10 Women Leaders Who Are Breaking The Glass Ceiling

When Julie Abrams was a student at St. Pius X Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she describes herself as “precocious.” In middle school she was the student, who would be taken to the nearby high school for math classes–a born leader–Julie was the captain of the swim team and constantly organized group activities. In other words, her role in How Women Lead is a natural fit.

“I only had minor gender role concerns as a kid,” says Julie, “As a good athlete, I was one of the first girls to get the benefit of equal investment in athletics for girls, title nine, however, I started realizing how critical it is for women to have their own financial means as I watched a lot of my parent’s contemporaries get divorced when the guy went off with a 25-year-old and didn’t have a requirement to give his family anything. These women were destitute, and I said that was never going to be me.”

Her grades and athletic abilities served her well, as she attended both Northwestern University, where she studied human development and social policy, and then University of Chicago for a degree in social service administration. “I had a real awakening at Northwestern,” she says. “I took classes on racial and gender justice and really began to build a lifelong commitment to addressing bias and inequity.” One of her first real jobs was as an intern for the Chicago Foundation for Women. Working with women philanthropists was a seminal experience, she explains, “I saw how you could create something with a vision and take powerful action.”

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Abrams eventually became CEO of Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment, an organization that has trained over 6,000 women to start their own businesses and helped with funding through micro loans. This experience fueled her next step: “I sent out an invite to a few colleagues for lunch and 60 top women CEOs and leaders not only showed up but we’re so jazzed to be together that they put a LinkedIn group together and asked me to do it again. That was really the genesis for what we are doing now.” She realized there was a demand, or as she describes “a hunger for senior women to be around other women like themselves, because they were always the only woman in the room at that level.”

After casually bringing people together for a few years, they created a 501(c)(3) for a giving circle and to give grants to women and girls organizations. They wanted to be a lever where there was power and glass ceilings. And focusing on issues of inequity in the boardroom was perfect.

As they formed How Women Lead, Julie created a four-part credo: Be fierce advocates for each other, say yes to helping each other, reinforce “her” voice and be unabashedly visible. And it’s working.

Julie was named a Queenmaker by San Francisco Magazine last November, dubbed “The Connector” for her deep networks of women who move into action. In 2018, Julie and How Women Lead supported the passage of California legislation requiring public companies to include women on their boards. They have prepared over 400 women for corporate boardseats, do searches for companies seeking great women directors and Julie chairs the California First Partner’s (Jennifer Siebel Newsom) Initiative to roll out the legislation in California and inspire other states to do the same.

For this issue, Julie has selected 10 women in our community, “It’s this theme of connection that aligns these leaders, who though they represent a diverse set of backgrounds, specialties, and spheres of influence, all demonstrate the benefits of working together,” she says. “Every one of the women we’re profiling has the values in our credo at the core of their modus operandi.”

Stacey Kelly Egide

Stacey Kelly Egide

Beauty and Wellness Champion, Founder With a Heart

How Women Lead Board of Directors, How Women Give Grants Executive Committee, Women Leaders for the World Executive Committee and Honoree, founder of Andalou Naturals, Avalon Organics, Alba Botanica, San Francisco Soap Co., Beauty Without Cruelty, College of Marin graduate

Stacey Egide is one of our country’s most successful entrepreneurs: she has successfully founded and sold five Marin-based brand/companies: Andalou Naturals in 2010, Avalon Organics in 1999, Alba Botanica in 1999, San Francisco Soap Co. in 1990 and Beauty Without Cruelty in 1989. Each business was the number one brand in their category globally when she sold them.

Stacey brings her serious business acumen and intuitive vision to creating authentic natural products with meaningful cruelty-free, organic, and non-GMO standards. Such devotion to values shows in the bottom line: Stacey’s most recent venture, Andalou, had a specific product line that generated income to be donated to help women and girls. When she sold the company, her investors made 15 times their original investment. Stacey proves that doing good and caring for your employees is a winning business strategy.

As an activist for healthy choices, Stacey’s interest in sustainability extends beyond the natural products world. She devotes her time, passion, and resources to promote sustainable peace and prosperity through education, equality, and empowerment for women and girls worldwide. She is a founding board director for How Women Lead and has seeded every initiative in the organization’s history with funding and strategy.

Stacey credits her success to a passion for making a difference for the planet along with an ambition to build mission-driven companies. Echoing a refrain common among her peers, it’s no surprise that she mentions the amazing, talented teams she’s worked with. When asked how corporations can best support women leaders, Stacey points towards a fair equity structure: in all the companies she’s founded, Stacey intentionally builds in pay equity, and ensures that every member of the company owns shares. That way, “everyone wants the business to succeed and everyone is involved with building the brand, how we participate in the community, how we donate funds…everybody has a hand in it.”

She also finds that giving women the space to execute to the best of their ambition and ability paves the way for great individual and corporate performance–and long-term loyalty. “People say (working in one of our companies) was the best time of their career, and that inspires us to keep leading that way.” In fact, many of Stacey’s managers, executives, and co-founders opt to work with her over subsequent ventures, in much the same way she herself has become a consistent, repeat contributor at How Women Lead. “Julie’s all in and thus it’s worth the investment.”

“I was raised to be a feminist by both my parents. My dad supported me in all of my endeavors and gave me that idea that I could go out and do anything. My mother reinforced the compassion and the idea of being that person who could make a difference in the lives of women and girls. I ended up having three sons who I hoped would grow up to be feminists. They’re wonderful, compassionate men and I feel good about that.”

Nancy Sheppard

Nancy Sheppard

Entrepreneur and Activist for Natural Wellness Board, Journey Coach

Women on Boards Committee and Corporate Board Readiness Trainer, Founder of Women2Boards, Chief Board Journey Advisor for The Athena Alliance, CEO of Western Independent Bankers, launched the San Francisco chapter of 2020 Women on Boards, graduate of East Carolina University, The George Washington University‘s Legislative Affairs Graduate Program

Some leaders thrive by making connections that lead to uncharted territory, but Nancy’s all have the same destination: women in the corporate boardroom. She’s been known as an early thought leader in the movement to bring gender parity to corporate governance since founding Women2Boards in 2014. Nancy is a core strategist and leader at How Women Lead, where she leads the training programs that have propelled over 400 top executive women into the boardroom journey in the past two years. She was a key player in driving the successful California legislation requiring gender diversity on public boards. She is also the Chief Board Journey Advisor for The Athena Alliance, a nonprofit with a similar leadership goal for women, where she has coached more than 125 board-bound women.

“One of the most exciting parts of the success of the gender parity movement in the last five years is guiding younger women on how a seat in the boardroom can be in their future,” she says.

Her current passion to move the needle on boardroom diversity was born after she served as CEO of Western Independent Bankers, the largest regional banking association in the US, for 24 years. When she announced her decision to “graduate” from her leadership position, she was approached to serve on several boards. Although she elected not to pursue those positions, she recommended other women for the spots and voila! the idea of doing this kind of matchmaking for a new career emerged.

In 2015, Nancy was asked to launch the San Francisco chapter of 2020 Women on Boards, a national nonprofit with the mission to increase the number of women directors to a minimum of 20 percent of board members. How Women Leads is now the managing partner of their Bay Area program, and Nancy remains involved in the leadership.

Nancy sees authenticity as key to her success. “Try to be diplomatic,” she says, “but I tell it like I see it.”

Lisa Bougie

Lisa Bougie

Retail Pacesetter, Measuring Success by Helping Women Leaders

Global Advisor for Women Leaders for the World, worked for Stitch Fix, Nike, Gap, Inc and Patagonia, member of the Boards of Directors of Eileen Fisher, Cora and Boon Supply, launched a Corporate Board Readiness program at Santa Clara University

Informed by her belief that the private sector can and should play a major role in building a more sustainable economy, Lisa drove a seismic shift in her work two years ago. From the C-Suite at Stitch Fix to supporting founders and businesses that dwell at the intersection of her values and deep consumer experience, Lisa now works exclusively in support of gender equality, wellness and climate action. With this choice, also came the realization that her measures of success needed to change too. “I’m a big fan of aligned incentives.”

From decades of corporate driven metrics with dollar signs attached, Lisa now measures her personal success by how many women she supports in achieving their goals. Catalyst, connector, creator of possibility, Lisa Bougie is one of Marin’s most important influencers of women’s leadership globally. Lisa believes to her core that “Art and science are better together. ” – an early insight that led to an iconic career with industry defining brands – Gap, Patagonia, Nike and Stitch Fix.

That insight was made exceptionally clear in the building of the Stitch Fix business. Lisa joined online personal styling service Stitch Fix in 2013 for the opportunity to partner with founder Katrina Lake in creating the future of retail, first as Chief Merchandising Officer and ultimately as General Manager. Prior, she spent nearly a decade at Nike where she held direct-to-consumer and merchandising leadership roles. Most of Lisa’s time at Nike, regardless of role, was spent leading global teams further fueling her appreciation of diversity as a key to success.

Prior to Nike, Lisa held leadership roles in merchandising and product creation at Gap, Inc and Patagonia. At Gap, Lisa learned the art of merchandising and importance of data driven insights. At Patagonia, she learned how to stay in business – through an unwavering commitment to a clear mission and deeply rooted values. It is the fusion of these four unique experiences that made it clear to Lisa that her most important work would come with a seamless marriage between her expertise and beliefs.

Today Bougie is living her dream both as a director in companies that share her values, as an advisor and investor in women led businesses and as a global leader through the How Women Lead global fellowship. Throughout my career,” she says, “I’ve been fortunate to have strong mentors who have fortified my sense of who I wanted to be as a leader. Now, it’s a privilege to pay that forward to women as a mentor myself.”

Lisa currently serves as a member of the Boards of Directors of Eileen Fisher, Cora and Boon Supply; has co-developed and launched a Corporate Board Readiness program at Santa Clara University; and advises and invests in a number of founders and companies whose missions serve to prove that “Business can and should be about a whole lot more than just making money. “ Lisa notes that her foundation for success starts with her grandmothers, both single parents without college degrees, who created professional paths with purpose, resourcefulness and ambition. Thanks to their example she came to understand early on that “Confidence creates possibility – especially for women.”

Erika Cramer

Erika Cramer

Venture Capital Investor and Disruptor

General Partner for How Women Invest, speaker, Corporate Board Readiness advisor, Partner in CANY Capital LLC, worked with Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Alternative Access Capital, Silver Lane Advisors, Berkshire Capital, graduate of West Virginia University, UC Berkeley Law School, MBA from Pace University

Erika, like Lisa, cites family inspiration for her success, saying, “My parents live by example – if one works hard, anything is possible.” Like many children of immigrants, Erika is fueled by the work ethic, gratitude and commitment to give back.

She remembers graduating into a recession and Wall Street hiring freeze, but quickly working her way up from administrative assistant to analyst to the firm’s youngest partner by age 26. In the years since, she’s contributed as a Managing Director and Partner, Senior Vice President, and Founding Partner at a series of established and start-up firms. Today, she and her husband are partners in CANY Capital LLC, a family office and consulting firm and Erika serves as a director of public and private companies. Erika is also a General Partner for How Women Invest Venture Fund, the industry disrupting venture firm focussed on women entrepreneurs and investors.

Like many others, Erika’s career is marked by the importance of strong connections over time. Her co-founder in one successful investment banking boutique was the woman who moved into that first administrative assistant job when she was promoted after six months – a testament to the enduring power of collaboration between women. An early client who believed in her when she was a 25-year-old analyst recruited her a number of years later to lead corporate development at another organization. Erika notes that she “always had mentors who gave me enough rope to prove myself.”

During that time, Erika and her husband endured the loss at birth of one of their twin children, one of the experiences that informed their perspective on risk-taking. “Nothing is so bad as what we experienced, and we now have two amazing daughters. As long as the risk is measurable, we’re willing to take it.”

Erika lends her expertise to How Women Lead as a board pathway advisor and with the effort to change the venture landscape for women as, she says, “a way to give the same opportunity and mentorship that fueled my career.”

Los Angeles And San Francisco Advertising Portrait Photographer Marc Olivier Le Blanc, Advertising, Editorial And Lifestyle
Photo by Marc Olivier Le Blanc.

Wendi Norris

Art Gallery Maven, Bringing Art to Tech

Donor, arts experiences to support leadership, Co-founder Sites Unseen, San Francisco Artist Award in 2009, member of the Art Dealers Association of America and past President of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, twice named one of ​San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Businesswomen, graduate of Ohio State University, Georgetown MBA

For Wendi, the power of connection manifests when people come in contact with creations by artists she represents. “Art heals, creates space to have conversation, educates, and provides pleasure,” she notes.

“Many of the artists I feel are important today are dealing with some of the preeminent struggles we face as humans… whether it’s environment, immigration, how science & technology are affecting our life. When you look at the work at first you might notice it’s beautiful, it’s well made, but when you peel it back you notice there’s something intelligent and important this artist is trying to say. I like art that’s challenging and accessible as well.”

Wendi doesn’t label hers as a “women’s” gallery, nor any of her represented artists as “women” artists. Rather, her reputation as a strong feminist and female-oriented program has been born out of her commitment to finding high quality art.

Like other leaders profiled here, Wendi believes values-centered operations are crucial. “What attracts people to me is a sense of ethical behaviour and trust. In an industry where pricing is not transparent, and (that) can feel exclusive, people need to trust me, my taste and the way I conduct business. Most of my business comes from referral and reputation.”

Wendi and her team curate and manage major public art installations, including Salesforce Tower, Avery Lane (San Francisco), and the New York MTA stop in Harlem. In 2015 Norris co-founded Sites Unseen, a renowned public art project in little-traveled alleys in San Francisco. She also founded the San Francisco Artist Award in 2009, providing an emerging local artist a solo gallery exhibition in an established gallery. A member of the Art Dealers Association of America and past President of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, Norris has twice been named one ofSan Francisco Business Times’ M​ost Influential Businesswomen.

Wendi came to the art business 18 years ago after a decade in the tech industry with an MBA, but her love for art had its genesis years earlier. “I was 20 years old studying economics abroad in Madrid and took an art history class elective. I had never been in a museum before, and the Prado was the first museum I entered. I saw a Diego Velasquez that gave me goosebumps. I’m still always looking for goosebumps.”

Wendi supports How Women Lead through donations, by hosting events at her gallery, and by connecting the group’s predominately business-focused members to groundbreakers in her world of art and creative expression.

Lata Setty

Lata Setty

Legal Service Disrupter, Founding Legal Tech

Investor and Advisor for How Women Invest, Pangea3 and UnitedLex, Rotarian at The Tiburon-Belvedere Rotary Club, Rotaplast International, The Branson High School Interact Club, Chair of the Minority In-House Counsel Association, Brigham Young University, Medical College of Georgia, University of Iowa College of Law

Lata Setty says she never pictured herself becoming a serial entrepreneur, but her ability to form connections over time has helped her succeed across industries. An investor, entrepreneur, patent litigator and ecosystem builder, Lata speaks and advises on companies at the intersection of technology and newly powerful, emerging consumer groups. Lata has a proven track record launching and scaling game-changing technology businesses that have revolutionized ​and disrupted​ the traditional legal services industry, including Pangea3 and UnitedLex, legal services providers.

To her parents’ early focus on education and working hard to succeed, Lata has added her own understanding of the importance of relationships. She advises women to “build your network before you need it,” recognizing that strong connections are critical to success over time, providing entrepreneurs with the client base, mentors, recognition, trust, and credibility they will need to develop their companies.

Lata takes the lessons learned from building and selling startups to help other women, with a special passion for women and girls of color. She’s a tireless advocate for leveling the playing field for girls, especially in science and technology, ensuring every woman has opportunities to reach her full potential. Lata champions words such as “hire”, “promote”, “pay” and “invest” for all talent, including women, and is committed to accelerating access to capital, social networks and expertise essential for entrepreneurs to succeed in growing their businesses. She also invokes the word “love,” not often heard in the corporate sector but in Lata’s opinion a great way to approach your clients, employees, and investors.

A committed Rotarian at The Tiburon-Belvedere Rotary Club and active supporter of Rotaplast International‘s surgical missions and The Branson High School Interact Club, she is also committed to the How Women Lead movement to accelerate the number and impact of women on corporate boards. Lata also serves as a founding LP and deal flow advisor for How Women Invest, to address the historic inequity in the venture capital landscape by accelerating investment in female founders and increasing the number of first time angel investors. And as Chair of the Minority In-House Counsel Association, Lata leverages close connections among legal practitioners to advance the goal of greater diversity within corporations. Her activism reflects her understanding, developed over years, of the “critical aspect of having people to champion you and to tap for advice.”

Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn Johnson

Healthcare Impact Leader, Global Health Connector

Global Advisor and historical leader for Women Leaders for the World, envisioned and co-chaired the Collective Impact Partnership (CIP), Chief Executive Officer of Health Forum, Co-Founder of the Center for Global Service and chairs the Boards of the Institute for Research on Learning and the American Society of Association Executives, on the boards of the Food Commons, IP3, and OmniMed and Advisory Boards of Safety Nest, Living Goods, We Care Solar, MedShare, UN Women of Northern California, and The Carol Emmott Fellowship for Women in Health, degrees from Indiana University Bloomington and Boston University

Nearly every leader working on impacting women around the globe has been touched by Kathryn Johnson. Her name is ubiquitous with connections, strategy and getting things done. In fact she envisioned and co-chaired the Collective Impact Partnership (CIP) where How Women Lead is a key partner with the Gates Foundation, Global Fund for Women and others. This ground breaking project focuses on the economic empowerment of women and girls in India, proving that connections are crucial to help women leaders from all backgrounds “rethink the value they can have globally.” Kathryn joins Lisa Bougie as a global advisor, supporting women leaders in Nigeria and Kenya to execute on their vision.

At retirement, Kathryn set out to chart a path forward, melding her love for data and analysis with her internal ethical compass. She interviewed dozens of peers as part of a strategic plan, concluding that the biggest lever for a more peaceful and prosperous world…is gender equity.

Kathryn served for 25 years as the Chief Executive Officer of Health Forum, an organization focused on leadership development for senior healthcare executives in the U.S. and abroad. She is the Co-Founder of the Center for Global Service and chairs the Boards of the Institute for Research on Learning and the American Society of Association Executives. Currently is on the boards of the Food Commons, IP3, and OmniMed and Advisory Boards of Safety Nest, Living Goods, We Care Solar, MedShare, UN Women of Northern California, and The Carol Emmott Fellowship for Women in Health.

Kathryn stresses the importance of “developing and using your network,” advising that her years of experience have proven that “working to develop…relationships can be a very valuable part of business.” She echoes the comments of other leaders in this group when she discusses the importance of finding work that follows values. “I believe that leading your life with strategic intent can unleash greater purpose and meaning. Be very clear on your true North,” she says.

Energized by the “role that women are playing around the world in deciding what this New Normal will be,” Kathryn notes that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects women, and that acting to impact new high-level leadership is ”not just a nice thing to do, but an imperative, knowing that results improve when women are in leadership roles.”

“I always wanted to have a positive impact on the world, and it’s always been more attractive to work in the not-for-profit sphere.” This informs her commitment to How Women Lead and their Women Leaders for the World program. “I really love the future.”

Linda Abraham

Linda Abraham, Tech

Innovator, Data, Women and Venture Investor

Women Leaders for the World Global Advisor, Speaker on Corporate Board Readiness, co-founder of Paragren Technologies, comScore, sits on the board of Site Centers, Upskill, TIGER 21, named a ‘Great Mind’ by the Advertising Research Foundation, expert speaker in media outlets such as CNBC, The CBS Evening News and NPR, serves on nonprofit boards including the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia and the International Women’s Forum of Northern California, serves on the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Selection Committee and a mentor for the Lean Startup class at the Berkeley Haas School of Business, degrees from Penn State and Stanford University

Linda Abraham is the co-founder of two companies: Paragren Technologies, (now owned by Oracle), and comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR). She is also an investor and/or advisor in a range of early stage companies, spanning many tech sectors. She sits on both public and private company boards, including Site Centers (NYSE:SITC), Upskill, an AR/VR company where she is Vice Chair, and TIGER 21. Linda was named a “Great Mind” by the Advertising Research Foundation and is an expert speaker in media outlets such as CNBC, The CBS Evening News and NPR.

Linda leverages her business success to make the world a better place by mentoring emerging global leaders through the How Women Lead’s Women Leaders for the World program. She also serves on nonprofit boards including the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia and the International Women’s Forum of Northern California. She serves on the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Selection Committee and a mentor for the Lean Startup class at the Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Linda attributes her success to “supportive parents, marriage to the right life partner, and a major dollop of Irish luck. Anyone who has been successful has had a dose of it, which is why it’s so important to try and help people who might be short on it at the moment.”

As a mentor in How Women Lead’s Women Leaders for the World program, Linda sees first hand how strong networks benefit women. “Although my contribution to several of them as a mentor has been quite humble, the collective impact of bringing young women who are just starting out with women who have perhaps learned a lesson or two that they can pass along is very powerful.”

Asked to reflect on what has galvanized her commitment to women’s leadership, Linda recalls, “Ironically, I didn’t see a lot of outright discrimination against women when I was going through my career. It wasn’t until I got into that last five or six years across a variety of industries – particularly in funding new business – that I really realized how the playing field wasn’t level.” The lesson, she says, is that “It’s important to look outside of your own personal experience and realize others may be having very different experiences. One area that’s very important to me is getting women at an early age involved in data science. There are a lot of lost opportunities for women if they don’t get exposed to it early on. Women have to ​see​ possibilities before they can rule them out.”

Lisa Carmel

Lisa Carmel

Healthcare Strategy Leader, Innovating for Health

Designs programming for health care, advisor and Chair of film events, California Life Sciences Institute’s FAST health accelerator, participates with CARB-X accelerator, UCSF Health Hub, Medtech Innovator, Red Crow, degree from Wittenberg University

“Julie opened my eyes to expand my network of influence,” Lisa reflects. “She’s the one who made me think I should be doing more. The women that she pulls together are the most amazing people, who genuinely want to help others and help pull us all along. Julie’s a real inspiration.” Acting on that inspiration, Lisa has helped move the needle in two seemingly disparate arenas: medtech venture, and the creative world of film.

Lisa’s entry into the world of film was accidental. She learned about the Mill Valley Film Festival plans to launch a gender initiative called Mind the Gap. 97% of films are produced or directed by men and a small percentage get made by women, for women, with women’s voices. “I was struck by the parallel with what Julie was doing in How Women Lead and my own career in healthcare, where at the C-Suite level you’re lucky if 10 or 20% of people are women. I knew how important media are at projecting how we see ourselves, and believe in ourselves. The MVFF has a heart to it, they want to educate and teach as well as entertain, so I jumped in with the idea of getting to 50/50 by 2020. It’s not just about the movie, it’s about supporting the telling of these stories, because if we don’t tell them, who will?”

A longtime active member of the medtech startup and investor community, Lisa acts as an Advisor to How Women Lead, California Life Sciences Institute’s FAST health accelerator. “I joined FAST because 50% of the founders in the portfolio are female, and 40% of the advisors are female. Traditional VCs look for serial entrepreneurs, but women have a harder time achieving that status. You can pick winners without using ‘serial entrepreneur’ as a gating criterion.” She also participates with CARB-X accelerator, UCSF Health Hub, Medtech Innovator and Red Crow angel investing platform. “I like to work with people who share big ideas and visionary goals,” she says.

Lisa defines success as “achieving progress…as part of a team.” A former founding executive of a commercialized medical device startup,​ Lisa currently serves as Vice President of Strategy at Ximedica, one of the largest full service medtech-only product development and innovation firms with expertise in medical devices, wearables, robotics, drug delivery, digital platforms, and diagnostics.

Kristin Hull, Phd

Kristin Hull, PhD

Impact Investing Instigator

Women on Boards Committee, How Women Invest Founding Limited Partner, Founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital, Nia Global Solutions, Nia Community, co-founder of Impact Hub Oakland and of the North Oakland Community Charter School, served on the founding board of George Mark Children’s House, bilingual teacher in Oakland and San Francisco, PhD in Education at University of California, Berkeley, Masters in Research in Bilingual Education from Stanford University, BA and teaching credentials from Tufts University

Kristin Hull is leading the country’s ESG efforts with financial results that far outpace other investments. Kristin is founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital, a Registered Investment Advisor leading the charge to change the face of finance by hiring and training women and people of color in sustainable and transformative investing. Kristin founded Nia Global Solutions, a gender-lens portfolio of solutions-focused companies, in her efforts to bring impact investing into the public markets. ​Nia believes a well-designed shareholder engagement program considers which environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) changes will be most beneficial to long-term share value. Shareholder engagement, when done well and effectively, bridges two worlds; allowing civil society activists and the C-suite to find points of shared interest and mutual goals.

We got to hear about her strategies for success and she cites two factors: the way to impact climate is women and investing in women has unique rewards: women care more about the quality of the product or service and how can we get it done and less about size and scale which Hull says in a male construct.

Her global investment reach notwithstanding, Kristin excels at accumulating impactful layers of local connections for maximum effect in one urban ecosystem. In 2010 Kristin founded Nia Community, a 100% mission-aligned impact investment fund focused on social change and environmental sustainability in her home town of Oakland. Kristin is a co-founder of Impact Hub Oakland and of the North Oakland Community Charter School, and served on the founding board of George Mark Children’s House.

Prior to devoting her career to transforming our financial system, Kristin was a full-time educator, teaching bilingual classes in Oakland and San Francisco. She earned her PhD in Education at University of California, Berkeley, her Masters in Research in Bilingual Education from Stanford University and her BA and teaching credentials from Tufts University.

Kristin attributes her success to her boundless curiosity about the systems change and her determination to help to build a better world. “Learning to trust my instincts, plus being willing to be out in front and go first have been essential to building a women-led business using finance to achieve social and environmental impacts.”

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