On September 22, nearly 70 Newaygo County women gathered for the 18th annual Women in Philanthropy Luncheon. The luncheon was hosted by Fremont Area Community Foundation and held at the Dogwood Center’s Black Box.
Attendees heard from Marsha Smith, who has served as the executive director of Rotary Charities of Traverse City since 1997.
Smith focused her talk on the idea of “women in philanthropy in power.”
“I had never really thought about it as power,” said Smith, admitting that even in her own mind power was too often associated with being hard, ruthless, or controlling. “I think it was a fear of the word ‘power.’ But to be a catalyst for community improvement, to help people change their lives is powerful.”
After sharing stories of her early experiences with service and giving, Smith encouraged the women to discuss their own first memories of giving with others at their table. She also spoke about how she plans to introduce her new granddaughter to philanthropy.
“What I want to give to my granddaughter is the ability to think outside herself,” said Smith, who then asked attendees to share ideas for how they could teach the next generation about philanthropy.
“The real power of philanthropy is in sharing it,” said Smith.
Prior to her work with Rotary Charities, Smith was the executive director of Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and a development officer for several institutions in northwest Michigan. She was one of the founders of the Women’s Resource Center of Traverse City and has served in a variety of community leadership roles. Currently, Smith serves on the board and executive committee of the Council of Michigan Foundations. She is also a member of an active women’s giving circle and a charter member of Impact 100 Grand Traverse, a high-impact membership giving program that will be awarding over $250,000 in its first year.