Blog & News 

Infographic 1.2 percent of $1million+ gifts were made to women and girls

Planned Giving at WFCO

// June 8, 2018

Ensuring Her Legacy and Women’s Equality Through Women Will

“I would not have enough paper to tell you everything,” LaRae Orullian said to describe the reasons she champions women who work in male-dominated fields and has committed to the future of WFCO through our planned giving program, Women Will.

Headshot of LaRae Orullian

Now in her mid-80s, she began her career as a messenger girl in Salt Lake City. She moved east and landed in Denver. Captivated by the excitement of 17th Street, she entered the banking profession and quickly moved up the ladder. Still, even after she was promoted to executive vice president, her male colleagues expected her to serve the coffee. Her experiences as a woman in the workplace solidified her commitment to equality.

A passion for women’s equality grew from her own experiences

In the ‘70s, women had limited autonomy over their own finances, lacking access to credit and the ability to sign loans without their husbands’ permission. The opportunity to provide financial services to women drove LaRae to serve as the first president and chief executive of the Women’s Bank of Denver, now CoBiz Financial.

As she reached new heights in her career, her community leadership expanded, too. LaRae gave her time to boards in Denver and beyond (usually the boards, including those of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and the Girl Scouts of the USA, advanced missions devoted to women and girls).

“I supported The Women’s Foundation from the very beginning, when I heard about the group from its founders,” said LaRae. “The Foundation has always brought the skills and expertise of women together to support more opportunities and develop leadership for girls and women across Colorado.”

As a member of an influential team called The Velvet Hammers, LaRae worked with others to debunk the false perception, common in the ‘70s and ‘80s, that there weren’t qualified women available to serve on all-male corporate boards. The Velvet Hammers carried with them lists of highly qualified professional women that they would distribute to counter this notion, and thus promote more inclusive and effective boards.

Using planned giving to ensure lasting impact

Currently in the U.S., just 1.2 percent of million-dollar-plus gifts made between 2004-2014 were made to specifically benefit women and girls, and less than 7.5 percent of all foundation funding goes toward women and girls.

Now retired and splitting her time between Denver and Palm Springs, it was important to LaRae to ensure her legacy of supporting women’s leadership continues. As a member of Women Will, LaRae’s estate plan includes The Women’s Foundation as a beneficiary, as well as several other nonprofit organizations.

Though she’s seen economic opportunities grow for women, LaRae notes we have a way to go before we achieve equal pay. She’s confident that WFCO will continue to use advocacy, grantmaking, and other tools to build economic opportunity for women.

“I know that The Women’s Foundation will be a good steward of my resources, and I care about its mission,” LaRae said when describing her decision to leave a planned gift to WFCO.

As in the worlds of business and community service, LaRae’s leadership can guide other women in philanthropy.

“Too often women don’t get their financial affairs in order once they build some independent wealth for themselves,” she said. She encourages women to work with advisors to ensure lasting impact of the organizations they care most about through planned giving.

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