Women’s Foundation of Alabama announces the next phase of its formal expansion of external affairs operations with a key leadership hire in Montgomery, a move crucial to solidifying the organization’s influence in the halls of the Alabama Legislature advancing key economic issues that impact women and communities. Late last year, Women’s Foundation of Alabama, the leading policy and philanthropic engine for women in the state, announced its name change and expanded initiatives statewide.
Under the leadership of president and CEO, Melanie R. Bridgeforth, Women’s Foundation of Alabama has strategically expanded its influence and reach, ushering in a new era of impact. Since 2019, under the direction of a multi-year strategic plan and vision to shift the paradigm for women, the foundation has enjoyed record revenue highs and philanthropic giving to community-based organizations across the state, produced ground-breaking research to help close the gender data gap, increased women’s participation in the legislative process, and launched an annual advocacy platform resulting in three historic legislative wins for women, including passage of the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Statute.
“I came into this role with a vision of building the most powerful philanthropic and leadership voice for women the state has ever seen,” said Bridgeforth. “The foundation – with an enduring 26-year legacy- is now uniquely positioned to leverage our social and financial capital to influence and shape systems, customs, and practices to build economic equity for all women across Alabama.”
“Achieving a vision this bold requires assembling the most dynamic Board and staff to drive our mission, and as we expand our operations, we are also expanding our leadership team. I could not be more thrilled to appoint Rachel Bunning as Vice President, External Affairs,” said Bridgeforth. “Rachel’s social capital and cachet combined with her commitment to women’s economic advancement will elevate our policy portfolio and accelerate change for our state.”
Bunning is an external affairs veteran who has directed communications, political, and legislative strategy on prominent issues and causes that span from the nation’s Capital to the Alabama State Capital. Bunning led strategic communications for a Washington D.C. based firm where she executed advocacy and communications efforts for clients ranging from Fortune 10 companies to education nonprofits. Her political experience includes work on two presidential campaigns and serving as Communications Director in the Office of the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives for three sitting.
Speakers for the Majority Party. Most recently, Bunning served as the Communications and Marketing Administrator at the Alabama Community College System where she managed external affairs and communications strategy for the state’s twenty-four community and technical colleges. Bunning holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.
“I cannot think of a more momentous time to be a part of a growing movement to advance women’s economic opportunity which benefits all Alabamians,” said Bunning. “During this pivotal time in our organization’s history, I am eager to utilize my unique skillset to advance economic conditions for all alongside our partners and allies in the civic, corporate, and government sectors. Pushing for long- lasting, systemic change for women and communities in Alabama is more crucial now than ever before with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we can and we will change the trajectory of women in Alabama for generations to come.”
Bunning succeeds Kim Holt Cochran who will remain on the team in a critical alliance development and strategic communications role.
Women’s Foundation of Alabama is committed to gender equity and will continue to convene partners, community leaders, lawmakers, and philanthropic leaders to center the unique needs of women. The foundation will advance opportunities for women through expanded giving initiatives, dissemination of economic impact research and advancing commonsense, non-partisan policies to drive economic opportunity for women.