On one hand, it’s all about the numbers for Patrice Sayre, chief business officer with the Iowa Board of Regents.
But number crunching is just one piece of the puzzle for the artist-turned-career accountant who pours as much passion and energy into women’s equality issues and the next generation of women confronting them.Sayre, 62, of Ankeny, is a two-decade board member with the Chrysalis Foundation, a women’s advocacy, support and leadership organization celebrating 25 years in operation this year.
For its silver anniversary, Chrysalis will host its annual Inspired fundraising luncheon Thursday at the Iowa Events Center. It features female leader and philanthropist Dr. Tererai Trent, known as Oprah Winfrey’s “all-time favorite guest.”
Trent is a woman from a small Zimbabwe village who realized her dream to achieve an education in America after being forced into marriage at age 11 and mothering three children before she turned 18. Her story of success touches the broad gamut of issues that Chrysalis encounters daily through programs and services, Sayre said.
“It’s about making sure women and girls have access to programming and opportunities to make a better life,” Sayre said of Chrysalis.
Sayre joined Chrysalis as a board member in 1992 at the invitation from her friend, Louise Rosenfield Noun. The founder of Chysalis, who died in 2002 at the age of 94, led a life of feminist activism and philanthropy that inspired Sayre and many others.
Sayre talked with The Des Moines Register about Chrysalis today and how it’s making a difference in Iowa:
Q: How did Chrysalis start?
A. It was started by three women, particularly Noun, a well-known philanthropist in Des Moines. She was very interested in assuring that women and girls had opportunities in career and education and all the issues that affect women and their families.
Q: Why did you get involved?
A. I’m a product of my time; growing up I was surrounded by huge societal changes in America — antiwar protests, civil rights, women’s rights. My passion for social justice focused on the second wave of feminism: women having credit rights in their own name, insurance coverage equal to men’s, equality before the law, career opportunities, adequate health care, the right to determine who you are without some stereotype telling you who you should be.
Q: What does the 25th anniversary mean for the organization?
A. It is very important. We started out with one women, a philanthropist, who used her funds to start this. Now we’ve grown into a bigger organization that has become independent and developed a name in the community respected by women and girls.
Q: If someone gives money to Chrysalis, where does it go?
A. We’re thankful to have a generous endowment that funds all daily services and operations. That means everything we raise we are able to put back out into community services and programs.
Q: What specific programs and services does Chrysalis access?
A. We focus on issues of home life, career, dreams, financial literacy and things that help a girl succeed. We work with an economic development for adult women group, Iowa Homeless Youth Center, Young Women’s Resource Center, Women’s Alliance and we’ve partnered with Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa. The best we’re known for is our after-school program.
Q: What’s the after-school program all about?
A. It focuses on healthy and successful development of adolescent girls. There is a particular need (to reach) girls in middle school. That’s an age where a lot of girls lose their self-confidence and there was a missing link there to help girls feel comfortable in today’s society. So we launched the after-school program in 1998 and it now serves more than 500 girls each year at 30-plus locations.
Q: Are there any new efforts or initiatives that Chrysalis is promoting?
A. We’ve been focusing a lot on sex trafficking lately and making that issue known. We are a state that has a lot of sex trafficking going through since we’re at the intersection of Interstate Highways 80 and 35 and (traffickers) head from one place to another. I think Chrysalis was very necessary in providing a public service campaign on that issue.
GREW UP: Des Moines, North High School graduate.
FAMILY: Husband John Sayre, three adult sons.
FUN FACT: First college degree was in art. Switched to accounting after being laid off from first job out of college. “I was laid off on a Friday and enrolled in classes for a master’s degree in accounting (at Drake University) by Tuesday the following week.”
The annual fundraiser luncheon for Chrysalis, a charity for girls and women, will feature guest speaker Dr. Tererai Trent, Oprah Winfrey’s “all-time favorite guest.”
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.
WHERE: Iowa Events Center, 833 Fifth Ave., in the Grand Ballroom.
COST: $50 per adult, $25 per student.
RESERVATONS: Register by this morning online at www.chrysalisfdn.org.