Established in 1985 to honor IS founding chair John W. Gardner, the annual award recognizes an individual whose leadership in the nonprofit community has been transformative; who has mobilized people, institutions, or a cause that improves the lives of others; and who exemplifies the leadership and ideals of the award's namesake.
Goss Graves has spent her career fighting to advance opportunities for women and girls, including work in the areas of income security, health and reproductive rights, education access, and workplace fairness, and for more than a decade has served in various roles at NWLC. A co-founder of the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund, an initiative that connects women who have been sexually harassed and/or suffered retaliation at work with legal assistance, Goss Graves has been an important driver of litigation and initiatives aimed at reframing cultural narratives in ways that empower all people who face gender-based discrimination around the country to stand and speak out.
"Fatima Goss Graves' life's work has focused on calling out and eliminating barriers to gender equity for women and girls," said IS president and CEO Daniel J. Cardinali. "As our country and our sector confront the devastating impact of gender inequity and systemic racism, I can think of no better person to honor at this time for her unflagging commitment to advancing justice and the issues that are vital to the lives of women and girls, particularly Black, Native, and women and girls of color."
"It is an honor to be the recipient of this year's Gardner Leadership Award," said Goss Graves. "This recognition is a testament to the long overdue need for our society to re-center gender and racial justice within the many issues facing our country. We have an opportunity in this unprecedented moment to join together as a sector, and as a people, to make our systems work for all of us — and I'm so grateful to call Independent Sector a partner in this work."