Meet Jacki Zehner
Chief Engagement Officer, Women Moving Millions
Board of Trustees, Sundance Institute
Women Moving Millions helped me understand my power and capacity to catalyze change in our world. This community, this movement defines my identity as a philanthropist, change-maker and champion for women and girls.
Joining WMM was a powerful moment for me. I’ve always had a focus on women and girls and was giving at a high level, but never considered the possibility of making such a big + bold commitment. The idea of WMM was not something I could identify with.
I feared being “outed” as a major donor and a person with significant wealth. I didn’t want people to ask, “If you could give a $1 million, how much money must you have?” Then I realized that I was giving money way too much power. I was not fooling anyone by hiding from my resources. I was not helping anyone either.
When we think about philanthropy, we often think of men. Yet, I’ve learned that women are more generous with their time and money at all ages and income levels. More and more women are also becoming “career philanthropists”, dedicating vast resources to changing the world for the better. We need to hear their stories.
One of my favorite quotes is, “You cannot be what you cannot see”. With WMM, I saw the potential for extraordinary philanthropic leadership. I was inspired by the idea of a community of passionate individuals who each shared my passion, my values and my commitment to catalyzing systemic change in our world, and I was determined to see it grow.
Women Moving Millions helped me own my fears and transfer that energy toward developing my philanthropic leadership and empowering women and girls around the world. As the organization’s Chief Engagement Officer, I continue to develop my knowledge and skills as a philanthropist and hope to inspire like-minded women (and men!) to embrace their personal power and leadership as well.
I cannot imagine my life without WMM. Today, we are a community of over 230 philanthropists every one of whom shares a big + bold mission and vision to advance gender equality around the world. It has been a truly incredible journey, and I am proud of and humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the growth of this vibrant community.
In 2009, I made my $1 million pledge to the Women’s Funding Network, the Global Fund for Women and a number of other women’s foundations. Since my pledge and involvement with Women Moving Millions, I have continued to expand the reach of my philanthropic investments to also include new issue areas and strategies such as empowering women filmmakers and using film as a tool for social change.
Women at Sundance is the multi-faceted program and community within the Sundance Institute dedicated to creating new opportunities for women behind the camera. In addition to supporting artists, Women at Sundance includes a groundbreaking collaboration with Women in Film Los Angeles (WIFLA) to commission research and advocate for gender equity throughout the film industry.
In 2011, Jacki hosted a gathering in her home in Park City, Utah with over 100 directors, producers, actors and film professionals to foster a discussion among female filmmakers and storytellers on their perspective on filmmaking and the film industry. In many ways, this was where Women at Sundance began.
Jacki brings an incredible energy and passion to everything she does. She saw the excitement in the room, and recognized the need to support, share and highlight women’s unique stories. It is through her leadership and vision for supporting female filmmakers and films that Women and Sundance is the robust initiative it is today.
She is the definition of an active and engaged donor leader. Since that gathering in her home, the Sundance Institute has not only created a formalized initiative to mobilize the women’s artist community, but also launched Gamechangers, the first-ever film fund for women directors. She challenged us to adopt a gender lens. It is because of Jacki’s leadership that supporting female filmmakers through Women at Sundance has become a key priority for our organization.