo, and Vail to share our five-year strategic plan, raise funds for WFCO’s vital work, and lead discussions on advancing gender equity in STEM industries.
- We fiercely focused our research, policy advocacy, and direct service grantmaking, granting nearly $1 million to non-profits supporting women’s causes this year.
We are proud of the progress we’ve made in the last six months and since creating a movement 30 years ago to fight the feminization of poverty by empowering women to combine their philanthropic dollars. Driven by our founders’ knowledge that economically secure women build stronger families, communities, and economies, WFCO chose to also transform our brand in 2017 to reflect this core belief.
As we near Colorado Gives Day on December 5th, I invite you to join in this important movement and support the women and girls of Colorado, by making a donation. You can schedule your donation today! For when women thrive, Colorado rises. For more about Lauren and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. If you want to know more about how to get involved in this cause, I am always happy to have a cup of coffee and talk about this great organization. Just drop me at email at email@example.com!