The Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania will celebrate its 20th anniversary throughout the next year, highlighting achievements and impacts from its first two decades of service.

Heather Arnet

WGF was established in 2002 by a founding board, including Susan Chersky, Hilda Pang Fu, Marlene Gary Hogan, Catherine Raphael, Judith Ruszkowski, Cecile Springer and Patricia Ulbrich.

Longtime CEO Heather Arnet, who was hired in 2004 as WGF’s first executive director, recently announced that after nearly 18 years in her role at WGF, she will step down at the conclusion of the current fiscal year in June 2022 — in the hopes that as WGF celebrates its past, it can seed the future with the announcement of a new leader.

Since its inception, WGF has strived to break down barriers so every girl can rise and women can soar. Its evolution has included training more than 1,000 teens through WGF’s award-winning GirlGov program to become changemakers today and leaders of tomorrow. 

For 20th anniversary, Women & Girls Foundation to award 20 community grants

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the first 10 grants were announced Jan. 17 and awarded to BIPOC-led organizations

During its two-decade history, the Women and Girls Foundation has awarded more than $2 million in grants to community organizations that work to advance gender equity and increase the rights of women and girls. This first group of 10 grantees are former grantees of WGF and are being recognized for their efforts to protect and advance voting rights and improve civic engagement and education in the Southwest Pennsylvania region.

Each of the following organizations will receive $2,500 to support their voter engagement work in the spring 0f 2022, and help ensure that accommodations can be provided at these public programs to ensure equitable, inclusive access to people of all abilities. Furthermore, these funds will be used to center voices of caregivers in economic recovery debates, increase access to voting and support disability justice and accessibility work engaged in by all of these community partners by ensuring public programs and advocacy events are accessible to all.


  • Landless People Alliance/Pittsburgh Union of Regional Renters: Working to build tenant power capacity to solve the everyday and urgent realities of renting and policing within housing communities.
  • When She Thrives: Engaging single moms in organizing and advocacy efforts.
  • New Voices for Reproductive Justice: Advocating for women and femmes of color for reproductive justice
  • Healthy Start: Supporting the black women’s breastfeeding circle and maternal health advocacy activities.
  • Latino Community Center: Supporting the rights and advancing opportunities for non-documented families in Southwest Pennsylvania.
  • SisTers PGH: Providing advocacy, housing and other services for homeless trans people and organizing the annual Peoples Pride Pgh event.
  • Rangoli Pgh: Working to uplift voices of LGBTQ+ South Asians in Pennsylvania.
  • Association for Police Accountability: Engaging in year-round efforts to advocate for racial justice, criminal justice and freedom from police violence.
  • 1 Hood Media: Leading Black Activist/Organizer Collective advocacy efforts for police accountability in Allegheny County and other Black youth-led advocacy initiatives.
  • Casa San Jose: Advocating for the rights of non-documented families in Southwest Pennsylvania and empowering Latinx youth in our region.

The Women and Girls Foundation partnered with FamilyValues@Work to make these grant awards possible to help develop the capacity of this statewide coalition by investing in the organizational development of local grassroots organizations; building their core capacities; and boosting the power, knowledge and access of voters in 2022.

More anniversary grant recipients will be announced later this year.  Follow along on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (@WGFPA)!


Diagram of groups involved in shaping the future of WGFPA