Our Mission

The Fund for Women & Girls, a field of interest fund under the Jefferson Community Foundation, envisions a world where women and girls are safe, economically secure and free from discrimination so that they can reach their full potential.


Julie Gertler, chair: Active in women’s issues for more than 40 years, Gertler launched the Women’s Center at Council House in Los Angeles in 1980. The Center housed 15 non-profit organizations serving women and children and became the center of a coalition that worked on behalf of issues and to elect women to offices at all levels. She also chaired the Women’s Issues Task Force of a national organization.

In 1986 Gertler founded Consensus Inc., a pioneering public relations agency specializing in community engagement strategies for government agencies, businesses and non-profits. Consensus Inc. was named one of the top women-owned businesses in LA.

Debbi Steele, founder, past chair:  arrived in Port Townsend in 2007 and created the Fund for Women & Girls and initiated its major fund generator, the Port Townsend Wearable Art Show. A lifelong feminist and former president of NOW in Southern California through the 1980s, Steele received the 2012 AAUW Women of Excellence Award and in 2015 was nominated as Port Townsend Citizen of the Year. In 2017 she was given a special award from the Port Townsend Arts Commission for her work with the Wearable Art Show.

Ruth Baldwin, secretary: Baldwin’s versatile background includes work as a U.S. Navy air traffic controller, Seattle law firm human resources manager and volunteer efforts with RESULTS, a non-profit international grassroots advocacy group which strives to end hunger and poverty. Since moving to Jefferson County in 2005, Baldwin has worked with the PT Eco Village and in 2013 sponsored the film “Girl Rising” at the Rose Theatre.

Jan Whyte, treasurer: Whyte, a founding mother of the Fund for Women & Girls, has handled accounting for the San Diego Children’s Museum and the San Diego Eye Bank. She and her husband Tim have founded and run several businesses in Chicago and San Diego.  An active member of AAUW, Whyte served as its treasurer for four years and is a member of UWF Finance Committee.

Marla Althouse, Wearable Art Show Committee Chair: Althouse, an early sponsor of the Wearable Art Show, has also been a participant, along with her daughter. She also is the owner of her own business, Waterbirth Solutions, and recently launched a second enterprise, Upright Birth, both selling birthing products.

Judith Chambliss, Grant Committee Chair: With a background as a professional mediator, Chambliss also has experience in non-profit administration as the executive director for Portland’s Kids on the Block Program and the Oregon Mediation Association. Since moving to Port Townsend, Chambliss has served as a Jefferson County Court Guardian ad Litem, sat on the conflict resolution and education committee in her Cape George Colony community and volunteered with the YMCA Summer Meals and Literacy Program.

Jane Ludwig, Education Committee Chair: Ludwig comes to the Fund for Women and Girls with over 40 years experience in healthcare, education, technology and business.  She is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s Degree, specializing in burns and trauma care.  Early in her career, Ludwig served Dean of Adult and Continuing Education at an all women’s college. She was also active in developing and teaching science and technology camps for middle school girls. Prior to settling in Port Townsend, she founded a national telehealth business focusing on nurse triage, disease management and preventative care for over 1 million individuals.  

Rick Schad, Marketing/Communication Committee Chair: The first man to serve on the fund’s steering committee, Schad says he has always considered himself to be a feminist. Schad was raised in a household that supported individual empowerment, regardless of race or gender; his mother was one of the first women involved with building the Alaskan pipeline. Schad is co-owner with his wife, Alice, of Bootstrap Commercial Arts, a full-service graphic, web and photo studio in Port Hadlock.