Three people smiling in conversation

Women in Leadership & Philanthropy

We celebrate women who are impacting change by amplifying their voices and harnessing our collective power.

About Us

Women in Leadership & Philanthropy serves as an initiative within the Office of Development at the University of San Francisco to further advance engagement, leadership, and philanthropic giving to support the strategic priorities of the University. We envision a USF community in which all women thrive at their full potential, contributing to a  more just and humane world.

Our mission is to inspire, empower and advance women-identified individuals as influential leaders in service to USF, to their communities, and throughout the world. We do this by providing opportunities for engagement, networking, and leadership while creating a culture of philanthropy and giving. 

We believe that diversity, gender equity, and inclusion are a prerequisite to achieving the USF  dream of a more just and humane world. We believe that in order to affect change in the world around gender justice and social justice we must embrace and engage in dialogue and understanding among our diverse constituents and communities. We believe that the voice of gender equity will strengthen and advance the impact of USF and beyond when women are empowered as leaders and change-makers.

Carolyn McCusker headshot

Carolyn McCusker ’92
Board Chair

Women in Leadership & Philanthropy Advisory Board

women in leadership advisory board
  • Patricia Dassios BA '02, MA '10
  • Liliana Blanco-Fernandez MSOD '21
  • Eliane “Elle” Fersan '23
  • Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga EdD '17
  • Eva Long BA '15
  • Giselle Martin BA '07, MPA '10, EdD '22
  • Irena Matijas BS '95
  • Joy McGowan BS '03
  • Madeline Meininger BA '15
  • Gwendolyn Wong MBA '79
  • Silvana Bacigalupo Pardo de Wold MS '21


Frequently Asked Questions

    • Women in Leadership & Philanthropy is an initiative within the Office of Development to further advance engagement, leadership, and philanthropic giving to support the strategic priorities of the university. It serves to support the inaugural charter as a means for engaging a historically underrepresented population of women to create meaningful engagement and dedicated service that emerges toward impactful philanthropy.
    • We are advised by a volunteer board comprised of USF alumnae, community members, faculty, staff, and student representatives and led by the Director of Women in Leadership & Philanthropy.
    • We believe that diversity, gender equity, and inclusion are important to achieving the USF vision of a more just and humane world.
    • We believe that USF can play a role in helping women realize their vision for change and impact through action and philanthropy.
    • Our shared mission of student success and a desire to be more involved in meaningful ways provides for a welcoming space for women to connect with the university and with each other. We recognize that women represent 62 percent of our alumni and that 63 percent of students are female-identified.
    • The continued growth and presence of female-identified philanthropists are evident in today’s society. Reports estimate that women control up to 60% of the wealth in the U.S. which has grown from $12 trillion in 2008 to $22 trillion in 2020. Additionally, when coupled with the trillions of dollars anticipated in the intergenerational wealth transfers over the coming decades, women may have access to previously unimaginable resources for the common good.
    • Women in Leadership & Philanthropy provides engagement opportunities for alumnae and dedicated friends of the university. Faculty, staff, and students play a critical role in sharing experiences, expertise, and perspectives and are often invited as guest speakers, advisors and attendees of our many events and initiatives. 
    • We serve to provide access to leadership and volunteer opportunities in service to USF and our respective communities by way of committees, events, mentors, and recognition.
    • We strive to democratize giving and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in philanthropic spaces. Our goal is to serve as role models and advocates for USF in its ongoing  campaign to support academic and student access. 
    • By creating a culture of philanthropy we offer our community an opportunity to examine and reflect on their philanthropic priorities and to discover avenues toward making an impact by way of sponsorship, program support, scholarship support, or participation in a giving circle.  
    • Since our inception, we have provided leadership opportunities to over 40 alumnae; engaged over 3000 participants through our 6 annual spring symposiums, 11 virtual webinars, and networking events. We have showcased over 60 female-identified speakers including CEO’s, Founders, Business Owners, Philanthropists, Foundation Presidents, C-Suite Leaders, Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officers, Consultants, Social Justice Champions, Gender Equity Practitioners, Non-profit Founders and Executives, Humanitarians, Higher Education Educators and Professionals, Student Scholars, Board Chairs, and Trustees.
    • Presented by Women in Leadership & Philanthropy, The Heart & Soul Community Champion Award is to an individual or family that exemplifies and demonstrates the core Jesuit values of the University of San Francisco and who aspires to create a more just and humane world through service and philanthropy.
    • You are invited to sign up for our quarterly newsletters, join the Alumni Mentor Program, volunteer as a Host Committee member, serve as a speaker, or presenter at an event or in the classroom. We also invite you to attend our virtual or in-person events and consider joining a Giving Circle.
    • A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy where a group of individuals come together to donate money toward designated funds such as scholarships, programs, initiatives, or USF needs. 
    • As you lead, recruit, or join a giving circle of fellow USF alumni and friends, you will come together to create community, share stories, learn about opportunities to make a difference at USF and choose the areas you are most passionate about supporting. Whether it be first-generation students, gender equity, STEAM, academic persistence, or women in leadership, we’ll provide resources to educate you and your network.
    • We will guide you through the planning stages as you and your fellow giving circle members determine where your donations will best serve your interests and the needs of students or the university.
    • Every gathering will begin with a fun social activity, and we are confident that you will come away from each interaction with a feeling of belonging, purpose, and hope.
    • Yes! Alumni in other regions can be involved in all of the above-mentioned opportunities. We also encourage all alumni to consider building our presence as social media ambassadors.
    • If you are interested in hosting an event in your region, please email or contact us at (415) 422-4055. This includes the Bay Area, the South Bay, North Bay, East Bay, Sacramento, Southern California, the Pacific Northwest and even New York!

Women in Leadership & Philanthropy

Molly Kastendieck, Director of Regional Engagement & Programs
2130 Fulton St.
Lone Mountain Rossi
San Francisco, CA 94117

M–F, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.