We are delighted to start a new offering spotlighting all the good work being done in our little town. We’ll rotate between business spotlights and non-profit spotlights on a regular basis.
Our inaugural post was suggested by resident Josie Welling. In her words…
Paula Liang is the new President of the Women’s Giving Alliance, which is a wonderful non-profit that uses collective giving and research-based grants to local nonprofits to improve the lives of women and girls in the Jacksonville area. They are an amazing organization, and Paula is a dynamic member of the PV community.
Here then, is more about Paula and the WGA.
How long have you lived in PVB or Beaches area?
My husband and I came down to look in May of 2011, after a particularly brutal Connecticut winter, and moved down the following October.
What is your favorite thing about PVB?
The people are friendly and fun; the beach is right there, and the attractions of a big city just across the causeway.
What made you get involved with Women’s Giving Alliance?
I was the Development Director of a non-profit in Connecticut, so I was looking to connect with that community here, and several people suggested that joining the Women’s Giving Alliance would be a good place to start. They were right. I got involved with the grants committee right away, and it gave me a great overview of what was going on in Northeast Florida. I also met a bunch of really smart, engaged and interesting women on both sides of the ditch.
What is your role at Women’s Giving Alliance?
I began a two-year term as President in January 2015, which means I am responsible for making sure all of the committees and teams of volunteers have the support they need to do their work.
What should people know about Women’s Giving Alliance?
WGA is a women’s giving circle, open to any woman who makes the minimum annual (tax-deductible) donation of $1500. We pool our funds to make high impact grants that improve the lives of women and girls in Northeast Florida. About a third of our 360 members live at the Beaches. Members are welcome to be involved on committees, but also welcome to limit their involvement to making their gift and voting on grants. We are a guilt-free organization! We are an initiative of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. I could go on, and often do, but it’s easier to check out our website at www.womensgivingalliance.org
What are your hobbies?
I play tennis, badly, but with gusto. I read, needlepoint, and love to cook for friends.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and why?
My husband Jim and our three children: pets in crates and cell phone batteries totally dead. They are all still in the Northeast, and we miss them a lot. With two in New York and one in Boston, the times when we are all together are too infrequent.
What was your favorite subject in school?
History and English. Math, not so much.
What is your favorite football team?
The Jaguars. Why, is there another football team??
What is your favorite book?
Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible stayed with me for a longtime.
Favorite and least favorite trend in your Non-Profit’s area?
For the last four years, all of our grants have focused on improving mental health prevention and treatment services for women and girls in our area. I would say the least favorite trend is that Florida still ranks 49th in per capita funding of mental health services, though there are some encouraging rumblings out of Tallahassee. Our favorite trend is that more people are talking about what can be taboo issue. The Jacksonville Community Council, Inc (JCCI) did a year-long community study on Community Mental Health in Northeast Florida, Baptist and the Weavers are running public service announcements—it just seems to be part of the community conversation.
If you can change one thing about Ponte Vedra, what would it be?
I’m hopeful that the reboot at Sawgrass will give us the kind of commercial center where you can park your car, grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat and stroll while you do errands.
Last time you laughed out loud uncontrollably? And why?
This year at The Players, where laughing out loud is frowned upon. Our youngest daughter brought two friends down to see it, but none of them knew anything about the sport, so it was Golf for Dummies. Everytime anyone sank a putt, one of them would shout “It’s a hole in one.” Given how hard it was to keep them quiet near the greens, we were thankful they ever saw a successful putt. Needless to say, everyone had a blast.
Your suggestion for a Ponte Vedra mascot?
Is there anything more beautiful than having a Snowy Egret in flight cross your path?