In 1996, Eileen Connolly-Keesler, then Executive Director of Regional Domestic Abuse Services, approached the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation with the idea that Oshkosh should investigate creating a Women's Fund. After initial research generated significant interest, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation established a steering committee in 1997 to guide the funds' formation and organization. The steering committee determined the scope and focus of the Women's Fund, and shortly thereafter, the Women's Fund filed its Articles of Incorporation with the State of Wisconsin and appointed its inaugural Board of Directors.
In 1998, the Women's Fund held its first public fundraising event. The event, titled "A Year in Progress," sought to communicate the need for creating a Women's Fund in the community. At this event, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation announced a $50,000 challenge grant if the Women's Fund could raise $50,000 within the next year. Three months later, the Women's Fund had met the $50,000 challenge grant threshold.
The years following focused predominantly on fundraising and education through a series of public and private events. These early fundraising events established the foundation for the "Women in Philanthropy" luncheon, first held in November 2000. This event, which moved from an annual to biennial format in 2002, honors grant recipients and presents the "Women in Philanthropy" award.
In 2003, the Women's Fund created a new logo to raise awareness and understanding of the fund and its mission. The logo, which is based on the image of a quilt, celebrates female diversity and illustrates the varied needs of women of all ages in our community. And although we updated our logo again in 2012, we kept the same "quilted" concept to symbolize our unity as women.
in 2018, the Women's Fund will celebrate it's 20th anniversary. We hope to see you at the 2018 Power of the Purse luncheon and help us celebrate 20 years of improving the lives of women, girls and all members of our community! In honor of this special anniversary, we want to recognize all the women who helped form the Women's Fund!
The initial steering committee who started the women's fund officially in 1998 comprised of: Eileen Connolly-Kessler, Linda Dempsey, Susan Elbing, Virginia ("Ginna") Nelson, Jeanne Metzig, Arline Sitter, Lorrie Keating Heinemann, Mary Lee Hoffman, Caryn Cain, Chrys Hyde, Amy Albright, Lynne Webster, Vicki Beltran, Julie Pollnow, Theresa Luedtke and Alyson Zierdt.
The initial Board of Directors comprised of: Amy Albright, Victoria Beltran, Caryn L. Cain, Susan Elbing, Mary Lee Hoffman, Chrys Hyde, Eileen Connolly-Kessler, Theresa Luedtke, Jeanne Metzig, Virginia Nelson, Arline Sitter and Alyson K. Zierdt. The first officers were: President - Alyson K. Ziertdt; Vice President - Jeanne Metzig; Secretary - Virginia Nelson; and Treasurer - Arline Sitter.
2000/2001 - President: Jeanne Metzig
2002/2003 - President: Chrys Hyde
2004/2005 - President: Susan Elbing
2006/2007 - President: Judie Koeppler
2008/2009 - President: Kim Molitor
2010/2011 - President: Sylvia McDonald
2012/2013 - President: Kelly Laux
2014/2015 - President: Bonnie Behnke
2016/2017 - President: Cherri Vierthaler