Women and Girls Foundation transitions into a new phase

The WGF is working with more than 90 organizations to establish a state-level solution to provide paid family and medical leave to all workers in Pennsylvania. Femisphere also supports the Women’s Law Project.

“We’re not a direct service provider, and that’s not our role. But we do feel that there’s a tremendous amount of good work to be done in helping to connect the dots and fix some systemic gaps in the system,” Arnet says.

Connecting more transportation and child care support to higher education workforce development means more single moms will take advantage of them and their poverty rates should decline. Finding ways for small businesses to afford paid family and medical leave for their employees should increase job retention and make more families economically stable.

Gains and losses

The growth is exciting, but the WGF faced administrative challenges recruiting and helping new hires hit the ground running. Arnet says it takes time to orient staff on the organization’s mission and to develop relationships between the new and existing staff.

“We’re trying to be very thoughtful about that change management as it’s happening so that we invest that time upfront,” she says.

One surprise has been how the office went from feeling too large — the WGF used to sublet part of its space — to too small in a short time, Arnet says.

The most useful tool she’s found, so far, has been a book by William and Susan Bridges, “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change.” It’s been transformational for Arnet to learn that every transition — good or bad — involves some loss or ending.

“It’s been helpful, as we go through this transition, to think about what losses people might be experiencing and how do we talk through that,” she says. “We were three people, now we’re eight. There are things that the new people are doing that some of us used to do.”

There’s relief, but also moments where employees miss a task they enjoyed doing, but is no longer part of their job description.

“Understanding those moments and giving team members space to articulate them and work through them is really important,” Arnet says. “That’s been profound learning for me.”