Elizabeth Barajas-Román '99
- Twenty years of leadership in national and global organizations dedicated to gender equity, including director of policy at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, where I opened and directed the organization’s Washington, D.C., policy shop
- Philanthropy expertise from tenure-leading programs at the Pew Charitable Trusts in D.C. and as president and CEO of the Solidago Foundation
- Currently, president and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, the largest global alliance of foundations and donors dedicated to gender equity and justice
What elements of your personal professional life would be helpful to you in your service as a trustee? Though my passion for social justice comes from my lived experience as a first-generation Latina and the first in my family to go to college, my passion for service, lifelong learning, collaborative impact, and a drive for excellence comes from my time at Oberlin. In my 20-year career as a leader in progressive movements, I am never surprised when I find an Obie among my most trusted and effective colleagues. Regardless of the year they graduated, we are instantly connected, not just by fond memories of campus, but by shared values for a better world. I have a track record of successfully building relationships and raising funds. As the president and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, I lead a bold feminist international alliance that moves about $1.4 billion in annual grant-making. This fuels progress toward gender equity by funding the most promising solutions, collaborating with results-oriented partners, and elevating the collective power of local, women of color, and gender-expansive people to lead our movement.
What do you spend your time working on and thinking about? Right now, we’re up against incredible forces of extremism, misogyny, and white supremacy. Despite setbacks in the U.S. on bodily autonomy, I am hopeful and confident. I have a 30,000-foot view of the collaborative impact and vital work of feminists worldwide. It’s my life’s work to link arms with these advocates to help them move the philanthropic sector towards a funding approach that addresses intersecting aspects of race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, and disability among others.
What else do you want your fellow alumni to know about you? I continue to prioritize Oberlin in my annual giving, and my wife (whom I met at Oberlin) and I designated Oberlin as a primary beneficiary in our estate plans. Though we do not have children, we are happy to know that our legacy will include helping future Obies with need-based scholarships. I also volunteered as an Oberlin alumni recruiter nearly every year since graduating in 1999. When I was in the position to hire staff and interns, I recruited Oberlin winter-term students and placed Oberlin graduates’ resumes at the top of my candidate lists. Serving as trustee would be an honor and a continuation of my pledge to support an institution that produces leaders and visionaries that change the world for good.