Erin Anderson Whiting has spent her career working for nonprofits and integrating herself into the local community. What she didn’t know is her dedication would eventually lead to a global position.
Born and raised in Elk Rapids, Erin Anderson Whiting spent her career working for nonprofits and volunteering locally. While she spent years of her career in New York City, Whiting found herself back in Michigan after missing the natural beauty and all of her ties to the area. Upon her return, she began immersing herself in the local for-purpose community, which eventually included the Traverse City chapter of Impact100. Little did she know, she would one day be working to support Impact100 chapters around the world through her work at Impact100 Global.
Impact100 is a global organization that inspires women through local philanthropy. There are currently 63 chapters across the world, including locations in the United States, England, New Zealand and Australia, with plans to rapidly grow. Each chapter has at least 100 members and each member is responsible for donating $1,000. These donations allow the members of Impact100 to review, vote on and award grants to local nonprofit organizations. The more women who participate, the more money Impact100 can donate to make an impact on local organizations. By the end of 2021, Impact100 will have donated its $100 millionth dollar globally towards transformational grants to help small nonprofits accomplish big things.
Whiting’s journey ultimately began with the start of her 10th-grade year, where she was excited to start attending Interlochen Arts Academy to study creative writing. She was destined to serve others but was still navigating how to make an impact with her passion for writing. After graduation, she and a few friends decided to head out to New York City, not knowing that she would eventually find her way home.
After working in the publishing industry for several years, Whiting knew it was time to head back to Northern Michigan, where she would start her stint of working in the nonprofit world. She landed a job at Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) working in a development position.
“The more I traveled, the more I realized how lucky I was to come from a place with so much natural beauty. It is so incredibly special and I felt called upon to protect it,” Whiting says.
Whiting eventually left GTRLC and then had one of her first full-circle life moments when she landed a job back at Interlochen Center for the Arts. Through this new position, she was able to grow even more, land a creative partner and eventually co-founded Parallel 45 Theater in Traverse City, a professional theater company that hosts actors from across the world to produce cutting-edge interpretations of plays and musicals in a summer festival play series. After seven years as the executive director, Whiting is no longer on the Parallel 45 staff but does serve as a member of the board of directors.
After returning to Northern Michigan, it is apparent Whiting dove in headfirst when the opportunity to get involved locally presented itself. As she was working in these different roles, she also found her way to the Traverse City chapter of Impact100 as both a chapter member and grant finalist through her work at Parallel 45 theater.
Northern Michigan is particularly special in the Impact100 story, as the concept for the Impact100 model was devised here in 2001 by founder Wendy Steele. The collective giving model was embraced locally in 2017, when strong women leaders from around northwest Michigan formed the Impact100 Traverse City chapter, boasting the distinction of the most members ever at the launch of an Impact100 chapter worldwide at 255.
“It really is simple when you break it down,” says Whiting. “What we’re doing at Impact100 is empowering and inspiring women while supporting local organizations. We want to ensure all women feel invited to the table and that they have something to contribute in a meaningful way.”
While Whiting continues to be an active member of Impact100 locally, she has now joined founder Wendy Steele and other colleagues to support chapters around the world as the chief philanthropy officer of Impact100 Global.
“Everything I’ve done before this has led me to this role,” says Whiting. “I’m so incredibly passionate about the role of philanthropy in change and it is a total dream to become part of an organization that allows me to travel around the country—and the world—to meet the most generous, passionate and incredible women who want to better their communities.”
In this new role, Whiting will work to provide the resources and support necessary to continue strengthening and growing the work of Impact100 at the movement level. She will have a hand in developing the tools necessary to launch and lift local chapters to help them thrive while also underscoring their role as a part of a global movement.
While many of her Impact100 colleagues work outside of Michigan, Whiting will be staying in the area, working remotely most of the year and eagerly enjoying travel to Impact100 chapters around the globe once it is safe.
Looking forward to remaining a local Northern Michigan resident in her new role, you can expect to see Whiting all around town. When not exercising her love of philanthropy you can find her exploring local restaurants, like Sugar to Salt (S2S), Rad.ish Street Food, The Little Fleet and Farm Club, and taking on some of her favorite local hikes at Pyramid Point, Timbers Recreation Area and hidden gems like Miller Creek Nature Reserve.
“I am so fortunate to be able to live in this incredible place while doing the fulfilling work that I love. Knowing I can stay grounded locally while also celebrating global connections is so meaningful, as it allows me to both impact our community and also drive change elsewhere. We’re all connected through the power of giving,” Whiting says.