Jacki Zehner wants women to fund other women in a “big and bold” way. A seismic shift is occurring in terms of women’s wealth, and their giving capacity is huge, she says. Her goal is to make that giving happen. And she’s top of the pack in terms of her own philanthropic donations to women’s causes dear to her heart.
The youngest woman and first female trader to be named a partner at Goldman Sachs in 1996, Zehner left the company in 2002 for other pursuits. Her current role is president and chief engagement officer of Women Moving Millions, a growing network of 257 wealthy women who have donated at least $500 million so far for projects and programs benefitting women and girls.
One of 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy
Named to 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy List
Zehner joined the ranks of such philanthropic luminaries as Melinda Gates, Susan Buffett (Warren Buffett’s daughter), Priscilla Chan (married to Mark Zuckerberg), Diane von Furstenberg and Hillary Clinton when she was named on the list of “50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy,” according to online magazine Inside Philanthropy.
“It used to be that women’s donations were made through their wealthy husbands, but that’s really changing,” Zehner says. “Women are coming out of the closet as donors and donating in their own unique ways and to causes they care about.”
According to Women Moving Millions, there are more independently wealthy women than in the past, many who are taking the lead in family philanthropy. WMM estimates women control $13.2 trillion of wealth in North America alone.
Leading the Charge in Donations
Rightfully proud of the organization she heads, Zehner says, “WMM is the only organization in the world of women giving to women at the million-dollar plus level.” She leads the charge as its largest donor at the $100,000 level. “I love to fund movement building,” she continues. “I’m passionate about supporting women’s leadership, and a lot of my funding goes to that cause.”
In addition to her job as the head of WMM, Zehner has a prolific LinkedIn following of 300,000, has delivered two Ted talks, writes a blog with almost 700 articles, gets paid to speak around the world, and serves on many boards including the Sundance Institute and the Christian Center in Park City.
Zehner lives in Park City with her family and occasionally sees a movie for fun when she isn’t working. “I’m pretty obsessed about my work,” she says. “It’s what I do all day every day.” She was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, then lived in New York City and Connecticut for 25 years before moving to Utah.
“We wanted a great place to live with a great airport nearby, and Salt Lake City’s (airport) is the best,” she says. “We love being close to mountains but also the city.”
Her personal mission statement is to mobilize and gather resources for the advancement of women, and that anchors the choices she makes. “I believe if you have the financial resources, as in much has been given to you, then much is expected,” she says. “And as a person of faith that’s what I’m trying to do.”