The Women's Fund for Health Education and Resiliency was founded in February 1979 by Jacqueline and Wayne Goettsche with a seed endowment as the Women's Fund for Health Education and Research (HER). Concerned that women's health issues lacked appropriate funding and that research findings using only male subjects was applied indiscriminately to women, the Goettsches established the Women's Fund to support research on women's health issues and to disseminate women's health information through educational programs. The Goettsches organized a fundraising initiation barbeque in May 1979 that drew nearly 100 attendees from Houston's social and medical elite. With this event, the Women's Fund commemorated the signing of the Bylaws and officially launched the new organization.
As a non-profit foundation, the Women's Fund for HER has been dedicated to understanding, improving, and promoting women's health by providing support for research and educational programs. Fundraising through membership solicitation, special events, and corporate support is a primary goal of the Women's Fund. In 1979, the Women's Fund began with about 200 charter members; by 2001 membership had increased to 605, 203 of which are lifetime members. Membership categories include individual annual members, lifetime members, medical members, and corporate members.
The Women's Fund for HER hosts a variety of events each year; central among them is the Annual Benefit Luncheon held each fall. In 1983 the Women's Fund held its First Annual Benefit Luncheon with Erma Bombeck as the guest speaker. Featured speakers have included David Eisenhower, John Bradshaw, Suzanne Somers, and Liz Carpenter. Since 1991, the Women's Fund has presented the John P. McGovern Fall Seminar, which offers specialized information on topics such as allergies, chemical dependency, depression, and over-the-counter medicines. An Annual Spring Seminar provides another venue for similar kinds of information. The Program Committee organizes smaller and more frequent lecture/seminars throughout the year, often in collaboration with volunteers representing local medical institutions, and so many of the seminars are free. Membership coffees, held three to four times a year in a member's home, feature presentations on women's health concerns such as heart disease or alcoholism. Both Michael DeBakey and Ann Richards have spoken to attendees at these membership coffees.
As part of their educational outreach, the Women's Fund publishes A Primer on Women's Health, which is circulated to groups, agencies, and corporations without charge. To reach a wider audience, the Women's Fund translated the Primer into Spanish. Local philanthropic foundations and individuals support publication of the Primer. Another publication, Health Notes, helps women track their medical histories and maintain records of tests and diagnoses.
In addition to special events and the Primer, the Women's Fund has supported basic and clinical research related to women's health concerns. Between 1980 and 1992 the Women's Fund awarded 73 grants for medical research and services geared toward women's needs.
For more information, see: https://thewomensfund.org/