Girls Inc. Receives Award for Outstanding Service to Women and Girls

The Women’s Policy Forum Foundation of Tarrant County selected Girls Inc. to receive its Outstanding Service to Women and Girls Award for 2014. Susan Blue, outgoing chair of the Women’s Policy Forum Foundation Board announced the selection at the Women’s Policy Forum’s Holiday Dinner and Awards Program on Dec. 15 at Ashton Depot.


Barbara Williams, former chair of the Forum and a member of the Girls Inc. board, thanked the organization for selecting Girls Inc. “It’s exciting to see how these girls seize any sliver of hope and run with it. Girls Inc. is an excellent organization doing good work. Thank your for the honor and the money,” she said. The award includes a $5,000 financial award.


Each year the Forum Foundation board chooses a deserving organization from a pool of nominations. Girls Inc. was selected based on its service to young women through mentoring, targeted assistance and educational programs. Many of the students it serves are the first in their families to attend college and are struggling with issues of poverty and limited English. Girls Inc. offers financial and emotional support to young women through scholarships and college readiness programs.


The holiday event also marked a transition in leadership.  Rachel Malone, outgoing chair of the Women’s Policy Forum, passed the gavel to Tracy Marshall, chair elect for 2015. Additional board members for 2015 are: Pat Cheong, chair-elect, Cynthia Fisher Miller, secretary, Judy Bell, treasurer, and Sandy Kautz, board advisor.


In her remarks, Marshall thanked the program committee she chaired in 2014 for delivering a year of thought-provoking programs and an elegant holiday party. She concluded her term as chair elect by announcing the next three programs for 2015 – a female entrepreneurship panel discussion in January, an update from Congresswoman Kay Granger in February and a speaker from Washington, D.C. on the book, Borderless Leadership.


New board members and officers for the Forum Foundation also were announced. They are: Ann Rice (one-year term), Libby Watson (one-year term), Cindy Boyd (three-year term), Judy Stemple (three-year term) and Carela Vogel (three-year term). Returning board members and officers are: Margaret DeMoss, chair, Cindy Johnson, chair elect, Susan Wilcox, treasurer, Kathryn Bryan, secretary, and Susan Blue, immediate past chair.


Women capitalize on entrepreuneurism

tradition to succeed in 2015


Women have business owners and managers for decades and continue to create businesses at an exponential rate today, according to two panelists speaking at the January meeting of the Women's Policy Forum of Tarrant County.


Fifty members and guests learned about female entrepreneurs who earned money as seamstresses, bakers, caterers and boarding house operators during a period in history when women didn’t usually own businesses. Dr. Rebecca Sharpless, Texas Christian University professor and author, described a thriving market for products women produced. “If women could find a product people wanted and had access to an urban area with transportation available, they could make money,” she said.


Often women sold produce from gardens or baked goods at public markets.  “I’m especially interested in boarding houses, a phenomenon that disappeared after World War II,” she said. “Women could respectably run a boarding house to earn money for themselves.” Boarding houses were large residences offering rooms to rent with meals provided. Boarding houses were common in areas where railroad were under construction. Workers needed places to stay.


Some notable female entrepreneurs began their businesses in Fort Worth. Lucille Bishop Smith developed a catering and food products business from a barbeque restaurant in East Fort Worth. “Smith was one of the first to develop a hot roll mix. She also produced a cookbook, Lucille’s Treasure Chest, with recipe cards in a box.” Dr. Sharpless said the most famous local female entrepreneur in the food products industry was Minnie Baird, who created a multi-million-dollar bread-making business out of necessity. She began baking bread for customers after her husband became incapacitated because of a chronic illness. Her company, Mrs. Baird’s Bread, expanded regionally and competed head-to-head with national corporations.


Cheryl Jones, program coordinator at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, described the state of female entrepreneurship today. Women are active job creators and are responsible for running more businesses than ever before. The number of women-owned businesses in the United States jumped 42 percent from 1997 to 2006, according to Center for Women in Business research. In 2014, women created businesses at the rate of 1,288 per day, almost double the daily average for the previous seven years. Women own 9.1 million businesses that create jobs for 7.9 million workers.


“Texas has the second largest number of women-owned businesses in the nation. Southern states are leaders in creating women-owned businesses with Georgia topping the list,” she said.


According to Jones, women who own businesses report when surveyed that they are happier and more satisfied owning their own business because they control their own destinies. “Women feel more alive, more creative and more productive, despite the drawbacks of uncertainty and heavy responsibilities.”


Jones said resources are available for women business owners at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, which is a nonprofit formed by the City of Fort Worth to help businesses grow and flourish. Located at I35 and Rosedale in Fort Worth, the center is a general business incubator in partnership with the community.




Rep. Kay Granger Works for Bipartisanship

in a Dangerous World


Kay Granger, who represents the 12th Congressional Distrct in Texas, expressed her faith in bipartisanship and emphasized the importance of women in creating an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration in government. Granger was the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Women’s Policy Forum of Tarrant County on Feb.6.


“If more women were serving in the Congress, there would be more bipartisanship and more progress,” she said. She cited her own experience working with women in both parties. “We agree on what we can and always set an example for others to follow in the way we work together,” she said. “We get results.”


Granger has been an advocate for women’s rights around the world and has visited Iraq and Afghanistan to work with women who are seeking a voice.  She said there has been progress in bothIraq and Afghanistation because of the U.S. presence there.


Granger said she was involved in deploying the military to assist with fighting the Ebola crisis in Africa. “When a crisis erupts like this, no hospital in the U.S. could have been completely prepared. In Dallas, the person who arrived here with Ebola falsified information. Mistakes were made, but it wasn’t as terrible as it was portrayed.”


Human trafficking is another focus for Granger. “This problem continues and is growing,” she said. Granger led the federal effort to deal with an influx of 53,000 children from Latin America along the Texas border. “I couldn’t believe that parents would send a four-year-old to the border unaccompanied. What was happening in their countries that would lead them to do such a thing?”


She spent three weeks meeting with leaders in Honduras and El Salvador to stem the flow of minors into Texas. “I asked them if they wanted their children. If so, let’s make it possible for them to live safely and realize their potential at home. In Honduras, children couldn’t leave their homes because it was too dangerous to be on the streets. It costs less money to help countries improve safety and security than for the U.S. to house and feed children fleeing violence.”


Granger was especially grateful to the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s DNA Identification Laboratory which helped determine if children arriving in the U.S. were actually being released to relatives. “A 7-year-old would arrive in the detention center with nothing but a phone number to contact. Who knows if that person was a relative or not?” she explained.


Granger also is concerned with the status of military veterans, particularly women, returning from more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Women were being handled differently than men, even though they were suffering from many of the same conditions. Sexual assault was a complicating factor,” she explained. “I’m afraid we haven’t made much improvement in this area. I’m at the point where I ask myself if I can appoint a deserving young woman to a military academy and feel sure she’ll be safe.”


In the question and answer session, Granger responded to inquiries about the health care system and foreign threats:


  •  “It’s a waste of time to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Our efforts would be better spent focusing on supporting what’s right about the law and turning off what’s wrong."


  • “We live in the most dangerous time the world has ever known. ISIS is unlike any terrorist threat we have faced before. They are well-funded and well-organized monsters. The conflict with them will be ugly and drawn out.  As for Russia, Vladimir Putin has made up his mind to put the Soviet Union back together again. It’s bizarre.”



Trust and Collaboration Essential to Business Success in Emerging Markets



Dr. Zlatica Kraljevic, author of Borderless Leadership and an international business consultant, stressed the dynamic nature of the world’s population, the deconstruction of traditional national boundaries and the importance of personal relationships worldwide to achieve success. Kraljevic spoke to the Women’s Policy Forum in March.


The Forum collaborated with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth to bring Kralievic to Fort Worth for the meeting and book signing.


“The world is not as complicated as it seems,” she said. “If you read the headlines today, you may believe it is terrible. Western executives are pessimistic about success in emerging markets, but business leaders in emerging markets see a world of opportunities and improved conditions.”


Emerging markets are growing stronger, developing their own business practices, defending their own markets and eschewing Western business practices.


Kralievic stressed that the West represents one billion of six billion people doing business in the world. “Six billion people are optimistic. We need to change pessimistic to optimistic,” she added.


Is the West making the change? She believes not.. “We continue to push our own business practices, and it is hurting us,” she said.


Asia’s population has quadrupled in the last few decades, which represents new business opportunities. “Asia is similar to the U.S. during the industrial revolution,” she said. “Growth is creating new markets for products and services.”


Kralievic emphasized personal relationships must be integrated into the Western business model to succeed in these markets. The West tends to focus on financials. With the free-flowing movement of people around the globe, personal relationships are critical to achieving global business success.


“Trust and collaboration are essential. As the only female staff member at a Saudi Arabian university, my colleagues were from Sudan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and a mix of other cultures,” she said. “I had to develop working relationships with each person in order to be effective.”


How do you develop relationships with seven billion people? Learn borderless leadership skills. “Deal with individuals, not countries. Focus on personal characteristics. Don’t generalize one person’s attitudes to the entire group,” she said.


She recommends the following forumula: Awareness, Understanding, Knowledge, Internalization, Practice.


Nonprofit Agencies Can Advocate, Lobby Under IRS Rules


Abby Levine, legal director, Alliance for Justice, encouraged nonprofits and other charitable organizations to become comfortable with engaging their communities in policy discussions by understanding the tax rules governing nonprofit advocacy and lobbying. For full presentation, click here.


Levine emphasized that nonprofits advocate every day on behalf of the communities they represent. “We get involved with groups because we want to make a difference. Advocating can mean anything from providing information to groups or individuals to discussing voting on issues. Lobbying, which can sound like a scary political place, is also allowed within limits. Understanding those limits is how nonprofit organizations keep running.”


Levine and Natalie Roetzel, director of the Dallas office of Alliance for Justice, assist nonprofits with training and advice on how to advance their goals within the context of their tax status.


The Internal Revenue Service issues a variety of different not-for-profit designations depending on the purpose of the organization, such as membership, education, faith-based or charitable organizations. None of these organizations pays taxes. They can all raise funds and educate the community on issues. Only donations to charitable organizations, 501 C3s, are tax-deductible to the donor. 501 C6 groups are trade organizations and associations. They can support candidates and legislation, as long as that function isn’t primary to their organization’s mission. Membership dues aren’t tax deductible.


The Forum is considered an association of members with a common interest. It’s therefore classified as a 501 C6. 501 C3 is the most common tax status for charitable organizations. Often a not-for profit organization (501 C6) will work closely with a nonprofit (501 C3) that can offer tax deductible status to donors. The Women’s Policy Forum Foundation works in concert with the Women’s Policy Forum so that donors who wish to donate to our organizations for a tax deduction may do so.


“Affiliated groups like the Forum and Foundation have similar missions, but they have different purposes,” Levine said. These affiliated groups have separate boards of directors and separate financial structures.


“Advocacy is a general activity that covers sharing information that will be beneficial to the group you represent. The economic report the Forum introduced last year is an example of important information that can be shared under the advocacy banner. If you take the report and request that a legislator propose a bill addressing the issues within the report, which is lobbying.” Levine said.


Lobbying is allowed as long as it meets certain criteria: it must be an insubstantial part of the group’s activities or, as an alternate test, organizations can elect to file a 501H form that says its spending is less than 20 percent of its total budget.


“It’s rare for an organization to attract IRS attention for lobbying,” Levine said. “We suggest any organization involved in lobbying submit to the 501H test,” Levine said. “Understanding rules is important so an organization can keep focused on its mission.”


Additional announcements at the meeting on April 8, included:

  • A Forum exploratory committee investigating a cultural and issues exchange with women of Toluca, Mexico continues to discuss a proposal to participate in a three-day event in Mexico this fall followed by a similar event in Fort Worth in the spring of 2016.

  • Forum members were encouraged to attend the Girls Scouts of America Women of Distinction Luncheon on May 27.

  • A Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School sponsored by Tarrant Churches Together will be held in Fort Worth’s Morningside neighborhood this summer. The school promotes literacy among girls in grades one through six. The group is seeking young women who have an interest in teaching, social work and a love of scholars to be mentors.

  • Leadership Fort Worth needs applicants for an upcoming class. Visit the Leadership Fort Worth web site and apply online to be considered.

  • Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 12-18.


UTA’s Rachel Croson Encourages Women to Practice, Master Negotiations


Dr. Rachel Croson, Dean of the University of Texas at Arlington’s Business School, told members and guests in May that women are less likely to negotiate than men, but they can become proficient if they practice.


“Women negotiate every day, but they don’t realize it. We challenge overcharges, seek upgrades on airlines, even barter with our families over chores, vacations or even within themselves, “she said. “Over time, women lose $1.5 million in earnings by not negotiating.”


According to research studies, men on average negotiate 51.5 percent of the time, while women negotiate only 12.5 percent of the time. Negotiation styles follow two styles: distributive and integrative.


Distributive negotiation is about power. There is a winner and a loser. Integrative negotiations are win-win, everyone walks away feeling like they have won.


“In a distributive negotiation, know your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) in advance. Try to improve on it during the negotiation. It’s important to listen more than you talk and try to identify the other party’s BATNA,” she said.


Integrative negotiations involve common interests and tradeoffs. “Identify underlying interests so that you can move past your positions. Know yourself and your counterpart. Tradeoffs must be made, but don’t give too much away too fast,” she said.


In general, Croson said negotiations should involve a “love sandwich.” Begin and end every discussion with “I love you statements.” Make promises to your counterparty, not threats. “Be prepared to change the shape of money from salary to benefits,” she said. “Maybe you might accept more vacation in exchange for a lower salary?”


Finally, she said, “Practice. Find someone you can trust and start small. Ask for a discount on a purchase, to begin. You can almost always get 10 percent off by asking.”


Full presentation

Women’s Policy Forum Considers Literacy, Honors Starfish Committee Contributions


On June 10, Women’s Policy Forum observed a milestone with the dissolution of the nearly decade-old Starfish Committee and the dedication of a Reading Oasis to Maude I. Logan Elementary School in southeast Fort Worth. The Starfish Committee adopted Maude I. Logan Elementary in 2006 and has raised close to $70,000 to benefit the school. As a parting gift to the school, the Forum committee and the Women's Policy Forum Foundation agreed to underwrite the $10,000 cost to create a sustainable reading area at the school.


The United Way Tarrant County sponsors the Reading Oasis program which creates safe, inviting spaces within schools where families can enjoy reading together, learn how to make reading a habit at home, and gain access to books year-round. Oases are supported by foundations, corporations and individuals. The Maude I. Logan Reading Oasis will include more than 400 new books and a listening library. The space will be supplied with beanbag chairs and other kid-friendly furniture. Decorations will include colorful carpet and literacy-themed artwork. Student participants are automatically enrolled in Club Connect, a website offering games, videos, e-books and other resources to foster a love of reading.


“The United Way has identified more than 8,000 students at risk of dropping out before completing high school. We are working with schools in four districts, including Fort Worth, to ensure these students graduate,” said Emily Furney, Development Director, Club Connect, United Way.


According to Sara Arispe, Associate Superintendent, Academics and Accountability, Fort Worth Independent School District: "Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Third grade is the turning point when children stop learning to read and begin reading to learn. If they don’t read at grade level by then, they will begin to fall further and further behind.”  Close to 80 percent of the 85,000 students in Fort Worth ISD are economically disadvantaged and perform at a lower level on standardized tests for reading than students who are not economically disadvantaged.


From 2012-2013, the United Way’s efforts to assist with reading and literacy began to show results. From 2013-2014, second graders improved by four reading levels and, so far this year, more than 121 students have gained five or more reading levels.

Establishing Reading Oasis centers in elementary schools is one of the four strategies employed by the United Way to ensure at-risk students graduate from high school. Maude I. Logan will be the 11th Reading Oasis in the district. The United Way’s goal is to establish a Reading Oasis in every Title 1 school in Tarrant County.


“When we learned about the Reading Oasis program and the opportunity we had as a committee to establish a sustainable legacy at Maude I. Logan by asking the Foundation to underwrite this addition to the school, it was really a no-brainer,” said Sally Burt, co-chair of the Starfish Committee. “We will continue to work with Maude I Logan as an organization and support the Reading Oasis through volunteerism.”


Burt and co-chair Kerry Neuhardt presented a check from the Women’s Policy Forum Foundation for $10,000 to Furney and Maude I. Logan Principal Felicia Moody, who thanked the Starfish Committee for its presence at her school. “I cannot thank you enough for this gift. It’s a dream come true,” she said. Luncheon members and guests were asked to supplement the $9,200 available in the Starfish fund to reach $10,000.


Melody Johnson, scholar-in-residence, Texas Christian University and the first female superintendent at Fort Worth ISD, initiated the Starfish Project when she spoke to the Women’s Policy Forum in 2006 and asked every citizen to get involved with schools. She told the members and guests at the luncheon today that the Forum “had the most sustained and long-lived effort to assist students at a local school. I’m so pleased I inspired the creation of the Starfish Committee, but the Forum is to be congratulated for making such a huge difference in the lives of students. Starfish is proof that every action we take does make a difference.”



Panel Outlines Ambitious Agenda for Coordinating Efforts 

to Improve Education for Young Children


A quartet of community volunteers and nonprofit executives addressed how forces and resources are aligned like never before to aid learning among young children. Rose Bradshaw, executive vice president of Community Foundation of North Texas, Sandra Lamm, community volunteer, Ann Rice, retired United Way executive, and Kara Waddell, chief executive officer of Child Care Associates and chair of the Educational Alignment for Young Children initiative, outlined a wide-ranging community coalition to improve outcomes for children from birth to age eight in Fort Worth.


Rice said the EAYC initiative coordinates the efforts to end the “vortex of missed opportunities to a careful handing off of a child in multiple areas. We have a leaky pipeline in education, health and family issues.”


Children who are not stimulated at a young age become “hardwired” to underachieve, Kara Waddell said. Ninety percent of brain development occurs by age 5 but only 5 percent of public education dollars are spent on early childhood education.

“Early learning is ripe as a public policy issue,” she said, citing bipartisan support in Texas for pre-kindergarten education and a bevy of nonprofits who are coordinating efforts to help children.


Fort Worth is one of six cities identified by the National League of Cities showing promise in its approach in the area of aligning early childhood education.


“EAYC pulls all of our efforts together. We are determined to move away from a chain of disconnected events to develop a critical alignment from birth to third grade,” Rice said.


Sandra Lamm, community volunteer working with EAYC, said the National League of Cities identified 10 important elements in a study of cities where educational alignment is working well. Fort Worth will focus on three in its first efforts: parental engagement, professional development and data analysis.


“Parental engagement too often looks like parental involvement: How many parents showed up for events is not as important as their full engagement in co-creating their children’s education. Parents are the experts on their children. Our goal is to prove the concept of transformative family engagement in one area of the city,” Lamm added.


 In addition, the system of training and education of early learning professionals is inadequate and disconnected; the coalition is working to define a career pathway that will entice skilled practitioners to enter and stay in the field.  The adult who is caring for and educating our children is the most important determinant of the quality of the early learning program, whether for infants or third graders.  Finally, data collection and sharing of information must be aligned. “Schools improve based on data,” she said. The Community Foundation and its funding partners are supporting initiatives in all three areas, as well as work to define metrics to measure the impact of the EAYC project in the community. 


Rose Bradshaw of the Community Foundation noted additional initiatives by EAYC partners: Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County is prioritizing quality in the child care it funds for low-income working families; FWISD has been awarded a home visiting grant and is rolling out expanded Pre-K programs; and a community liaison has been appointed to a Stop 6 pilot project.  National funders such as the Doris Duke Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation are following Fort Worth’s initiative.


“This is a ripe opportunity to work together,” Rose Bradshaw said in conclusion. “So many people are trusted partners in our project. We all know there is more value when we come together to be bold and be creative.”


She said policy makers and donors recognize that improving children’s educational experience early will ultimately save money and give children a better chance to succeed.

Texas Trees Foundation Combats Impact of Urban Heat Islands through Green Infrastructure Planning

Some towns in Texas are within weeks of running out of water. Without immediate action by this generation, there might not be anything to pass on to the next generation, according to Texas Trees Foundation speakers at the October Women’s Policy Forum meeting.


“When people think of Dallas/Fort Worth, sustainability and resiliency aren’t the first things to come to mind. We are at a point where that cannot be the case anymore,” said Matt Grubisich, director of operations and urban forester for Texas Trees Foundation.


An exponential increase in regional population has created an urban heat island effect that is contributing to higher-than-normal temperatures. Concrete absorbs heat. In the evening, temperatures remain higher because of radiant heat from the concrete. In 2011, the number of consecutive summer days over 100 degrees attracted media attention. What was equally important was the number of nights in a row that Dallas/Fort Worth hit highs of 80 degrees, according to Grubisich.


Increased density, more concrete buildings, added infrastructure, CO2 emissions and loss of vegetation all contribute to the urban heat island effect. Thirty-five percent of Dallas’s ground cover is impervious surface while 25 percent is irrigated turf. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a 40 percent tree canopy; the Dallas canopy is currently 30 percent and isn’t geographically distributed so as to offset environmental changes. Increased heat also has health implications, exacerbating existing illnesses and adding to the rise of infectious diseases.


A four-year statewide study released in February quantified where to plant trees and how many can be put on public lands. Dallas began planting trees in 2012 ahead of the study results and worked collaboratively with a leading climate researcher at Georgia Tech University, Dr. Brian Stone, who is in charge of the Urban Climate Lab. A new study starting in December 2015 will expand that research and examine the impact on health and at-risk population. Even if Texas residents live in an area with a lot of trees, the urban heat island radiates outward and impacts surrounding communities. A tree canopy of 30 percent starts the reverse cooling process.


The TTF is contributing to building that canopy through green infrastructure. Strategically planting trees helps offset the heat island effect. TTF encourages strategic planning to ensure functional systems, proper finance design and maintenance, and management of long-term costs. Ideally, green and grey (concrete) planning occurs simultaneously, receives equal priority in the planning process, and benefits from consultation with both green and construction experts.


Green infrastructure is possible. Seattle plants redwoods in the city limits and New York City has an extensive high-rise garden industry that produces fruits and vegetables. Construction costs should be balanced with long-term sustainability. To begin, measure first to develop a plan. The TTF prefers working with cities and communities to create plans. Some examples of successful green landscaping can be seen at the George W. Bush Presidential Library with its network of cisterns and native plantings, The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the Deep Ellum neighborhood.


“Actions can be as simple as taking out or installing curbs to reduce water runoff,” Grubisisch said. Trees are a valuable commodity worth $9.1 billion in Dallas alone, making them an asset worth an investment. 




How do we start the conversation?


  • Define the problem

  • Follow up with solutions

  • Detail co-benefits: public health, public safety, jobs, economic growth

  • Capitalize on public support

  • Connect the dots with other projects

  • Talk about adapting what you already have first


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WOMEN’S POLICY FORUM   |      P.O. Box 11246   Fort Worth, Texas 76110