The Athena Distinguished Fellowship Program is open to renowned leaders from the most senior levels of the private and public sectors, including leaders in business, law, medicine, government or NGOs. In fall 2013, the Center selected the first class of Fellows; individuals who have attained recognized positions of leadership within their careers and communities and have demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of women leaders within the U.S. and across the globe. Often Fellows are at an inflection point in their lives or careers—looking toward the broader role they might take on in passing down their experience and expertise to emerging women leaders. Fellowships range from nine months to two years.
Candidates commit to sharing their expertise and experience with emerging women leaders at Barnard and beyond and advocating for women’s leadership within their circles of influence and the local, national and international causes in which they participate.
Class of 2018 - 2020 Fellows
Farai Chideya is an author, researcher, and the Journalism Program Officer at the Ford Foundation. Before joining the Ford Foundation, she was a fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, studying media coverage of the 2016 election. During the 2016 election she was a senior writer covering politics and data at ESPN's FiveThirtyEight. Her tireless commitment to advancing the conversation around, gender, race, and culture has allowed her to challenge cultural conventions, promote diversity, and engage audiences in meaningful conversations about what it means to be alive today.
Liza Donnelly is a visual journalist, cartoonist and writer with The New Yorker and The New York Times. She is also a resident cartoonist at CBS News and a contributor to CNN. Donnelly is a Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department, traveling around the world speaking about freedom of speech, cartoons and women’s rights; and she is also a charter member of Cartooning for Peace, an international organization to promote dialogue and understanding through editorial cartoons. She has an honorary PhD for her work in women’s rights and peace from the University of Connecticut and her TEDtalk on gender was translated into 38 languages and viewed online over a million times. Through her work as a cartoonist and writer, she has been able to leverage humor to help rewrite the rules around gender and power in our society.
Anna Holmes is a SVP at First Look Media, where she serves as the editorial director at Topic, a digital magazine that commissions and distributes ambitious storytelling projects in a variety of genres, including photography, illustration and documentary film. An award-winning editor and writer, Anna has contributed to The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Washington Post, among other publications. Over the course of her 20-year career—which included the creation of the popular women’s website Jezebel—she has challenged long-held cultural conventions around gender, race and power. Her perseverance and entrepreneurial spirit are laudable and an inspiration to new generations of strong female leaders.
Class of 2017 - 2019 Fellows
Carol Evans is Founder and President Emeritus of Working Mother Media (WMM) and CEO of her own consulting firm, Carol Evans Enterprises. Carol’s involvement with Working Mother magazine dates back to 1978 when she played a pivotal role in launching a new magazine for a new market of young moms who wanted the joy of a family and the challenge of a career. She led its fast-paced growth for over a decade, ramping up to 3 million readers and capturing the support of Madison Avenue. In 1986 she created the legendary Working Mother 100 Best Companies, still the most important corporate benchmark for the advancement of women.
Between 1989 and 2001, Evans ran two media companies, first as President of Stagebill, a magazine for the performing arts and then as COO of Chief Executive Group, serving Fortune 500 CEOs with publications and events.
In 2001, Evans bought Working Mother magazine with venture capital backing, forming Working Mother Media and becoming the first woman and mom to own the 21 year old publication. In 2002 she launched the Best Companies for Women of Color to create a national dialogue on race and gender in the workplace. Over the next 15 years she launched other key initiatives for women in the law, hourly workers, small business owners and top executive women.
In 2006 Evans acquired Diversity Best Practices to help corporations engage more deeply in the advancement of people of color, LGBTQ employees and people with disabilities. Evans then took Working Mother Media global, hosting women's conferences in China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, and France. In 2006 Penguin published Evans’ award winning book This Is How We Do It: The Working Mother’s Manifesto, helping working moms to find joy in their busy lives and urging companies to support them with best practices and policies. Evans has frequently been honored for her work and career.
In 2015 Carol retired from WMM to co-found Executive Women for Hillary (now EW4Her), a national organization that gets professional women out of their offices and into the political fray on behalf of progressive candidates.
Jehmu Greene is an award-winning progressive media and advocacy strategist, proud Texan and recent candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. As a Fox News Political Analyst, Jehmu defends progressive values and policies on the network. She co-founded Define American with Jose Antonio Vargas, an initiative that works to elevate the conversation on immigration reform and is a founding board member of VoteRunLead, an organization credited with recruiting and training more than 15,000 women to run for political office. Previously she served as president of WakaWaka, a global social enterprise bringing solar power to people living without access to electricity; president of Rock the Vote, where under her leadership young voter turnout had the highest increase ever recorded in between two presidential elections; director of women's outreach and Southern political director at the Democratic National Committee; president of the Women's Media Center and Executive Director of Texas Young Democrats. She has worked on over 20 political campaigns and served as an advisor and national surrogate for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
Manmeet Kaur founded City Health Works in 2012 to create a business case for the integration of local health coaches into the U.S healthcare system. Prior, she was an advisor to the One Million Community Health Worker Campaign and worked on community health and workforce initiatives in South Africa (Mamelani Projects), India (LabourNet) and NYC (Brennan Center for Justice). In her time abroad Manmeet saw the potential for reverse innovation from lower cost health systems when applied to the U.S.
Manmeet’s work has been featured in PBS Newshour, The Economist, NPR, Generations, the NEJM, the Commonwealth Fund, Brookings Institution, NationSwell, and more. She earned an MBA from Columbia University and a BA from Barnard College. Manmeet is currently a Janice Nittoli Practitioner Fellow at the Urban Institute and a Draper Richard Kaplan Social Entrepreneur; she has formerly served as a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow, a GLG Social Impact Fellow, and a Third Millennium Human Rights Fellow. She serves on the Board of the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization. Manmeet was born and raised in New York; she lives in New York with her husband, two energetic sons and mother.
Kavita Ramdas is a leading advocate for gender justice and respected thought commentator on critical global and domestic challenges. She is passionate about advancing equitable development, entrepreneurship, gender and racial equity and social change philanthropy. Kavita is an independent consultant and public speaker, who recently completed her tenure at the Ford Foundation as the Senior Advisor on Global Strategy where she worked to integrate an equity lens across all programs and develop a global philanthropy framework. Prior to this Kavita was based in New Delhi as the Ford Foundation's Representative for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Under her leadership the Foundation decisively addressed the crisis of sexual violence in South Asia, built partnerships with local philanthropic leaders and successfully weathered challenges facing civil society.
Before joining the Ford Foundation, Kavita spent two years at Stanford University, as a Visiting Scholar with the Center on Philanthropy & Civil Society and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. As founding Executive Director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship, she connected grassroots activists, philanthropy, academia and the private sector through a platform for social entrepreneurs to share ideas on democracy and civil society that continues to thrive at the university.
From 1996 to 2010 Kavita served as President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women. Under her leadership the Fund exponentially grew in assets becoming the world's largest public foundation for women's rights. The Fund supported women in more than 170 countries providing access to financial capital that fueled innovation and Kavita played key roles in philanthropic and policy circles. Her vision, drive and management skills inspired individual and institutional donors to invest in education, defend reproductive rights, end violence and ensure women's economic independence.
Kavita complements her global experience with many years spent combatting poverty in the United States during her tenure as a Program Officer at the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Her work in community development and economic justice culminated in leading a delegation of community organizers to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She also supported population and reproductive health and rights work in India, Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria.
Currently Kavita serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Women's Link Worldwide, the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the Investment Committee of the C&A Foundation and as an Advisor to Room to Read, Trickle Up and the America India Foundation. She is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Prior board tenure includes the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the General Service Foundation, the Women's Funding Network, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Guttmacher Institute.
Class of 2016 - 2018 Fellows
Described by The New York Times as being "known for her smarts and feminist bona fides," Irin Carmon was a national reporter at MSNBC. She is the co-author of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2015) which spent three months on the Times bestseller list.
At MSNBC, Carmon reported for digital and TV on gender, politics, and the law, with a special emphasis on reproductive rights and the Supreme Court. She is a Visiting Fellow in the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School.
Her work covering women's rights has been honored by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and Planned Parenthood. In 2011, she was one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Media, which described her as a "confident and passionate polemicist."
She graduated from Harvard, magna cum laude with highest honors in literature. Born in Israel, she is fluent in Hebrew and Spanish and proficient in Portuguese.
Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now has more than 18,000 worker members, 200 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in a dozen states nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American.
Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, was 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year” and New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She was listed in CNN’s “Top10 Visionary Women” and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, and a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015.
Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller, and has appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her most recent book is Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016).
Shiza Shahid is an entrepreneur, investor, speaker and women’s rights advocate. She is passionate about leveraging philanthropy, venture capital, technology and media to drive scalable social impact.
Shiza co-founded the Malala Fund with Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and led the organization as founding CEO. She is currently focused on supporting mission-driven startups whose financial success makes the world a better place through her seed-stage VC Fund and Platform, NOW Ventures. She is an advocate for women entrepreneurs, and hosts Women’s Story-telling Salons bringing together leading female entrepreneurs to collaborate. She is the host of the new USE Today show ASPIREist.
Shiza grew up in Pakistan as a vocal advocate for social change. She graduated from Stanford University with University Distinction. She was a business analyst with McKinsey & Company. She is also a graduate of Singularity University where she studied how to apply technology towards the goal of solving gender inequities.
Shiza has received many awards for her work including Times "30 under 30 World Changer," Forbes "30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur," WEF Global Agenda Council, Tribeca Institute Disruptive Innovator. She has been featured in multiple publications includes Forbes, Fast Company, Elle, Glamour, Town and Country, The Edit, CNN, ABC, Al Jazeera, MSNBC and others. Shiza is a prominent speaker on millennial and women’s entrepreneurship. She speaks frequently at major international convenings including Aspen Ideas Fest, Milken Global Institute, Forbes Women, Fortune Most Powerful Women, Inc Women, Women Moving Millions, World Economic Forum and others.
Jacki Zehner dedicates her time and resources towards the advancement of women and girls. She believes that a more gender-egalitarian world is a more just world for all, and she serves in a variety of roles to further this vision.
In 1996, Jacki became the youngest woman and first female trader to be invited into the partnership of Goldman Sachs. In 2002, she became a founding partner of Circle Financial Group, a private wealth management organization consisting of a small number of women committed to managing their families’ assets and philanthropic undertakings. In 2012, Jacki became Chief Engagement Officer and President of Women Moving Millions (WMM), a non-profit organization with the bold mission of mobilizing unprecedented resources for the advancement of women and girls. Today, as President of The Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, Jacki funds and works with a variety of organizations and initiatives, with a particular focus on women's rights, women's foundations, movement building, and media.
Jacki frequently speaks, writes, and consults on issues relating to women, success in the workplace, wealth and investing, financial current events, and high-impact philanthropy. In 2012, she gave a TEDxWomen talk entitled, “Closing the Gender Gap.” Jacki has written and maintained her personal blog, found at www.jackizehner.com, since 2008, and in 2013, she joined the LinkedIn blogging community as an Influencer, amassing a following of nearly 200,000 subscribers to date.
Throughout her career, Jacki has received numerous awards in recognition of her philanthropic work and leadership. Most recently, in 2015, Jacki received the Zions Bank Women in Leadership Award, and had the honor of being named to the Global Diversity List, published by the Economist.
Class of 2015 - 2017 Fellows
Joan Fallon Founder and CEO of Curemark, is considered a visionary scientist who has dedicated her life’s work to championing the health and wellbeing of children worldwide. She is widely recognized for her vision, passion, and innovation in defining a successful entrepreneurial venture. Curemark is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel therapies to treat serious diseases for which there are limited treatment options. The company’s pipeline includes a phase III clinical-stage research program for Autism & ADHD, as well as three preclinical programs focused on Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and addiction. Joan holds 46 patents worldwide, has written numerous scholarly articles, and lectured extensively across the globe on pediatric developmental problems including autism and ADHD.
Latina media dynamo and women’s empowerment advocate Nely Galán, dubbed the “Tropical Tycoon” by The New York Times Magazine, is one of the entertainment industry’s savviest firebrand talents. A first generation immigrant and self-made media mogul, Galán was the first Latina president of a U.S. television network (Telemundo). She has also owned and operated her own media company since 1994. Galán Entertainment has launched 10 groundbreaking television channels in Latin America, and has also produced a staggering 600 episodes of programming that cross all genres from reality series to sitcoms, telenovelas to talk shows, in both English and Spanish, including the FOX hit reality series “The Swan.” Galán is the founder of The Adelante Movement (Move Forward!) a grassroots movement that unites and empowers Latinas socially, economically and politically which sponsors a series of national empowerment conferences, supported by a digital community, presented by the Coca Cola Company, that inform, mentor and inspire Latinas to take action. In addition, she has owned her own real estate development and investment company, Santa Clara for fifteen years, which has commercial and residential real estate holdings in multiple states. Galán appeared on the NBC hit “The Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump”, joining an all-star and raising $250,000 for her charity COUNT ME IN. Galán's new book and campaign for women entrepreneurs will launch Spring 2016.
Class of 2014 - 2016 Fellows
Linda Basch has held diverse leadership positions spanning higher education, the United Nations, the non-profit sector and facilitating research on corporate issues. An anthropologist, Linda worked as a Research Director at the United Nations, where she focused on social and economic development. Transitioning to higher education, she held senior leadership roles at New York University and Manhattan and Wagner Colleges, serving as Director of Academic Programs, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Academic Vice President respectively.
A decade later Linda was recruited to serve as President of the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW), a network of more than 100 leading research, policy and advocacy centers, where she worked to shape a research and advocacy agenda aimed at gaining rights and opportunities for women and girls, advancing women’s leadership and creating policy change. She also built a Corporate Circle of over 35 Fortune 500 corporations eager to access the research produced by this network, but also to support NCRW’s mission and goals. Under Linda’s leadership, NCRW issued reports focused on strategies to create greater gender equality and leadership opportunities for women, particularly in underrepresented areas like the sciences and business, and gave special attention to emerging women leaders across sectors.
Linda has written numerous books and articles for scholarly journals and her articles, letters and interviews have been featured in major media outlets including the Associated Press, NBC Today, the CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
Having taken NCRW through a significant growth period, Linda stepped aside a year and a half ago to become an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University. Linda’s next chapter includes executive coaching to high potential leaders eager to develop their skills, to leaders in career transition, and to leaders of nonprofit organizations, and she is completing a coaching certification program at the Hudson Institute. She is looking forward to drawing on her experience and interests as an Athena Leadership Fellow at Barnard College over the next two years.
Linda is an elected Fellow of the New York Academy of Science and holds a PhD in Anthropology from New York University and a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan.
With a reputation for integrity, creativity, independence of thought, a sense of humor and an unrelenting focus on results, Sallie Krawcheck has built a career that has reached the top levels of success across a range of functions: as a senior corporate executive, as a research analyst and now as an entrepreneur. Recently named number 9 on Fast Company’s list of the “100 Most Creative People 2014,” she has also been referred to as one of the most successful and influential executives in financial services. From turning around and growing troubled wealth management businesses to eliminating Wall Street conflicts of interest and advocating a true client-centered business model, Fortune Magazine called her “The Last Honest Analyst” during her tenure at Sanford Bernstein. She spent years as the guardian of such brands as Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and US Trust.
Krawcheck has often noted that “Investing in women is simply smart business” and is expressing this view through her ownership in the Ellevate companies. The Ellevate network is 34,000-strong (and growing) global professional woman’s network, the most expansive and diverse of its kind. Ellevate Asset Management has partnered with Pax World to recently launch the Pax Ellevate Global Woman’s Index Fund, which invests in the highest-rated 400 companies in the world for advancing women; it is the first and only fund of its kind.
Krawcheck's embrace of social media as a means of including more people in her frank business conversations on women and business, regulatory reform and investor protection has garnered her more than 500,000 followers as a LinkedIn’s INfluencer and more than 22,000 followers on Twitter.
A Tar Heel fan through and through, Krawcheck also spends her time advising start-up companies, focusing on education-oriented philanthropy and serving on a variety of boards.
Angela E. Oh serves as an Attorney Mediator with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, where she is engaged in resolving disputes regarding civil rights in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. Prior to working in this capacity, Ms. Oh was the Executive Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation, a non-profit organization that advances peaceful resolution of conflict by providing training and skill-building programs in mediation and dialogue facilitation.
In 1992, Oh gained national prominence as a mediating force for Asian Americans during the Los Angeles riots. In 1996, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton as one of seven Advisory Board Members to the President’s Initiative on Race, which was charged with engaging the nation in an unprecedented dialogue on race relations in the United States of America.
Angela Oh has served in leadership positions on numerous commissions and boards, including as Chairperson of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s Federal Judicial Nominations Committee for the Central District of California, a Member of the L.A. City Commission on Human Relations, as a Lawyer Delegate to the 9th Circuit U.S. Judicial Conference, and a Commissioner to the ABA Commission on Women in the Legal Profession.
Oh, a founding member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association was also a recipient of its annual Trailblazer Award, now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award. Also a founding member of the Multi-cultural Bar Alliance in Los Angeles, Oh was among a small group of Asian American, Latino, and African American lawyers who envisioned collaboration among bar leaders across all communities. She has received numerous recognitions over the years, including the UCLA Alumni Award for Community Service, the UCLA School of Public Health Alumni Award for Community Leadership, and the Alumni of the Year award from the UC Davis School of Law.
Oh’s public lectures and writings reflect the opportunities and challenges that diversity presents. Her lectures have taken her to China, Korea, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom. She has held teaching appointments at UCLA in the Asian American Studies Department, University of Southern California Unruh Institute for Public Policy, and the UC Irvine School of Social Sciences and Political Science. Oh is also an ordained priest, Zen Buddhist, Rinzai Sect.
Jeanne M. Sullivan has been investing in and growing tech companies for many years. She is a Co-Founder of StarVest Partners which was created in 1998 with $400 million under management. Jeanne has over 23 years of venture capital experience and has spent 30 years in the technology sector encompassing both extensive operating and investing experience with technology companies. Ms. Sullivan has honed her trade creating “go to market” plans for early and expansion stage companies. Her expertise also includes strategy, a keen understanding of the technology landscape and industry trends. Prior to her venture experience, Jeanne gained her operating experience with AT&T and Bell Labs while serving in product and industry marketing roles.
Ms. Sullivan is a sought-after industry speaker on the subject of “how to get the wallets out of investors’ pocket.” Jeanne serves on the board of the New York Venture Capital Association and is a newly invited member of the Women’s Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School and is an Athena Distinguished Fellow for Barnard College. She also serves as advisor for many women-focused organizations that work to “fund and fuel” women entrepreneurs and is on the Global Board of Trustees of Astia, an organization that empowers high growth women entrepreneurs. Forbes cited Sullivan as “one of the women VCs changing the world – grooming the next generation of female entrepreneurs”. The New York Angels organization honored Jeanne as the OPEL award winner for 2013 – Outstanding Professionals for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Class of 2013 - 2015 Fellows
2011 Nobel Peace Laureate and Liberian peace activist, Leymah Gbowee has joined Barnard College as its inaugural Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice. Gbowee, will also serve as a Fellow in Residence at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and a Barnard Center for Research on Women Transnational Fellow. She will be teaching and guest-lecturing in Barnard’s Africana studies program. A trained social worker and women’s rights advocate, Gbowee is founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, founder of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative, and co-founder and former executive director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A). She is also a founding member and former Liberia coordinator of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP). Gbowee’s leadership of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, which brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003, is chronicled in her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, and in the documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. In addition, Gbowee is the Newsweek Daily Beast's Africa columnist. She serves on the boards of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Gbowee Peace Foundation and the PeaceJam Foundation, and she is a member of the African Women Leaders Network for Reproductive Health and Family Planning. She holds a master of arts degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, VA), and a doctor of laws (LLD) honoriscausa from Rhodes University in South Africa and University of Alberta in Canada. Gbowee was honored as a flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She is based in Monrovia, Liberia, and has six children.
About The Athena Doctrine: John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio’s proprietary survey of 64,000 people around the world asked people to identify traits as either feminine or masculine and then asked what traits are most important for both leadership and success. He found that those traits identified as traditionally feminine are now more popular than the macho paradigm of the past and that the most innovative among us are breaking away from traditional structures to be more flexible, collaborative and nurturing. He found that both men and women from Medellin to Nairobi are adopting this “feminine” style, which emphasizes cooperation, long-term thinking, and flexibility, in turn making their lives, and the world, better.
Each year the Athena Center brings to campus an academic expert in women’s leadership or woman leader for a short-term visit. While on campus, they meet with students and center staff and share their expertise with others in the Barnard community.
2013: Dr. Ludger Helms, Professor of Political Science and the Chair of Comparative Politics at the University of Innsbruck, Austria
2012: Charlayne Hunter-Gault, award-winning journalist and author
2011: Frances X. Frei, the UPS Foundation Professor of Service Management at Harvard Business School