An incubator of women leaders

Want to diversify your board? We’ve got candidates

03/08/2017 8:01 AM | Anonymous


Demand. Not supply. That’s the driving force behind the low numbers of women on corporate boards.

And despite modest gains in recent years, there’s little change in the representation of women and minorities on boards. Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion, recently reported that almost 70% of Fortune 500 board seats are still held by Caucasian/white men.

Catalyst also reported that the “recycle rate”—or rate at which individuals serve on more than one board—is higher for women and minorities than Caucasian/white men, which indicates that there needs to be a broader net cast to capture “new” women and minorities for boards.

In this report, the U.S. GAO finds three factors that may hinder women's increased representation among board directors: boards not prioritizing recruiting diverse candidates; few women in the traditional pipeline to board service (i.e., CEO or board experience); and low turnover of board seats.

Companies need to look beyond a CEO title. Instead, they need to look to the skill set that makes a CEO desirable – for example, strategic and operational skills, or P&L experience – and seek out those skills from leaders in other roles, like GMs, functional heads, or other executives. They need to scout out talent that will bring a fresh energy and perspective to a board. They need to identify candidates who will diversify a board’s thinking, and its ability to help oversee and push a company to greater success in the ever changing, and diverse, marketplace.

And we’re here to help. The Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley has partnered with the Women Serve on Boards movement to showcase highly qualified and successful women, with proven track records in their respective professions, interested in corporate board service. The CLUB provides a unique environment that offers the opportunity for women leaders across industries, and career stages, to connect and build a critical mass of women leaders in Silicon Valley.

Inspired by this Business Insider article and this second one, we are showcasing 15 CLUB members, representing female leaders across industries, including a glimpse of what expertise each can add to a company’s board:


Denise Shiffman

Experience: Senior Vice President of Product Management and Strategy for Juniper Networks. Previously VP Product Management and Marketing for Storage at Sun Microsystems.

Why Denise Shiffman should be on your board: Denise can help you with market expansion strategies, having successfully launched worldwide over thirty uniquely positioned products resulting in more than $2B in revenue. With her deep experience leading customer-focused functions, she can help companies create remarkable customer experiences. She’s also a skilled business strategist who wrote an award-winning marketing strategy and business book, “The Age of Engage: Reinventing Marketing for Today's Connected, Collaborative, and Hyperinteractive Culture,” which received accolades from notable executives including Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Jill Soley

Experience: VP Marketing at Freshdesk. Previously, Director of Product at Adobe Systems during its transition from a shrink-wrap software business to a service and subscription model.

Why Jill Soley should be on your board: With strong cloud and mobile product and marketing expertise, Jill can help early cloud startups hone their product strategy, product/market fit, positioning, and go-to-market plans. She can also help achieve a seamless end-to-end customer experience.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Karen Catlin

Experience: Former VP of Engineering at Adobe Systems. Former VP of Engineering at Macromedia. Now Advocate for Women in Tech, TEDx speaker on gender diversity in tech, frequent keynote speaker, and author. Member of the Brown University Computing and Information Technology Advisory Council. Also on the Advisory Boards of Brown University’s Computer Science Department Diversity Initiative, The Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley, WEST (Women Entering & Staying in Technology), and Women Serve on Boards. 

Why Karen Catlin should be on your board: Utilizing her strong operational leadership skills, deep background in shared engineering services, and experience redesigning software engineering organizations for efficiency, Karen can help companies scale during periods of growth. She can also help companies respond to seismic shifts in the tech industry, leveraging her 25+ years of experience responding to changes in software business models, product security strategies, outsourcing of talent, and the growing pressure for workforce diversity.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Carly Alameda

Experience: Business Litigation Partner at Farella Braun + Martel. Board Member for Mammoth HR (HRAnswerLink) and Board Member of Berkeley Law Alumni Association.

Why Carly Alameda should be on your board: Carly has a knack for not only asking the right questions but also coming up with strategic solutions to the complex challenges. She manages business risks proactively and pragmatically as a result of her broad experience in business litigation and as a board member of a private company. 

Find her on:LinkedIn


Sandra Shpilberg

Experience: CEO of Seeker Health, a digital health company that connects patients to clinical trials and approved treatments. Previously Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Commercial Planning at Nora Therapeutics, and Executive Director of Product Development at BioMarin. Writer for The Huffington Post.

Why Sandra Shpilberg should be on your board: Sandra has extensive leadership experience and deep knowledge of the health and medical industry. She can help health and medical companies locate and engage patients, develop strategies to accelerate product development, and design "radical collaborations" between health and patient groups. She has a unique understanding of how to use social media and digital advertising to engage patients. Originally from Uruguay, she brings a great appreciation for diversity and an understanding of how to create effective teams. As an avid reader and writer, she also helps companies align messaging to their vision and values.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Anu Gali

Experience: Director of Engineering at Groupon and Board Member of The Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley. Formerly Director of Engineering at Shutterfly.

Why Anu Gali should be on your board: Anu has extensive experience in building and scaling viral products for diverse markets. Using her strong software leadership skills combined with her focus on strategic business growth, Anu would be a great resource for companies building and scaling during periods of hyper growth.

Find her on:LinkedIn


Erin Sawyer

Experience: Director of Supply Chain at Wrightspeed and Board Member of Kids' Vision.  Previously Group Manager for Core Technologies at Tesla Motors. 

Why Erin Sawyer should be on your board: Erin has a proven track record of disrupting and reinventing the automotive industry. Using her industry knowledge coupled with her experience with high growth and rapid expansion initiatives, she can help you scale operations to meet aggressive business targets.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Emily Walker

Experience: CEO of Landis & Co which focuses on providing advice to companies in the areas of strategic planning, capital raising, CEO mentoring, and security & resiliency. Dual UK/US citizen who has lived in five countries. Former senior roles at OCSiAl Nanotech, Citigroup Corporate & Investment Bank, Barclays, 9-11 Commission, UN World Food Programme, and the International Monetary Fund, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and US Treasury.

Why Emily Walker should be on your board: Using her international network, capital raising background, and government and financial services experience, Emily can guide start-ups through developing a robust and due diligence-friendly corporate strategy and connect them globally for funding.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Katie McCann

Experience: VP of Product & Engineering at Prism Skylabs. Former software leadership roles at early to mid-stage startups, including experience in automotive, media, and AI.

Why Katie McCann should be on your board: With her strong background in software product leadership in key industries including automotive and media, coupled with domain experience in AI, Katie can help early to mid-stage startups hone their product strategy, ensuring their teams are laser-focused on quickly and iteratively building solutions for their customers’ problems.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Olga Mack

Experience: General Counsel at ClearSlide, financial statements lecturer at UC Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall), and founder of numerous leadership trade and advocacy organizations. Advisory board member at TimeJoy and ChannelMeter, both early stage startups and leadership board of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), San Francisco Bay Area chapter. Previously Assistant General Counsel at Zoosk, in-house Counsel at Visa, and Attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. A widely recognized, prolific, and award-winning writer and speaker about legal, risk, technology, privacy, security, and workplace issues. 

Why Olga Mack should be on your board: Olga is a recognized legal, HR, privacy, security, and operations strategic leader with strong communications skills. She navigates corporate transitions, such as expansion, contraction, leadership change, or regulatory changes with ease, grace, and credibility. She manages and mitigates risks and conflicts professionally and has very high financial acumen and a diverse understanding of technology landscape. Finally, her understanding of social, economic, technology, and regulatory trends assures that her strategies are rooted in a healthy dose of reality.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


LouAnn Conner

Experience: CEO of SagaciousThink, a consulting firm specializing in strategy, business process engineering, post M&A integration, and change management. Instructor at UC Berkeley and Golden Gate University. Member of C Suite of Astia. Board Member of The Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley. Previously Senior Manager at PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Member of NACD and in the process of securing her Corporate Director Governance Fellowship.

Why LouAnn Conner should be on your board: With her leadership skills and financial acumen, LouAnn can help you with corporate governance, financial strategy, risk management, and global expansion.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Mansi Shah

Experience: Founding Partner of Merchant & Gould's Silicon Valley office. Past President of the South Asian Bar Association of North America, Recipient of Best Under 40 by National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Previously a software engineer in the defense industry.

Why Mansi Shah should be on your board: Using her legal and technical background, business acumen, and strong network, Mansi can creatively solve issues and provide strategies for increasing the bottom line.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Maggie Harmon

Experience: 20 years of experience working in consultative, strategic roles across a wide variety of organizations. In the last ten years the companies she’s worked with have raised over one billion dollars in investment funding, and seen nearly 15 billion in revenue from IPOs and acquisition activity.

Why Maggie Harmon should be on your board: Leveraging her financial industry knowledge, strategic leadership experience, and deep understanding of market trends, Maggie can guide you through the challenges in communicating an offering, differentiating an organization in a crowded market, identifying the right audiences to speak to at the right time, and building the foundations for successful, sustainable long-term growth.

Find her on:LinkedIn


Mindy Morton

Experience: Internet and Intellectual Property Litigation Partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP. Board Member of The Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley.  Previously President of the Board of Trustees for the Santa Clara County Bar Association and President of the Board of Directors of Schola Cantorum.

Why Mindy Morton should be on your board: Mindy is a business-oriented attorney with extensive experience serving on and leading nonprofit boards. She can help you with strategic planning and governance issues.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter


Sherry Main

Experience: Chief Communications and Marketing Officer with expertise in crisis communications at UC Santa Cruz, a large public institution with over 16,000 students. Previously a creative and digital strategist at UC Irvine.

Why Sherry Main should be on your board: Sherry can guide companies using her deep experience in higher education leadership, brand management in regulated industries, and communications. She has a passion for connecting people through storytelling.

Find her on:LinkedIn or Twitter

While we’re incredibly pleased to highlight the above CLUB members, we know there are many, many other qualified women as well. If you’re a woman interested in board service, be sure to join The CLUB. The CLUB provides a unique environment that offers the opportunity for women leaders across industries, and career stages, to connect and build a critical mass of women leaders in Silicon Valley. Also, check out The Athena Alliance, which is dedicated to advancing gender diversity in the boardroom. It serves as an extension of a board’s intimate network, introducing them to incredible executive women. At the same time, they are an essential part of a woman’s support structure, helping her overcome the ‘last mile’ barriers to board service.


-- The teams at The CLUB and Women Serve on Boards

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