Heather Arnet, CEO Women and Girls Foundation of Southwestern PA

Postindustrial Audio, Empower By Example Podcast, Heather Arnet

Heather Arnet, CEO Women and Girls Foundation of Southwestern PA

In today’s episode:

Get to know Heather Arnet and her work at WGF!!  From theater to branding to business development, Heather used her experience as a feminist/activist theater director to step into the role of CEO of a women’s fund that was founded in Pittsburgh in the late 1990’s.  Arnet joined the organization in 2004 and she is a tireless advocate for women and girls rights locally, nationally, and internationally. She serves as a regular Op-Ed writer for the Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Business Times, and commentator to local and national media regarding women and girls’ rights and economic development.  At WGF, Arnet has spearheaded efforts to decrease the gender wage gap and increase women’s representation on public and corporate boards.

Her mission is so big that everyone wants to be a part of it. There are so many things that impact women and girls, and advocacy work with that gender lens is critical in Pennsylvania. Femisphire is a report WGF released in 2016 that cited 76% of Pittsburgh households living in poverty are single moms. This report grabbed the attention of the larger foundations and endowments in the area, which has led to several initiatives that put single moms at the center of conversations about economic development, the transportation solutions, and fair wages.

Learn more by reading the report.

Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Ted Talk


When Arnet came on as CEO, she spent some time asking “Where are the girls?”  The GirlGov program was born as they brought girls in to create and run their own programs.  It speaks to the culture of WGF, where programs are created by the end user and the participants themselves.  Along those lines, in 2019 Codeswitch was an innovative hack-a-thon that put the single moms at the center of all of the conversations.  Heather Hopson of Single Mom Defined facilitated 40 single moms attending and participating in a technological solution that would benefit them in the Femisphere.  The entire facilitation from the initial meeting to the awards ceremony was about the absolute best product that could be achieved. 

Click here to learn more about Codeswitch.

If you are a single mom living in the Pittsburgh area, check out Single Mom Defined.

WGF is a leader in policy that supports families, and Heather is mobilizing politicians to create policies that reframe the way our society takes leave from work to care from their families.  The Family Care Act refers to paid medical leave and insurance funds.  To support this bill sign up for the action steps:

You can find Women and Girls foundation on social media:

Postindustrial, Laura Rock

Laura Rock With a background in software and sales and marketing, Empower by Example host Laura Rock found that those skills did not translate easily to being a stay at home mom of two little kids. She tried network marketing, writing a blog and volunteering, but those endeavors did not fulfill her part time. In 2017 Laura founded The Rock Family Foundation to serve young women of color who are exiting foster care and other county run services. Going from for-profit sales to non-profit management was a huge switch, and Laura found ways to pull in the strategies and benchmarks from her past career into the private foundation. With an emphasis on collaboration and synergy The Rock Family Foundation attempts to build relationships between traditional funders and unconventional programming. And a central awareness campaign focusing on nonprofit leaders in urban PA became important to showcase those relationships, as did telling the stories of the young women transitioning to the next phases of their lives.

More places to listen

Postindustrial Audio, Apple Podcasts
Postindustrial Audio, Spotify
Postindustrial Audio, Libsyn


Share this page