Helping women and a community embrace their potential

by Paula Perkins

Who loves a good icebreaker activity?

I’m talking about the ones that really connect you to others in the group as well as set the stage for learning and exploration.  I geek out at these precisely crafted opportunities because of their invitation to dig deep.  My favorite happened at a nonprofit management training about a decade ago and was centered around this question:  What’s your life’s mission?  I don’t remember the answer I gave that day, but I do remember my continued struggle post-event to define my answer.  And then one day, there it was – a combination of my past experiences and future projections – I exist to help others embrace their potential. 

Over the years, I’ve defined this in a variety of ways, but one of my favorites is centered around women’s leadership and development.  Women have a unique bent to facilitate change, especially when they do it together.  That’s a force I learned early in the 2000s as a new member of The Junior League.  As the League developed my potential, it subsequently introduced me to the women’s collective giving movement when hearing Icebreaker, Colleen Willoughby, speak so passionately about her work at the Washington Women’s Foundation.  Colleen had started a movement, and I wanted to be a part!

Seeing the potential

Envisioning the potential of an inclusive women’s giving circle in our local community was exciting on many fronts, and these were the driving forces:

  • Women being essential partners in helping nonprofit experts create change amidst their toughest challenges;
  • Maximizing the impact of pooling funds for initiatives that create systemic change;
  • Offering a vehicle for existing and emerging philanthropists to engage in the grantmaking process from vetting applications to collective decision making to targeted impact; and
  • Helping women find connections and more deeply experience their community.

After years of research and continued dialogue around how to bring these concepts to life, Impact100 Wichita Falls was founded in August 2018.  The Impact100 model was chosen by the founding directors to provide structural operations and nationwide organizational support.

Impacting 4 areas

As a growing organization, I believe Impact100 Wichita Falls is seeking to help others embrace their potential.  For members, that’s engagement (at their desired level) in the grantmaking process.  For nonprofits, that’s funding to pursue initiatives that they might otherwise be unable to complete.  For service recipients, that’s the deepening and expansion of The Arc of Wichita County’s Day Habilitation program and most recently, the creation of First Step’s Batterers Intervention & Prevention Program (BIPP).  For our community, it’s transformational change, one grant at a time.  And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.



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