The Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College

Established at Barnard College, a pioneering force in undergraduate women’s education since 1889, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies is dedicated to the advancement of inspired and courageous women leaders around the world.  Our ground-breaking programs:

  • educate and develop new generations of women leaders;
  • create and promote innovative approaches to leadership development;
  • challenge—and change—cultural stereotypes of leaders; and
  • foster research and public dialogue that expands our understanding of leadership. 

Why are we committed to creating a bold new vision of leadership?  It is simple: When more women are leaders, we change society’s understanding of what a leader looks like, how they operate and how they respond to social, political and economic needs.  When more women are leaders -- particularly when they are powerful, visionary and strategic ones -- then communities and organizations are more innovative, productive and successful. When more women are leaders, we raise the aspirations of women and girls around the world.

Launched in 2009 as a special initiative of former Barnard President Debora Spar, the Center has developed a wide range of signature initiatives:

  • The Athena student leadership programs are unique models for leadership development for young women.  They include the Athena Scholars Program and Leadership Labs for Barnard students, the Athena Digital Design Agency,  and Athena Summer Innovation Institute, a summer camp for enterprising high school students;
  • The Athena Film Festival, developed in partnership with Women and Hollywood, is a unique 4-day celebration of women and leadership that attracts thousands of filmgoers to Barnard;
  • Customized professional development training programs based on the Athena Core 10 provide leadership education for a wide range of women leaders at corporations and NGOs;
  • Athena Power Talks, Visiting Scholars and Distinguished Fellows highlight extraordinary leaders and the latest research in the field;
  • New programs for young women entrepreneurs including Leadership Labs, internships, and site visits.

These ambitious programs would not be possible without the generous support of many extraordinary donors and sound guidance from our Faculty and Student AdvisorsLeadership Council, and exemplary Staff.