We build women’s collective power in the U.S.

March 27, 2023

50 Years of the Ms. Foundation: Cassandra Welchlin

by Cassandra Welchlin

Throughout our 50th anniversary year, we’re telling the stories of leaders who have worked with the Ms. Foundation during different periods of the organization’s history. This Q&A was written by Cassandra Welchlin, Executive Director and co-convener of Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, which is a former Ms. Foundation grantee partner. 

Tell us about your relationship with the Ms. Foundation. 

My relationship with the Ms. Foundation started with Hurricane Katrina, when they were supporting some work down on the coast, and I stayed in contact with them. A few years later, when Teresa C. Younger came on board, she reconnected with the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, where I was working at the time. The Ms. Foundation supported me in my transitions across organizations, and continues to support me at the organization I now lead. 

The Ms. Foundation is not just a funder. They’re thought partners, they’re friends, and I really trust them to do the work in a way that feels right and honorable to our communities. They lead from a place of values. They open the door wide and they say “come on in, be a part.” 

What is one thing you’re proud of in your work with the Ms. Foundation? 

When I was working for a previous organization, we wanted to launch a new project that focused squarely on women’s economic security, which would become the Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative. We proposed it to the Ms. Foundation, and they responded with immediate support. Not only did they seed the project, they provided funding to allow us to hold a convening, do research, and elevate our communications. They were an incredible partner, a deep partner, and they cared so much about these issues and our people. They were invested in Mississippi’s women and girls, and they leveraged their resources to make it happen. 

I’d also like to share another one. In 2016, the Ms. Foundation held a joint convening with their economic justice and reproductive justice grantees in Miami. It was a retreat that brought all of us at the intersections together, and we co-planned it with them, and they listened to all of our ideas. But one thing that was really impactful to me was how the Ms. Foundation incorporated healing justice. The practices that they brought into the space actually helped shift me to my next level of leadership, inspiring me to leave the organization where I was working and come to the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable as the Executive Director. The convening validated my leadership and allowed me to make a brave move and step into my power into a leader.


For 50 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has shaped women’s philanthropy in the United States, providing a blueprint for the establishment of hundreds of local and regional women’s funds, influencing mainstream culture through nationwide projects such as Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and making grants totaling over $90 million to more than 1,600 grassroots organizations across the country.