About the Women’s Forum of New York

Who We Are

The Women’s Forum of New York is an invitation-only organization of more than 500 women representing the highest levels of achievement across all professional sectors and spheres of influence in our city.

Founded in 1974, when women were first entering the executive ranks, today’s Women Forum members are recognized among New York’s thought leaders, influencers, trailblazers, policymakers, change agents, power brokers, innovators, icons, creators and business builders.

Forum membership provides extraordinary women with the opportunity to network with a diverse array of peers, to help one another succeed and to share unique experiences. We believe the potential for cross-collaboration among our diverse membership and generations of members ignites progress and transformation for all of us.

Our Leadership



What We Believe

Our organization is apolitical and non-partisan. Our membership of diverse leaders is unified by shared values and beliefs as reflected in our Credo:

  • We believe the potential for women is unlimited and opportunities should be as well.
  • We believe leadership has no gender.
  • We believe in equal pay for equal work.
  • We believe women inspiring women never gets old.
  • We believe women helping women never gets tired.
  • We revere the women who blazed trails before us and revel in those who come after.
  • We believe our diversity is our strength.
  • We celebrate each other’s success.
  • We believe successful women can be successful friends.

What We Believe Drives What We Do

Forum Programs

Our programs are as diverse as our members, because our members create them – by sharing unique interests, access and accomplishments. Every Forum program must provide special insight or access you can only experience because you are a member of our Forum.  We create 30 programs a year, from Small Dinners in members’ homes, to an exclusive conversation with a Supreme Court Justice, to going behind the scenes at the Tony Awards, or discussing America’s place in the world with our UN Ambassador the day after the Presidential election. 

Click here to learn more about Forum Programs

The Education Fund of the Women’s Forum

We believe that “women helping women never gets tired.” Our Education Fund embodies that belief, providing funds for educational awards and mentoring programs to high-potential women 35 and over who have faced extreme adversity which disrupted their education and their lives. Our unrestricted awards enable these deserving women to complete college degrees and fulfill dreams for themselves and their families. Our Forum has raised over $1. 6 million and helped 240 women since 1987. Since 2011, our primary fundraiser has been the Annual Elly Awards held each spring.

Click here to learn more about the Education Fund of the Women’s Forum.

The Corporate Board Initiative

Opportunities for women should be unlimited, and corporate board participation is a significant leadership frontier. To help accelerate gender balance on corporate boards, our Forum launched the Corporate Board Initiative in 2011 with two key platforms: a biennial salute to progressive CEOs and companies moving toward gender parity in the boardroom, known as the “Breakfast of Corporate Champions”  and a database of board-ready women who are uniquely vetted by a CEO sponsor.

Click here to learn more about the Women’s Forum Corporate Board Initiative.

International Women’s Forum Conferences

The Women’s Forum of New York is the founding forum of what has now become a global network of Forums – the International Women’s Forum – representing over 6,500 dynamic women leaders in 74 Forums in 33 countries. Our Forum members have a unique opportunity to connect with these accomplished women at two IWF conferences each year – the World Leadership Conference held each fall in North America and the Cornerstone Conference held internationally each spring. This represents a unique gathering of women leaders, delivering cutting edge programs that explore topics impacting international progress, business, economic and social change.

Click here to connect to the IWF website.

Members Tell Our Story

Meet some of our members and learn about their diverse accomplishments, their thoughts on leadership and how their membership in the Women’s Forum of New York has enriched their lives.

Click here for a full list of current members.


How to become a Member of the Women’s Forum of New York

Membership in the Women’s Forum of New York is by invitation only. Women of accomplishment, influence, and impact are nominated by a current member

Candidates are recognized leaders in their fields; proactive in the advancement of women; involved in civic, nonprofit and professional associations; and committed to engaging with the Forum. We seek a diverse membership, reflecting the breadth of industry, age and race/ethnicity of women leaders in the New York area.

Candidates are formally reviewed by the Membership Committee and approved by the Board of Directors before being invited to join. The Membership Committee hosts regularly scheduled breakfasts where candidates meet each other and learn more about the Forum.



Betty Friedan, Forum Co-Founders Elinor Guggenheimer and Eleanor Holmes Norton, with Gloria Steinem

The Women’s Forum of New York was created by civic leader and philanthropist Elinor Guggenheimer in 1974, at a time when women were first entering the executive ranks across most professional sectors. The Forum was originally conceived as a “new girls network” to provide inspiration and support for women who were “firsts” and to bring together women of diverse accomplishment for an exchange of ideas and experiences.

Nothing travels faster than an idea whose time had come. By 1979, the Women’s Forum of New York had inspired Forums in San Francisco then Washington, D.C., Chicago, Southern California and Colorado. In 1982 the Forum expanded into the United Kingdom. Other countries quickly followed, and in 1987 the International Women’s Forum (IWF) was established as an umbrella organization to bring Forums together, headquartered in Washington, DC. Today there are 74 Forums around the world in 33 countries representing over 6,800 outstanding women leaders.

The professional landscape for women has changed dramatically since 1974, but the challenges for women still remain – the challenge of access to the boardroom and the C Suite, to the highest levels in academia, law firms, technology, science and medicine; the challenge of access to venture capital and the global challenge for equal pay for equal work across almost all professions. There is an enduring need for women to support, celebrate, and inspire one another. Therefore, our Forum remains as relevant and strong today as the day we started.

Click here to read the History of the Women’s Forum

The Women’s Forum of New York thanks our Website Angels for their support of the website redesign launched in 2018:

  • Dede Thomson Bartlett

  • Georgette F. Bennett

  • Carolyn Carter

  • Jonelle Procope

  • Charlotte St. Martin

  • Lulu Wang

  • Linda A. Willett