Lee Roper-Batker retired from a two-decade tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) in January 2020, leaving WFMN with a legacy of leadership, innovation, and impact to drive gender and racial equity in Minnesota.
Under her leadership, grantmaking increased by 840% and the endowment increased by 213%; girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) was established in 2002, which created the first permanently endowed fund just for girls at any women’s foundation in the world; and MN Girls Are Not For Sale launched in 2011, a $7.5 million cross-sector campaign to end sex trafficking that resulted in a sea change in Minnesota’s response to this issue and leveraged a $47 million state investment. In 2016, she launched the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, a seven-year, $10 million statewide public-private partnership with the Governor’s Office of the State of Minnesota to ensure equity in outcomes and center the leadership and solutions of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities.
Lee is recognized for her thought-leadership; publications in state and national media and journals; building the women’s funding movement; and use of research and community input and design as the basis for grantmaking and policy priorities. She founded and served on the Executive Committee of Prosperity Together, a nonpartisan coalition of public women’s foundations who, at the White House in November 2015, publicly committed $100 million to improve the economic security of low-income women and their families in America. She also worked with President Obama’s White House Council on Women and Girls and was a founding member of the National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives, resulting in eight women’s foundations committing $70 million to center and invest in the solutions of young women of color.
Lee is on the board of A Call to Men, the national board of directors of AAUW, the former board chair of the Women’s Funding Network, a past trustee of CaringBridge, was appointed co-chair of Governor Dayton’s Young Women’s Initiative Council, and has served on numerous other boards. Lee has received dozens of distinguished awards over the years.
Prior to joining the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Lee held leadership positions in the anti-poverty, social justice, and disabilities communities, and she owned her own business. Lee graduated summa cum laude from Augsburg College and studied at the Higher Trade Union College (Soviet Union) and Program in Global Community (Central America).
Lee finds joy in every day and is an avid reader, traveler, swimmer, and competitive games enthusiast. Lee and her husband John reside in Sarasota, Fla. Follow Lee on Twitter at @LeeRoperBatker