While the meaning of the “Fearless Girl” statue standing confidently in front of Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” might be open to interpretation, Mary Barneby, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, sees it as the perfect metaphor for the growing clout of women creating change.

In her presentation at Fordham’s inaugural Women’s Philanthropy Summit on Nov. 6 at the Lincoln Center campus, Barneby, GABELLI ’80, said she wanted to debunk the myth that women can’t be ‘fearless’— just like the statue. This courageous mindset is particularly important in philanthropy, where women are beginning to exercise their financial power, she said.

“…Women comprise an important social and economic resource, in not only investing in financial assets like stocks and bonds, but also through the impact that their economic power has on the well-being of our world,” she said.

Barneby was one of three keynote speakers at the half-day summit, which raised over $300,000. Also featured were author, actor, entrepreneur, and award-winning marketer Mary Lou Quinlan, GABELLI ’82, and philanthropist Susan Conley Salice, FCRH ’82, of Magis Philanthropy and the Salice Family Foundation. Sponsored by Ernst & Young, Macari Vineyards, L’Oréal, and Ann Taylor, the summit was created to help alumnae and other University supporters discover unique ways that their charitable giving can help Fordham change the world “one student at a time.” 

“That is the only way Fordham can continue to live out its mission to offer a special, world-class education to students who are talented and come from families of very modest means,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. Father McShane said that initiatives like the Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid are an investment—not only in the future, but for eternity. “I want you to invest in eternity because what you do with your philanthropy changes lives [and]changes the course of history.”

Getting Personal

Quinlan, who has advised major brands such as Procter&Gamble, Pfizer, and General Motors, believes that philanthropy is most meaningful when it is personal.

“I believe that as women, we’d live more sound and successful lives if we’d only honor that personal voice that is uniquely ours and embrace it and live it out loud,” she said.

From endowing a scholarship for gifted young women to creating a lecture series focused on her family’s appreciation for the arts, Quinlan said her decision to give is rooted not only in love, but also in her desire to pay it forward, express gratitude, show loyalty, and advocate for people, institutions, and causes that she believes in.

Quinlan used the passing of her mother, “her career cheerleader,” and the discovery of her mother’s “God box,” a collection of prayers for family, friends, and people she’d never met, as further inspiration to give. She penned The New York Times bestseller The God Box, developed a one-woman play of the same title, and later raised over $500,000 from the project for hospice, cancer care, and education causes.

“Whatever gifts we’ve been given, that’s what we can share,” she said, announcing that she would be pledging $10,000 over the next four years to the first Gabelli Women’s Philanthropy Endowment Circle for aspiring business women.

Women of Impact

Conley Salice, a member of Fordham’s Board of Trustees and co-chair of Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid, shared that earning a scholarship during her years at Fordham not only changed her life, but later enabled her to do the same for other students.

She said a giving circle— a fundraising group where individuals raise money collectively and decide where the money will go— is a great first step for women who are interested in charitable giving but don’t know where to start.

“This form of collective giving serves to teach philanthropy,” said Conley Salice, who spent 18 years in the business sector. “It inspires a new generation of givers and creates a tangible, direct return on your investment— almost immediately.”

Conley Salice, who also pledged $10,000 to the University over the next four years, praised Fordham women who continue to rise to the challenge when it comes to giving back. She described alumnae as “humanitarians,” “activists,” and “do-gooders.”

“Fordham women have the ability to think critically, act ethically, and serve responsibly,” she said. “We are global citizens. We are restless to make a positive change, and we are in fact women of impact.”

Jolie Ann Calella, CFP, FCLC ’91; Christina Seix Dow, TMC ’72; Emily L. Smith, Gabelli ’77; Mary Jane F. McCartney, TMC ’69; Tracy O’Neill, FCRH ’87; Judith Law Clayton Zoller; and the late Mary Ann Quaranta, D.S.W., who served as dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service for 25 years, were honored as the first class of pioneering women in philanthropy at the end of the summit, for supporting Fordham students with their leadership and generosity.