Leadership Council


Athena Leadership Council members are specially selected from the most senior levels of the private and public sectors, including leaders in business, law, medicine, government and NGOs from across the globe. Candidates have attained recognized positions of leadership within their careers and communities, and are key supporters and advisors to the Center and its programs. In turn, they benefit from close engagement with scholars, advisors and thought-leaders who share a deep commitment to women’s leadership. As global ambassadors of and advocates for the Athena Center and its programs, Leadership Council members are empowered to advance women in leadership as they meet and interact with other leaders. LEARN MORE about ways in which Leadership Council members engage with the Center, the criteria and process for membership selection, as well as expected financial support.

Individual Members



JYOTI MENON ’01  is currently Director and Head of Digital Wallets and eCommerce at Citi. She manages relationships and leads product development and strategy for Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal, along with proprietary and network solutions. Prior to this role, she led efforts to use innovative payments technologies to eliminate friction and create meaningful engagements and value for Citi’s consumer banking clients. In prior roles in US Emerging Payments, she led Citi’s Samsung Pay integration and successfully drove a complete implementation of the solution.  In 2016, Menon participated in Citi’s Leader Accelerator program for high potential employees, and in 2017 won the Leaders in Excellence Award awarded to ~1% of leaders within the Global Consumer Bank. Prior to Citi, Menon was part of the Global Corporate Services team at American Express, focused on building robust mobile travel and expense solutions for corporate travelers. In prior roles, she launched global marketing tools, redesigned client reporting solutions, and owned and developed key partnerships. She is the President of the Alumnae Association of Barnard College and is an Alumna Trustee on Barnard's Board of Trustees. Menon is an active mentor to several Barnard students and young alumnae. In 2016 she received the Service to Barnard Award from the Alumnae Association for her contributions to Barnard. Menon also serves on the board of the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project. Shanti Bhavan is a residential school for children born into India’s lowest socioeconomic classes. Shanti Bhavan Educational Trust has been involved in complete educational and social interventions for its students, educating and supporting children from some of India’s poorest families (www.shantibhavanchildren.org) for the past 22 years.  The School’s graduates have gone on to work for some of the most prestigious companies in India and abroad. Menon holds a Master's in International Affairs from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, Columbia University. 


CLAIRE NEWMAN spent fourteen years in the financial services industry with FBR Capital Markets where she held a variety of leadership positions, including a seven-year tenure as Director of Institutional Sales. Prior to joining FBR, she worked at the Department of Justice and from 1989-1991 served in the Peace Corps. For several years, Newman and her family lived in Brussels, Belgium, and today she continues to serve on the foundation board for the International School of Brussels. Newman currently resides in Dallas, Texas. She holds her undergraduate degree from Harvard College.



JENNIFER ALLYN is a Managing Director in the Office of Diversity for the U.S. Firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP. As an executive and thought leader promoting diversity initiatives, she is responsible for designing programs to retain, develop, and advance diverse professionals. Allyn is an expert on gender, LGBT and work/life challenges. A frequent public speaker who has been quoted in dozens of publications, Allyn spearheaded the effort to enhance PwC’s parental leave policy and launched Full Circle, a program designed to assist parents who want to “on-ramp” after taking an extended period of time off from work. She was instrumental in designing and facilitating PwC's Diversity Leadership Forums, which bring together hundreds of business executives to discuss the future of diversity. Prior to joining PwC, Allyn was a senior consultant at Catalyst where she advised Fortune 500 clients, among them PwC. From 2007-2009, she was a member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School and in 2008 received the Crossing Borders Award from the Feminist Press. Allyn currently serves as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the National Council for Research on Women. She is a graduate of Brown University and earned her Master's degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. 

GLORI COHEN P ’14 is an art advisor and collector based in New York City. Cohen founded an independent art advisory company, which specializes in building art collections of emerging and established artists in contemporary and modern art. She is a board member of RxArt, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help children heal through the extraordinary power of visual art. She visits artists’ studios and galleries on a weekly basis and is on the Producers Council of the New Museum. Prior to establishing her company, Cohen initiated a women’s investment group of which she serves as President. The group now focuses on real estate investments. Cohen graduated from Pratt Institute with a B.A. in Package Design and Photography. After thirteen years of experience in packaging, she received a Clio Award in the frozen food industry.

DR. ROCHELLE COOPER ’84 is the Founder and CEO of Success Leaders, an Executive Coaching and Leadership Development firm that focuses on building global senior leader strength and creating high performance teams. Dr. Cooper has spent over twenty years advising and coaching leaders and teams to achieve success in their roles, having coached over 850 leaders, trained over 2000 executives, run over 500 team sessions, and designed and delivered over 200 leadership training programs. Previously, Dr. Cooper worked at JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and Bell Labs in Talent Management and Organizational Development. She has been on the faculty of Hofstra University’s Frank Zarb School of Business, where she has taught Executive Leadership Skills in the executive and traditional MBA programs for the last 14 years. Dr. Cooper has published articles in several leadership journals, and holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College. She is currently a member of the HANC Board of Education and has been board president for several community non-profit organizations.


JESSICA S. DESJARDINS '10 is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management where she is changing the way financial advisors interact with the firm and their clients through technology. Jessica is part of the leadership team for Ellevate New York where she runs content programming with the goal of creating opportunities for women to connect in authentic ways over relevant career topics and become a little braver in the process. Jessica is passionate about sharing the skills she has learned throughout her career by writing professional development articles and mentoring young professionals. Jessica graduated from Barnard College at Columbia University in 2010 with a degree in Economics. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey with her husband Chip.

LEAH DUNAIEF ’62 holds an MBA from Columbia Business School. She is Founder, Editor and Publisher of The Village Times, a paid weekly community newspaper in 1976 that today has grown into seven paid hometown weeklies, a biweekly, quarterlies, and annuals along Suffolk County's north shore, as well as the website TBR News Media. Dunaief served as President of the New York Press Association and sits on the boards of several Chambers of Commerce and the Stony Brook University Medical Center Council.


GABRIELLE FERRARA '12 is a Barnard Athena Scholar alumna. She founded the Barnard Entrepreneur Club as an undergraduate, which remains an active and vibrant force on campus. As one of the youngest managers at Dow Jones, Ferrara led a team of ten employees in the emerging field of programmatic advertising technology. She has recently moved to Rubicon Project to serve as Senior Manager of strategic publisher accounts. Gabrielle serves as a company representative for Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) and is invited as guest speaker and panelist on programmatic advertising topics. Maintaining active ties with the entrepreneurial community, she serves as an ad-tech subject matter expert to the CFDA and the NYU/Stern Entrepreneurship program. Ferrara is also an advisor to several startups, including Tommy John, Lolly Wolly Doodle, and the Run Through. She is an active mentor alumna for Barnard students interested in entrepreneurship and advertising technology.


MARLEY BLUE LEWIS ’05 holds an M.A. in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University and is currently working on the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné. Previously, she worked for the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné project, as a Collection Manager for a private estate and has held positions in the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art and in the Post-War and Contemporary Art department at Christie’s in New York. Lewis has served as a Board Member of the Ojai Music Festival, Co-Chair of the Barnard Reunion Gift Committee, and as a member of the President’s Advisory Council at Barnard. She is a member of the Brooklyn Museum Chairman's Circle and serves on the Advisory Board of The Knights music ensemble.


CHRISTINE McCONNELL, President and Founder of The McConnell Group, is a highly respected executive coach and organizational and business consultant. A trusted advisor, McConnell is a valued partner in her work with business leaders, senior executives, senior and emerging women, as well as entrepreneurs, global private individuals, and high net worth families, their leaders, and generational successors. McConnell is recognized for her mastery of coaching, client efficacy, and transformational and sustaining impact. She is a member of both the Women’s Forum of New York and the International Women’s Forum. McConnell is an advisor to the Global Fund for Women and Co-Chair and Founding Member of its Leadership Advisory Board. She is a Commissioner of the Women's Refugee Commission and advisor to its Executive Director, as well as an advisor on development and strategy to the President and CEO of Breakthrough. McConnell partners with the senior-most female executives as organizations seek to build purposeful communities of both senior and emerging women. McConnell is a passionate, vocal trailblazer in bridging executive women leaders with philanthropic women leaders, leveraging their power and impact.


JULIE (MALYN) MELWANI '09 is an HR Business Partner at Bank Leumi where she is the lead for human capital strategies for the Private Banking, Operations and Technology divisions.  Prior to Bank Leumi, Julie held various HR positions at Barclays and JP  Morgan Chase.  Julie has served in various leadership roles as a student and alumna including the President of the McIntosh Activities Council (McAC) and chair of the Young Alumnae Committee of the Alumnae Association.  She is currently pursuing her Executive Masters in Human Resource Management from Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School.


PAT NADOSY ’68, one of the first two co-chairs of the Athena Leadership Council, is a Barnard College Trustee Emerita. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a PhD in Botany from CUNY. Nadosy spearheaded the creation of the Financial Fluency program for alumnae at Barnard. In 1985, after spending fifteen years at JPMorgan as a foreign currency and options trader, Nadosy founded Optfor, Inc., a foreign currency options consulting firm. She is very involved in the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy. Nadosy sits on the Board and is a member of the Gardening Committee, and one of the founders of the CSPC Guild. She also tends the gardens in Carl Schurz Park as the Peter Pan Zone Gardener.


LIDA ORZECK ’68 holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College. After heading several research projects for the City of New York, Orzeck received a serendipitous birthday gift almost forty years ago which led to the founding of Hanky Panky, an internationally renowned intimate apparel brand, coveted by celebrities and Barnard students alike. Hanky Panky is based in New York where Orzeck is CEO. Hanky Panky remains committed to sourcing and manufacturing in the United States.



DAPHNE FODOR PHILIPSON ’69 retired as a partner at the private equity firm of E. M. Warburg Pincus, where she focused on investor relations. A Certified Public Accountant, she also holds an MBA from Columbia. Philipson is a Board Emerita for the Hudson Peconic Board of Planned Parenthood and a member of the Leadership Council of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Philipson currently serves on the Barnard Fund Committee and has served on the Fellowship and Leadership Assembly Committees. In 2009, Philipson received the Award for Service to Barnard. In 2015, she received the Columbia University Alumni Medal for Distinguished Service. 


GALE PICKER is the founder and a board member of the Family Leadership Fund, an organization that has given over $1 million in the last decade towards improving the lives of children and families in communities of color in the Seattle Region. She is a certified counselor, primarily leading classes for children and families that offer parents, guardians, and interested adults the tools to give their children an emotional head start. Picker served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee as well as of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. She was the first director at C-SPAN and her political programs (both the ones she produced and the ones she hosted on air) received awards from the cable television industry. She also served on the Board of the Seattle Girls’ School. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Picker has a lifelong appreciation of the value of single-sex education.


JULIA QIAN ’15 is a senior consultant at Tencent in Beijing. She previously worked for McKinsey & Company in Chicago.  Julia is an Athena scholar alumna. She continued her Athena senior project and founded Redefine International Inc, a NYC-based non-profit organization. Redefine aims to empower Chinese women with a variety of events, from the annual conference, to the summer academy to online leadership courses. It has grown to a team of 70+ volunteers from all over the world. Julia has served in various leadership roles as a student and alumna including the President of Student Government Association (SGA) and the co-lead for the alumnae club of Chicago.


FRANCENE SUSSNER RODGERS ’67 is the chair of WFD, Inc., a pioneer in developing a new generation of employee benefits and services especially addressing the needs of women. Its LifeWorks Program was available to over 3 million employees and was sold to Ceridien Corporation in 1999. At the time of the sale, WFD was one of the largest female-owned businesses in the country. Rodgers is a graduate of Barnard College and Tufts University/MGH professional training program in clinical psychology. From 1997-2004, she was a member of the Board of Directors of BankBoston and Fleet Boston Financial where she served on audit, risk, and community investment committees. Rodgers spent 10 years as a trustee and member of the finance committee at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where she also chaired the Strategic Plan for Women's Health. Rodgers currently represents BWH on the board of Partners Continuing Care, which oversees a variety of rehab and post-acute care organizations as well as a number of home care businesses. She is also a board member of NARAL Foundation and Progressive Majority. From 2006-2008, Rodgers helped to facilitate the merger between Crittenton and the Women's Union in Boston and served as the first chair of the combined organization. She was also a trustee of Barnard College and a member of its Executive Committee. Rodgers is a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.


ARIELLA SALIMPOUR '17 is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at thumbroll. Ariella created thumbroll with her sister Gabriella Salimpour ’20 as a platform to bring best practices to students of medicine worldwide. thumbroll provides visual tutorials for various medical procedures that can be viewed at the user's own pace by 'rolling' through the content step-by-step. In teaching medical procedures, a thumbroll captures the beginning, the end, and everything in-between. The better trained our healthcare professions, the better treated we will be as patients and the healthier our communities will be as a result.


MARTHA SCODRO P' 14 is a Brazilian psychologist. She has been active across multiple areas of psychology including family therapy, social psychology, social work, and narrative therapy. Scodro is currently working alongside her partner on the independent research, Turning 50: a study of women's reflections about life in their fifties, which investigates "What does this actually mean for women? How well do women grasp the significance of a new and extended life outlook?". Prior to focusing on her research, Scodro was President and Member of the Board at Brazil Child Health, an award-winning Brazilian non-profit organization that assists hospitalized children and their families who live below the poverty line. While at Brazil Child Health, Scodro was responsible for public policy, family support, volunteer resources, among other areas. Prior, Scodro held a private practice that focused on childhood psychology. Based in Brazil, Scodro divides her time between Rio de Janeiro where her son and husband live, and New York where her daughter, a Barnard alumna, currently lives. Scodro has her psychology degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, her Master’s in Social Psychology from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica in Rio de Janeiro, and is trained as a family therapist from the Rio de Janeiro Family Institute (ITF/RJ).


ROBYN PRICE STONEHILL is executive vice president, chief human resource officer of Assurant, Inc., leading the human resources function for the enterprise. Throughout her 17-year career at Assurant, Ms. Price Stonehill has held a variety of leadership roles related to compensation, retirement, health and welfare, and other human resources functions. In her role, Ms. Price Stonehill advises leaders on organizational transformation and supports Assurant’s talent, leading global human resource activities with a strong focus of diversity and inclusion, learning and development, enterprise talent development and performance management. She is instrumental in the Company’s multi-year transformation to become a more customer-centric and agile organization to enable its long-term business strategy. As part of this process, she led the restructuring of the human resources function at Assurant, streamlining and integrating processes across the enterprise to increase efficiency and drive business results. As senior vice president, compensation, benefits and shared services from 2011 to 2014, Ms. Price Stonehill set the vision and design of the Total Rewards program and restructured Assurant’s talent acquisition processes, placing greater focus on improving the job candidate experience. Ms. Price Stonehill reshaped Assurant’s pension and benefits architecture to improve cost efficiency and increase value to employees while maintaining the competitive benefits needed to attract and retain talent. Under her leadership, employees’ 401(k) participation rose from 55 to more than 93 percent. A former actuary, Ms. Price Stonehill, working with Assurant President and CEO Alan Colberg, strives to increase employee financial literacy, and helped to establish a free Financial Fitness pilot program at the company. During her tenure, Assurant has ranked in Workforce Magazine’s 2014 Workforce 100, a list of the world’s top companies for HR, been recognized with a North American CandE Award for improving the candidate experience and received a Well Workplace Award from WELCOA (Wellness Council of America) for its commitment to workplace wellness . In addition, for the fourth consecutive year, Assurant received a Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles® Gold Award from the National Business Group on Health. Prior to joining Assurant in 1999, Ms. Price Stonehill advised clients on benefits and retirement issues at Arthur Andersen and KPMG. Ms. Price Stonehill is also a member of the board of directors and finance committee of AMIT, which runs more than 70 schools and educates more than 20,000 children in Israel.


MARISSA WESELY is the Coordinator of the Win-Win Coalition, a new cross-sector network building strategies to empower women globally. She is also an Advisor to the “Path to Empowerment” series hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center. Previously, she was a 2014 Fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative and a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center, affiliated with the Center’s Global Women’s Leadership Initiative. Marissa is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an active member of a number of non-profit boards, including the Board of Directors of Global Fund for Women. Prior to 2014, Marissa was a corporate partner at the global law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, and was regularly recognized as a leading lawyer in banking and finance, including as the 2013 Finance Lawyer of the Year at the Chambers’ Women in Law Awards. As a long-standing advocate for women’s rights in diverse settings, Marissa has received many awards, including the ABA’s 2014 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, which recognizes lawyers who have excelled in their field and inspired other women lawyers. Marissa speaks and writes regularly on issues of women’s leadership and women’s rights, including as the author, with Dina Dublon, of the cover story in Stanford Social Innovation Review’s spring 2015 issue, “Empowering Women at the Grassroots."

DR. MARGARET WITHGOTT ’76 recently co-founded Panafold, the knowledge attraction company. She also co-founded the motion gaming company ePlanet, and is known for the research she led at Xerox PARC, Interval Research Corporation, and Sun Labs. Dr. Withgott previously served on Barnard’s President’s Advisory Council, and was a Fellow at Stanford and Harvard. A managing director at Golden Seeds, she is an inventor with 17 U.S. patents.



LUCILLE ZANGHI spent the majority of her career in the financial services industry as a stockbroker, manager, and financial planner. She began her career in Boston with EF Hutton and Co. and retired 20 years later as a Vice President of Dean Witter Reynolds. Zanghi has served on a number of non-profit boards, including those of Northeastern University, The Wang Center for the Performing Arts, and The Brookline Education Foundation. She is currently a trustee of Marymount Manhattan College. A recent transplant to Florida, Zanghi volunteers at two non-profit organizations in Miami: The Lotus House, a women’s homeless shelter, and Born Free Pet Shelter, a no kill shelter for homeless dogs. She graduated magna cum laude in 1972 from Northeastern University with a degree in history.