Black women lead Women’s Fund in improving lives

Black women lead Women’s Fund in improving lives
February 04
00:00 2016
Photo by Todd Luck
Women’s Fund Board of Directors Chairwoman Alison Ashe-Card, right, and Director Sabrina Slade work together.

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Women’s Fund Director Sabrina Slade and Board of Directors Chairwoman Alison Ashe-Card are working to make the lives of local women better.

The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, an initiative of The Winston-Salem Foundation, celebrated its 10th anniversary in November during a luncheon in which it gave out $108,000 in grants for projects that help women and girls.

Slade describes the organization as a “massive giving circle” funded by the membership fees of 800 women. The board’s grants committee narrows down the grant proposals each year, which are then voted on by all the members of the fund, who ultimately choose what projects receive the grants.

The organization’s main focus is economic security for women and girls. A study the group commissioned last year found that the local poverty rate for women and girls has risen.

“We are not really wanting to put a Band-Aid on the problem; we’re trying to deal with the root causes of the issues,” said Alison-Card.

“They’re both wonderful leaders and positive leaders, and I enjoy working with them,” said Betty Alexander, president of the ACEY Group, which is part of The Woman’s Fund.

Slade became the director of the Women’s Fund in 2013 and handles the day-to-day operations. She graduated from UNC-Charlotte with an industrial psychology degree, intending to work in the corporate world. She “fell into” the non-profit world in 1995 and has been working in it ever since. Her past positions include executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Durham and Orange County, director of the local United Way Volunteer Center and vice-president of the Glade Street YWCA. She said she’s been able to touch many lives in a positive way working with non-profits, especially the Women’s Fund.

“When I go home at night, I feel really good about what I do,” she said.

Ashe-Card is an attorney who practiced for 14 years at Womble-Carlyle before becoming the assistant director at the Office of Career and Professional Development at Wake Forest Law School. Ashe-Card, who got her JD from American University, said she got into law to help people and joined the Women’s Fund as a member years ago for the same reason.

Both women said African-Americans have been active in the non-profit sector for a long time.

“I think the African-American community historically has been servant leaders. I think a lot of it comes from strong ties with the church,” said Alison-Card. “And so for many of us, it’s a natural fit to be servant leaders in various circles.”

Slade said she had many local role models in African-American women who have led local non-profits.

“When I entered in ’95, I already saw myself in African-American women in this field: (former Urban League President) Dee Smith (Wylie) and (YWCA CEO) Florence Corpening, I actually worked for Florence,” said Slade. “So I had role models to talk to, so I could see myself in different leadership


Slade said, however, that African-Americans sometimes aren’t as included in fundraising efforts, something she’s trying to change as president of the Triad Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Alison-Card is also working to change that too, since she also chairs the Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI) of The Winston-Salem Foundation, which seeks to raise money from African-Americans to give to non-profits serving the black community. Alison-Card said the work she does for the Women’s Fund and the BPI is practically like another full-time job but it’s worth it. She said it’s important for African-Americans to accept positions on boards so they can have a voice in local organizations. She’s been on many boards over the years, including current stints on the Winston-Salem Urban League board, the executive committee of the Women’s Council at Forsyth Medical Center, and the Winston-Salem State Board of Visitors.

Alison-Card, a married mother of two, and Slade, a divorced mother of one, both do their work and volunteerism while still finding time for family life.

“People say ‘how do you do all that?’” said Alison-Card. “And you know what? I just do.”

Managing Editor Donna Rogers contributed to this report.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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