Sonoma Valley philanthropist wins national award

Posted on October 26, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Sonoma Valley philanthropist Katherine Fulton has received the 2022 Willoughby Award from Philanos, the leading women’s giving circle network in the United  States. Fulton was one of three finalists for the national honor. 

The award includes a prize of $1,000, which Fulton donated to Impact100 Sonoma, a Philanos member affiliate.

“This award is for all of us,” said Fulton. “Impact100 and Catalyst Fund both stand for and  depend upon cooperation and generosity. We can accomplish so much more together than  separately as we work to address Sonoma’s growing challenges and support our great nonprofits. The complexity of what faces us requires this.”

Fulton was announced the winner on October 11 during an online ceremony. The annual award is named for the organization’s 2009 founder, Colleen S. Willoughby, a pioneer of the collective giving movement. 

“We’re very proud to count Katherine among our members and longtime leaders,” said  Impact100 Sonoma Co-Presidents Debbe Noto and Claudia Sims. “She has always inspired and  encouraged us in our mission of supporting a just and thriving Sonoma Valley. We are honored and grateful that she chose to entrust her $1,000 prize to our stewardship, and we look forward to  collaborating with her on its best use.” 

Fulton’s professional career has spanned investigative journalism, teaching, and business  consulting as well as philanthropy. Today she is co-chair of Sonoma Valley Catalyst Fund, which  mobilizes philanthropic support and innovative approaches to better address urgent, emergent,  and chronic challenges. For the past 25 years, she has been a leading strategic advisor to  foundations, high-net-worth donors, and major nonprofits and has published and spoken widely  on the future of philanthropy, impact investing, and social change. Her volunteer work has  included service on a dozen nonprofit boards. 

The Willoughby Award honors visionary women leaders in philanthropy,  annually recognizing someone in the network whose involvement with her collective giving  organization has inspired her to extend her philanthropic efforts more widely within her  community. It also recognizes her for taking women’s leadership in new directions, challenging  the status quo to help other women find and amplify their voices. 

Lynne Lancaster, co-president emeritus of Impact100 Sonoma and a Philanos liaison, nominated Fulton for the Willoughby Award. “Nominating Katherine was an easy choice, but she is so modest I didn’t even tell her I was  doing it. I am thrilled she was chosen for national recognition.” 

Fulton is an inspirational force for good in Sonoma Valley,”said Sheryl Alexander, interim CEO of Community Foundation Sonoma County. “From working to shine a light on the valley’s  most pressing inequities through the Hidden in Plain Sight report, to her leadership of our  regional partner Sonoma Valley Catalyst Fund, where she helped raise more than $1.6 million to fight the impacts of the Covid pandemic, her passion and commitment have reshaped the face of  philanthropy in our community.” 


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA