Office of the President

When Women Lead: Insights and Experience from Women in Power

President Drew Faust invites you to join her in Sanders Theatre on Monday, April 7, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. for a panel discussion entitled "When Women Lead: Insights and Experience from Women in Power."

Four distinguished women leaders will consider the changing roles of women in business, education, and politics, as well as the challenges and opportunities facing women in positions of authority. Karen Gordon Mills, A.B. '75, M.B.A. '77, former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School, will moderate the discussion. Jill Abramson, A.B. '76, Executive Editor of the New York Times; Edith Cooper, A.B. '83, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs; and Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California and former Secretary of Homeland Security, will serve as panelists. Questions from the audience will be welcomed following their conversation.

Tickets will be provided at the door until capacity is reached. Please arrive early to secure your seat. All members of the community are welcome to attend.

About the panelists:

Karen Gordon Mills served in President Barack Obama's cabinet as the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 until August 2013.  She is currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School focusing on U.S. Competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation.

As SBA Administrator and a Cabinet member, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and was a key member of the White House economic team.  At the SBA, she led a team of more than 3,000 employees and managed a loan guarantee portfolio of over $100 billion.  Mills is credited with turning around the Agency, streamlining loan programs, shortening turnaround times, and reducing paperwork. These efforts resulted in record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital.  In addition, Mills helped small businesses create regional economic clusters, gain access to early stage capital, hire skilled workers, boost exports, and tap into government and commercial supply chains.

Prior to the SBA, Mills held leadership positions in the private sector, including as a partner in several private equity firms, and served on the boards of Scotts Miracle-Gro and Arrow Electronics.  Most recently, she was president of MMP Group, which invested in businesses in consumer products, food, textiles, and industrial components. In 2007, Maine Governor John Baldacci appointed Mills to chair Maine’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on regional development initiatives, including a regional economic cluster with Maine’s boatbuilding industry.  

Mills earned an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. Additionally, she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was vice chairman of the Harvard Overseers.

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Jill Abramson is executive editor of The New York Times, a position she assumed in September 2011.  Ms. Abramson serves in the highest ranked position in The Times’s newsroom and oversees The New York Times news report in all its various forms.

Prior to being named executive editor, Ms. Abramson was managing editor of The Times from August 2003 until August 2011.  As managing editor, she helped guide the newsroom through a particularly turbulent period.  She helped supervise the coverage of two wars, four national elections, hurricanes and oil spills.  She was also deeply engaged in the newsroom’s effort to change its approach to the dissemination of news and to expand to new and varied digital and mobile platforms.

Ms. Abramson joined The New York Times in 1997.  She was named Washington bureau chief in December 2000 and served in that position until July 2003. 

Prior to joining The Times, Ms. Abramson worked at The Wall Street Journal from 1988 to 1997.  While there, she served as deputy bureau chief in its Washington, D.C., bureau and investigative reporter, covering money and politics.

Ms. Abramson is co-author of “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,” a non-fiction finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award in 1994, and “Where They Are Now: The Story of the Women of Harvard Law 1974,” published in 1986.  She is also the author of “The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout,” published in 2011. 

Abramson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The American Philosophical Society and has taught writing at Princeton and Yale Universities.

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Edith Cooper is global head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs. She has been an executive vice president of Goldman Sachs since 2011 and has led Human Capital Management since 2008. Edith is a member of the Management Committee, serves as vice chair of the Partnership Committee, and is on various other committees at the firm. She also served on the Business Standards Committee.

Previously, Edith was in Sales Management and led several businesses within the Securities Division. Edith first joined Goldman Sachs in 1996 to build and lead the firm’s Energy Sales Group in New York. In 2002, she was responsible for the firm’s Futures business and, prior to that, she was co-head of the commodities business in Europe and Asia, based out of London. Edith was named managing director in 1998 and partner in 2000.

Prior to joining the firm, Edith spent a combined 10 years at Morgan Stanley and Bankers Trust, structuring and marketing derivatives.

Edith serves on the Kellogg School of Management Global Advisory Board and on the Board of Directors of the Brown University Sports Foundation.

Edith earned an MM from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and an AB from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. She and her husband have three children and live in Greenwich, Connecticut.

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Janet Napolitano was named the 20th president of the University of California on July 18, 2013, and took office on September 30, 2013. She leads a university system with 10 campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories, and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program.

Napolitano is a distinguished public servant with a record of leading large, complex organizations at the federal and state levels. She served as Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009-13, as Governor of Arizona from 2003-09, as Attorney General of Arizona from 1998-2003, and as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona from 1993-97. Before that, she practiced at the law firm of Lewis & Roca in Phoenix, where she became a partner in 1989. She began her career in 1983 as a clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As Governor of Arizona, Napolitano focused on education, from pre-kindergarten through public higher education. She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, and was named one of the nation’s top five governors by Time magazine.

Napolitano earned a B.A. degree (summa cum laude in Political Science) in 1979 from Santa Clara University, where she was Phi Beta Kappa, a Truman Scholar and the university’s first female valedictorian. She received her law degree in 1983 from the University of Virginia School of Law. Napolitano holds honorary degrees from several universities and colleges, including Santa Clara University, Emory University and Pomona College. In 2010, she was awarded the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal (Law), the University of Virginia’s highest external honor.