Women’s Fund Celebrates 30 Years of Supporting Lorain County Women

Honoring Women & their Impact on Lorain County

Women’s History Month offers us a time to reflect on the impact women have had world-wide through their unwavering fight to break barriers and inspire action. The women of Lorain County are no different. The Women’s Fund, an affiliate fund of the Community Foundation, is just one of the avenues Lorain County women have used to support one another.

Thirty years ago, only 3.4% of grant funding nationally was allocated towards women and girls’ needs. One-third of foundations reported no grants were given for women’s programs, even though they were more likely to suffer from underemployment, domestic abuse, absence of health insurance, lack of education, and single parenting challenges. Phyllis J. DeMark and Carol G. Simonetti were concerned about this national trend and were determined to create a stronger community of support for Lorain County women and children. Together, they established the Women’s Fund.


grant dollars awarded


supporting women since

Alongside a group of dynamic women, DeMark and Simonetti established the Women’s Fund Leadership Circle, which made its first grant in 1994. Since then, the Women’s Fund has supported numerous organizations serving women and children by awarding over $227K in grants. Grantees include The Nord Center, YWCA, Cornerstone Pregnancy Services, Lorain County Safe Harbor Genesis House, Blessing House, Save Our Children, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, just to name a few.

In 2002, the Power of the Purse became the Women’s Fund’s signature fundraiser, which brought women together for an evening of networking and entertainment. More recently, the role of the Women’s Fund has changed from fundraising to friend-raising to increase the Fund’s awareness and impact. Today, the Women’s Fund annual SHEroes event honors the women who make us stronger each day through their leadership, love, and support.

In 2017, the mission of the Women’s Fund was expanded from helping women and girls to women and children, giving vital support to women caregivers of all children.

The first to establish an endowment under the Women’s Fund affiliate fund umbrella was Clare Cygan Young, followed by Hilda J. and J. Florence Ramsey. Then, Madeline Zaworski, who created the Michael G, and Madeline T. (Melvin) Kisula Family Fund in honor of her parents. In 2020, the Women’s Fund established a Scholarship Fund with a goal to raise $10K by 2024. Thanks to Janet Kelsey-Werner’s generosity, that goal has been met, and the Women’s Fund will award their first scholarship in 2021.

As we honor Women’s History Month, take a moment to appreciate all that women have given to our community and support the Women’s Fund in their quest to expand chances and choices for Lorain County women and children.