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Bringing Different Voices

Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy wants a seat at the table.

The Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy gather over Zoom.

Gayle Lanier ’82 knows firsthand what philanthropy can mean to a student. She was the first in her family to go to NC State. “I didn’t have a lot of insight into what the university was about,” Lanier says. “It took scholarships to get me through.”

These days Lanier, who retired in 2018 as senior vice president of Duke Energy, is paying it forward. She and her husband support scholarships in the College of Engineering and in the Poole College of Management. “I can see the impact it has on students,” she says.

Today Lanier is joining with Elin Gabriel ’85, a retired corporate executive, to lead Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy, a group that’s working to make sure women can make a difference at NC State, whether through philanthropy, leadership or volunteering. “A lot of times, women don’t know how to get involved,” Lanier says. “This is an opportunity to have a grassroots effort to bring a different voice.”

Gabriel, of Bryson City, N.C., says that while women are the fastest growing group in philanthropy, institutions have traditionally focused on men, who don’t always have the same motivations for giving or volunteering as women do. “Men have frequently been the focus of the donor conversation,” she says. “We want to raise the visibility of women and educate them on more ways to get involved.”

In March, the group hosted a virtual event on International Women’s Day, bringing together more than 100 Wolfpack women to talk about what NC State has meant to them, and later held a seminar on estate planning. Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy is also making an effort to increase representation by women on university and college boards. (Currently, membership in the university’s 95 boards is about 34 percent female.) The group has visited the Board of Trustees and other boards to present findings about the value of diverse perspectives.

Gabriel, who retired as vice president of operations for H.B. Fuller Co., has focused some of her own philanthropy on Study Abroad scholarships and the Women’s Center. She and Lanier emphasize that there is no minimum threshold on giving to get involved. “We encourage everyone to give to an area that’s important to them,” Lanier says. “Give $10, start wherever you can.”

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