WGF WingMen Step Up to Invest in Women and Girls

Local leaders answer the call to help break down barriers now, and for generations to come

 Pittsburgh, PA (March 15, 2018) – In a January 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Op-EdWomen and Girls Foundation (WGF) Board Co-Chairs Janis Burley-Wilson and Len Caric, called for men to be leaders in the movement to bring about cultural change and play a role in achieving gender equity. Today, the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) announced the creation of “WGF WingMen: Helping our Girls Take Flight,” a strategic effort to engage men in supporting and becoming champions for women and girls.

“The whole focus of this initiative is men investing in elevating female leadership. The ‘Wingman’ is an old military term referring to a plane that flies beside and slightly behind a lead plane in an aircraft formation,” explained Len Caric, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Women and Girls Foundation. “The Wingman is not there to take the lead but is there to provide additional lift and support to the lead plane. That’s what true mentorship is and what this group is all about. At WGF, one of our goals is to break down barriers so that every girl can rise and every woman can soar. Now we have a group of new partners who will help us pursue that goal – men who will be investing significant resources to support female leadership.”

The men listed below have joined together to launch the WGF WingMen. Together they have already raised over $100,000 which will help the Women and Girls Foundation grow its programs to develop the future female leaders of tomorrow.

  • Mike Annichine, CEO of Magee-Womens Research Institute
  • Vincent Delie Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of F.N.B. Corporation and First National Bank
  • William (Bill) Demchak, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer of The PNC Financial Services Group
  • Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive
  • Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh
  • Paul Hennigan, President of Point Park University
  • David Holmberg, President and CEO of Highmark Health
  • Greg Jordan, General Counsel & Chief Administrative Officer of The PNC Financial Services Group
  • David Malone, President and CEO of Gateway Financial
  • David Morehouse, Chief Executive Officer & President of the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Morgan O’Brien, President and CEO, Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC

This group includes representatives from the business, education, healthcare, and government sectors who, in addition to launching this new WingMen program at the Women and Girls Foundation, have each made significant commitments to elevating female leadership in the workplace and the community. Their hope is that other men will be inspired and join in this work.

“Men in our region have answered the call to support women and girls’ leadership,” said Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive. “In Allegheny County, we have dynamic women leading the Health Department, the Port Authority, and the Allegheny County Airport Authority.  As a father and now a WGF WingMan, I’m thrilled to see this commitment to effecting change in our community. I have worked side by side with WGF for many years working to advance equal pay and paid family leave, and I have no doubt that this is a great step forward towards improving the lives of women and girls in our region.”

“As we work to position Pittsburgh as a Femisphere – a place where women and girls have everything they need to thrive – it is refreshing and important to see men in powerful positions making headlines for their support of women and girls’ leadership,” said Heather Arnet, CEO Women and Girls Foundation.

This is not the first time WGF has engaged men to help fight for gender equity. In 2012, WGF honored forty-six men who were working to advance women and make a difference in Pittsburgh.

One of the programs at WGF, which the WingMen’s investment will support, is WGF’s signature civic engagement program for girls, GirlGov. Since 2009, GirlGov has trained nearly 700 girls to be our future leaders. The current cohort includes 100 girls from 46 schools and 5 counties in Southwest PA. GirlGov provides participants the opportunity to shadow state legislators, learn more about leadership strategies, civic engagement and women’s history, and launch advocacy campaigns to change policies in their own communities.

Applications for the 2018-2019 GirlGov program will be accepted from now – May 30, 2018. Each new school year of the GirlGov program begins with a fall, weekend retreat in Pittsburgh where participants meet local elected officials and leaders. The girls then meet twice a month throughout the year to learn and engage in local civic action and advocacy projects. The program year culminates with a group trip to Harrisburg in June when participants have the opportunity to meet and shadow state legislators. The program is tuition-free and all travel, lodging, and food costs are included and at no cost to participants.

Girls entering 9th to 12th grade and who live in Southwest Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. For more information about GirlGov, please visit www.girlgov.org.

For more information about WGF’s Wingmen, please visit: www.wgfpa.org/wingmen.

About the Women and Girls Foundation:

The Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) is a non-profit organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The mission of WGF is to achieve equality for women and girls, now and for generations to come. In pursuit of this mission, WGF breaks down barriers so that every girl can rise and every woman can soar. Our vision is for women and girls in Pennsylvania to have equal access, opportunity, and influence in all aspects of their public and private lives. For more information about WGF and for more about Femisphere, GirlGov, and our Paid Family Leave Campaign visit www.wgfpa.org.