Impact Center

The Impact Center is a premier leadership development organization for high-impact individuals and institutions. We give emerging and accomplished leaders the knowledge, skills and network they need to expand their impact on their organizations, their communities and our society.


Impact Center Announces 2014 Class

2014 Class of Women Leaders Announced

(Washington, DC)–Washington, DC-based Impact Center announced its selection of the best and brightest women leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors fifteen participants for its 2014 Women’s Executive Leadership Program.  The announcement follows a highly competitive nationwide application and interview-based process. According to John Hart, Impact Center Founder and CEO, “Every woman in the 2014 class has achieved impressive success early in her career and is poised to take on greater leadership roles that will make a positive impact on our society.”

The fifteen extraordinary women participating in this year’s class come from a diverse array of backgrounds, representing fields that include academia, healthcare, the military, business, law, and a variety of non-profits.  Among the women in the class are those who have started successful new ventures, work at premier organizations, and represent the very best in an emerging generation of high-impact leaders.

The Impact Center's 2014 Women's Executive Leadership Program includes:

  • Rachel Briley, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

  • Monique Brunson, Director of Programs, Chicago Foundation for Women

  • Eva De La Rosa, Senior Client Manager, American Express

  • Allison Devito, Chief of the Victim Issues and Policy Branch, Military Justice Division, United States Air Force

  • Karen Dunn, Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner

  • Ann Gillespie, Chief Strategy Officer, Asbury Communities

  • Nicole Sabado Green, Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers

  • Caroline Kim, Lead Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton

  • Erin Mazursky, Founder and CEO, Rhize

  • Jackie Norris, Executive Director, Points of Light Corporate Institute

  • Kristen Panerali, Director, Global Business Development, Silver Ridge Power

  • Shayla Price, Executive Director, National Search Dog Alliance

  • Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, Senior Associate Director, Rockefeller Foundation

  • Maya Rupert, Policy Director, NCL Rights

  • Ruti Smithline, Partner, Morrison & Foerster

“The members of the 2014 class are talented individuals who are shaping the future” remarked John Hart, Founder and CEO of the Impact Center. “The program is designed to enhance their skills and expand their impact on society,” adds Sonja Neiger, Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute. The Women’s Executive Leadership Program accelerates growth for women leaders at critical junctures in their careers. It includes two Retreats that focus on building a leadership identity, embracing strengths as a woman leader, and building social capital. In-between Retreats, leaders meet regularly with an experienced executive coach and monthly with peers to incorporate and refine new skills. Building long-term professional networks with a diverse community of peers and accomplished leaders is a distinguishing characteristic of this program.

The Impact Center is a 501(c) 3 organization based out of Washington DC that provides leadership development for high-impact individuals and institutions. Their mission is to empower emerging and accomplished leaders with the knowledge, skills, and network they need to expand their impact on their organizations, communities, and our society.

Impact Center Announces 2013 Women’s Leadership Fellows

Impact Center Announces 2013 Women’s Leadership Fellows

Empowering Leaders who are Shaping the Future

Washington – Today the Impact Center announced the 2013 Class of Women’s Leadership Fellows. The high-potential women who make up this class come from such diverse professional fields as the, law, medicine, technology, education, military, government and the arts.  Each one has achieved impressive success early in her career and is poised to take on greater leadership roles that will make a difference in our society.

The Impact Center conducted a nationally competitive search for the best and brightest in the public, private and non-profit sectors. These women rose above the rest because of their extraordinary experiences as leaders and demonstrated commitment to giving back and helping other succeed. “The members of the 2013 class are talented individuals who are shaping the future” remarked John Hart, Founder and CEO of the Impact Center. “The program is designed to enhance their skills and expand their impact on society.”

The Impact Center's 2013 Women's Leadership Fellows are:

Naomi Baer, Senior Director, Global Partner Operations, Kiva         

Jennifer Burns, Assistant Professor of History, Stanford University

Stephenie Gosnell Handler, Attorney, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Janet Hostetler, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development

Julie Kashen, Executive Director, Flexibility Online

Heather King, Attorney, Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP      

Julia Kurnik, Director of Research and Policy, National Women's Business Council     

Kiah Morris, Community Health Improvement Specialist, Southwestern Vermont Health Care 

Elizabeth Paxton, Product Director, Johnson and Johnson 

Obrea Poindexter, Partner, Morrison & Foerster         

Colleen Walz, Deputy Chief, City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire         

Jeannette Wolfe, Associate Clinical Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine

The Impact Center is a 501(c) 3 organization committed to leveling the playing field for diverse women leaders.  Our signature Women’s Leadership Program is a nationally competitive program targeting high-potential women across different sectors who are shaping the future. Participants benefit from a unique talent development model that helps them strengthen their professional network, build professional and leadership skills, and realize their personal career goals. In return, Fellows commit to contribute their time and talent over the course of their careers to making a positive societal impact.

At the heart of this leadership program is a dynamic mentoring model and a series of innovative programs that will develop their skills and expand their networks. The fellows will be paired with accomplished mentors who will provide them with feedback and guidance to not only help them ascend within their careers but to also expand their societal impact.

A key component of this year-long program is exposure to premier institutions and inspirational leaders who offer aspirational models in the public, private and non-profit sectors. 

The 2013 Women’s Leadership Fellows came together for the first time as a group at the Impact Center’s Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.  to engage with  senior leaders in powerful discussions on how to thrive as a women leaders and maximize their impact on their organization and our society.  Fellows went to the White House for a roundtable discussion with senior Administration officials and came away inspired to make a difference in their careers.


Introducing the 2013 Class of Women’s Leadership Fellows

The 2013 class of Women’s Leadership Fellows hails from a diverse array of backgrounds, representing fields including business, academia, medicine, public service, policy development, government, and the law.  Among this class are women who have risen through the ranks of male-dominated fields, who are distinguished innovators, and who represent the very best in an emerging generation of public leaders.  Not only do these Fellows share a common desire to further develop their own abilities as high-impact leaders, they are also actively empowering those around them. 

Naomi Baer currently serves as Senior Director of Global Partner Operations for Kiva,a non-profit organization that has built a community of lenders to crowdfund over $375M in microloans around the globe. In her role as a member of the executive team, Ms. Baer leads Kiva’s staff and core volunteer teams in providing program development and capacity building support for Kiva Field Partners in 69 countries worldwide. She joined Kiva in 2006, bringing her background as a professional translator to establish Kiva’s first volunteer community, the Review and Translation Program, which leverages over 400 volunteers to vet and prepare locally generated loan profiles for Kiva daily. Ms. Baer also serves as a founding member of the Board of Directors for myAgro, a Mali-based social enterprise providing savings, agriculture training, and high quality inputs to smallholder farmers. Prior to her role at Kiva, Ms. Baer was a small business owner, providing Portuguese-English translation and interpreting services to a wide range of clients in the fields of medicine and public health, technology, education, international development, market research, tourism, and the arts. She served on the board of the Northern California Translators Association for five years and is certified by the American Translators Association in Portuguese to English translation. She holds a B.A. in American Civilization from Brown University.

Jennifer Burns is an Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University, where she teaches courses on American political, cultural, and intellectual history. She graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude majoring in History, and received her Masters and PhD in History from the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Burns is the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, an intellectual biography of the controversial novelist and philosopher. Based on exclusive access to Rand’s personal papers, Goddess of the Market is the only book to draw upon Rand’s unedited letters and journals. It has been favorably reviewed by numerous publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, The Economist, and the New Yorker. A popular guest on radio and television programs, Professor Burns has been interviewed on The Colbert Reportand The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, C-SPAN’s Book TV, NPR’s Weekend America, and Here & Now. She has also written op-eds and articles for The New York Times, Harvard Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Christian Science Monitor, and numerous academic journals. Professor Burns enjoys speaking before academic and professional organizations. In 2010, she was honored as a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians and named a Top Young Historian by the History News Network. 


Stephenie Gosnell Handler is an associate attorney in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. She focuses her practice primarily on transactional matters, including mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and corporate governance.  In addition, she practices in the area of international trade regulation, including economic sanctions and export controls. Stephenie graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy and holds a M.A. degree  in national security studies from Georgetown University. She earned her J.D. from Stanford Law School. Stephenie served as an active duty officer in the U.S. Marine Corps for seven years. As a logistics officer, she was assigned to ground and aviation units in the U.S. and Okinawa, Japan, where she deployed throughout the Far East. She also served as a regional affairs officer, and deployed to Iraq as a special assistant for political-military affairs for the Multi-National Security Transition Command–Iraq. After leaving active duty service to attend law school at Stanford, she continued her interest in rule of law development as a member of the Afghanistan Legal Education Project, writing and editing legal textbooks and curricula that are currently being used by Afghan universities as well as by coalition personnel. She was a graduate fellow at the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation. Stephenie also worked for the Legal Advisor of the Presidency at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. 


Janet Hostetler is the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.  At HUD, Janet advances national fair housing policy. She has been instrumental in building consensus around and furthering fair housing, a requirement of the federal Fair Housing Act that communities promote inclusive, diverse neighborhoods. She has also assisted with policies and processes related to Section 3, a HUD program promoting jobs and economic opportunity in neighborhoods benefitting from HUD investments.  She plays a lead role in the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity on issues of housing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, international human rights law, leadership development, and culture change. Prior to being appointed to serve in the Obama Administration, Janet was an appellate attorney working on a range of civil rights and poverty issues at the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, Maryland as the Francis Murnaghan Appellate Fellow. She served as a Voter Protection Director for the Obama Campaign in 2008, organizing sophisticated efforts to protect the civil rights of voters on the ground in six states and developing a database technology tool used by the campaign to track legal volunteers and problems voters encounter around the country. Janet has also worked in the policy and advocacy arena on issues of human rights, education, and international development. She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, an M.A. (International Relations) from the Australian National University, and a B.A. (Economics and Latin American Studies) from Wellesley College. 

Julie Kashen is a nonprofit consultant and life coach. In November 2012, Julie launched Let’s Thrive, LLC – an independent consulting and coaching firm where she inspires organizations, individuals and causes to thrive.  Specifically, Julie brings her public policy, leadership and management expertise to nonprofit organizations striving to improve workplace flexibility, support working families, empower women and make progress in social justice. Julie also provides one-on-one coaching for individuals seeking to gain greater self-esteem, career fulfillment and ease in their choices surrounding family and work responsibilities. Previously, Julie served as the Senior Vice President of Single Stop USA, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic security for families in the United States. There, she helped grow and oversee the policy, programs, and evaluation departments, and played a role in fundraising and organizational development. Prior to joining Single Stop USA, Julie served as Deputy Director of Policy for Governor Jon S. Corzine (D-NJ) and Legislative Director for then-Senator Corzine. Julie spent four years prior as a policy advisor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) serving on the Senate HELP Committee and focusing on working families, economic security and related issues. She has also served as the Policy and Research Director for the campaign of Susan Bass Levin for Congress and the Staff Director to the Congressional Arts Caucus for Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. Julie holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a B.A. with highest honors in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and is in the process of being certified by the Coaches Training Institute.

Heather King serves as Counsel in the Washington, DC office of the law firm Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP.  She focuses her practice on the intersection between public policy and complex litigation matters.  Ms. King joined the firm from the U.S. Congress, where she served as Special Assistant and Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and helped lead Senator Clinton’s campaigns.  In that capacity, she helped run the Senator’s Washington office, helped lead the Senator’s foreign relations work, and liaised on behalf of the Senator with other government bodies and a large team of legislative and strategic advisors. Ms. King has served as Chairman of FAIR Girls’ Executive Board of Directors, an international non-profit for at-risk girls, for the past 3 years.  In addition, she serves on the Clinton Foundation Millennium Network Leadership Council, Women Under Forty Political Action Committee Board of Directors, Running Start Advisory Council, and National Women’s Law Center Leadership 35 advisory committee. Ms. King graduated magna cum laude from the University of Evansville and received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. 

Julia Kurnik is currently a graduate student pursuing a dual degree including an MBA from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania and an MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School. At Wharton she is part of the inaugural class of Social Impact Fellows. Prior to graduate school, Ms. Kurnik served as the Director of Research and Policy at the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), a government advisory group to the White House, Congress, and the Small Business Administration.  In this role, Ms. Kurnik was responsible for creating and overseeing the research agenda of the Council and reporting on all research findings. She also kept in close contact with Congress and monitored congressional small business news and policy debates. Before the NWBC, Ms. Kurnik served as an assistant analyst at Hart Research Associates, a strategic research company in Washington, DC.  Prior to that, she spent over a year and a half on the Obama for America campaign, serving on the political staff throughout the primary campaigns around the country and then as a Regional Field Director in central Florida during the general election campaign.  Before the campaign began, Ms. Kurnik worked as a project manager at Xplana Learning, Inc., an educational software company in Boston. Ms. Kurnik graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA.

Kiah Morris is the Community Health Improvement Specialist for Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), a multi-state regional health care system based out of Bennington, VT. She coordinates a wide range of public health initiatives with an emphasis on community-driven solutions and evidence-based practices.  This includes providing leadership, strategic planning and implementation of nearly two dozen special projects throughout the region. The successful outcomes of the initiatives driven through the Community Health Improvement Program will prove pivotal in SVHC’s ability to directly address the social determinants of poor health and create sustainable change post-healthcare reform. Her history in community organizing and mobilization spans nearly two decades in various communities throughout the United States. Her professional non-profit community engagement includes arts administration, youth programs, domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy, and health prevention coalition management. Kiah is a recent recipient of the VT Courage Award for her advocacy work toward increasing dental access, which resulted in the expansion of comprehensive dental care for expectant mothers receiving Vermont’s state Medicaid. Kiah holds a degree in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she studied gender, race and class representations in children’s literature. 

Liz Paxton is a Marketing Product Director for Biosense Webster, a Johnson and Johnson medical device company specializing in catheters and mapping equipment to treat cardiac arrhythmias.  She is responsible for marketing strategy and execution for the ablation products totaling $300MM in annual sales.  In her current role she has led the digital planning and creation of the company’s first sales detailing iPad app and is currently leading two product launches with forecasted annual revenues totaling $10MM at launch.  Prior to joining Biosense Webster, Ms. Paxton worked  for ACUVUE® Contact Lenses, also a JNJ brand, and was awarded the James E. Burke award for the results of a successful  2-year marketing campaign ($5MM incremental sales).  Before entering the private sector Liz Paxton was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco spending a total of five years in-country leading international Economic development efforts for artisans and craft exporters.  She holds a B.A. in French and Political Science from Dickinson College, Magna Cum Laude, and an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill, where she graduated in the top 20% of her class.

Obrea Poindexter is a partner in the Washington, DC office of Morrison & Foerster LLP. Ms. Poindexter’s practice focuses on financial services regulation. She advises clients on financial privacy issues relating to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act; consumer lending issues under the CARD Act, the Truth in Lending Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; debit cards, prepaid cards, electronic banking and payment system issues under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Regulation E) and the E-SIGN Act.  She also advises clients extensively on issues related to emerging payments systems such as mobile payment systems and person to person payments.  Ms. Poindexter is the Chair of the American Bar Association’s Privacy Subcommittee and is a frequent speaker on banking and consumer financial services issues. Prior to joining Morrison & Foerster, Ms. Poindexter was a staff attorney for five years at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, where she focused on issues relating to electronic banking, privacy, and consumer lending and leasing.

Colleen Walz is a Deputy Chief with the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, where she has been employed for 25 years.  As a Deputy Chief, Chief Walz is in charge of the Hazardous Materials Team, the Fire Investigation Squad, Public Education, and Fire Prevention.Chief Walz is the only female in the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire to have reached the officer ranks. Chief Walz is a Pennsylvania State Certified Fire Instructor with the State of Pennsylvania Fire Academy, as well as adjunct faculty to Point Park University School of Business, teaching in the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education program. Additionally, she is a member of the State of Pennsylvania Incident Management Team (IMT 3), recently deployed to assist with Hurricane Sandy. She is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and co-chaired a committee to investigate and review what could be accomplished to enhance the mission of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health as it relates to incident investigation. Serving with the IAFC, Chief Walz was humbled by the opportunity to travel to Israel to train on multinational terrorism awareness. She is also a member of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and was a founding member of Fire Service Women of Pennsylvania, an organization to mentor aspiring female firefighters. Chief Walz earned her B.A. from SUNY Empire State and a graduate degree from Grand Canyon University, in addition to graduating from the Executive Fire Officers program at the National Fire Academy.

Jeannette Wolfe, MD F.A.C.E.P, is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Tufts School of Medicine’s Baystate campus. For the past 15 years she has worked at Baystate Hospital, one of the busiest emergency departments on the east coast, treating patients, teaching residents, lecturing, and writing. She is an executive member of  Women Advancing and Achieving in Medicine (WAAM), which facilitates mentoring and networking for Baystate’s female providers. Through WAAM she has helped develop annual theme-based platform lectures which rotate through the hospital’s residency programs and also created WAAM’s Solstice Celebration, a volunteer event that supplies healthy cookbooks and bilingual children’s books to low-income women and their families. She also directs an annual regional Women in Medicine conference. Over the past few years, Dr Wolfe has focused most of her non-clinical professional development on gender differences in medicine and communication after she learned that 2/3 of serious medical errors were rooted in communication flaws. Since then she has read, written, and lectured extensively on this topic and the impact of gender on unconscious bias, negotiation, and leadership development. Dr Wolfe has written over 50 medical articles and editorials and is on the advisory board of Emergency Physician Monthly. She also serves on the executive board of the Academy of Women in Academic Emergency Medicine (AWAEM) where she is working on a series of professional development videos for emergency medicine physicians early in their careers. Last year, she was recognized by AWAEM as one of the “Inspiring Women in Academic Emergency Medicine.” She was educated at University of Notre Dame, Jefferson Medical College and Stanford/Kaiser Emergency Medicine Residency Program.


Impact Center Partners with the White House to Manage Presidential Appointee Leadership Program

The Impact Center was selected from a highly competitive pool of qualified organizations, shortly after President Obama took office, to manage the Administration’s Presidential Appointee Leadership Program for senior Executive Branch leaders. 

The Impact Center interviewed Cabinet Secretaries and senior White House staff to gain insight that informed the development of a series of strategic programs that produced tangible results.  In partnership with the White House, the Impact Center and our team of collaborators developed several customized workshops and strategic learning sessions for senior Administration leaders to drive change that benefits the American people. 

We facilitated a Cabinet-White House Retreat that gave top-level leaders an outlet to share best practices and develop a series of recommendations to the President that led to tangible improvements in Cabinet-level collaboration. Additionally, the Impact Center also coordinated a similar strategic meeting for the Deputy Secretaries with the help of Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget and the nation’s first Federal Chief Performance Officer.

The Deputy Secretaries defined a need for the Impact Center to return and design a program to better prepare the President Appointed Senate Confirmed Appointees in their departments. Working hand in hand with the Zients, and other Deputy Secretaries, we developed a series of 13 on-boarding programs over the course of a year and half.  These sessions were designed to share information about the leadership culture of each department, better equip appointees to effectively implement the administration’s agenda and build a stronger community of support through networking and small group discussions. Appointees also had the opportunity to hear best practices from top White House speakers and fellow Appointees.  

As our contract with the White House was winding down last fall, Appointees expressed their need for additional Appointee development sessions on an on-going basis. With this in mind, the Impact Center created a program for Appointees going forward to target management skills, leading inside the government, and communicating priorities effectively.  We look forward to continuing our work with Appointees across agencies.

Gender Intelligence Summit: How Can Men and Women Better Work Together?

Last December, the Impact Center partnered with American Express to convene a Gender Intelligence Summit in Washington, D.C.  The Summit brought together more than 150 diversity practitioners, senior managers and executives from across sectors, including: government, corporate, academic and non-profit, to constructively engage on the topic of how men and women can work effectively with each other.
Barbara Annis, world renowned Gender Intelligence expert, kicked off the day by laying the foundation for why it is critical to understand the science behind gender differences and the different strengths that men and women bring to the table. As she put it, building awareness of this issue has become a competitive advantage for businesses.  Then, with Ms. Annis as moderator, Dr. Ruben Gur, University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Marianne Legato, Columbia University, provided fascinating into the neuroscience behind gender intelligence.
The conversation with these two highly accomplished medical professionals illuminated some key areas where men and women's brains operate differently. For example, male brains tend to have more tracks in the brain reaching from front to back where as female brains tend to have more tracks reaching from left to right. This means that information is received and processed in such a way that male brains seek a solution to a problem immediately whereas a female brain will spend time thinking through different issues related to the problem before reaching a conclusion. Additionally, there are some genes that are the same in all people but expressed differently in each gender.
Later, a panel of high-impact leaders looked at GI from the perspective of a practitioner. Jennifer Allyn, Managing Director, Office of Diversity at PricewaterhouseCoopers, reminded us that, "understanding differences is the first step but valuing and embracing them is the hardest step." The rest of the panel echoed her statement in their affirmations that GI is a vital part of ensuring businesses can compete in the 21st Century.
The Summit concluded with our featured speaker, Ramon Martin, Executive Vice President, World Service Americas and Digital Servicing Strategy at American Express. A senior executive committed to inclusive, impactful leadership, Mr. Martin highlighted his own valuable lessons, insights and advice of working in the diversity space at American Express. He urged audience members to take action as they returned to their respective work places when he said, "we can do something and change some of our behaviors to become more inclusive in our thinking."
Both men and women came away from the summit with a better understanding of how to apply Gender Intelligence to their own practice of leadership and integrate it into their organizational culture. Some of the biggest "ah-ha!" moments from the day included:
  • "Understanding that an integrative approach using Gender Intelligence includes science, bottom line and fairness - and that these will go a long way to changing institutions."
  • "The conversation is not about 'blame,' but about understanding."
  • "Understanding differences is one thing BUT the more important thing is VALUING those differences."
  • "Love the emphasis on awareness as key - emphasizing and institutionalizing diversity as important in a corporate culture."
To see highlights from this year's Gender Intelligence Summit visit the website. You can also learn more about the 2011 Summit by reading coverage in The Glasshammer and Evolved Employer.
Stay tuned for more information about Gender Intelligence programming for individuals and institutions from the Impact Center! 


2011 Programs List

Join a community of high-impact leaders!

The Impact Center is constantly growing our network of outstanding leaders in every sector. In 2011 we are launched programs ranging from discussions to skillbuilding to industry specific mentoring.

Look for more exciting programs like these in a city near you!

August 3rd in San Francisco, CA

 Women Making an Impact in Corporate Social Responsibility

The Simmons School of Management and Hewlett-Packard conducted a survey during the 2009 Simmons School of Leadership Conference that found over 75 percent of female respondents felt that it was important to work for a company they believed was socially responsible. It also found that when these women felt they worked for ethical companies that supported socially responsible initiatives they had better job satisfaction, longer retention rates and a higher willingness to publically support the work of the company.

February 22nd in Washington, D.C.

Thriving as a Woman in a Male Dominated Field

 Join the Impact Center for this unique event and hear how three amazing women have and continue to make their mark on fields traditionally dominated by men. This event allows you to connect with a community of support that you will be able to access even after you leave.

January 25th in New York, NY

A Conversation on Leadership: The Role of Men in Promoting Women to Positions of Power

January is National Mentoring Month so join the Impact Center to learn how men are playing a critical role in advancing women in the pipeline of leadership. Hear from a panel of high-level men who are well known for their efforts to recognize the rising stars in their organizations and learn their strategies and suggestions for both being a mentor and being successfully mentored.

Congratulations to 2011 Fellow Erica Borggren

The Impact Center extends our congratulations to Erica Borggren, 2010 Women’s Leadership Fellow, on her appointment as the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs for the state of Illinois.  

Erica was selected to participate in the Impact Center's 2010 Fellowship following a highly competitive national process that identified her as  an emerging woman leader who was committed to making an impact on our society. As a Fellow, Erica joined a cohort of women from every sector who supported one another while receiving a full year of mentoring, coaching and leadership training.
Erica explained that, “[The Impact Center's Women's Leadership Fellowship] help me define the ways in which I will lead on issues in the years to come by helping to identify passions, talents, and experiences and where they intersect."

We are proud to see Erica fulfilling her vision of leadership with her appointment as the Illinois Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs.  Prior to her appointment as Illinois Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Borggren worked independently as a Strategic Communications Consultant specializing in drawing out and giving voice to people and ideas. While still on active duty with the U.S. Army, deployed to Baghdad as a member of General Petraeus’s Commander’s Initiatives Group—a small group of strategic analysts and “designated thinkers”. Her work earned her the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal.  Borggren’s career with the U.S. Army also includes seven years of active duty service as a Medical Service Corps Officer, three of which were spent in Seoul, South Korea with the 18th Medical Command.

Read More:

Driving Corporate-Social Responsibility

On August 3rd, the Impact Center will dive into the world of Corporate-Social Responsibility in San Francisco, California. Partnering with the global law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, we will present a program highlighting different companies leading the push for responsible business. 

Why Does Socially Responsible Business Matter?

In 2009, The Simmons School of Management along with Hewlett-Packard conducted a survey, the results of which revealed the significant role of social responsibility in company productivity. The survey found that over 75% of female respondents placed importance on working for a company that makes a positive impact on society.

In addition, the survey found women working for socially responsible companies had a greater sense of job commitment and satisfaction, leading to longer retention rates and a willingness to publically support the company. However, according to the same survey, only 45% of respondents were aware of their company’s social responsibility efforts and even less had actually participated in those initiatives.

Opportunities for Advancing Socially Responsible Practices 

The Impact Center is thrilled to have the opportunity to present a panel of outstanding women championing corporate-social responsibility in their sectors.

Our panelists will share their experiences and insights working in socially responsible businesses. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn best practices for applying these initiatives as well as how to increase their client base and employee retention through communicating company efforts internally and externally. 

Our expert panel will feature:

  •  Beth Gerstein, Co-Founder of Brilliant Earth 

Beth Gerstein’s mission is to offer conflict-free diamonds produced with environmentally sustainable mining methods. 

  •  Michele Hall, General Manager, Fabric Care at Method Products

Method strives to make highly effective cleaning products that are safe for the customer and for the earth. Their challenge is to make every product an agent of environmental change, using safe and sustainable materials that are manufactured responsibly. 

  •  Yolanda Ruiz, Partner at Pacific Community Ventures, LLC

Pacific Community Ventures, LLC is committed to growing small businesses in California. Their unique hands-on approach to investing allows them to offer a combination of strategic, financial, operational, and entrepreneurial guidance to the companies in which they invest. 

  •  Jung Yoo, Executive and Life Coach 

Jung Yoo will fill the role of moderator during this insightful discussion. Her passion is coaching clients across sectors to create greater fulfillment in their work.  

Orrick – A Responsible Partner

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is a global law firm with more than 1,100 lawyers and 22 offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Orrick clients include Fortune 500 companies, major industrial and financial corporations, commercial and investment banks, high-growth companies, governmental entities, start-ups and individuals. 

In 2010, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP launched a Social Sector Finance (SSF) practice group. SSF – also known as Sustainable Investment or Socially Responsible Investment – is unlike traditional finance in that it has a “triple-bottom line” investment approach. This means that SSF is geared towards achieving three investment objectives: financial return, social return, and environmental return. SSF clients focus on building scalable, sustainable solutions for individuals and companies throughout the world.  

Orrick’s history of pro bono work with organizations pursuing SSF objectives has allowed the firm to delve into an area in which few law firms operate. Their unique web of relationships with non-governmental and governmental agencies around the world allows Orrick to leverage its international footprint and broad expertise in finance to accelerate the delivery of basic goods and services to underserved populations.  


"Our long-standing pro bono work has allowed us to leverage and expand our knowledge and capabilities as well as develop relationships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental agencies involved in SSF sectors," said Cam Cowan, senior partner for the Transactional Division and a member of Orrick's Executive Committee.  "Through our prior pro bono work, we have discovered that few law firms operate in this space, and we view this as a unique opportunity for us to better support organizations pursuing SSF objectives."  

As a global law firm, with 22 offices in Asia, North America and Europe, Orrick is able to leverage its international footprint and broad expertise in finance to facilitate the delivery of basic goods and services to underserved populations. Orrick has represented SSF clients in a wide range of pro bono matters for many years. Since 2003, the firm has worked with leading SSF organizations including Calvert Foundation, CHF International, Enzi, Vittana,, MercyCorps and Kiva, and it currently represents a significant number of the largest and most active SSF organizations globally on both a pro bono and a paying basis. The firm also represents various SSF funds, capacity-building organizations, foundations and other key stakeholders. 

For more information on this special event, please visit our website at

2010 Fellow Hua Wang

When Hua Wang joined our Women’s Fellowship program she was in working to complete her law degree and looking for insights on what to do when she finished school…she found much more. It all started when the Impact Center paired her with, Sarah Wang, an attorney based in Chicago, where Hua was going to school. While being located in the same city allowed the two to meet face to face, it was the parallels in their lives that helped them form a close bond. Sarah had walked the path that Hua was on and could help her navigate her challenges. 

Throughout the year Sarah helped Hua refine her purpose and remain focused on her passions so she didn’t get hung up on the different possibilities before her. Because they both work in the field of law, Sarah was able to help Hua connect with the right people in the right places to find the career path she wanted. Additionally, Sarah helped encourage Hua to find additional outlets for making an impact on our society.  

Hua graduated from Northwestern this past May and will soon begin working at a Boston law firm. Since her fellowship she has become much more aware of women’s issues and the importance of leadership. She has even begun blogging on for sites such as the Glass Hammer. Hua on her fellowship, “I am honored to have been chosen to be a part of the fellowship, to be a part of this wonderful group of women. It is the reason I am where I am in my career today.” 

Women and Men Working Together to Impact Society

What role do men play in the promotion of women in the workplace? This question was addressed at our event held in New York on January 25th. “The Role of Men in Promoting Women to Positions of Power” was the first in our smaller leadership series starting this year. The program consisted of a panel of three men and small group discussion. John Runde, Special Advisor with Morgan Stanley, Alfred Puchala, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Signal Equity Partners, and John Hart, Founder/CEO of the Impact Center, all spoke on the issue of women leadership in the workplace and how they have helped promote women to positions of power. The speakers shared their experiences of seeking out talented, high-potential women in their various roles and assisting them through mentorship as well as sponsorship to ascend to more senior level positions.  They also identified ways women can find male mentors who are willing to support their ascension within their respective companies.  Jodi Brockington, one of our 2011 Fellows and moderator of this program, was instrumental in the planning of the event. 

How can women lead in a male dominated industries? Very well, according to the panelists at our D.C. event in February. Our second event in the 2011 leadership series, “Women Leading in Male Dominated Fields” featured a discussion led by three female West Point alumna and Army Veterans: Dawn Halfaker, President and CEO of Halfaker & Associates; Nancy Hogan, Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs; and Kate Kohler, COO and Senior Vice President of Pen Fed Foundation. The three panelists have all worked in strongly male dominated fields their entire lives and was pivotal in shaping their leadership styles. They discussed how to continue being yourself when working in a professional culture that attempts to alter you. They suggested actions and approaches to take when dealing with male misconceptions of females and their capabilities. Nancy promoted focusing on being a leader, instead of worrying about being a woman leader. She said sometimes promoting yourself as a woman leader sets you up for more criticism and scrutiny than if you were just to lead as yourself. They suggested picking mentors based on similarities in thinking and actions, someone in whom you find an ally, not necessarily based on gender or age. With the success of our first two small conferences in our leadership series, we anticipate our upcoming event in San Francisco in late March. Watch for more info!

2010 Pathways to Power: Thriving as a Woman Leader

On December 3, 2010 a group of nearly 200 accomplished professionals gathered at the Park Hyatt in Washington, DC for the Impact Center’s 2nd annual Pathways to Power Leadership Conference. This year’s event was focused on “Thriving as a Woman Leader” and helped the women in the audience understand how to better leverage their skills to achieve success. The dynamic speakers that presented throughout the day helped attendees engage with one another to discuss their individual struggles as women in leadership and gave them concrete strategies to overcome any challenge.

Marisa Rivera-Albert, President of MPowerment Works, kicked off the day with a talk about the importance of utilizing the community of support that was present in the room. As with any Impact Center event, the caliber of people present in the room, representing every industry and sector, provided a unique opportunity to network and make connections with other women who are committed to helping each other succeed.

Thriving as a woman in any professional setting is all about understanding how to utilize your natural strengths to get the job done, according to Barbara Annis, an expert in gender intelligence, and  John Gray, the author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” These leadership experts spoke on how women can use the way they think and process information as an advantage in the workplace. For example, women tend to rely more heavily on their ability to work collaboratively and engage empathetically with others, and Barbara and John provided strategies to capitalize on these skills to be more effective leaders. Participants were also able to engage with a panel of successful women, including Jackie Norris, former Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama, who shared some very personal challenges that they have each faced and the strategies they found most helpful in working through them. The discussion that came out of both Barbara and John’s talk and the panelists conversation provided many options that the audience could implement in their day-to-day lives as they strive to be noticed as competent professionals and leaders. 

  Finally, the event’s featured speakers, Cokie Roberts, Political Commentator for ABC News and Rebecca Roberts, NPR News, took the stage and treated the audience to a discussion of how what it takes to thrive has changed and how each of them has managed to succeed as professionals, wives and mothers. 

The Impact Center prides itself on providing a safe space for women to speak openly and honestly about the challenges they face, and a key benefit of this unique event was the small group discussions that provided an opportunity for attendees to integrate what they had learned throughout the day  into their own workplace situations and understand how they could better navigate their personal pathway to power. Each table’s discussion was facilitated by a highly experienced mentor who could help each woman work through her situation. Attendees walked away energized and ready to take the knowledge and skills they had gained back to their organizations and make a difference. 

In their own words:

“[The conference] was a great learning opportunity for me personally. The speakers were inspiring, the program was interesting, and the energy in the room was contagious! The work you are doing with these young women is exceptional”. – Kathleen Sack, Senior Director of Talent Development, American Red Cross 

We are now in the exciting process of planning the 2011 conference. We look forward to announcing the dates and topics soon! 

A Sound "Choice" for a Partnership

With limited resources, companies are increasingly seeking mutually beneficial partnerships that help address their own mission, while having a greater societal impact.  For Choice Hotels, a leader in the hospitality industry, a partnership with the Impact Center was the perfect fit.  In 2010, Choice supported  the Impact Center’s annual Pathways to Power conference as a platinum level sponsor.  Through the sponsorship, the conference gave Choice an opportunity to expand and market its brand to a wider audience.  It also provided an opportunity for key staff to gain valuable skills and insights into how best to work with each other more effectively.  Sixteen employees attended the conference and took the valuable knowledge back to their work in making Choice a premier hospitality brand.

One of the Choice executives most engaged in our work has been Anne Madison, Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications. Anne is an award-winning communications and public relations expert. She has been honored with numerous awards and is a leader in her field. She also serves on several boards and committees. In 2010, Anne generously gave her time and expertise as an advisor to our Women’s Fellowship Program. She actively advised Impact Center staff on the best ways to support and grow the accomplished leaders of the 2010 class. This year, Anne was invited to and has accepted a role on the Impact Center’s newly formed Leadership Council. The Choice Hotel partnership is just one example of the broad-based strategic partnerships the Impact Center is able to develop across a variety of sectors and industries. 

The Impact Center is eager to grow this and other partnerships in the coming year. If you are interested in becoming one of the Impact Center’s strategic partners, contact Keight Tucker at 202.783.8270.

A Look at Emily Lenzner 2010 Fellow

Emily Lenzner had achieved significant accomplishments relatively early in her career, and when she was selected as one of the Impact Center’s 2010 Women’s Leadership Fellows she was working as the Executive Director of Media Relations for ABC. Through the year-long fellowship, Emily was able to better align her skills, talents and passions with her career so that she could make a greater impact on her organization and our society.

Emily, a new mother at the time, was seeking new challenges when she was urged to apply for the Impact Center’s Fellowship program by a good friend and colleague.  Along with 11 other outstanding women, she was selected from a national pool of over 120 applicants to be among the Impact Center’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Fellows. 

For her Fellowship, Emily was paired up with Ellen Wingard, a professional coach who works with top women executives all over the world. Ellen helped Emily build confidence, access her strengths, and refine her skills to discover the next step in her career. Ellen used many self-evaluations and diagnostic exercises that helped Emily redefine herself and build her skills. After refining the type of job she really wanted in the public relations field, Emily began searching, with the help of Ellen and her peers in the fellowship program, for a new job that would better align with her passions and add the additional challenge she sought. She found that job at SKDKnickerbocker, a strategic communications firm based in Washington, D.C. Emily is a prime example of how the Impact Center’s Fellowship Program helps women leaders at a critical point in their pathway develop their professional skills and advance their career in order to make a greater impact.

Women Leader in Male Dominated Fields - Feb 22, 2011

Women Leading in Male Dominated Fields

Tuesday, February 22nd

12:00pm - 1:30pm

Washington, D.C.

Thank you to everyone who attended! The discussion focused on the importance of being competent and authentic in your leadership as a key elements of finding success in male dominated fields.

Thank you to our inspirational speakers:

Dawn Halfaker, President & CEO, Halfaker & Associates, LLC

Dawn Halfaker founded Halfaker and Associates in January 2006 in response to the radically changing business environment brought on by the growing need for dynamic consultants with specialized experience to provide national security services to the Federal Government. Captain (Ret) Dawn Halfaker has extensive management experience as a Military Police Officer in the United States Army. Throughout her military career, Dawn earned respect as a dynamic leader of men and women in combat, peacekeeping, and training in the United States, South Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq. Motivated by challenging projects of increasing responsibility, Dawn served in several leadership positions and deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division where she commanded a military police platoon in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was subsequently wounded during a combat patrol near Baghdad in 2004, earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for her service.

In addition to her military service, Dawn worked in Congress serving as a military liaison to the House Armed Services Committee where she advised the committee Chair on key Department of Defense legislation and issues. In 2005, she worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), specializing in technical consulting for the Defense Sciences Office. Her mission included initiating research to provide advanced capabilities to the military and enhance warfighter capabilities.

Dawn also remains very active with veteran’s affairs and is a member of many of the veteran’s service organizations and serves on various advisory committees. Specifically, Dawn serves as the Vice President of the Wounded Warrior Project Board of Directors where she focuses on raising awareness and enlisting the public's aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women in addition to helping severely injured service members recover and readjust. Additionally, Dawn was appointed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to serve on the Committee for OIF/OEF soldiers and families, which focuses on improving VA policies and care for veterans who were severely injured in combat as well as their families who care for them. More recently, Dawn was appointed by the Secretary of Labor to serve on the Advisory Committee for Veterans Employer Training and Employer Outreach. Dawn also participates as a member of the Steering Committees for the National Center for Citizen Leadership and ThanksUSA.
Dawn holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Arts in Security Studies from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Nancy Hogan, Counsel, Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs

Nancy Hogan is Benefits and Health Counsel for the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs' majority staff. She received her undergraduate degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  She was commissioned in June 1995 as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army and served as a Military Police Officer.  After four years of service, she sustained a spinal cord injury.  As a result, she was medically retired from the military as a Captain (O-3).  Ms. Hogan went on to earn her law degree (J.D.) from Roger Williams University and is licensed to practice law in New York State.  She began working as a National Service Officer for Paralyzed Veterans of America in June 2005, and has been active as a veteran’s disability advocate and an administrator. She was promoted and served as the Associate Executive Director of the Veterans Benefits Department for PVA from March 2007 - December 2008 and served as an appointed member of VA’s Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Rehabilitation (VACOR) in 2007 and 2008 before going to work at the U.S. Senate. 

Kate Kohler, COO & Senior Vice President, PenFed Foundation 

Kate Kohler is the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for the PenFed Foundation where she is responsible for programs and fundraising. Kate has been instrumental in growing the foundations Military Heroes Fund, ARK payday lending alternative, and Dream Makers program as well as the campaign to build the first ever Defenders Lodge in Palo Alto, California. She plans and manages the Foundation’s annual Night of Heroes Gala and Military Heroes Golf Tournament.

Kate is a U.S. Army veteran, having served as a Military Police Officer including time as Company Commander, Republic of Korea, Aide-de-Camp, Fort Hood, Texas, and Platoon Leader in the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, Kuwait, and Bosnia. She holds a MBA from Harvard Business School and a MPA from Harvard Kennedy School. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences from the United States Military Academy at West Point. At West Point, she was a member of the Army Women’s Swim Team, Triathlon Team and Ranked #1 in her class in Physical Fitness.

Kate is a member of the Virginia Board of Veterans Services, appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell, and Finance Committee Member at the West Point Association of Graduates. She is the Vice-President of the Board, West Point Society of New York. Kate is a competitive age-group runner, triathlete, and Ironman finisher. She is a native of Towanda, Pennsylvania.


Program Summary: The Role of Men in Promoting Women to Positions of Power

A Conversation on Leadership:

 The Role of Men in Promoting Women to Positions of Power

Wednesday, January 25, 2011 

New York City

Thank you to everyone who attended! Below you will find a list of the books that were mentioned during the event.

How To Say It by Rosalie Maggio

You Can’t Win a Fight with Your Boss by Tom Markert

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More than 60 Countries) by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway

59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute by Richard Wiseman

Thank You to Our Speakers:

James Runde, Special Advisor, Morgan Stanley

James A. Runde is a Special Advisor of Morgan Stanley. Until January 2004, Mr. Runde was a Vice Chairman, responsible for investment banking relationships with a wide variety of the Firm’s clients. In the past 37 years, he has been responsible for restructuring, privatization, mergers and financing for airlines, airports, postal, logistics, railroad, shipping, trucking and waste companies around the world.  Mr. Runde currently serves on the Board of Directors of Kroger, one of the largest retail/grocery companies in the United States.

Alfred Puchala, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Signal Equity Partners

Alfred J. Puchala, Jr. is managing director and cofounder of Signal Equity Partners (, a New York City based merchant bank that invests and advises in the telecommunications, media and technology sectors. Mr. Puchala previously has worked as an investment banker with Lazard Freres and Morgan Stanley in New York. He currently serves on the boards of directors of a number of his portfolio companies and also serves on the National Finance Board of the Democratic National Committee.  He a member of the New York Bar Association.  Mr. Puchala received a BA cum laude from Yale University, a J.D. from Georgetown University and a Master's degree in Economics from New York University. 

John Hart, Founder and CEO, The Impact Center

John Hart founded the Impact Center after more than three decades as a leader in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to empower leaders with the knowledge, skills and network they need to fully leverage their talent and expand their impact on society. Prior to founding the Impact Center, Mr. Hart served as Director of Policy Implementation for the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he managed operations and programs.   Before joining the Hunt Institute, he served as VP for Strategic Initiatives and Government Affairs for Ovations, a division of United Health Group.

Mr. Hart has also served in the public sector as Deputy Assistant to President Clinton and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House and as Principal Deputy Director at the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). He is a lawyer by training. John is a graduate of the Catholic University of America and received a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.

Special thanks to our moderator, 2011 Women's Leadership Fellow Jodi Brockington.