On Board(s): experienced directors prepare executive women for the boardroom

Dawn LaporeCorporate director and former drugstore.com CEO Dawn Lepore (on the board of AOL, and formerly eBay and the New York Times), joined with the Foster School to teach executive women what it takes to lead boards of directors. She and sitting directors Bernee Strom (Webtuner, Benchmark Electronics), Connie Collingsworth (Premera, Banner Corp.), Annette Jacobs (Newport Board Group, Women Corporate Directors—Seattle), Liz Huebner (Blucora), Laurie Stewart (Sound Community Bank) and Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, author of The Board Game shared their expertise to help professional women prepare for directorships in the Women Board Directors Development Program.

The new program was inspired by Foster faculty member Cate Goethals’ Better Boards Project. According to her research, corporate boards with women directors produce better business results than all-male boards on a wide range of metrics. Currently, women directors hold less than 20 percent of public board seats in the U.S., but that percentage is growing as more companies seek to improve performance by reaching a broader pool of potential women directors.

The Foster School is helping to bridge the gap with this seminar, directed by Goethals. Thirty six participants – from VPs and agency principals to CEOs, CFOs, GMs and consultants – learned how public directors navigated their pathways to board service, conducted due diligence and managed diverse and often well-publicized challenges. They also built an influential network of mentors and peers and created board-ready profiles with recruitment firm Spencer Stuart.

The first graduating class formed an active alumni group that shares board opportunities and career advancement strategies. Already several graduates have secured positions on desirable boards of directors.

The program generated so much demand that another session will be offered March 24-25. For more information about topics, speakers and registration, visit the Women Board Directors Development Program.