Pittsburgh woman to chair Ms. Foundation board of directors

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Founded in 1973 by Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Marlo Thomas, the Ms. Foundation for Women celebrated its 40th Anniversary Gala in New York City Thursday. But it wasn't just a celebration, it was a passing of the baton. Teresa Younger was named the new CEO and president of the Ms. Foundation for Women. Ms. Younger is the second African-American woman to hold this position.

And Pittsburgh's own Heather Arnet, CEO and president of the Women and Girls Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, was named chairperson of the board. Ms. Arnet, 39, of Mt. Lebanon, who joined the Ms. Foundation's board of directors in 2011, is the organization's youngest board chair.


How do you plan on working with Ms. Younger to inspire the next generation of feminists?

It is critical that we re-engage our young women into the movement with a strong emphasis on people of color in order to lead, bridge gaps and work across generations.

What are some things that you bring to the table to differentiate you from past board chairs?

The baton is being passed to me by one of the most incredible people I have ever met, fellow Pittsburgher and feminist philanthropist Cathy Raphael, so the bar is set high. We want to reinvigorate the movement and take advantage of social media more, as well as engaging more men and boys in the movement.

What will your priorities be?

Leveraging the collective power of women to achieve justice for all has always been the focus for the Ms. Foundation. Positioning Ms. as a strong national voice to lead campaigns and lift up the issues being broached at the state level to the national one is something I really look forward to doing.

What are some of the specific issues you plan on addressing?

Equal pay for equal work, freedom from violence, improving reproductive rights as well as reproductive health care and expanding paid maternity leave.

How does Pittsburgh compare with other cities in terms of having women in key positions of power?

We strongly feel that girls at an early age need to feel as though they can be a part of our civic government. If we want to be a world-class thriving city, as Mayor Peduto and other politicians are positioning Pittsburgh, we need to have our local leaders engaged in national conversations.

How do you plan on balancing your work with Ms. and your work with the Women and Girls Foundation?

It can be done. My role at Ms. is a volunteer position, and many women who volunteer on boards also work full time at other positions. I am committed to the work being done at the state level here at the Women and Girls Foundation, especially now more than ever because so many of our rights are being challenged at that level.


To learn more about the Ms. Foundation, go to forwomen.org.

Natalie Bencivenga: nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; 412-263-1582.

Read an earlier interview with Heather Arnet about her film, "Madame Presidenta: Why not the U.S.?"

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