Margot Fahnestock, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, Global Development and Population Program

FUNDING AREAS: Sexual and reproductive rights

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: Fahnestock is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, and more recently a director of field operations for reproductive health initiatives with the Futures Group in West Africa. At Hewlett, Fahnestock is mostly Africa-focused in her giving. She looks for grants that expand reproductive rights and reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies.

PROFILE: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation brings on program officers for eight-year terms, which cannot be renewed. In 2010, Hewlett hired Margot Fahnestock as a program officer, where she will most likely work until sometime during 2018. 

At Hewlett, Fahnestock's portfolio consists of advocacy and service grants for advancing reproductive rights and reducing unintended pregnancies. The foundation's reproductive health work is domestic as well as international. Fahnestock's grants, notably, mostly go toward projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Not coincidentally, Fahnestock's professional background is pretty Africa-centric. After earning her English literature degree from UCLA, Fahnestock joined the Peace Corps and taught her native language in Mali, and organized a series of seminars on women's health in the rural region where she was stationed. Soon after, she received her master's of public policy from The University of Chicago. Most recently before joining Hewlett, Fahnestock managed field operations for various Futures Group health initiatives in West Africa. During her tenure at the Futures Group, and with financial backing from USAID, Fahnestock provided managerial and technical oversight to reproductive health, HIV, and malaria programs.

Hewlett is big on reproductive health. It makes dozens of reproductive health grants annually, with the majority of them greater than $100,000, and some of them larger than $1 million. Unlike a lot of bigger foundations, Hewlett doesn't shy away from small groups, grantees it hasn't heard of, or projects that dominant political interests (particularly in the United States) might not like. Fundamentally, Hewlett wants to fund projects that get more people, especially people living in poverty, access to reproductive health services and family planning education.

For a better sense of what Hewlett's reproductive health grants look like, what follows is a short list of recent ones. (Since this is Fahnestock's profile and her focus area is international, the following list consists only of Hewlett projects in other countries. Inside Philanthropy goes into some more detail about the foundation's domestic work here.)

  • $150,000 to Reproductive Health Matters, a UK based publication with global readership, covering international reproductive rights policy developments.
  • $250,000 to South Africa's Wits Health Consortium to expand, with support from the country's Department of Health, contraceptive and reproductive health services in South Africa.
  • $750,000 to France's Equilibres & Populations to support civil society actors advocating for improved reproductive health policies in French-speaking West Africa.

Applying for a grant from Hewlett is relatively straightforward. The foundation accepts letters of inquiry on an ongoing basis, and strives to respond to prospective grantees within six weeks or so. Hewlett also posts calls for proposals on its website regularly. Informally, Hewlett often identifies new grantees through existing grantees who make recommendations or suggestions to the foundation. If you have colleagues who are Hewlett grantees (and Hewlett has many of them in the reproductive rights field), it might be worth conferring with them about making an appropriate introduction.