About the Women’s Forum of New York

Linda Willett, President of the Women's Forum

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.

Born in 1974 when women were first entering the executive ranks, today’s Forum members form a driving force in our city as New York’s thought leaders, influencers, trailblazers, policymakers, change agents, power brokers, healers, 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 amongst our diverse membership and generations of members ignites progress and transformation in all of us.

Our Leadership


Linda Willett

Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Linda is Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest health care insurance company in New Jersey with more than $12B in annual revenue. Linda leads the teams responsible for: communications; compliance; enterprise risk management; government affairs; legal and regulatory affairs; public affairs; and, the Horizon BCBSNJ Foundation. Linda gained extensive business experience in several global industries including the consumer product, health care insurance, medical device and pharmaceutical sectors. Prior to law school, she moved through a series of positions within the American Cyanamid family of companies, transitioning from Lederle Laboratories to the Shulton, Inc. subsidiary where she was Product Development Manager for major consumer brands. Linda joined the firm of McCarter & English after completing her law degree. She became National Coordinating Counsel for a large pharmaceutical company class action, overseeing the work of law firms in all of U.S. as well as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. She achieved partnership and built a practice defending medical device and pharmaceutical companies. In 1996, Linda joined her largest client, Bristol Myers-Squibb, and was appointed VP and Deputy General Counsel leading significant business activities in Europe, India and the Far East. Her work in Europe led her to co-found the European Justice Forum, formed to focus on the impact of private litigation on EU businesses and economies.

Marcy Syms

Vice President
Former Chairman & CEO
SYMS Corporation

Marcy is founding trustee and President of the Sy Syms Foundation and since 2012 President of TPD Group LLC., a multi generational succession planning company. She is the former Chair and CEO of SYMS, one of the first companies to offer designer and brand-name clothing at “off-price” rather than “regularprice”. In 1983, when taking SYMS public, Marcy became the youngest female presidents of a New York Stock Exchange company. In 2009, SYMS acquired Filene’s Basement and operated 50 stores under both names. Marcy is also author of the book “Mind Your Own Business, And Keep It In the Family” and a past columnist for “Family Business Magazine”.

Susan Davenport Austin

Senior Managing Director
Brock Capital Group LLC

Susan Davenport Austin currently serves as Senior Managing Director at Brock Capital Group. At Brock Capital, a boutique investment bank, Susan provides strategic and corporate advisory services to small and middle market companies. Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) is a privately held corporation that was the majority owner and manager of American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), the only African American owned national radio network with over 300 affiliates across the country. Susan joined SBC in 2002 as Vice President of Strategic Planning and Treasurer. Subsequently, she was promoted to SVP and CFO in 2007, then to Vice Chairman in 2013. In 2004, she also became President of SBC’s division, Sheridan Gospel Network, a 24-hour gospel music network which had approximately 45 affiliates. Previously, Susan spent 10 years in investment banking, specializing in telecommunications and media finance at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns and Salomon Brothers. Susan has been profiled twice as the cover story in Radio Ink (2005 and 2013) and has also been profiled in Womensbiz, Ebony and XII magazines. Susan and her husband, Kenneth W. Austin, have two children and reside in New York City and East Hampton.

Sarah Beatty Buller

President and Founder
MontgomeryBUILDS, Green Depot & Greenmaker Industries

Sarah Beatty is an accidental entrepreneur and mission driven builder. She is the co-founder of MontgomeryBUILDS(tm) (2013)– a multi tiered renovation project dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Montgomery AL. Sarah is the founder of Green Depot (2005) and Greenmaker Inudstries (2010). Green Depot is a one-stop shop for sustainable “green” building materials with locations serving New York, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Greenmaker Industries is a product development manufacturer committed to offering energy efficient, and healthy alternatives to conventional building materials. Current product lines include DecoPlast and GMI coatings & finishes. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Sarah worked for 16 years in media as VP of Marketing & Global branding at MTV: Music Television and SVP of Marketing and Off-Air Creative for USA Network. Senator Kristin Gillibrand nominated Green Depot is a 2010 winner of the EPA Environmental Quality Award. Sarah is a LEED accredited Professional. Tags: Entrepreneur, Mission Driven Builder, Innovation Enthusiast, Sustainability Advocate, Music Lover, Culture Junkie, Curious Traveler, Feminist, wife, mother.


Nancy Calderon

Global Lead Partner for IBM

Nancy is KPMG’s Global Lead Partner for IBM, responsible for building and managing the firm’s relationship with the company. She manages a global team in over 50 countries providing a range of services to this Fortune 20 company and its customers. She is a board director of KPMG’s Global Delivery Center Ltd., the U.S. firm’s operating arm in India, and sits on WomenCorporateDirectors’ Advisory Board, and the New York YMCA Board. Previously, Nancy was KPMG’s CAO for the Americas Region and sat on the Americas Management Committee. Direct reports included the CFO, CIO, and the Heads of Outsourcing, Procurement and Real Estate. Nancy joined KPMG in 1986 and became a partner in 1999.

Kay Ellen Consolver

Member, Supervisory Board
Thyssen Petroleum, Plc

Kay Ellen serves on the Board of African Power Corporation, based in London, whose mission is to invest in a portfolio of power assets in Africa to address Africa’s chronic power shortage. She is also on the Supervisory Board of Thyssen Petroleum, Ltd, with offices in Houston and Anchorage for its US properties and Monaco for properties in the Middle East. Previously, she served on the Board of Russian Platinum, Plc, a mining company, based in Moscow, where she chaired the Corporate Governance and Nominations Committees and was a Member of the Audit, Operational Risk and REMCO Committees. During 20 years at Mobil Corporation, she served as Board Chair/CEO of 7 global downstream companies, International Treasurer, Corporate Secretary and Assistant General Counsel – Global Legal Services, leading teams of 750 professionals, traveling to 65 countries across 6 continents. She frequently speaks on Corporate Governance and Board Leadership, featured by the Conference on Global Anti-Corruption & Compliance in the Extractive Industries, the Financial Times Non-Executive Directors Club, FundForumAfrica, to name a few. Kay Ellen has a distinguished cultural portfolio.  She has produced 15 plays Off West End and Off Broadway, 5 of which were nominated for industry awards. She began her career with the Cravath law firm in New York City. Upon receiving her law degree from Wisconsin University, she was the first woman appointed to clerk for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Pamela J. Craig

Former Chief Financial Officer

Pamela J. Craig served as Accenture’s chief financial officer from 2006 through 2013.  She served in a variety of leadership roles at Accenture during her 34 years with the company. Pam  currently serves on company boards:  Akamai Technologies, a worldwide provider of internet optimization services where she is currently chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Compensation Committee and Merck & Co., Inc. where she is chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Governance Committee. Ms. Craig is an Advisory Board member of SpencerStuart, a global executive search and recruitment firm. Pam is actively involved in charitable organizations. She is Vice Chair of The Committee of 200, a membership organization of women entrepreneurs and corporate innovators and Chair of the C200 Foundation. Pam also chairs the Board of Comprehensive Development, Inc., a non-profit that provides academic and social service support to at-risk New York City high school students.

Marlene Debel

EVP, Head of Retirement & Income Solutions
MetLife, Inc.

Marlene Debel is Executive Vice President and Head of the Retirement & Income Solutions (RIS) business at MetLife, Inc. since March 7, 2018. Prior to this role, she was Chief Financial Officer U.S., responsible for the strategic management of MetLife’s financial resources. She joined MetLife as Global Treasurer with responsibility for capital management and managing relationships with banks, regulators and rating agencies. Prior to MetLife, Marlene served as the global head of liquidity risk management and rating agency relations for Bank of America, where she developed the company’s comprehensive global liquidity risk strategy. She was responsible for all new liquidity initiatives, such as Basel III, and managed relationships with rating agencies and fixed income investors. She served as Assistant Treasurer of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. from June 2007 to December 2008, where she served as head of corporate finance and liquidity risk management. Marlene held a number of leadership positions in her 20 year career at Merrill Lynch.

Joan Haffenreffer

Managing Director, CAO, Global Public Affairs

Joan serves as Managing Director and Chief Administrative Officer for Global Public Affairs (GPA) at Citigroup, the leading global bank with 200 million customer accounts and 210,000 employees and business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi’s Global Public Affairs group is charged with ensuring that Citi’s global dialogues with the public, governments and investors are effective and consistent. In her role as CAO, Joan oversees programs and budgets for 365 staff across six continents. She works with Citi’s Executive Management to organize and implement all Public Affairs initiatives, Citi’s Global Corporate Philanthropy, as well as the Group’s global talent development, staffing, governance and budget. An important part of Joan’s responsibilities is overseeing the operations and governance of Citi’s global charitable contributions programs to ensure consistency with Citi’s Executive Management strategic priorities. She is charged to identify opportunities to increase the institutional impact of Citi corporate philanthropy for targeted grant recipients by leveraging the resources of Citi Global Branding and Citi Foundation. Joan chairs the cross-functional Citi GPA Talent Development Program to grow talent and develop multiple career paths with over 300 participants. Over the course of her career at Citi, Joan has held a variety of senior line management roles, most recently in the Consumer Group.

Leila Heckman

Managing Director
Lebenthal Asset Management

Leila Heckman is a highly regarded investment manager and global strategist with twenty-five years of experience. She manages global portfolios for premier domestic and international institutional clients and high-net-worth individuals. In addition, she leads an independent research advisory business with proprietary interactive software models and publications for global markets, emerging markets, and frontier markets. Leila is currently Head of the International Equity Team for DCM Advisors. She led the International Equity team at Bear Stearns Asset Management and developed a highly profitable investment management business with premier clients. Leila was the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Heckman Global Advisors, an independent research company which was purchased by Bear Stearns in 2005. Between 1993 and 2003, she was Senior Managing Director of Global Asset Allocation at Citigroup Smith Barney, where she built a preeminent team that was ranked #1 or #2 by Institutional Investor’s annual global poll for four years in a row. She also served as a voting member of the Investment Policy Committee and Asset Allocation Committee of Salomon Smith Barney. Leila also was Vice President at Alliance Bernstein, where she developed sophisticated strategic asset allocation models. She spent the early part of career at Citigroup as Head of Credit Policy.

Melissa James

Vice Chairman, Global Capital Markets
Morgan Stanley

Melissa James is a Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley in Global Capital Markets. She is currently Chief Risk Officer for lending where she oversees capital, liquidity and balance sheet management across Global Capital Markets including running CCAR planning for the division. She provides risk management oversight and governance for GCM’s lending business. In addition she is a senior client advisor helping manage some of the firm’s Investment Banking relationships. Prior to her current responsibilities, Melissa held a number of leadership positions including Global Head of Loan Products where she managed over $80 billion of loan commitments for the firm’s clients. She also Chaired the firm’s Capital Commitment Committee and ran the industrial origination effort in Debt Capital Markets where she had responsibility for managing relationships with some of the firm’s largest industrial clients including General Motors, General Electric and DuPont. In this capacity Melissa helped raise billions of dollars of capital for corporate clients and worked on some of the firm’s most complex transactions including the first domestic yen issuance for General Electric Capital Corporation, the first global bond for DuPont and a complex debt for equity swap in connection with the $4BN initial public offering for Agere. Melissa sits on the Global Capital Markets and Securities Operating Committees. She is a member of the Asset Liability Committee for the Securities Division, the Securities Division’s Diversity Council and Morgan Stanley’s Women’s Business Alliance Steering Committee.

Ceci Kurzman

President and Founder
Nexus Management Group

Nexus Management Group, is a talent management and business development entity driving growth for entertainers, influencers and entrepreneurs. Ceci has managed business development and career strategy for several high-profile “living brands”, including Shakira and Alicia Keys, extending beyond the entertainment industry to establish partnerships with capital partners on talent-driven brand-to-business strategies. As a function of her role, Ceci plays an active role as both a founder and an operational investor in a variety of early and growth stage companies. Prior to founding Nexus, Ceci was the VP of Global Marketing at Epic Records / Sony Music. She is native New Yorker raised globally in Cameroon, Malawi, Turkey and the Philippines.

Ilene Lang

Former President & CEO and Honorary Director
Catalyst Inc.

Ilene H. Lang is the former President and CEO of Catalyst, the leading research and advisory organization working to change workplaces and improve lives through advancing women into business leadership. Ilene joined Catalyst as President in August 2003 and was named CEO in September 2008. She stepped down in January 2014 and was appointed an Honorary Director of Catalyst. Under her leadership, Catalyst’s revenue doubled, membership tripled, brand awareness quadrupled, and the number of Catalyst research reports and knowledge products increased tenfold. To sustain that growth, Ilene continues to work with Catalyst as a Senior Advisor to the “Changing Workplaces. Changing Lives”. Major Gift Campaign, which she launched in 2012 in conjunction with Catalyst’s 50th anniversary. The Campaign is helping to secure well into the future Catalyst’s longitudinal research and the development of women leaders globally. To honor her legacy of inspiring leadership, Catalyst established the Lang Legacy Fund, an individual giving program meant to sustain the growth she directed. Having broken barriers in her own career, Ilene is broadly recognized as a pioneering female high-tech/Internet executive: founding CEO of AltaVista Internet Software Inc., a subsidiary of Digital Equipment Corporation, SVP Desktop Business Group at Lotus Development Corporation, responsible for a $500 million global business and CEO adviser, board member, coach, and investor in women-led technology companies.

Barbara Marcus

President & Publisher
Random House Children's Books

Barbara has spent most of her career in the area of Children’s Publishing and Media and is considered a leading business and marketing strategist in the areas of children’s content and distribution. Barbara is currently President and Publisher of Random House Children’s Books whose parent company is Bertelsmann AG, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. They publish many of the world’s bestselling and most highly acclaimed authors and illustrators for young people today and is home to many of the most recognizable licenses and characters in the world, such as Babar, the Berenstain Bears, Disney, Little Golden Books, Nickelodeon, Pat the Bunny, Sesame Workshop, and Magic Tree House. Prior to Random House, Barbara was Advisor to Open Road Integrated Media in the area of children’s digital publishing and general strategy. She also was Strategic Innovations Advisor to Penguin Books USA focusing on new ventures and publishing opportunities. Before Penguin and Random House, Barbara was President, Scholastic Children’s Book Publishing and Distribution, where she was responsible for all children’s consumer book publishing and distribution in the U.S. for over 20 years. She led the expansion of the business from approximately 50 million to over 1 billion in revenue. After acquiring J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for publication in the U.S. in 1998, Barbara also led the publishing effort for six out of the seven Harry Potter titles.

Laura Clayton McDonnell

Vice President, Enterprise Sales - Eastern Region

Laura A. Clayton McDonnell is the Vice President, New York Region, Microsoft. In this capacity, she is responsible for supporting the digital transformation of key customers. She has extensive sales management and legal experience in the information technology industry. Her most recent prior position was SVP, North America Sales at Aspect Software. Prior to that, she was VP of Strategic Services at IBM and closed the first long term digital transformation deal with a leading insurer/healthcare provider in Spanish South America. She also was VP, Public Sector/West IMT, North America Group which supported the State and Local Government, Education, Healthcare and Life Sciences industries. She also led the Smarter Cities/Smarter Planet and the North America Healthcare Growth Initiatives. Laura held other senior IBM positions in Business Development, S&D Communications and Global Technology Services. Before IBM, she was Vice President of Business Development at Rational Software and previously held a variety of executive-level positions. Prior to Rational, she was Senior Director of Market Development and Strategic Planning, and General Counsel of the Consumer and Embedded Software Division at Sun Microsystems. Previously, she was Managing Attorney for North American Sales at Cisco Systems and a Senior Counsel at Apple Computer. Prior to Apple, Laura was in private corporate and securities law practice at a law firm in San Francisco.

Cheryl McKissack Daniel

President and CEO
McKissack & McKissack

Cheryl has more than 20 years of experience in all phases of the construction industry, including major project work in the commercial, healthcare, education and transportation sectors. She represents the fifth generation of the McKissack family’s century old business, McKissack & McKissack, the oldest minority and woman-owned professional design and construction firm in the nation. As President and CEO, Cheryl serves as Project Executive on all of the firm’s high profile projects. In this capacity, she provides executive leadership and ensures that diversity is implemented during each phase of a project or program. Her skills include expertise in estimating, scheduling, design review, document control, construction inspection, and developing and implementing quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) programs. Over the years, Cheryl has built upon the success of her firm’s fore parents by fostering long-lasting relationships and by providing innovative solutions to complex projects. Cheryl also served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for NYS Governor elect Andrew Cuomo?s Transition Team and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio transition team.

Wendy Mendenhall

Former Global Executive in Charge and Managing Director, BritishAmerican Business
Independent Consultant

Wendy most recently was Global Executive in Charge and Managing Director with BritishAmerican Business, an exclusive corporate network and the voice of transatlantic business, dedicated to advancing economic growth for companies with operations in the US and UK. BAB offers strategic insights, introductions and marketing opportunities that help members to generate trade and new business and to power new ideas. Since joining BritishAmerican Business in New York in 2000, she has played a key leadership role in the organization’s growth in the United States and on a transatlantic basis. Involved in both strategic vision and day-to-day operations, she has transformed the organization into a powerful voice for BAB’s members, reaching the highest echelons of Washington and Parliament. Wendy also served as a member of the organization’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, and continues to be on the Board of its Charitable Foundation. In addition, she served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the British-American Business Council and the Executive Committee and Board of the European-American Chamber of Commerce in the United States. She is actively involved with OUT Leadership’s Quorum, a select group of executives dedicated to increasing LGBT+ visibility and representation in corporate boardrooms. Prior to joining BritishAmerican Business, Wendy served with Richmond Events, the leading UK-based producer of high-level business conferences, and NatWest Markets Investment Bank N.A.’s corporate communications.

Carol Robles-Román

Co-President and CEO
ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women's Equality

Carol Robles-Román is co-President of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality. She has led Legal Momentum the national legal organization that supports the rights of women and girls, as its President and CEO. She is the former Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs and Counsel to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the first woman to serve as Counsel to a NYC Mayor. She advised the Mayor and the executive branch on governance and compliance, judicial selection, anti discrimination laws, ethics, police oversight, disability and access laws, domestic violence, and immigration. She also led and oversaw the overhaul of several city agencies to improve access to justice and city services for New Yorkers. As a top executive for the NYS judiciary, Carol oversaw statewide operations for human resources, budget, technology and education and training divisions, and was named the first Special Inspector General for Bias Matters and later Special Counsel to then Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman. In business, she was SVP/General Counsel of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, a $200M public corporation where she led its continental business development offices in NYC, Chicago and California. She is a national speaker and appears regularly in the media, most recently on CNN discussing her mentorship program, GPS: Girl Power School, and on ABC speaking about national and international trends in the law and courts, education, women’s rights, immigration, human trafficking and violence against women.

Marissa Shorenstein

Regional President-North East Region

Prior to joining AT&T as President for NYS, Marissa was Director of Communications for Andrew Cuomo’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign and served as Press Secretary and Deputy Director of Communications for NYS under Governor David A. Paterson. From 2004 – 2007 Marissa served as Senior Manager for Strategic Planning and Corporate Communications for the New York Jets while earning her JD from Fordham Law School’s Evening Division. She served as spokesperson for the controversial stadium development project on Manhattan’s West Side and served as head of fan relations. Previously Marissa was a Senior Associate at SSK, a national strategic communications firm based in NY, listing the New York Jets and Blue Cross Blue Shield as her clients. Marissa previously served as Press Secretary to Carl McCall’s campaign for Governor of New York, one of the youngest gubernatorial press secretaries in NYS history. While an undergraduate at Harvard, Marissa traveled as one of five members of the National Press Advance staff for the Gore Presidential campaign, planning press events and coordinating logistics for the traveling press corps. She worked in the NYC Mayor’s Office, on the 1992 and 1996 Clinton campaigns and on the 2004 Wes Clark campaign. Marissa was NY Director of Communications for Cover the Uninsured Week, a public awareness campaign to highlight and create awareness about the tens of millions of Americans without health insurance.

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.  We take each invitation seriously because each member is expected to enrich the Forum experience for everyone.

Candidates are sponsored by a current member based on accomplishments, recognition, impact in their field, compatibility with the Women’s Forum Credo and commitment to make an active contribution to Forum activities. Candidates are invited to learn about the Forum through a Breakfast with the Membership Committee and are formally reviewed by the Board of Directors before being invited to join.


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