After an extensive national search, Washington Women’s Foundation is delighted to announce Maria Kolby-Wolfe has been appointed President & CEO of our Seattle-based women’s collective grantmaking organization. Kolby-Wolfe brings decades of experience leading fund development, equity initiatives, membership relations, program evaluation, and strategic communications for Pacific Northwest arts and social service organizations. She will partner with WA Women’s Foundation members to further our strategy for community transformation through equity-focused philanthropy.
“We are thrilled to have Maria bring her expertise and passion to our shared mission of collective grantmaking,” said WA Women’s Foundation Board Chair Ann Kumasaka. “With her inspirational leadership and deep understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Maria is exactly the right person to take us into the next stage of the Foundation’s transition. As we deepen our resolve to advancing equity, we are confident Maria’s commitment to community partnership and gift for empathetic connection will build on our strong legacy and elevate our work to new heights.”
Kolby-Wolfe will join WA Women’s Foundation on February 1 from her current position as Director of Development and Communications for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, where she spearheaded efforts to diversify the donor base and widen the communications perspective from individual stories to systemic injustice. Previously, she guided fundraising, membership, and external relations for arts organizations, including the Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle Symphony, Path with Art, and ACT Theatre.
Kolby-Wolfe serves as an engaged community volunteer for arts, justice, social service, and healthcare organizations, such as Global Leadership Forum, the Rainier Valley Food Bank, Washington State Bar Association Access to Justice Board Communications Committee, TeamChild, and La Resistencia. She did doctoral work in history at Northwestern University and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Puget Sound.
“I am excited to help realize the new direction of WA Women’s Foundation,” said Kolby-Wolfe. “I envision an organization grounded in equity, which is openly and wholeheartedly antiracist, can boast of a diverse and inclusive membership of many kinds of people who identify themselves as women, and whose philanthropic support will be profoundly effective in the long term for those who have been the most marginalized in our society.”
“Maria brings valuable skills to strengthen our philanthropic work,” said Cedra DuFlon-Heide, co-chair of the Foundation’s Search Committee. “She demonstrates an enthusiasm for coalition building shaped by experience with organizations in transition. She is a compassionate listener, talented communicator, and analytical thinker as well as being a valued team leader and mentor.”
Kolby-Wolfe steps into the leadership role at a turning point for the Foundation as we enact a recently adopted equity-based strategic framework. The Foundation’s reinvigorated approach builds upon its 25-year history of women’s collective grantmaking that empowers women to learn and work together for greater impact.
WA Women’s Foundation recognizes that inequity is growing at unprecedented rates in our communities, including disparities in access to education, healthcare and housing, environmental safety, creative expression, and civic engagement. Data also shows that organizations led by and serving people of color have historically received less funding from the philanthropic sector.
Responding to these growing gaps, two years ago, WA Women’s Foundation shifted its grantmaking to focus on increasing racial and gender equity and reducing disparities. Kolby-Wolfe will work with Foundation members and community leaders to evolve our educational and grants programs and to launch bold funding initiatives that more effectively address the challenges our communities face.
We will be scheduling opportunities to meet our new President & CEO virtually in the coming weeks. Please join us in welcoming Maria Kolby-Wolfe as she steps into this pivotal role to fuel a thriving nonprofit sector in Washington State.