Funders People

New CEO to lead Texas Women’s Foundation

Written by Mindia Whittier

The Foundation focuses on building an equitable society where women and girls are full participants

Texas Women’s Foundation (TXWF), one of the largest women’s funds in the world, is now under the leadership of a new President and Chief Executive Officer.

Following a national search to succeed outgoing President/CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson, who announced her retirement last May, Michelynn “Miki” Woodard assumed the role last month.

Woodard is a 25-year business and social impact veteran. Her vast equity, cultural diversity and social justice experience will help TXWF advance policies and programs that improve economic security and leadership opportunities for Texas women and girls.

The rigorous multi-month CEO search was conducted by Russell Reynolds Associates and led by a CEO search committee chaired by TXWF board members Cheryl Alston and Cynt Marshall with chair Hilda Galvan, current and former board members.

Dawson Thompson retired January 31 after more than 10 years in the role.

“We selected Miki based on her proven success working with large global enterprises, high-profile celebrities and influencers to catalyze transformational social change through sustainable philanthropy, impact investments and programs,” said Galvan. “Miki’s leadership skills, respected national voice and powerful relationships in Texas and beyond – not to mention her lifelong passion for advancing cultural diversity and social justice – make her the ideal person to lead TXWF well into the future.”

Prior to joining TXWF, Woodard worked across industries and geographies leading multimillion-dollar equity, cultural diversity and social justice impact investments, philanthropic programs and advocacy initiatives. Most recently, she served as president of social impact, diversity, inclusion and culture for Bad Robot Productions, Inc., and senior advisor of the Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation. Previously, Woodard established one of the first 100% women-led social impact agencies, partnering with high-profile celebrities and influencers to execute sustainable social impact strategies and social change initiatives.

Among her other experience, Woodard was CEO for the multimillion-dollar non-profit charitable foundations of two high-profile television celebrities, where she led national programs and advocacy efforts benefiting children and families. She also managed JCPenney’s $30 million global corporate giving portfolio as vice president of philanthropy for the company, as well as worked as managing director for Be the Change, Inc., organizing coalitions of non-profits, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, private sector leaders, academics and citizens to address national issues.

Woodard is an active philanthropist and volunteer, serving as board member for The Papa John’s Foundation and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, as well as board chair for Community Coalition in Los Angeles, California. She is also a member of The Trust for Public Land California advisory board.

“I am honored to join one of the world’s largest women’s funds and a trusted leader in advocating for and advancing economic security and leadership opportunities for Texas women and girls,” said Woodard. “Following the global health, economic and social crises of the past two years, Texas Women’s Foundation’s work is more vital than ever. I look forward to working with the talented Board, volunteers, partners and staff, as well as with devoted and generous donors, to continue the rich legacy of propelling social and economic change, empowering women and girls to build stronger, more equitable communities throughout Texas.”

Woodard was selected unanimously after a search reflecting TXWF’s abiding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and including input from a broad range of TXWF constituencies.

“Throughout the search process, candidates were evaluated against a number of essential competencies, from proven managerial and operational know-how to strategic leadership and fundraising expertise to communications and relationship-building savvy,” said Galvan. “We also sought someone who shared our passion for gender and racial equity, and who aligned with our organization’s values of integrity, intentionality and inclusivity. Miki captures everything we were hoping to find in Texas Women’s Foundation’s next leader.”

Woodard will work alongside TXWF leaders at all levels to continue and extend the Foundation’s focus on its mission to raise funds for statewide research, advocacy and grantmaking to unlock economic and leadership opportunities for Texas women and girls. Since its founding 37 years ago, the organization has awarded $57 million in grants and programs – including $43 million since 2011. As one of the largest women’s funds in the world, TXWF has a solid balance sheet, including assets of over $40 million invested in the Foundation’s 100% mission-aligned gendered portfolio providing both financial returns and social benefits to women and girls.

Dawson Thompson is credited with leading TXWF through the most transformative decade in its history, creating a shared understanding and common language for the importance of women’s economic security to all Texans, and raising over $80 million to support Texas women and girls during her tenure.

About the author

Mindia Whittier