Transition and Transformation: How Philanthropy is Changing and Inspirations and Aspirations: Using History for Our Future
with Pamela Norley and Rosie Rios
On Monday, November 5, 2018, Christine Switzer together with the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) presented a special program featuring two extraordinary women: Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable® which is the #1 public charity in the United States, and Rosie Rios who was the 43rd Treasurer of the United States and is a visiting scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.
Both of these remarkable speakers have excelled as leaders in their respective fields, and are making a significant impact nationally and globally.
During her presentation, Pamela Norley explained that Fidelity Charitable has helped donors support more than 250,000 nonprofit organizations with approximately $30 billion in grants since 1991. The mission of Fidelity Charitable is to grow the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving accessible, simple, and effective. Ms. Norley has led the Fidelity Consulting Group, overseeing strategy and consulting support to all Fidelity businesses, including its global private equity and venture capital units while she played a key role in launching Fidelity’s Corporate Business Development Group, supporting mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances.
Pamela Norley really believes in the power of digital technology (online giving) to assist in increasing Americans’ philanthropic donations, in the idea of “give-grow-grant,” as well as in the tax deduction incentives for charitable giving while people are living. Indeed, when establishing a donor-advised fund, donors make a tax-deductible donation which can grow tax free, can support charities, can maximize the donation’s impact, and can create a family legacy of giving. Some key insights into Fidelity’s donor activity include a) donors’ growing commitment to strategic giving as reflected in the increasing popularity of donor-advised funds, b) a recent robust market and changing economic conditions which fueled the creation of additional dollars for charity (non-cash assets’ contributions and cryptocurrency donations), and c) a surge of natural disasters in the recent years which led to an outpouring of donor support and responsive giving.
Ms. Norley explained that education is the top charitable sector by grant dollars and religion by volume while most grants go to charities that donors have previously supported. The top charities in the United States include: the American National Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the Salvation Army. She stated that the most charity dollars are donated by many middle class people rather than few very rich people. Collectively, people have shown a great interest in contributing donations toward the 17 sustainable development goals as described by UN for 2030.
Rosie Rios was the 43rd Treasurer of the United States — the first woman ever confirmed in Treasury — and is a visiting scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Her signature currently appears on a world-record $1.3 trillion out of the $1.4 trillion in circulation worldwide. As compared to many women who have been portrayed on paper currencies in other countries (i.e, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines), at this point, there are no women portrayed on any U.S. paper currency. Since she strongly believes in the power of visibility of women in leadership positions, she is known for initiating and leading the efforts to place a portrait of a woman on the front of U.S. currency for the first time in over a century. Upon her resignation in 2016, she received the Hamilton Award, the highest honor bestowed in the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
As she mentioned during her talk, Rosie was the longest serving Senate-confirmed Treasury official beginning with her time on the Treasury/Federal Reserve Transition Team in November 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. In 2016, Rosie Rios launched EMPOWERMENT 2020 at Harvard, an initiative that facilitates the physical recognition of historical American women and provides a collective voice advocating for specific “confidence deficit” milestones for girls. She explained, its first project, Teachers Righting History, recognizes historic American women in classrooms across the country. “Seeing is believing” is the proposed “cure” for the unconscientious bias and the impact of invisibility of powerful and notable women. Rosie has also proposed coin legislation featuring women on quarters that was introduced in Congress as a bipartisan effort in March 2018. On August 26, 2018 she launched Notable Women, an augmented reality educational initiative in collaboration with Google that showcases women in positions of power and money. She is very proud that in 2018, she was appointed as a member of USA 250, a Congressional Commission to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding in 2026!
AAFSW is grateful to Christine Switzer for facilitating this program and working together with AAFSW Program Chair, Sheila Switzer, to organize such a successful program.
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD