Amplifying Women's Voices in the Nonprofit Field

YWCA Madison's program increases knowledge and fosters collaboration

Amplify Madison Cohorts 1 and 2

Madison is home to a thriving nonprofit community. But even so, not everyone has an equal opportunity to take on leadership roles. In 2017, as part of our 75th Anniversary celebration, MCF awarded a grant to YWCA Madison to create a program to increase the skills, visibility and opportunities of women in local nonprofits. Amplify Madison focused on women of color who were nonprofit professionals, board members or volunteers and wanted to grow professionally and give back to their communities.

Since then, Amplify Madison has helped three cohorts of women — 60 in total — collaborate, design and participate in a professional development opportunity of their choice, and engage with their community in new ways. These women increased their knowledge and fostered relationships and collaborations with other nonprofits. And in the process, they also amplified their voices in the community.

“We were very excited to host such a great opportunity to empower women in the Madison area,” said Vanessa McDowell, CEO of YWCA Madison. “Our entire community is enriched when we make it possible to build stronger relationships and have more diverse voices sharing knowledge.”

Refusing to Let the Pandemic Stop Them

“The pandemic created unforeseen obstacles and challenges to a project that requires in-person engagement,” McDowell said. But while the pandemic made the original vision of Amplify Madison no longer feasible, the YWCA adapted the program to allow the third and final cohort of 24 women to participate.

Christine Russell is part of that third cohort. The experience helped her launch Mahogany Rooted in Wellness and learn from other women in the nonprofit community. “This is just the start of our journey,” she shared. “We look forward to continued collaboration and connection as we all work together to make Madison a more empowered, well community.”

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