AY wants to share the stories of women here in Arkansas on Wednesdays in hopes to inspire and lift up others. Come back each week to read a new one.
As the executive director for the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, Anna Beth Gorman has been a leading advocate for women and girls in the state of Arkansas. She joined the foundation in April 2016.
“I stumbled upon Women’s Foundation of Arkansas when I was doing graduate school and I used some of their research in some papers I wrote,” she says.
Gorman holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science, master of public administration and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management.
The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas is a philanthropic organization with a mission to improve the lives of women and girls in Arkansas through grants, research and initiatives like Girls of Promise and Women Empowered.
Earlier this year, the foundation provided grant funding to women business owners in Arkansas to help them with the financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was a board meeting at the end of March where we looked at the early stages and impact of the pandemic,” Gorman says. “We saw an opportunity to release grant funds early and successfully had others join us to create a larger pool of money.”
While there were nearly 1,000 applicants, only 16 received the grants which totaled to $80,000.
“Almost 1,000 applied, which shows how big the need was. We recruited a volunteer review committee of women in the financial services space, women of color and women business owners to identify the counties that had the highest concentration of women business owners and consistent poverty to tier the applications.”
In June, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas announced that it will be included in the Women’s Funding Network’s “Regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hub” project.
“The focus as a hub is to bring stakeholders in, educate them about the need of women business owners and to educate ourselves further to work more collaboratively to help more women,” Gorman says. “It will launch in the fall to raise awareness and be an 18-month project.”
The foundation and eight other organizations within the cohort will be through a learning and organizing process to launch in October 2020.
“We see business ownership as a vehicle for economic mobility,” says Gorman. “I want to encourage individuals who have the means to support nonprofits and philanthropic projects to address systemic issues in creating economic mobility. I also want to encourage Arkansas women, particularly women business owners, to look at the resources we are starting to cultivate on how to support yourself and your business.”
For Gorman, it is important to life up and amplify the voices of women. Her advice for other women in business is this:
“I realized not so long ago that to be successful in business, it was okay to use natural feminine strength…As a woman in business, I build relationships and leverage those with empathy, listening and care and I think that has been something for me that I lean more into.”
If you know a woman from Arkansas who inspires and empowers other women, please nominate her to possibly be featured here!