Celebrating International Women’s Day 2020

Jason MartinezEvents, The United States

In Partnership with United Nations Association, Austin Chapter

On Wednesday evening, March 4th, Whole Planet Foundation was invited to celebrate International Women’s Day with the United Nations Association Austin, Texas Chapter. The theme of the evening event was a reflection on Women and Economic Development. Introductions and opening comments were made by Aditi Joshi, president of United Nations Association-Austin Chapter, followed by keynote speaker, Joy Stoddard, development and outreach director of Whole Planet Foundation.

Joy spoke of Whole Planet Foundation’s mission to alleviate poverty through microcredit, where Whole Foods Market sources product, and the opportunities produced for so many women (88% of WPF-funded loan recipients are women entrepreneurs). Joy promoted the International Women’s Day platform of gender equality not as a women’s issue, but as a business issue, because businesswomen can and are lifting economies and communities.  She was joined on stage by Jessica Suarez, Grameen America Austin Associate Branch Manager, who spoke more about working with microloan recipients locally in the Austin area and the challenges and successes of many of these businesswomen: “We women have different challenges, but we come together and we grow together.” Grameen America is Whole Planet Foundation’s primary microfinance partner for the United States.  

Jessica Suarez, Grameen America Austin Associate Branch Manager speaks about serving low-income women entrepreneurs in the Austin area. Whole Planet Foundation has funded $1,000,000 in microcredit loans for women in the Austin area through Grameen America.

Joy and Jessica’s presentation was followed by a dynamic panel featuring three influential Austin business leaders. Tam Hawkins is the CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, and her background includes corporate sales and marketing management roles for some of the nation’s most admired companies. Kristie Gonzales is the president and general manager of KVUE, one of the top television stations in Central Texas. She manages a staff of more than 125 employees who produce 33 hours of award-winning live news and programming each week. Mindy Perry is the CMO of Kendra Scott, bringing a diverse background from her time at various agency, brand, and wholesale marketing roles. The panel was moderated by Dr. Michael Anderson, director of international relations and global studies and the University of Texas and the vice president of UNA Austin chapter. 

Whole Planet Foundation’s Joy Stoddard with Kristie Gonzales, President and General Manager of KVUE, Aditi Joshi, President of United Nations Association-Austin Chapter

The panelists opened up about their struggles, successes, and journeys in becoming the business community leaders they are today. They engaged the audience with anecdotes from their formative years, often times revealing more challenging periods of their lives. The stories about overcoming obstacles, personal triumphs, and their willingness to be vulnerable were truly inspirational for all in the room, including several female students of the University of Texas international relations program.

Whole Planet Foundation Community Engagement Committee Member Elizabeth Mack sponsored a table at the event on behalf of her local business, Freestyle Language Center. Additional Committee Members pictured include Claire Sommers-Buck and Prabhu Kannan.
Whole Planet Foundation’s Jason Martinez (center) with Community Engagement Committee members Prabhu Kannan and Elizabeth Mack of Austin-based Freestyle Language Center.

The sold-out event of 80 guests also included members of Global Austin and the Whole Planet Foundation Engagement Committee, whose purpose is to further the mission of the foundation and raise awareness and funds for microcredit.

Whole Planet Foundation was proud to be part of such a meaningful event, celebrating International Women’s Day 2020.