The Women’s Leadership Initiative envisions a world where gender equity advances opportunities for all.

Diversity matters. Different perspectives, thoughts and ideas lead to more sustainable, creative and powerful groups and institutions. Women’s influence can make a difference in the world, yet we still face discrimination, pay inequities, and remain a minority in leadership roles. In fact, at the rate we are going, it will take 170 years to reach global gender equality in health, education, economic and politics. However, companies with 50% of women in senior operating roles show a 19% higher return on equity.

The Women’s Leadership Initiative works with students, faculty, alumni and the executive community to address these issues by creating conditions for people to become gender savvy, enabling women to have more confidence and competence in achieving their goals and men to have greater understanding of how and why to support women.


See our calendar listings for additional programs and opportunities.

RISE UP: UD’s Leadership Forum for Women
Ready to advance your leadership to the next level? RISE UP, our executive education program, advances mid-career women in their leadership journey. We draw on our 3C Model of Leadership to help women build clarity of vision for where they want to go, competencies and skills to implement their visions, and communities of peers and mentors to support them along the way. To date, over 30% of the women who have attended the Forum have changed roles or assumed new responsibilities within a year of the program.
Leadership In Times of Crisis: A Webinar Series
We are facing unprecedented times as the recent coronavirus spurs tremendous chaos and uncertainty in our workplaces. Join us for a curated webinar conversation with leading experts around the world about how you can meet these challenges where they are and be able to effectively and successfully lead in these times of crisis. Visit Leadership in Times of Crisis for more information and to register for any of the webinars.
Ascend: Empowering Female Students for Success
While students gain tremendous insights in the classroom, we know that they are often unprepared for the day-to-day work challenges that face them in the real world. In particular, female students often lack the awareness and skills to navigate implicit biases that prevent them from being as successful as possible. The one-hour online sessions in the Ascend: Empowering Female Students for Success series equip female students with tools to be more effective in the workplace. Students are introduced to successful female executives who serve as advisors and role models, and who teach critical leadership skills. Each of these online sessions will include a 15-minute talk from a successful female executive and a facilitated breakout discussion so students can meet one another and deepen their learning and connection.
Female Faculty Connections: Lerner’s female faculty networking group
The Lerner Female Faculty Connections group meets six times a year, creating opportunities for female faculty to learn from and connect with one another. For more information and dates for our meetings, see our calendar page.

News: Women’s Leadership Initiative

  • Ascend: Empowering Female Students for Success Webinars - A new webinar series from the Lerner’s College’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and Women in Business student group aims to empower female Lerner students for success in the workplace.
  • The Power of Black Women’s Voices - As part of the UD Lerner Women’s Leadership Initiative’s “Addressing Racism” webinar, a panel of Black women leaders from the Lerner community discussed racial justice and calls to action.
  • Advancing Justice in Times of Crisis - The Lerner Diversity Council and the Women’s Leadership Initiative are co-hosting a webinar, “Addressing Racism: Advancing Justice in Times of Crisis”, June 19 at 9:00 a.m.
  • Better Together at Lerner and Elsewhere - Cultivating diversity and building an inclusive community are key elements of the Lerner mission. Dean Bruce Weber asks everyone to re-commit themselves to anti-racism and respect for the equality of all people.
  • Women’s Leadership Initiative Webinars -  The Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) is hosting a a free, six-part webinar series called “Leadership in Times of Crisis."

Advisory Board

Thank you to the WLI Advisory Board for providing governance, advice and support for all of our activities.

Advisory Board Members
Tamara Ganc ‘94
Sr. Learning Solutions Expert
McKinsey & Co.
Arlene Hogan ‘76
SVP (retired)
State Farm
Charlie Horn ‘75
Founder and Chairman
5Lights Group
Terri Kelly ‘83
CEO (retired)
W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
Mary Ellen Payne ‘78
SVP, Sales & Marketing (retired)
Susan Sears ‘78
Global VP, Diversity & Inclusion (retired)
Kimberly-Clark Corp.
Mary Schreiber Swenson
Founder and CEO
Kristen Clark
Founder & President
Bouquet Garni Consulting, LLC


For more information about the initiative or any of its programs, contact:

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