Jacki Zehner dedicates her resources towards the advancement of women and girls. As well as being CEO of Women Moving Millions, a non-profit organisation dedicated to mobilising unprecedented resources for women and girls, Jackie is a frequent media commentator and consultant on women, success and investing and high-impact philanthropy. We catch up with this inspirational lady who went from an incredibly successful career at Goldman Sachs in 2002 to a Founding Partner of a private wealth management operation managing assets and philanthropic activities to then forming her own consulting practice. She serves on numerous boards and various women’s networks in the USA.
When did you decided to leave the corporate world and focus on women’s issues and initiatives? I had been increasingly focusing on women’s advancement during my time at Goldman Sachs. In late 1999 I gave up my trading position to work full time in the Executive Office on all issues related to human capital management. In 2002, I left full time work at Goldman to focus on this more intentionally.
What is feminisim to you? To me, Feminism is a verb. Feminism is about how you think and live and work to support a more gender balanced world, focusing on the rights and opportunities of women and girls.
Philanthropy has come to mean a lot of things… How would you define it? Philanthropy is about how you use your resources (time, treasure and talent) to serve others. It is not just about giving money. By this definition, anyone can call me a philanthropist and that is my dream.
What causes are you most passionate about? I have a lot of passions. My work is focused on advancing women and girls and I do that in many, many ways. In terms of organisations, I love the Global Fund for Women which makes grants to women’s rights based organisations around the world. I also love TOSTAN, founded by the amazing Molly Melching, which is based in Senegal.
How different is your life now than it was when you were with Goldman Sachs? Way different. As far as work goes I am now a CEO of a start-up non-profit which is a whole new set of challenges and very exciting. We have a small team and we are creating and doing as we go. I report to a Board of Directors and am accountable to a whole community. I do this while serving on about a dozen different boards, managing a household and a family… and so much more. At Goldman, my life was a lot more structured.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone making the move from working in the corporate world to going into philanthropy? I think there is a tendency to think that non profit organisations should be more ’business like’ and in some ways they should and could be. That said, depending on the type of NGO, they are very, very different. So while many skills are translatable and can be easily applied, expect to learn a lot. Be careful not to act superior because you come from business.
What would you like to be remembered for? I hope I am remembered for being a great friend, mom, wife, daughter. But professionally, I want to be remembered as someone who really did all she could to make the world a more just, equitable, and gender balanced place. A woman who was passionate about women’s advancement and worked hard to accelerate it.
Are you working on anything new at the moment that you’d like to share? I am working on so many thing but I guess if I had to share one it is that I am working on a book. My first. It will be based on a TED talk I gave and when it comes out, I would love everyone’s support.
If you were stuck in an elevator, who would you want to be with? Wow that would be long list. Tough to pick just one. Of people I do not know but would really like to get to know and that I find really interesting. Madeleine Albright. Her background is just amazing and I have never met her.