Women’s Philanthropy Group

A person standing outside a temporary shelter while holding a small goat.
In Somalia, historic drought is ravaging the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists. Many have been forced to migrate as grazing lands dry and crops die. Mercy Corps is providing emergency cash to help families.

Empowering Women to Lead in the Fight Against Climate Change

A shared purpose

While the impacts of our changing climate affect every country on every continent, they don’t do so equally. The climate crisis is disproportionately impacting the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world. Women and girls are often considered the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change for many reasons, including a lack of access to information, educational and training opportunities, and financial resources.

But Mercy Corps’ Women’s Philanthropy Group (WPG) aims to turn this narrative on its head. Women can create change. Women are leaders.

With the right support, women are powerful changemakers with unlimited potential to help their families and communities thrive in the face of the worsening climate crisis.

In Lombok, Indonesia, an area extremely vulnerable to climate change, women transplant rice seedlings. They are members of a Mercy Corps supported farmers group, which is helping them learn how to grow stronger crops in the face of worsening drought.
In Nepal, where climate change causes frequent flooding, Mercy Corps established a Women Farmers Group to plant banana trees which are less easily damaged by floods. Within five years, the 25 members have increased their income and savings to support their families.
Cyclone Idai caused catastrophic damage in Zimbabwe, destroying houses, bridges, schools, and utility lines. Mercy Corps’ WASH Specialist helps to distribute jerrycans, water purification tablets, water storage buckets and soap to families taking shelter in a church.
In Kenya and Uganda, Mercy Corps helps women and their families adapt to climate extremes by improving food security, nutrition, and livelihood opportunities and promoting climate-smart government investments.
In Ethiopia, Mercy Corps is helping smallholder farmers, many of whom are women, build resilience against climate shocks by providing access to regular and reliable weather information.
Agricultural livelihoods in Nigeria have been devastated by ongoing conflict and climate change. Mercy Corps is responding by providing seeds and fertiliser, as well as training and market support so female farmers can improve their livelihoods and build resilience.


Our Impact

The Women’s Philanthropy Group’s first investment was in the POSSIBLE programme. In Senegal and Benin, an increase in the frequency and intensity of drought is leading to shorter growing seasons, food insecurity and fewer livelihood opportunities for these agriculture-based countries. Smallholder farmers—many of whom are women—rely on rainfed subsistence farming and are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Farming families live in mostly off-grid rural areas without access to a reliable supply of electricity. Additionally, the ongoing war in Ukraine has drastically affected the supply of wheat in Benin and Senegal, posing a serious threat to food security in the region.

The POSSIBLE (“Productive Horticulture Solutions for Senegal and Benin that Leverage Clean Energy”) programme seeks to increase local food production, reduce reliance on imported food products, and improve economic opportunity through innovative, market-based renewable energy programmes.

POSSIBLE helps female farmers access and finance climate smart solutions like solar irrigation and biogas technology. It also provides training and mentorship for women farmers, covering topics including financial literacy, sustainable farming techniques and access to markets.

The programme is contributing to the establishment of sustainable agriculture value chains by forging commercial relationships between farmers, distributors, and buyers. By the end of the programme, smallholder women farmers will have increased their resilience to the effects of climate change and improved their food security and income through renewable energy applications and technology.

Let’s unite

Together we will raise $50 million for our Women and Climate Fund, specifically for programmes that bring a gender balance to climate programming and position women as leaders in climate adaptation.

Funds raised to support Mercy Corps’ Women and Climate Fund are directed by our Climate experts to support programmes focused on women in climate adaptation, in line with the Women’s Philanthropy Group’s mission.

Members’ Commitment


The WPG holds virtual quarterly meetings for all members where we explore humanitarian issues and contexts to deepen our understanding of the work and how Mercy Corps stands out from our peers. An annual visit to see one of our global programmes first-hand is an opportunity to bring women together to reflect and deepen our learning journey.

In October 2023, our group traveled to Senegal to learn more about how women are using innovative technology to lead the fight against climate change in their communities. Read more about our visit and reflections here.


We welcome a variety of ages and backgrounds to make a multi-year commitment of personal significance to our Women and Climate Fund, with specific giving levels determined directly between the member and their Mercy Corps contact.



Member bios

Bio photo for Lyndi Liersemann.

Lyndi Liersemann

In Lyndi’s 10 years at Mercy Corps, she has worked closely with corporate partners, employee groups, and individual supporters. As Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Group, she is leading a passionate collective committed to leveraging influence and impact for women around the world.

Angee barnett headshot

Angee Barnett

Based in Kansas City, Angee is a communications strategist for Cisco's Sustainability Programme and takes a holistic approach to sustainability. Her volunteer work within Cisco, Mercy Corps and the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Centre aids the advancement of gender diversity and social justice.

Bio photo for Abhita Batra.

Abhita Batra

Abhita is a visionary entrepreneur, advisor, and investor in several healthcare and technology startups. Based in San Francisco, California, USA, Abhita has been featured in Forbes India, The Influential, The Statesman, America’s Women Magazine, and multiple media outlets. 

Bio photo for Pat Callahan.

Pat Callahan

Pat graduated from MIT with degrees in mechanical engineering and management. She worked in banking for 38 years, serving in various roles, and retired in 2015. She has served as a member of the Corporation (Board) of MIT since 2013 and is now a life member.

Bio photo for Emily Deschanel.

Emily Deschanel

Based in Los Angeles, California, USA, Emily is perhaps best known for her 12-year run as Dr. Temperance Brennan on the Fox crime series, Bones. Other television credits include Animal KingdomDrunk History, and The Rookie.

Bio photo for Saira Ismail.

Saira Ismail

Saira is a board-certified family physician from Hudson, Ohio, USA, where she enjoyed her private practice for over 20 years. She is a graduate of a combined BS/MD programme from NEOMED and remains engaged through mentoring young medical professionals. 

Bio photo for Cecily Joseph.

Cecily Joseph

Cecily is a nonprofit and advisory board member, lawyer, and sustainability executive based in the Bay Area. She currently serves as an Advisor at the Presidio Graduate School and is recognized as one of the Most Influential People in Business Ethics by the Ethisphere Institute. 

Bio photo for stephanie moersfelder

Stephanie Moersfelder

Based in Bend, Oregon, USA, Stephanie has 20 years of experience in financial services firms, with roles from corporate strategy to advising on charitable giving. She previously worked for a global asset management firm investing in the transition to a sustainable economy.

Kate Moore head shot

Kate Moore

Kate has worked in brand identity, positioning and strategic planning for more than 20 years. Today, she works as a consultant for companies and customers to help brands communicate their equity and benefits. She is based outside of Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Bio photo for Linda Sanchez.

Linda Sanchez

In the impact investing space, Linda connects investor capital to those needing help with persistent social issues. She previously held roles at CapShift, NationSwell, and Camden Asset Management. Based in L.A., she serves as co-chair of 100 Women in Finance's Southern California Committee.

Bio photo for Alison Smart.

Alison Smart

Alison Smart is Executive Director of Probable Futures, convening leaders to develop climate change tools and resources. Based in Massachusetts, she is a Senior Fellow for Communications at Woodwell Climate Research Centre, and a member of the BMW Foundation’s Responsible Leaders Network. 

Bio photo for Eleanor Streicker.

Eleanor Streicker

Eleanor holds an MA in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University. Based in Connecticut, USA, she is committed to advancing global mental health and women’s reproductive health programmes and serves as the executive director of the Streicker Foundation. 

Bio photo for Lisa Valone.

Lisa Valone

Based out of the Boston, USA, area, Lisa is a member of NEID and Women Moving Millions, and also co-chairs the 1000 Women Leaders Campaign of the U.N.’s Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. She graduated from Pomona College and Harvard Business School. 

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a global team of humanitarians working together on the front lines of crisis, disaster, poverty, and climate change to create a world where everyone can prosper. Beyond delivering aid to meet urgent needs, we develop long-term solutions to make lasting change possible.

The Women’s Philanthropy Group is seeking new members