The Karen Herman Advocate for Women and Girls Award is presented to a woman philanthropist that exemplifies exceptional leadership and who has served as a mentor, advocate, and change agent for the work of the Women’s Foundation. If you have not had the opportunity to meet or get to know Karen Herman, she is one of the founders of the Women’s Foundation, served as the first Board President, and is a great advocate for women. Karen continues to be involved today and serves on the Women’s Foundation’s Advisory Council. Because there are so many deserving women, this year we are presenting two awards.
The first honoree we are recognizing posthumously – Julie Geis.
Julie was a scholar and a coach. She was a star athlete and student, and received her Ph.D in education from the University of Nebraska. Throughout her professional life, she assumed global responsibilities and traveled extensively, but she never lost her strong sense of community and giving back to others. Julie was a warm, kind, and giving person. Julie was a founding member and president of Women With One Voice, a volunteer organization serving the health and educational needs of women and children in the Kansas City area.
Julie perished while on business in the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001 in New York City. To honor Julie and continue Julie’s passion for philanthropy, Women with One Voice raised and endowed “Julie’s Fund”, a $100,000 endowment, that has continued granting funds to women and girls’ organizations. “Julie’s Fund” is now administered by the Women’s Foundation.
The second honoree is a woman who has been a long-time supporter of the Women’s Foundation and currently serves as an Advisory Council member, Martha Humphrey’s. She had the vision 15 years ago to establish a fund at the Women’s Foundation to help educate our next generation of philanthropists targeting teen girls throughout Kansas City. She wanted young women to learn the importance of charitable giving and to make wise, strategic decisions with their funds. From her spirit and vision, she planted the seed that became the Rachel Alexandra Girls Grant Project. The Women’s Foundation’s Girls Grant program teaches high school girls the tools of philanthropy, leadership and grant making by empowering them with a pool of funds to make grant allocations to nonprofit organizations that encourage girl’s leadership. To date, more than 300 young women have graduated from this program.
These young women have completed high school, college and are now into careers, marriages and parenthood. They are indeed giving back as philanthropists and volunteers in order to make our communities thrive. To date, $180,000 has been allocated by the Girls Grant Project to 65 local agencies. Fifteen years later, The Women’s Foundation continues to benefit from her generosity and dynamic vision. Her dream has come to fruition and the harvest is evidenced in the women who’ve participated in the program, the good work that has been done by the agencies who received the grants and the girls who have benefited from them.