WDN Announces New President and CEO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2022
SAN FRANCISCO — Women Donors Network (WDN) and WDN Action are proud to announce Leena Barakat as its next President & Chief Executive Officer.
Following an extensive national search, the WDN Board of Directors determined that Barakat’s demonstrated commitment to WDN’s work, her innovative leadership, and her track record of championing social and racial justice make her the perfect choice to lead WDN and WDN Action as the entities look to expand and deepen their collective impact.
WDN advances its vision of a world of justice and equity for all through its three areas of strategic impact: participation and representation for all, opportunity and equality for all, and a safe and sustainable future for all. WDN Action serves as the 501(c)(4) sister organization to WDN, working with its network of feminist donors and activists to bring a unique gender justice lens to political giving and advocacy. In 2021, WDN and WDN Action granted $19.1M to 170 organizations. Through its collective giving initiatives, WDN and WDN Action’s grantmaking demonstrates a deep commitment to BIPOC-led groups and organizations, with a special focus on BIPOC women, who are the most under-resourced. WDN and WDN Action provide sustained support for movement-building in order to create lasting change.
Barakat has been a member of WDN since 2015. She joined its Board of Directors in 2017, and in 2018 she joined the Board’s Executive Committee, where she now serves as Vice Chair.
Her career began as a grassroots activist and movement builder, organizing across a range of issues, including immigration, racial equity, climate justice, labor rights, LGBTQIA+, among other critical social issues. She became a nationally recognized and awarded movement leader working as an advisor to college students across 17 universities, and under the mentorship of Angela Davis. From there, she went on to nonprofit management and global philanthropy. This range of experience has given Barakat a unique vantage point from each stakeholder within WDN’s network and ecosystem–from the lens of a grantee to being an organizational leader, an active WDN member, and a board executive.
During the course of her seven-year tenure at Tides, Barakat doubled Tides’ portfolio of clients and was instrumental in accelerating the growth of Tides’ assets from $189M to $1.5B. As the Director of Strategic Partnerships, she also tripled her team size, with a 100% retention rate in 3-plus years.
“WDN’s long-standing commitment and unique approach towards creating a just and equitable world have been my passion,” said Barakat. “I am honored to join an organization and community of brilliant women who are building a national model for shifting power as a multi-generational, multi-racial, feminist network. I plan to leverage the social, political and economic resources we have to strengthen the power and capacity of movement leaders striving toward equity, sustainability and justice.”
Barakat’s appointment comes at a pivotal time as the country continues to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, widespread calls for social and racial justice, attacks on voters’ rights, threats to women’s reproductive rights, and an alarming spike in gun violence. These critical issues are only some of the ongoing challenges that WDN members have sought to address by investing resources—in money, time, and expertise—towards advancing systemic change.
“After two decades as WDN’s leader, I have seen firsthand the passion and commitment of our team, our partners, our grantees, and our membership—and the impact we have had together,” says Donna Hall, WDN’s outgoing President & CEO and President of WDN Action. “Our mandate requires a leader with a strong vision and an even stronger ability to see that vision through. I know that Leena is that leader.” Hall will stay on through the end of the year as part of the leadership transition. Her last day at WDN will be Dec. 31.
Barakat will join WDN and WDN Action as President & CEO in September 2022.
For more information about WDN and WDN Action, please visit womendonors.org and wdnaction.org.
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About Women Donors Network
Women Donors Network’s (WDN) mission is to advance a just, equitable, and sustainable world by leveraging the wealth, power, and community of progressive women donors. United by a shared vision of justice and equity for all, our members boldly invest their wealth, time, and talents together. We listen deeply to leaders and movements fighting injustice, move funds quickly, and foster creative strategies that advance systemic change.
About WDN Action
WDN Action is a national network of women united by our commitment to building a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. We mobilize our resources— economic, social, and political—to fuel the progressive wins of our time. Together, we invest in advocacy and electoral strategies that center the leadership, vision, and long-term organizing of women, people of color, young people, and historically excluded communities.
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Pati Navalta, Navalta Media