A Note to Female CEOs in International Development for International Women’s Day

Last fall when my mother was turning 97, I wrote a note of appreciation to three amazing international development CEOs. I would like to share it to appreciate and perhaps, to inspire you too.

When [my Mom] was born, U.S. women’s right to vote was only two years old. She’s lived through her first husband’s plane gone Missing in Action when she was six months’ pregnant. She started an investment club in the early 1960s … , has laid brick, poured concrete—all while wearing lipstick and with coiffed hair, and worked unpaid in my father’s office, etc. She navigated the loss of the love of her life and mine too, my Dad, living and caring for herself until 94.

She is a role model for me but it took me many, many years to fully appreciate it.

You may or may not want to be distinguished as a female CEO. It’ll be wonderful we don’t have to talk about it or gender equity. Until that time, let me share something I’ve observed based on many years’ experience across industries and organizations.

You have a profound influence on people–women and men, and everyone on the gender spectrum in between. We see a more equal world because of you. We see role models in your courage, willingness to take on a leadership role, its rewards and costs. So, when you have that crappy day, remember that you have already and are making a positive difference greater than you can know.

Like my mom, you are to be celebrated.



Driving back yesterday from seeing my Mom, I had plenty of time to think about the number of women CEOs in international development–those I know, and a few I don’t but look forward to meeting. It’s a long list that should make our hearts sing!

There was an unexpected benefit.

I realized there is never a reason for me to feel alone or unsupported—something to which I can fall prey. There is always someone to reach out to who has stood in my shoes or who will stand beside me.

Joyfully celebrating each of you.

Let’s start… Ann Hudock #Counterpart, Neelima Grover #QEDGroup, Susan Chodakewitz #Nathan, Charito Kruvant #Creative, Elizabeth Vazquez #WeConnect, Katherine Raphaelson #SIDW, Anne Simmons-Benton #ASU, Roopa Dhatt #WIGH, Fiona Macaulay #WILDNetwork

More! Liz Cullen Whitehead #12PointFive, @BetsyBassan #Panagora, @MeaghanSmith, #BanyanGlobal, @TessieCasambas #EncompassWorld, @SherryRockey, #EncompassWorld, @Ruta Aidis, #ACG, Kathryn Kaufman#OPIC, Seema Patel, #GlobalKnowledgeInstitute, Anne-Marie Grey #UNHCR, Wendy Chamberlin #MiddleEastInstitute

And still more! Sonia Harter Patterson #ImpactWisdom, Jacqueline Novogratz #Acumen, Brigit Helms #Helmshart, Elizabeth Littlefield #OPIC, Linda Rottenberg #Endeavor, Daniela Ligiero #TogetherforGirls, Aarti Naik #SAKHI, Shad Begum #ABKT, Laurie Adams #Womenforwomen, Susan Markham, Smash Strategies, Mary Ellen Iskenderian #WomensWorldBanking

#gender #internationalwomensday #internationaldevelopment

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