In May 2011, Carole Rogers had a late night talk with a guest at her home. The friend had a suggestion– start an Impact 100 in New Jersey– and she had good credentials. Inspired by Wendy Steele in Cincinnati she had already initiated a very successful Impact 100 in Fair Hope, Alabama. Carole fell in love with the concept of women’s collective philanthropy and shared her enthusiasm with some New Jersey friends. Very soon they were six, the founders of what would become Impact 100 Garden State. They had nothing in front of them, but the vision Carole had shared, and for many months they sat around each other’s kitchen tables discussing the opportunity and also the challenges they faced.
But before long they recognized the strengths each brought to the endeavor. Carole Rogers, the visionary and guiding light and our communication guru; Kathy Teti, providing solid financial grounding and attention to detail; Bonnie Gardner, versed in the grant world and well qualified to figure out how to match our first grant funds with the best recipients; Sally Epstein, a fundraiser and membership driver par excellence; Elisabeth MacDonald, providing the necessary business framework and data management skills; and Cathy Vinnicombe, so skilled in managing events and creating an hospitable environment.
In the fall of 2012, after months of preparation, they recruited their first members and then came the devastation Hurricane Sandy brought to the state. The six persevered, and one friend at a time, one “coffee” at a time, they shared their vision of women working together to offer transformative grants to local nonprofits. By March of 2013 they had persuaded 135 women to become Charter Members.
There was no looking back. In January 2014 the six became eleven and Impact 100 Garden State had its first official Board. In its first five years, members cumulatively awarded ten high-impact grants totaling $1,051,000.
A new generation has assumed leadership roles, taking their turn envisioning the future. The Founders remain enthusiastic members—as committed as ever to the mission, vision, and values of Impact 100 Garden State.
Photo Caption: The six founders at the first Annual Awards Meeting. From left, Cathy-Renee Vinnicombe; Carole Rogers; Sally Epstein; Kathy Teti, Bonnie Gardner; Elisabeth MacDonald