Meet Jana Shea
Executive Producer, Seaview Productions
I’ve always been a strong believer in women supporting women. When I was younger, I wanted so badly to play Little League baseball, but it was a “boy sport”, and I was a girl. My brother, on the other hand, was allowed to play but he hated it. It was so unfair. Today, there are more opportunities for girls to play sports, but gender inequality is still a pressing issue.
As leaders in the women’s funding movement, we must work to level the playing field for women and girls everywhere.
In 2001, I was introduced to The Community Foundation and Community Fund for Women & Girls. The Foundation was a lifesaver. I had just left a career in marketing and strategic planning and was feeling the need for more in my life. It sounds so simple, but treating your neighbor as you would yourself has always been powerful message that I took to heart. I wanted to make a difference, but didn’t know how.
Through CFWG, I met other professional women who wanted to use their time, treasure and talent to empower their communities. It was their mentorship and support that helped develop my own philanthropic leadership. It was also -around that time that I met Helen LaKelly Hunt & Swanee Hunt, co-founders of Women Moving Millions. It was incredibly inspiring to learn about so many women who had given big + bold to empower others. I wanted to belong that very second, so I told myself, “If I can ever do that, I will”.
I think many women don’t always feel like they can give big. They’re managing the household, covering the budget and planning for their family’s comfort and stability. Women also approach philanthropy differently than men. We need to get involved, test the waters, and understand the impact of our gifts. It takes time, and it’s not always easy.
If all of our wealth went away, my family would not be without. I’ve lived without money before, and my only regret would be not being able to give more. But I have a family, and I wanted their support. Tom, my husband always knew that I was going to make a large bequest to The CFWG, but was nervous when I proposed completing my full pledge at once. But I think he saw how important the work was to me, and he knew that I had done my due diligence with The Foundation. I also met with a few Women Moving Millions members. Hearing the depth and diversity of their leadership and individual commitments to the community made me certain I was making the right choice.
So together, Tom and I worked out the finances to make the gift possible. In 2015, I made big + bold commitment to the Community Fund for Women & Girls and joined Women Moving Millions. I know that I can learn immensely from each of our members, and am excited to explore new opportunities to get involved with the Community Fund for Women and Girls and in the women’s funding movement.
Director of Development, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
Jana’s commitment to and belief in the Women & Girls Fund as a vehicle for advancing women has propelled the work of Women & Girls and its partners further and faster. As an endowment-based grantmaker, the growth of the Fund’s impact is closely tied to the endowment balance in terms of what is available to invest in women and girls. Jana’s gift increased the availability of programming as well as the connection of that programming to impact the root causes of gender inequity in our community.
She is also part of a group of long-time, deeply committed Women & Girls Fund volunteer leaders. Each applies their skills and talents to advancing the Fund. For Jana, this means using her marketing skills to encourage women and introduce like-minded women to the Fund and join her in supporting our work. Like any great marketer, Jana did her research, taking the time to personally connect with grantees and their program participants to fully understand and promote their good work. She used what she learned to generate compelling stories that illustrate the Fund’s mission in action and is one of the most effective Fund ambassadors as a result.
Her gift was also a milestone moment for donor leadership and visibility. When she joined Women Moving Millions, she reached out personally to her Fund colleagues to thank them sincerely for their role in helping her to grow and develop as a philanthropist and advocate. Her actions caused fellow Fund advocates to pause and carefully consider their own personal philanthropic priorities.
It wasn’t easy for Jana to make her commitment, but in doing so, the idea of a personal “stretch gift” moved from a concept to a reality and has inspired others to do the same.