Donna Addkison is a nationally recognized leader and advocate for the economic security of women and families. As President and CEO of Wider Opportunities for Women, Ms. Addkison leads a national organization with a 45-year track record of working to improve economic security for women through job training and career literacy programs in the District of Columbia, an innovative research and policy agenda that is the cornerstone for programs and organizing in more than 40 states, and efforts to educate policymakers at all levels of government.
WOW addresses women’s economic security across their lifetimes -- from access to education and training to life in the workforce, including the challenges of integrating the demands of home and work and of creating their own jobs.This work informs ongoing campaigns to improve economic security by maintaining or increasing minimum wage levels, reforming the unemployment insurance system to be more innovative and responsive, and advancing workplace flexibility policies such as paid sick leave. Additionally, WOW is focused on increasing access to green jobs training opportunities and addressing the myriad of obstacles facing older workers through collaborative efforts across the country.
Since joining Wider Opportunities for Women in 2008, Ms. Addkison has advanced the organization’s work as the Family Economic Security Program Director. Under her guidance, WOW developed the national BEST (Basic Economic Security Tables) Index, an innovative and comprehensive calculation of what it costs families to make ends meet and plan for the future. The measure is widely regarded as a baseline for economic security for families by advocates, policy makers, and national media. Ms. Addkison also led WOW’s green jobs technical assistance projects, WOW’s work to address the economic security needs of domestic violence survivors and technical assistance projects for advocates, service providers, and others at the state and local levels.
Embracing the strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit of her parents and grandparents, Ms. Addkison has built a reputation as a dedicated advocate committed to breaking ground on policies and programs to improve the lives of women and their families, often in underserved communities.
Ms. Addkison established herself as a strong political strategist, leading several successful state-level and federal campaigns. Ms. Addkison served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant for Economic Development for Mississippi’s governor nearly a decade ago. In that position she helped secure the largest capital investment in the U.S. for that year by bringing the first automotive manufacturer to the state and fought to increase salaries for the state’s educators.
A champion of community development, Ms. Addkison worked in the Mississippi Delta and later in New Orleans to bring mainstream financial services to communities and neighborhoods without access to basic banking. Working with residents of the Central City neighborhood, New Orleans faith and business leaders, Ms. Addkison worked with Hope Community Credit Union to build a facility in the neighborhood that would provide otherwise unavailable banking services to seniors on Social Security, families, and children opening their first savings accounts, and individuals looking to start businesses and buy homes. An educator at heart, Ms. Addkison also spent several years as a university instructor early in her career.
Ms. Addkison holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with Honors in Political Science from Mississippi University for Women, which honored her with a Distinguished Alumna Award in 2000, and Master’s degrees in Political Science from Mississippi State University and in Criminal Justice from Troy State University.