Independent Women's Forum
The Independent Women's Forum (IWF, not to be confused with the International Women's Forum) is an anti-feminist organization predominantly funded by right-wing foundations, including the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Koch brothers' Claude R. Lambe Foundation. On its website, it describes its mission as being "to rebuild civil society by advancing economic liberty, personal responsibility, and political freedom. IWF builds support for a greater respect for limited government, equality under the law, property rights, free markets, strong families, and a powerful and effective national defense and foreign policy."
The IWF originally grew out of a group called "Women for Clarence Thomas," formed to support Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, against allegations of sexual harassment. It has vocally opposed the Violence Against Women Act.
In an editorial, The New York Times called the IWF "a right-wing public policy group that provides pseudofeminist support for extreme positions that are in fact dangerous to women."
IWF has two sister organizations: a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy group, Independent Women's Voice (IWF), formed in 2003; and a network of local chapters called Independent Women's Network, formed in 2012.
- 1 News and Controversies
- 1.1 Opposition to Paid Family and Medical Leave and Earned Sick Leave During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 1.2 IWF/V Claims it Helped Flip Wisconsin Red in 2016
- 1.3 Opening of the Independent Women's Law Center
- 1.4 Pay to Play
- 1.5 IWF and IWV Market Right-Wing Ideas to Reach Independent Women Voters Under the Guise of Neutrality
- 1.6 IWV Spent to Help “War On Women” GOP Candidates
- 1.7 IWF Fellow Calls Gun Control "Sexist," 2013
- 1.8 Opposition to Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
- 1.9 Defense of Rush Limbaugh
- 1.10 Efforts to Eradicate Teaching of Global Warming from Schools
- 1.11 Feminist Majority Objects to IWF's State Department Grant, 2004
- 2 Ties to the Koch Brothers and Americans for Prosperity
- 3 Ties to ALEC
- 4 Ties to the Council for National Policy
- 5 History
- 6 Funding
- 7 Core Financials
- 8 Personnel
- 9 Contact Details
- 10 Articles and Resources
- 11 References
News and Controversies
Opposition to Paid Family and Medical Leave and Earned Sick Leave During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Independent Women's Forum attacked paid leave proposals to allow workers time off during an unprecedented global pandemic, calling such proposals "radical" and part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "far-Left grabbag of ideas." IWF has also attacked Democratic governors as "Little Tyrants" for issuing stay-at-home orders urged by disease control experts.
According to True North Research, "IWF has argued that 'a crisis is not the time for federal programs,' even as more than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment during this pandemic and nearly 100,000 Americans have died —and millions have been affected by this contagious and debilitating disease. IWF has used its online platforms to cheer on right-wing lawmakers like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who tried to gut relief for American workers in the coronavirus aid package, and to attack progressive policymakers like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), who has defended stay-at-home orders as nearly 50,000 Michiganders have tested positive for Covid-19, nearly 5,000 of whom have died in the past few weeks, as of May 15, 2020. Meanwhile, IWF has been promoting uplifting stories of coronavirus heroes and pushed its marketing to independent women that we’re all #InThisTogether, but it has also continued to fight against paid leave. IWF has a long history of opposing workplace reforms that benefit women and chief among those is how it has attacked access to Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) and earned sick leave across the U.S."
Read more about IWF's long-term and recent efforts to deny Americans access to paid leave here.
IWF/V Claims it Helped Flip Wisconsin Red in 2016
On February 23, 2020 Lisa Graves first wrote in The Cap Times that IWF/V claimed to have played a decisive role in delivering Wisconsin for Trump in the 2016 election, according to an internal report obtained by True North Research (TNR). The report, prepared for IWF/V by Shaw and Company Research, suggests that IWF/V's quizzes targeting independent and GOP women in Wisconsin may have moved the needle just enough to tip the state to Trump, who won by a narrow 22,748 votes in Wisconsin. IWF/V developed quizzes shortly before the election focusing on the ACA, Supreme Court, and workforce issues like paid leave to relay distorted information to voters, masking the group's extreme agenda while increasing support for Republicans like Trump and Senator Ron Johnson.
According to Graves, "Shaw’s analysis argued, 'had the IWF/IWV quiz information messaging not occurred, Trump would have received 215,840 fewer votes. Given that his ultimate margin in Wisconsin was 30,000 or so, this outreach clearly had an impact.' Heather Higgins would later go on to boast about these findings saying, 'Had IWV’s educational messaging not occurred Trump would have received an estimated 215,840 fewer votes in Wisconsin, the state completely written off by all the political professionals.' Overstating your impact is something of a tradition by political creatures, but the prospect of a D.C. group with little name recognition and even less donor transparency achieving even a fraction of its claims in our elections should give any reasonable person pause."
The Center for Media and Democracy's David Armiak wrote that the TNR report revealed that IWV claimed credit for Scott Walker's 2012 recall win. "According to Higgins, IWV targeted Wisconsin voters using 'interactive phone calls, postcards with questionnaires, and targeted online advertising,' after it found that independents that opposed Walker believed that public employees are underpaid and sacrifice money to stay in their positions. 'Through our educational program, we changed this foundational belief into an understanding that unionized public employees are overcompensated relative to the private sector,' IWV claims. Higgins boasted of this in a speech to CPAC in 2015. IWV launched a website, 'isthatreallyfair.org,' as part of the effort, which also includes a quiz. It is unclear how much the 2012 effort cost Higgins’s groups, and since IWF/V are not required to disclose funders under the tax code, there is no telling who bankrolled the effort."
Armiak detailed more IWF/V's Wisconsin funding, including billionaires Diane Hendricks, Steven Einhorn, Terry Kohler. CMD also identified 28 Foundations and donor conduits that contributed a combined $8 million to IWF between 2011 and 2018.
Opening of the Independent Women's Law Center
IWF announced the launch of a law center to "advocate [..] for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and freedom of association" and "push back against attempts to convince the public that constitutionalist, originalist judges are a threat to women's rights." The "Independent Women's Law Center" (IWLC) is lead by Jennifer C. Braceras and Erin Hawley. Hawley is IWLC's senior legal fellow, a former clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and senior fellow at the University of Missouri's Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. Baracus is the director of IWLC, former Staff Assistant in the Office of Vice President Dan Quayle and former law clerk to conservative judges. In a promotional video, IWLC claims that "left-leaning feminist groups" are attempting to "politicize the federal judiciary" by "smearing" conservative justices, such as Robert Bork, Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. In the video, IWLC declares itself a "voice" for women who "support the nomination of justices who will stay in their constitutionally prescribed lanes." Additionally, IWLC says it was launched in light of renewed calls for judicial reform and the abolition of the electoral college.
Pay to Play
Over the years IWF has received funding from Altria, Phillip Morris International, and vaping giant Juul. Without disclosing its its tobacco funding, IWF has defended the vaping industry using Juul's own talking points.
As Evan Vorpahl and Lisa Graves documented in May 2019, "The Independent Women’s Forum has published more than a dozen posts advocating for deregulation of e-cigarettes and promoting the benefits of vaping since 2018. Those pieces downplay the adverse health effects of nicotine, an addictive substance derived from tobacco plants which has been linked to heart disease... Some of IWF’s claims backing e-cigs and attacking their regulation have appeared in USA Today, the Hill, and The Washington Examiner. Its representatives have also made such claims in media appearances on local radio stations and on the National Rifle Association’s video arm, NRATV. But in all of these outlets IWF has failed to disclose that it has been funded by tobacco and vaping companies determined to re-normalize the use of tobacco."
Julie Gunlock, the director of IWF's "Center for Progress and Innovation" has written extensively, echoing the corporate line in pushback to commonsense regulation of chemicals in products women, men, and children put on their skin, toxic pesticides sprayed on food, and e-cigs. "Earlier this year, while fighting off regulatory efforts to curb teen abuse of e-cigs, Gunlock wrote that 'teen vaping should also be kept in perspective, rather than positioned as a dire public health emergency' and claimed public health officials were misleading the public by calling the surge an epidemic. She did not disclose IWF’s funding from Altria. Gunlock has also echoed Juul’s exact talking points, such as the line that its products have 'helped millions switch from cigarettes.' What Gunlock does not mention is the number of teens who have become addicted to nicotine because of Juul, and the consequences that may have on their long-term health."
In addition to framing the teenage vaping epidemic as alarmist, Gunlock also downplayed health consequences of nicotine, comparing it to a cup of coffee, and IWF president Carrie Lukas compared vaping regulations to sex ed, writing in The Hill that "abstinence-only" was the wrong approach.
IWF has lobbied repeatedly against tobacco regulation. In February the group lobbied the FDA against banning e-cigarette flavors, which are widely popular among underage users and in 2017 IWF even claimed that regulating e-cigarettes would discriminate against women. The group has been funded by major tobacco companies for decades.
IWF and IWV Market Right-Wing Ideas to Reach Independent Women Voters Under the Guise of Neutrality
The Independent Women’s Forum and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, the Independent Women’s Voice, market themselves to the media and voters as “non-partisan,” “independent,” and “neutral.” An investigation of the groups by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals them to be anything but that.
Joan Walsh wrote for The Nation, "IWF and its political arm, Independent Women’s Voice, have become aggressive players in Republican politics, embedded in the network of organizations backed by Charles and David Koch, advocating for the Koch brothers’ myriad concerns, and playing on their 'independent' label to elect GOP candidates."
Heather Higgins, the President of the Independent Women’s Voice and the Board Chair of the Independent Women’s Forum, admitted as much in a speech to potential 2016 donors at a David Horowitz Freedom Center retreat:
Being branded as neutral, but actually having people who know know that you’re actually conservative puts us in a unique position. Our value here and what is needed in the Republican conservative arsenal is a group that can talk to those cohorts [women who are not Republican conservatives] that would not otherwise listen but can do it in a way that is taking a conservative message and packaging it in a way that will be acceptable.
- CMD: Independent Women's Forum and Independent Women's Voice Use “Independent” Brand to Push Right-Wing Agenda to Women Voters
- CMD: A Reporter's Guide on the Independent Women's Forum/Voice
- Joan Walsh: Meet the ‘Feminists’ Doing the Koch Brothers’ Dirty Work
IWV Spent to Help “War On Women” GOP Candidates
- IWV made $67,242 in independent expenditures aiding Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin with calls and independent voter outreach in November 2012, after Akin claimed on August 19, 2012 that rape victims couldn’t get pregnant because “if it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
- $176,991 on a “Romney wants Mourdock” ad after Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock asserted that when a woman is raped, she carries a “gift from God” and that such a pregnancy “is something that God intended to happen.”
- Joe Walsh, a GOP Rep. from Illinois claimed in the 2012 race against Tammy Duckworth that abortions to save a mother’s life are never medically necessary. Two weeks later, Independent Women’s Voice spent more than $5,000 on calls and outreach to independent voters in his district.
- In the 2014 Senate races, CMD’s research finds that Independent Women’s Voice spent more than $850,000 on GOP candidates, most of whom had 0% NARAL ratings; it spent more than $5 million that year on related advocacy.
- Higgins also told donors that Independent Women’s Voice made the only significant independent expenditure in Mark Sanford’s 2012 congressional race in South Carolina. She said Independent Women’s Voice worked to convince “evangelicals to hold their nose and vote for Mark in order to be able to hold onto that seat and not have the liberal win it.”
IWF Fellow Calls Gun Control "Sexist," 2013
Speaking at Senate hearings on gun control in February 2013, IWF senior fellow Gayle Trotter stated that gun control regulations were "sexist":
- "Calling guns 'the great equalizer,' Trotter said women need firearms to protect themselves against male attackers. 'An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon,' Trotter said. 'And the peace of mind she has… knowing she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she's fighting hardened violent criminals.'"
Trotter's testimony provoked strong reactions, with many critics citing research that suggests the presence of guns in the home often correlates with a greater likelihood that women and children will be injured or killed.
A New York Times editorial wrote that it marked "an absurd low point" in the debate over gun violence in the U.S., adding that "[i]n domestic violence situations, the risk of homicide for women increased eightfold when the abuser had access to firearms, according to a study published in The American Journal of Public Health in 2003." The Times editors also noted that the IWF had opposed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
The Nation added Trotter's statement to its list of "Timeless Whoppers."
Citing additional research linking the prevalence of guns to increased violence against women, feminist writer Amanda Marcotte wrote, "The conservative claim, made by Trotter, that guns are an 'equalizer' is about as serious a misrepresentation as you can muster when it comes to violence against women. Most violence against women is perpetrated by men the victim knows in situations that are intimate or social, where guns aren't usually out."
Trotter defended her testimony in an e-mail to the Daily Beast, writing, "I am an unapologetically liberty-loving, tyranny-hating, red-blooded, patriotic American woman, a lawyer who is proud to say that the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the founding charters of freedom and that government of the people, for the people and by the people is here to stay."
Opposition to Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
IWF has regularly opposed VAWA, including during a fight to reauthorize the Act in March 2013. "What concerns us most is VAWA includes no provisions for financial oversight, views violence more through an ideological lens than a practical one, erodes constitutional rights of the accused, and perpetuates the idea that society is hostile to women," IWF's Charlotte Hays said in a statement at the time, according to the Washington Post.
Defense of Rush Limbaugh
IWF has repeatedly defended right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, including supporting Limbaugh after his misogynist comments towards Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke on his show in 2012.
A report by The Nation and the American Independent Institute found that Limbaugh gave about $273,000 to IWF in 2007, making him the group's largest donor that year. The report noted that in later years, "donors to the IWF began cloaking its contributions by running them through the right-wing's biggest donor-advised fund, DonorsTrust," making it difficult to know how much Limbaugh may have contributed since then.
Efforts to Eradicate Teaching of Global Warming from Schools
IWF formed a group called Balanced Education for Everyone whose goal is to stop the teaching of global warming in U.S. schools, according to the Denver Post. The group calls global warming "junk science," and claims teaching it scares children unnecessarily. It also promoted a documentary called "Not Evil Just Wrong," which "was created as a counterpoint to Al Gore's Oscar-winning global-warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."
The group started its national effort at a meeting of the Mesa County, Colorado District 51 School Board, where it presented the board with a petition containing 600-700 signatures of people who wanted global warming instruction stopped.
Feminist Majority Objects to IWF's State Department Grant, 2004
In October 2004 the Feminist Majority Foundation objected to the U.S. Department of State's decision to award part of a $10 million grant to IWF for "leadership training, democracy education and coalition building assistance" to women in Iraq. Then-president of the Feminist Majority Eleanor Smeal said that the IWF "represents a small group of right-wing wheeler-dealers inside the Beltway." The funding was from the Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative. In a press release, IWF "denounced" the Feminist Majority's objection, calling it a "radical feminist group," and stated its plan to work with the American Islamic Congress and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Ties to the Koch Brothers and Americans for Prosperity
IWF has received funding from several sources with ties to the Koch brothers. The Koch family foundations donated $844,115 to IWF between 1998 and 2014 and no fewer than half of the Independent Women’s Forum’s full-time staff previously worked directly for Koch-controlled groups or for entities that received Koch funding. DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund have contributed over $5 million to IWF from 2002 to 2014.
Heather Higgins, the chair of IWF's board of directors, has attended at least one Koch network summit meeting. Former IWF president Nancy Pfotenhauer worked for Koch Industries and has attended multiple Koch network meetings. Pfotenhauer currently sits on the board of Americans for Prosperity, a key organization in the Kochs' political network.
From 2003 to 2008, IWF was closely affiliated with the Koch brothers-founded and -funded Americans for Prosperity. IWF staff registered AFP's websites, AFPHQ.org and AmericansForProsperity.org, in 2003. The domain names were both registered by Michael Berry, who at the time was IWF's chief operating officer and Secretary/Treasurer of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) board of directors. At that time, both IWF and AFPF listed their address as 1726 M Street, NW, Tenth Floor, Washington, D.C. The two organizations shared additional personnel, including Nancy Pfotenhauer, who served as both President and Director of IWF and as President of AFPF, and Arianne Massey, who in 2004 served as COO of IWF and as secretary/treasurer for AFPF. By 2009, IWF and AFPF were listing separate addresses in their tax filings, with IWF giving its address as 4400 Jenifer Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.
Ties to ALEC
Independent Women’s Forum President Sabrina Schaefer offered to help American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) legislators “sell” corporate-backed alternatives to paid sick leave, equal pay, quality childcare, and workplace flexibility in their home states in a meeting with ALEC in July.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our ExposedbyCMD.org site.
Ties to the Council for National Policy
As of September 2020, Heather Higgins, chairman of the Independent Women’s Forum, is a gold circle member of the Council for National Policy.
|Council for National Policy|
The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a secretive, Christian Right organization of funders and activists founded in 1981 by activist Morton Blackwell, commentator Paul Weyrich, direct-mail pioneer Richard Viguerie, right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly and Left Behind author Tim LaHaye. Anne Nelson's book about CNP, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, describes how the organization connects "the manpower and media of the Christian right with the finances of Western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operatives.”
CNP membership as of September 2020 is available here.
While claiming to challenge "radical feminists," IWF primarily targets mainstream feminists and feminist organizations, as exemplified by such figures as Hillary Rodham Clinton and such groups as the American Association of University Women.
IWF is a secular counterpart to Religious Right women's groups like Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America, but these groups often work together. People for the American Way describe IWF as a group that "opposes affirmative action, gender equity programs like Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act."
IWF members include academic women who are paid to write papers that denigrate the idea of equity for girls and women in education. One of these papers, by Judith Kleinfeld, a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, has questioned an MIT study on discrimination against women in MIT's science department, calling their findings "junk science."
IWF's website shows an expansive sphere of concerns, all viewed from right-wing perspectives.
IWF's head Michelle Bernard later became the head of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy. The Bernard Center's website lists no donors, no history, and no contact information other than a P.O. box in Potomac, Maryland. Analysts from the Bernard Center have written about 'misguided' food and nutrition policy, and the need for more charter schools.
State Department Grant for Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative, 2004-2008
In 2004, IWF was awarded part of a $10 million U.S. Department of State grant to "train Iraqi women in the skills and practices of democratic public life." IWF's tax filings show that it received more than $2.6 million between 2004 and 2008, of which $1.3 million was paid to the American Islamic Congress and around $291,000 to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Together, the three organizations created the Iraqi Women's Educational Institute (IWEI), which provided training seminars and "educational materials on democracy and elections" in Iraq, and also operated the "Iraqi Women’s Small Grant and NGO Capacity-building Initiative." The last activities listed on the IWEI's website, iwei.org, took place in 2006, and the domain expired in June 2013.
Although IWF is not required to disclose its funders by law, The Center for Media and Democracy uncovered over $8,011,869 to IWF between 2011 and 2018 through an analysis of IRS filings.
- Adolph Coors Foundation: $165,000
- Bradley Foundation: $875,000
- Bradley Impact Fund: $40,000
- Bochnowski Family Foundation: $57,500
- Castle Rock Foundation $50,000
- Charles Koch Foundation: $9,115
- Chase Foundation of Virginia: $31,000
- Diana Davis Spencer Foundation: $90,000
- Donors Capital Fund: $1,665,000
- DonorsTrust: $2,547,254
- Einhorn Family Foundation: $10,000
- Helen Diller Family Foundation: $10,000
- Holman Foundation: $115,000
- JM Foundation: $40,000
- John William Pope Foundation: $75,000
- Judicial Education Project: $300,000
- MyWirelessOrg: $20,000
- National Christian Charitable Foundation: $217,500
- Randolph Foundation: $682,500
- Richard J & Vicoria T Agnich Foundation: $48,500
- Salt Institute: $38,000
- Sarah Scaife Foundation: $350,000
- The Personal Care Products Council: $20,000
- Thomas D Klingenstein Fund: $25,000
- US Chamber of Commerce Foundation: $2,500
- Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program: $380,000
- Walton Family Foundation: $125,000
- William H. Donner Foundation: $15,000
- Windway Foundation: $8,000
IWF received $16,234,294 in foundation grants between 1994 and 2013 from the following organizations, according to data compiled by the American Bridge 21st Century Foundation's Conservative Transparency database:
- Randolph Foundation: $3,779,850 (1998-2012)
- DonorsTrust: $3,594,104 (2002-2012)
- Sarah Scaife Foundation: $1,900,000 (1999-2007)
- Donors Capital Fund: 1,640,000 (2012)
- Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation: $835,000 (1998-2010)
- John M. Olin Foundation: $776,000 (1995-2002)
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation: $580,000 (1995-2008)
- Carthage Foundation: $400,000 (1994-1996, 2008-2009)
- Castle Rock Foundation: $400,000 (1998-2011)
- Jaquelin Hume Foundation: $375,000 (1999-2009)
- William H. Donner Foundation: $308,157 (1998-2009)
- Searle Freedom Trust: $300,000 (2001-2008)
- National Christian Foundation: $200,000 (2012)
- Scaife Family Foundation: $200,000 (1999-2002)
- Independent Women's Voice: $161,568 (2004-2006)
- JM Foundation: $120,000 (1995-2007)
- Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation: $116,000 (2002-2007)
- Ruth & Lovett Peters Foundation: $100,000 (2002 and 2007)
- Diana Davis Spencer Foundation: $68,000 (2008-2012)
- Exxon Mobil: $50,000 (2002-2006)
- Gilder Foundation: $50,000 (2003)
- Windway Foundation: $40,500 (2003-2012)
- John William Pope Foundation: $40,000 (2010-2013)
- Roe Foundation: $35,000 (2002-2009)
- Earhart Foundation: $35,000 (2002-2004)
- [[Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation: $31,500 (2002-2010)
- Holman Foundation: $30,000 (2009-2012)
- Hickory Foundation: $17,500 (1998-2001)
- William E. Simon Foundation: $16,000 (1998-2008)
- Bochnowski Family Foundation: $10,000 (2013)
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation: $9,115 (2012)
- Chase Foundation of Virginia: $6,000 (2009-2012)
- Armstrong Foundation: $5,000 (2006)
- National Association of Manufacturers: $5,000 (2005)
Other organizations that have reported giving grants to IWF include:
- Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation: $2,500 "Towards support of their educational efforts" (2013)
- Briggs and Stratton Corporation Foundation: $4,500 for "Operating support" (2012)
- Center for Communications, Health and the Environment: $100 for "Health Promotion" (2010)
- Connemara Fund: $25,000 (2009-2012). The managing trustee of the Connemara Fund is Polly J. Friess, daughter-in-law of Foster Friess and a Koch network summit attendee.
- Garvey Kansas Foundation: $500 for "Education: Programming" (2010)
- Edward A. and Catherine L. Lozick Foundation: $250 (2012)
- Gleason Family Foundation: $200,000 for "Production assistance MSNBC town hall w/Bill Cosby" (2009) 
- Koret Foundation: $5,000 for operating support (2010-2011), $5,000 for "Jericho project" (2012)
- Stephenson Family Foundation (Celebrate Life Foundation): $500, general contribution (2009)
- Triad Foundation: $5,000 for general operating support (2011)
At the time of its resource sharing announcement with Americans for Prosperity in October 2003, IWF stated that "we had come through a difficult transition a few years ago and were really hitting our stride after getting a major, million-dollar grant."
$2.6 Million in Federal Grants
IWF received more than $2.6 million in funding through government grants between 2004 and 2008, including:
- $339,780, U.S. Department of State Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative "to promote democracy for women in Iraq" (2004). (Of this, $234,405 was contracted to the American Islamic Congress and $66,408 to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
- $1,136,718, U.S. Department of State Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative (2005). (Of this, $533,052 was contracted to the American Islamic Congress and $224,813 to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.)
- $661,216, U.S. Department of State Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative (2006). (Of this, $465,780 was contracted to the American Islamic Congress).
- $392,240, U.S. Department of State Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative (2007). (Of this, $91,400 was contracted to the American Islamic Congress.)
- $77,850, further information not listed (2008).
- Total Revenue: $6,569,955
- Total Expenses: $3,441,242
- Net Assets: $3,230,059
- Total Revenue: $5,680,509
- Total Expenses: $5,008,664
- Net Assets: $101,346
- Total Revenue: $3,751,181
- Total Expenses: $3,032,297
- Net Assets: $-570,499
- Total Revenue: $3,221,034
- Total Expenses: $3,713,784
- Net Assets: $-1,288,657
- Total Revenue: $2,183,643
- Total Expenses: $2,206,134
- Net Assets: $-22,491
- Total Revenue: $2,954,216
- Total Expenses: $4,310,866
- Net Assets: $-773,416
- Total Revenue: $1,353,840
- Total Expenses: $1,380,044
- Net Assets: $583,234
- Total Revenue: $1,163,047
- Total Expenses: $1,072,604
- Net Assets: $609,440
- Total Revenue: $709,757
- Total Expenses: $1,053,256
- Net Assets: $518,997
- In 2013, IWF spent $561,581 (79 percent of its revenue for that year and 53 percent its total expenses) on compensation and employee benefits.
- Total Revenue: $4,427,773
- Total Expenses: $3,785,763
- Net Assets: $862,496
- In 2012, IWF listed its largest single expense as "Active engagement/mkt evaluation," on which it spend $2,983,197 in 2012.
- Total Revenue: $826,254
- Total Expenses: $601,823
- Net Assets: $220,486
- Total Revenue: $858,876
- Total Expenses: $1,028,393
- Net Assets: -$3,945
- In 2010, IWF spent over $540,000 (more than 60 percent of its revenue for that year) on compensation and employee benefits.
- Total Revenue: $4,263,640
- Total Expenses: $4,374,313
- Net Assets: $168,223
As of January 2021:
- Carrie L. Lukas, President
- Amber Schwartz, Executive Vice President
- Meghan Agostinelli, Communications Coordinator
- Dr. Qanta Ahmed, Senior Fellow
- Vicki E. Alger, Senior Fellow
- Cassie Alsfeld, Senior Digital Marketing Advisor
- Jenny Avis, Membership Director
- Kelsey Bolar, Senior Policy Analyst
- Andrea Bottner, Senior Adviser
- Jennifer C. Braceras, Director Independent Women's Law Center
- Sekayi Brunson, Graphic Design Lead
- Laura Carno, Senior Fellow
- Natalie Cassase, Communications Assistant
- Maria Chaplia, Visiting Fellow
- Ellie Cohanim, Senior Fellow
- Victoria R. Coley, Vice President of Communications
- Somerlyn Cothran, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations
- Sarah Culver, Digital Marketing Coordinator
- Rachel DiCario Currie, Senior Fellow
- May Davis, Senior Fellow
- Samantha Dravis, Visiting Fellow
- Frances Floresca, IWN Content Coordinator
- Ginny Gentles, Senior Fellow
- Julie Gunlock, Director Center for Progress and Innovation
- Beverly Hallberg, Senior Fellow
- Annorah Harris, Junior Legal Fellow
- Erin Hawley, Senior Legal Fellow
- Charlotte Hayes, Senior Editor and Director of Cultural Programs
- Gabriella Hoffman, Visiting Fellow
- McKenzie Holmes, Communications Assistant
- Brianna Howard, Social Media Manager
- Emily Jashinsky, Visiting Fellow
- Jennifer Kabbany, Visiting Fellow
- Ashley Kaitz, Communicaitons Intern
- Natalie Le, Communications and Policy Assistant
- Karin Agness Lips, Senior Fellow
- Angela Logomasini, Senior Fellow
- Ashley MacLeay, Director of External Relations
- Heather Madden, Director of Operations and Policy Research
- Elisha Maldonado, Senior Fellow
- Hadley Heath Manning, Director of Policy
- Adriana McLamb, Digital Marketing Director
- Casidy McMeans, Development Associate
- Meaghan Mobbs, Visiting Fellow
- Jean Morrow, Visiting Fellow
- Abigail Nobel, Visiting Fellow
- Maya Noronha, Visiting Fellow
- Patrice Lee Onwuka, Director of the Center for Economic Opportunity
- Marilyn Quigley, Visiting Fellow
- Lorena Riely, Senior Administrative Officer
- Naomi Schaefer Riley, Senior Fellow
- Claudia Rosett, Foreign Policy Fellow
- Lisa Schiffren, Senior Fellow
- Kristin Shapiro, Senior Fellow
- Carrie Sheffield, Senior Policy Analyst
- Jennifer Stefano, Visiting Fellow
- Inez Feltscher Stepman, Senior Policy Analyst
- Elizabeth Tew, Communications Director
- Christina Villegas, Senior Fellow
- Michele Vogt, Digital Media Director
- Charlotte Whelan, Policy Analyst
- Hannah Zakaria, Visting Fellow
- Meghan Liuzzo, Communications Intern
- Sekayi Stephens, Graphic Design Lead
- Ebonique Ellis, Marketing Manager
- Cassie Alsfeld, Senior Digital Marketing Advisor
- Jennifer Marquez, Director of Foundation Relations
- Jamie Whitefield, Investor Relations Coordinator
- Caroline Phelps, Senior Director of Communications
- Betsy Pearson, Communications and Staff Assistant
- Ericka Andersen Sylvester, Digital Marketing Director
- Whitney Garrison Athayde, Director of Development
- Celia Meyer, Communications Associate
- Jennifer Braceras
- Amy Oliver Cooke
- Amber Smith
- Charlotte Allen
- Krista Kafer
- Donna Wiesner Keene
- Patrice J. Lee
- Jillian Melchior
- Anna Rittgers
- Abby W. Schachter
- Emily Esfahani Smith
- Gayle Trotter
Former Visiting Fellows
- Mandy Gunasekara
- Laura Camo
- Sara Carter
- Stephanie Green
- Beverley Hallberg
- Kelsey Harkness
- Karla Jacobs
- Kara Jones
- Melissa Ortiz
- Dr. Jamie Wells
- Jennifer Marsico
- Lane Scott
Board of Directors
As of January 2021:
- Heather Higgins - Chairman
- Yvonne S. Boice
- Tarren Bragdon
- Giovanna Cugnasca
- The Hon. Nan Hayworth
- Mike Leven
- Abby Moffat
- Myles Pollin
- Adele Malpass
- Elizabeth Biar
- Kellyanne Conway
- Lisa Gable
- Larry Kudlow
- Michaelon Wright
- Lynne V. Cheney
- Midge Decter
- Kimberly O. Dennis
- Wendy Lee Gramm
- Randy P. Kendrick
- Elizabeth Lurie (deceased)
- Kate O'Beirne (deceased)
- Louise V. Oliver
- Sally Pipes
- Nancy M. Pfotenhauer
- R. Gaull Silberman (deceased)
As of February 2020:
- Sabrina Schaeffer, Leadership Circle Chair
- Mindy Berry
- Andrea Bottner
- Krista Cupp
- Kelly Cushman
- Susanna Dokupil
- Lisa Gable
- Windi Grimes
- Jennifer Higgins
- Clark Judge
- Laura Cox Kaplan
- Anne Kolton
- Claudette Lajam
- Kate Pomeroy
- Merecedes Schlapp
- Sandra Swirski
- Janie Tisdale
Former Circle Leaders
As of April 2015:
- Lynne V. Cheney
- Midge Decter
- Kimberly O. Dennis
- Wendy Lee Gramm
- Randy P. Kendrick
- Elizabeth Lurie (deceased)
- Kate O’Beirne
- Louise V. Oliver
- Sally Pipes
- Nancy Pfotenhauer
- R. Gaull Silberman (deceased)
- Michaelon Wright
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 54-1670627
Independent Women's Forum
1875 I Street, NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Articles and Resources
IRS Form 990 Filings
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Koch Brothers
- Koch Family Foundations
- Americans for Prosperity
- Freedom Partners
- Cato Institute
- Heritage Foundation
- Koch Universities
- Koch Network
- Knowledge and Progress Fund
- American Encore
- Donors Capital
- 60 Plus
- Generation Opportunity
- Anne Morse
- Candace de Russy - Member of advisory board
- Independent Women's Voice
- David Armiak, Dark Money “Women’s” Group Claims Pivotal Role in 2016 Presidential Election, ExposedbyCMD.
- Evan Vorpahl and Lisa Graves, Pay-to-Play: IWF Defends e-Cigs without Disclosing Funding from e-Cig Industry, Unmasking the 'Independent' Women's Forum and Voice.
- Elinor Burkett, The Right Women: A Journey Through the Heart of Conservative America, Scribner, ; ASIN: 0684833085, March 1998. (This book looks at the IWF, as well as other conservative women's groups).
- IWF heads down the toilet, Alas a Blog, November 28, 2003.
- Feminist Majority Foundation Online, "State Department Funds Anti-Women's Rights Group To Train Iraqi Women", Feminist Daily News Wire, October 5, 2004.
- Independent Womens Forum, "IWF Awarded Grant to Support Iraqi Women", September 28, 2004.
- Ronnee Schreiber, Righting Feminism: Conservative Women and American Politics, Oxford University Press, June 2008. ISBN 0195331818 ISBN 978-0195331813
- American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, Independent Women's Forum, Conservative Transparency recipient profile, accessed April 2015.
- "Our Mission", Independent Women's Forum, accessed February 2008.
- Institute for Policy Studies, Independent Women's Forum, organization profile, accessed July 10, 2014.
- Amanda Marcotte, "Gayle Trotter's Ideas Will Not Keep Women Safe," Slate, January 30, 2013. Accessed July 10, 2014.
- Editorial, "Dangerous Gun Myths," New York Times, February 2, 2013.
- Independent Women's Forum, "IWF Announces Exciting New Partnership," Media Release, October 28, 2003. (This is a copy archived in the Internet Archive, accessed March 2008.
- Americans for Prosperity - research and background information, DeSmog Blog, accessed February 2013.
- New York State Office of the Attorney General, Charities Database: Independent Women's Voice, state governmental website, accessed April 2015.
- Independent Women's Network, Independent Women's Network, organizational website, accessed April 2015.
- Lisa Graves and Evan Vorpahl, IWF Opposition to Paid Family and Medical Leave and Earned Sick Leave Policies During Covid-19 and Beyond, True North Research, May 15, 2020.
- Lisa Graves, Who is behind the dark money group that claims it flipped Wisconsin in 2016?, The Cap Times, February 23 2020.
- David Armiak, Dark Money “Women’s” Group Claims Pivotal Role in 2016 Presidential Election, Center for Media and Democracy, February 24, 2020.
- PR Newswire IWF Launches Independent Women's Law Center IWF Press Release, Sept. 30, 2019
- IWF About organization website, accessed Oct 2. 2019
- IWF Introducing IWLC organizational site, accessed Oct 2. 2019
- Evan Vorpahl and Lisa Graves, Pay-to-Play: IWF Defends e-Cigs without Disclosing Funding from e-Cig Industry, May 2019.
- Joan Walsh, Meet the ‘Feminists’ Doing the Koch Brothers’ Dirty Work, The Nation, August 18, 2016.
- Lisa Graves, Kim Haddow and Calvin Sloan, Independent Women's Forum and Independent Women's Voice Use “Independent” Brand to Push Right-Wing Agenda to Women Voters, ExposedbyCMD, August 17, 2016.
- Caitlin Dickson, "Gayle Trotter: The Woman Who Called Gun Control Sexist," The Daily Beast, February 7, 2013.
- Timeless Whoppers: Gayle Trotter," The Nation, February 2013.
- Harvard Injury Control Research Center, "Firearms Research: Women," research summaries, accessed May 2015.
- Suzy Khimm, "The Violence Against Women Act: Out of the fire, into the sequester," Washington Post, March 1, 2013.
- Sally Patel, "It's Always His Fault: Femininist Ideology Dominates Perpetrator Programs", The Women's Quarterly, Independent Women's Forum, Summer 1997 - Number 12.
- Carrie Lukas, "Do the Facts Matter When the Subject is Rush Limbaugh?," Independent Women's Forum, October 2007.
- Charlotte Hays, "Feminist Icons: Censorship Now!," Independent Women's Forum, March 13, 2012. Accessed June 23, 2014.
- Eli Clifton, "Guess Which Women’s Group Rush Limbaugh Has Donated Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to?," The Nation, June 12, 2014.
- Nancy Lofholm, Push to teach "other side" of global warming heats up in Colorado's Mesa County Denver Post, May 26, 2010.
- Emily Anderson, Petitions target ‘political’ leanings of teachers Grand Junction, Colorado Daily Sentinel, May 26, 2010.
- Feminist News, "State Department Funds Anti-Women's Rights Group To Train Iraqi Women," October 5, 2004. Accessed July 9, 2014.
- Independent Women's Forum, "IWF Assails Radical Feminist Group's Charge," press release, October 5, 2004. Accessed July 9, 2014.
- American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, Recipient: Independent Women's Forum, ConservativeTransparency.org, accessed April 2015.
- Americans for Prosperity, Directors, organizational website, accessed June 23, 2014.
- Americans for Prosperity - research and background information, DeSmog Blog, accessed February 2013.
- Independent Women's Forum, AmericansForProsperity.org and AFPHQ.org Domain Registration history, WhoIs registry, accessed March 2015, on file with the Center for Media and Democracy.
- Independent Women's Forum, Staff List, organizational website, archived by the WayBack Machine on August 12, 2004.
- Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2004 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, September 13, 2005.
- Independent Women's Forum, "2004 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, June 27, 2005.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2008 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 10, 2010.
- Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, June 28, 2010.
- People for the American Way, "Fighting the Right: The Right-Wing Affiliations of Bush Administration Officials: Appendix - Right Wing Groups", undated, accessed March 2008.
- "A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT," Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999.
- U.S. Department of State, "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell To Announce Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative and Creation of the U.S.-Iraq Women's Network," press release, March 8, 2004.
- Independent Women's Forum, "Advancing Women's Rights: Two Years in Iraq," organizational report, publication date not listed, accessed April 2015.
- Iraqi Women's Educational Institute, IWEI, organizational website, November 16, 2011, archived by Internet Wayback Machine.
- IWEI.org, web domain, Jun 8, 2013, archived by Internet Wayback Machine.
- David Armiak, Dark Money “Women’s” Group Claims Pivotal Role in 2016 Presidential Election, ExposedbyCMD, February 24, 2020.
- Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 20, 2014.
- Anschutz Foundation, 2008 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 1, 2010.
- Anschutz Foundation, 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, October 17, 2011.
- Anschutz Foundation, 2010 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, amended, filed January 8, 2015.
- Anschutz Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 8, 2014.
- Bill and Katie Weaver Charitable Trust, 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, October 5, 2011.
- Bill and Katie Weaver Charitable Trust, 2010 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 12, 2012.
- Bill and Katie Weaver Charitable Trust, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 16, 2013.
- Bill and Katie Weaver Charitable Trust, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 4, 2014.
- Briggs and Stratton Corporation Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, June 19, 2014.
- Center for Communications, Health and the Environment, 2010 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, June 1, 2011.
- Connemara Fund, 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 22, 2010.
- Connemara Fund, 2010 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 18, 2011.
- Connemara Fund, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 19, 2012.
- Connemara Fund, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, February 18, 2014.
- Garvey Kansas Foundation, 2010 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, December 31, 2010.
- Edward A. and Catherine L. Lozick Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, May 10, 2013.
- Gleason Family Foundation, 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 16, 2010.
- Koret Foundation, 2010 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 17, 2011.
- Koret Foundation, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 20, 2012.
- Koret Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 22, 2013.
- Ladera Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 24, 2014.
- Ladera Foundation, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 21, 2012.
- M. A. Chisholm Charitable Trust, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, June 10, 2013.
- M. A. Chisholm Charitable Trust, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, May 12, 2014.
- Precourt Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, October 2, 2013.
- Precourt Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 12, 2014.
- Stephenson Family Foundation (a.k.a. Celebrate Life Foundation), 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 31, 2010.
- Triad Foundation, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 19, 2010.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2005 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 27, 2006.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2006 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, June 26, 2007.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2007 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 22, 2008.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2021 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, September 13, 2022.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2020 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, September 2, 2021.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2019 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, September 3, 2020.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2018 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, September 18, 2019.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2017 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 17, 2018.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2016 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, September 08, 2017.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, September 14, 2016.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 7, 2015.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 16, 2014.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 2, 2013. Accessed June 23, 2014.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2011 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, August 13, 2012. Accessed June 23, 2014.
- Independent Women's Forum, 2010 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, May 6, 2011. Accessed June 23, 2014.
- Independent Women's Forum, Staff, organizational website, accessed January 2021.
- Independent Women's Forum, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed January 2021.