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.
Women's Leadership Online Certificate Program
Organizations benefit from diverse leadership, but many women continue to face a variety of challenges in their leadership journey. This timely, interactive program provides resources, mentorship and a dynamic forum where participants can develop clarity, competence and community to support their leadership goals. Expert facilitators lead focused cohorts of 10 women or fewer through the program to enable deeper learning and to build strong professional networks through small group settings. Visit the Women’s Leadership Online Certificate Program page for more information and to register.
WLI Webinar Series
We face unprecedented times as the pandemic, economic challenges and calls for social change converge to create chaos and uncertainty in our workplaces and personal lives. Now, more than ever, women need to be in places where decisions are made and where change can happen. Join us for a curated webinar series featuring conversations with leading experts who share insights about how you can meet these challenges to effectively and successfully lead in these times. Visit the Webinar Series for more information, to register for any of the webinars, and to link to videos of our past webinars.
Ascend: Empowering Female Students for Success
The Women’s Leadership Initiative ASCEND certificate program provides insightful and engaging topics that will develop your leadership skills and give you invaluable opportunities for networking with professional women and other UD students. ASCEND is open to any UD undergraduate students who identify as female. Participants joining for the full program can earn a certification of completion.
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

  • Allyship, Advocacy and Accompliceship - New webinar series from UD’s Women’s Leadership Initiative will feature prize-winning New York Times investigative journalist Jodi Kantor and other experts.
  • 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.

Advisory Board

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

Advisory Board Members
Kristen Clendaniel Clark ‘90
Founder & President
Bouquet Garni Consulting, LLC
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


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

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