CEO of Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts to Step Down

Donna Haghighat, CEO of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, has announced her plans to retire, effective June 30.

Under Haghighat’s leadership, beginning in 2017, the Women’s Fund developed innovative programs, sought out effective partnerships, increased grantmaking, grew its corporate and individual donations, and focused on racial equity and trust-based philanthropy.

Haghighat was also integral in the launch of the Young Women’s Initiative for girls and young women of color in Springfield and the Greater Springfield Women’s Economic Security Hub.

The Women’s Fund is a leading philanthropic organization that fuels progress toward gender equity and justice, work that has been ongoing since 1997. It has been making grants to change-making organizations in the four counties of Western Mass. for most of its 27-year history.

Today, these grants are larger and more likely to be multi-year in duration. The Women’s Fund has initiated research about the lives and prospects for the region’s women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals, most recently in 2023. An additional focus of the organization is the intersection of race and gender as well as its Young Women’s Initiative.

“It has been an honor to lead an exceptional team and our expansive network of partners, donors, and corporate supporters,” Haghighat said. “Collectively, we have committed ourselves and our work to advancing issues of gender and racial equity in Western Mass. and beyond. Although I am retiring, I will happily remain part of this diverse and vibrant community.”

Haghighat has facilitated the monthly meetings of the Women Heads of Nonprofits group in Western Mass., which the Women’s Fund hosts, and has served on the state’s Community Reinvestment Fund Advisory Board and the advisory board of the Center for Social Justice at Western New England School of Law. She was appointed by Gov. Maura Healey to the Massachusetts Cultural Council this year and is a board member for WAM Theatre in the Berkshires.

Lisa Ranghelli and Arwen Lowbridge, co-presidents of the Women’s Fund’s board of directors, jointly acknowledged the impact of Haghighat’s leadership. “Donna will be a hard act to follow,” Lowbridge said.

Both Ranghelli and Lowbridge said Haghighat has vision and diehard commitment to gender and racial equity. Ranghelli added that “she has propelled the fund and focused the organization on work that will impact those who are most vulnerable and marginalized.”