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Verónica Colón-Rosario is the executive director of the Fundación de Mujeres en Puerto Rico and a cohort two SOAR Fellow.

What’s one project or initiative you’re working on this year that you’re excited about? 

This year, the Fundación de Mujeres en Puerto Rico (FMnPR) is going through a strategic planning process. We’re reflecting on the most crucial work we must do as the first and only funders for gender equality in Puerto Rico. The participatory process involves our staff, board members, donors, and grantee partners. While gathering feedback from them, we’ve found that grantee-partners see us as allies in their work for social justice, which is one of our main pillars as feminist funders. We’ve formed a powerful and motivated collective of women from diverse backgrounds, who are excited about the possibilities of working together in community. I am excited to think about a different future where we can continue this allyship and support the work of gender justice in Puerto Rico. 

How has the SOAR Fellowship helped inform your leadership of this work? 

The SOAR Fellowship was instrumental in helping me understand the importance of being intentional in our work. I received this opportunity at a crucial time, as I was the first executive leader of a brand-new women’s fund and needed to build the necessary leadership skills to help me advance our mission. By listening and learning from other women leaders from around the world, I gained a different perspective on the work of social justice for the well-being, safety, and economic mobility of women and girls. These learnings and experiences inform my decisions in the strategic planning process. 

Through the SOAR Fellowship, I also had the opportunity to connect with inspiring leaders, two of whom recently joined our board of directors. With years of experience serving in various non-profit institutions in New York, their strategic thinking and expertise have been invaluable in helping us develop our three-year strategic plan.

Part of fellowship is elevating each other; can you share a short story about a woman who has inspired your career recently and why? 

Before I answer this question, I have to emphasize that I am incredibly inspired by the group of women in my cohort of the SOAR Fellowship. Each has inspired me in different ways, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such powerful and brilliant women who inspire my work every day. 

I am truly inspired by my colleague Carine Jocelyn, with whom I have recently started collaborating. Carine established the Haitian Women’s Collective (HWC) in 2017, after working for over 12 years in Haiti. The HWC is a group of Haitian women-led organizations that provide direct services based in Haiti. We are working together to launch a fund to support these organizations with grantmaking. Carine is passionate about this work and is going for it against all odds, given the current socio-political situation in Haiti.

I’m truly inspired by her fearless vision to pursue what others deem too difficult.