The ella fund is a donor-advised philanthropy fund sheltered by the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation.
The Swiss Philanthropy Foundation is an independent hosting foundation based in Geneva
whose mission is to encourage charitable giving by creating and managing philanthropic funds.
The ella fund is governed by a Steering Committee comprising our founder Erin Gainer and family members Kelly Gainer Zegger and Shauna Dorsey, and a member of the Board of the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, currently represented by its Chairman Etienne Eichenberger.
Decisions on the orientation of the fund and project investments are taken
upon the unanimous approval of the members of the Steering Committee.
We are not experienced philanthropists or big charity benefactors. We’re just regular women who were lucky enough to have been born in the US in the 20th century and have had the opportunity to live to our potential without having to think about it.
We are concerned by what we see as rights regressing in recent times. Women’s reproductive freedoms are called into question. Using degrading language is becoming socially acceptable. Economic and social inequalities are growing.
The matriarch in our family, Kelly’s and Erin’s mother and Shauna’s grandmother Bridget, is one of the bravest women we know. Hailing from rural Ireland, at age 20 she packed up and crossed the Atlantic to start a new life. Married five years later to gentle scientist dad Joe, she proceeded over the next eighteen years to bring five strong girls (and one singular boy) into the world. She always stressed to us that whatever we do, we must be financially independent. She also inculcated into us an incredible work ethic.
We are grateful to all of the women who came before us to make our lives as women rich in opportunity. We realize that growing up in the US does not automatically mean things are easy, and we all work hard to succeed and to effect positive change whether at home, at school, in our careers or in our communities.
We are optimistic that in the many settings around the world where girls and women are not born with our fortune, change is possible. Women who earn a living form an economic powerhouse for their families and communities, they will share with families and communities before enriching themselves. We believe that empowering women is the best weapon we have for tackling the world’s challenges, for building a better tomorrow.
Who is Ella?
Ella is every girl, every woman, every child, born yesterday, ten, eighteen, forty or ninety years ago, anywhere in the world. She may have been born into privilege or poverty, she may be dark or pale. She works, she plays;
if she is fortunate she goes to school. She is taught to be polite, not vocal. To be good, not ambitious. To wait her turn. To conceal her emotions. Ellas everywhere deserve to have the opportunity to live to their full potential.
the ella fund team
Founder & Steering Committee
I created the ella fund in the hopes of contributing on my modest scale to empowering girls and women around the world. I am proud to call myself a feminist, meaning that no opportunity (or challenge) should be refused (or altered) because of gender. After a 15-year career in the healthcare industry culminating in CEO and Board-level roles, I feel fortunate to have gained financial independence.
I am conscious that solid education, good health and an entrepreneurial environment have been critical to my own success.
Kelly Gainer Zegger
I am honored to help steer the ella fund, whose vision of empowering girls and women is dear to my heart, especially as it focuses on the most vulnerable of women to help them get on their feet, secure a future, and strive to achieve their full potential. I have fourteen years of experience in helping clients to initiate, manage and implement change in their organizations and look forward to applying those same skills in helping girls and women change their lives for the better.
Shauna Dorsey Parente
I am grateful to help steer the ella fund as it provides me with an opportunity to impact and empower a growing community of females in need of positive support. It is an extension of my passion and long-term interests in advancing education and healthcare opportunities for girls and women. I know that the successes in my own career in biomedicine are due to invaluable guidance and mentorship, and we strive to provide females with the tools and resources needed to elicit such success in their own lives.
I am proud to contribute to the ella fund’s mission to encourage girls and women to aim higher. I truly believe the society as a whole could benefit greatly from more active engagement of women in political, economic, and business decision-making. I am excited to leverage my private equity industry experience and support the fund to provide women with more opportunities to boost their confidence in self-actualization and develop resilience to drive the change they want to see in their lives, and in their communities.
I am grateful to contribute to the ella fund's mission to empower women from all backgrounds. I believe in the potential of all societies were they to actively combat gender inequalities in the various societal structures which negatively impact girls' and women's futures. Working at the ella fund gives me the opportunity to be part of projects involved in fostering long-term, sustainable solutions. Working alongside strong women, I see the building of foundations and values which will benefit women in the generations to come.