Distinguished Fellows Program

Established in 2009 at Barnard College, the most sought-after women’s college in the nation, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies is dedicated to the advancement of inspired and courageous women leaders around the world.  Our ground-breaking programs:

  • develop innovative approaches to leadership development;

  • educate new generations of women leaders;

  • challenge—and change—cultural stereotypes of leaders; and

  • foster research and public dialogue that expands our understanding of leadership. 

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. Each year, the Center selects a class of Fellows (up to four) 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. or across the globe.  Often Fellows are at an inflection point in their lives or careers—looking forward to passing down their experience and expertise to emerging women leaders. Fellowships are for a two year-term.   

Individuals cannot apply to the Athena Distinguished Fellowship; rather, they must be nominated by recognized leaders of the business and professional communities, past Fellows, members of the Athena Center staff, members of our Advisory Boards or Leadership Council, or the Barnard College Board of Trustees or faculty.

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.  

The structure of the Fellowship is deliberately flexible. During their appointment, Fellows contribute to the intellectual life of Barnard College and the Athena Center by participating in one or more of the following activities:

  • meeting with Barnard students and/or emerging women leaders on a consistent or intermittent basis;

  • engaging with Barnard faculty;

  • participating in public programs such as the Athena Power Talks, conferences, panels or lectures;

  • writing and publishing articles, op-eds, blog-posts or other publications on women’s leadership;

  • conducting research on leadership;

  • teaching Leadership Lab workshops, guest lecturing in courses offered within the Athena Scholars Program, or participating in the Center’s professional development programs;

  • mentoring or sponsoring emerging women leaders;

  • meeting with or presenting at Athena Leadership Council/Advisory Board meetings;

  • contributing to the Center’s innovative campaigns to change how leadership is viewed within popular culture including the Athena Film Festival;

  • attending other meetings throughout the year on topics related to the advancement of women’s leadership. 

The Center will convene at least one meeting per year for current and former Fellows to encourage collaboration, learning, and networking and enable them to develop a shared strategy to maximize the benefits of the Fellowship.  This meeting may also include staff, consultants, advisors, instructors, faculty, and mentors affiliated with the Center.   

Distinguished Fellows serve without compensation.  However, with prior approval, funding of up to $5000 is available for travel, research, communication and dissemination efforts related to their service.