Posts By :

Olivia Sayah

Diane Hessan Receives Business & Community Leader of the Year Award

1024 683 Olivia Sayah

Member Diane Hessan (HBS MBA 1977), Chairman of C Space and CEO of Salient Ventures, was recently honored at the Harvard Business School’s 2nd Annual Business & Community Leadership Dinner. Diane received the Business & Community Leader of the Year Award for her dedication and commitment to entrepreneurship and community impact in Greater Boston and beyond.

Myechia Minter-Jordan to Join DentaQuest as Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer

358 421 Olivia Sayah

DentaQuest recently announced member Myechia Minter-Jordan’s appointment as Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer.


The announcement states that, “In her new role, Dr. Jordan will establish and drive overall strategic investments and partnerships to fulfill DentaQuest’s mission to improve the oral health of all, with a focus on systems change. She will lead the DentaQuest Partnership’s existing philanthropic and programmatic initiatives and align the team around new strategies and innovative approaches to deepen and accelerate DentaQuest’s impact. She will also work with a broad set of external stakeholders in business, government and academia to influence and drive policy and clinical changes that improve the health of millions of Americans.”


Click here to read more about her new role.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter To Receive Thinkers50 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award

150 150 Olivia Sayah

Thinkers50, the global ranking of management thinkers, today announced that member Rosabeth Moss Kanter is to be the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


The announcement states, “The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to someone who has had a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management,” explains Thinkers50 cofounder Des Dearlove. “Rosabeth Moss Kanter has championed a humane, inclusive, practical, and inspiring brand of management throughout her career. From Men and Women of the Corporation and The Change Masters to her forthcoming book, Think Outside the Building, Rosabeth has a distinctive and compelling take on what it takes to manage.”


Click here to read more about Rosabeth’s innovative work and this prestigious honor.

First International Women’s Bahamas Intensive Program

1024 683 Olivia Sayah
Priscilla H. Douglas moderated the first-ever International Women’s [IWF] Bahamas “Intensive” Program 9/19-20 in Nassau over 100 women from the Caribbean enthusiastically participated. Former IWF President Allyson Maynard Gibson and current Nassau President Sonia Brown realized their vision by hosting an “Intensive” leadership event, formerly called Executive Development Roundtables [EDR].


The Intensive included eight sessions and took a deep dive into trust, political leadership, women on boards, agility, and crafting a personal narrative. Mrs. Patricia Minnick, wife of the Prime Minister, a stalwart supporter of women and girls greeted the group. Futurist Edie Weiner began the event with a powerful morning session on innovation. Sonia Brown, IWF member and President of Graphite Engineering welcomed the 100+ women. Dignitaries included The Right Honorable Dame Janet Bostwick, The Provincial Parliament member the Honorable Mitzie Hunter, Former Mayor of Reykjavik and current Senior Advisor to the UN on Women’s Leadership Hanna Birna Kristjansdottir, the 2019 Nelson Mandela Humanitarian “Mother” Pratt and former Attorney General of Bahamas Allyson Maynard Gibson.


In addition to facilitating the two days, Priscilla moderated two panels one on Agility and Curiosity. Featured panelist: Dr. Susan Amat, Executive Director of GEN Accelerates and Irene Arias Hofman, Head of the InterAmerican Develop [IDB] Lab and the second with Anthropologist Nicolette Bethel and Darryl McKissack,  President of McKissack & McKissack construction engineering [Smithsonian AA Museum and MLK Memorial].


Priscilla Douglas with panelists Irene Arias Hofman and Dr. Susan Amat

Members Named Amongst Leaders of Massachusetts’ Top 100 Companies

640 480 Olivia Sayah

The Commonwealth Institute and the Globe Magazine partnered to name the most noteworthy 100 companies and nonprofits helmed by women in Massachusetts in 2019. Congratulations to the following members who were honored:


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Laurie H. Glimcher, President and CEO

Boston Children’s Hospital, Sandra L. Fenwick, CEO

Globalization Partners, Nicole Sahin, CEO

Bentley University, Gloria Cordes Larson, President

The Dimock Center, Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Laurie Leshin, President

John Hancock, Marianne Harrison, President and CEO

Regis College, Antoinette M. Hays, President

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, Eileen Skinner, Administrator

InkHouse, Beth Monaghan, Cofounder and CEO

KHJ Brand Activation, Judy Habib, CEO


Click here to read coverage of this honor in the Boston Globe.

C.A. Webb: When Principles Guide Work, Innovation Follows

600 600 Olivia Sayah

C.A. Webb has spent her career building ground-up products, programs, and brands at the intersection of entrepreneurship and social change. In her current role as President at Kendall Square Association, C.A. and her team are making Kendall Square a global corporate destination and the world’s epicenter of innovation. Through her current work at KSA, she is creating systems and campaigns to drive connectivity, learning, and social impact. Recently we had the chance to speak with her about her career and the new transportation initiative in Kendall Square.


Guided by a personal mission statement


In 2017 C.A. found herself in a transition. Moving on from the venture firm she co-founded C.A. started with her own personal mission statement — to help make Boston the most equitable and prosperous place possible. She looked for platforms that would enable her to bring powerful communities together around needed critical change. Networking was essential in her search and she sought out connections with people ready to do this type of work. C.A., having spent four years running the New England Venture Capital Association, connected with entrepreneurs that were forging new paths and capitalized on shared motivations with local venture capitalists that could lead to transformations in existing organizations.


Defining her own rules


For C.A. it has been crucial to live by her own principles, defining what was most important to her in guiding her own career.

  • Space was key – C.A. vowed to work mostly in cities, where diversity and connectivity were valued and pervasive.
  • Startup mentality was a must – She would only work in an entrepreneurial setting where smart people were willing to walk through walls and build things that mattered and impacted the community.

C.A. found symbiosis in a place where this vision was possible, the New England Venture Capital Association. During her time there, she reinvented the organization, turning it into a meaningful platform for engaging the community. C.A. has been lucky that she has been able to continue this vision in her work with the Kendall Square Association.


There’s no playbook when you build from the ground up


Kendall Square Association defines itself as an organization that enables the future by connecting the people who are changing the world. At KSA, C.A. is leading a new transportation initiative with 19 of the state’s largest employers to ensure that Kendall Square remains the epicenter of global innovation. As the first business community to advocate for the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President, the KSA is working to push the state to raise new revenue and find solutions for the worst congestion in the country.


Over the next five years, KSA will guide transportation reform and innovation through employer-led initiatives of experimentation and they will share their data with the broader Massachusetts community. C.A. says there is “no playbook for what we’re doing” and is passionate about the collective action work that KSA brings to the employer community. C.A. believes that through KSA, they are inventing the next-generation community platform.


Finding meaning outside the office


C.A. sits on several Boards. One of her most passionate projects is her work with the Boston Foundation, an organization that connects philanthropists to high impact social change organizations. These initiatives range from reforms in K-12 education to reforms in the criminal justice system. She has found incredible meaning in this work and would love other Forum members to join her in finding ways to be involved with the Foundation.


Throughout her career, C.A. has led innovative transformations of companies and championed projects that enhanced communities. Be sure to follow the trajectory of her new transportation initiative where she plans to transform not only Kendall Square but all of greater Boston.

MWF Goes to Santa Fe

1024 768 Olivia Sayah

A group of our MWF members spent four days of art, culture, and beauty in America’s oldest Capital. Hosted by IWF New Mexico, 100 IWF members celebrated the Santa Fe‘s 30th Anniversary while raising funds for its philanthropic outreach, Leadership, Empowerment, and Advancement Program for Women (LEAP).


The group stayed at the historic La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. Where they experienced exclusive behind the scenes tours of many world-class museums and the famous Meow Wolf, which is the 4th most visited art site in the US! They were introduced to Native American artists and visited their studios or pueblos in unique ways. The also became involved with small group discussions on timely topics, learned the secrets of good writing, life after retirement or a new profession, running businesses, and women in public policy and board rooms. They took art walks up Canyon Road and saw so much behind the stunning adobe walls of Santa Fe.


Dawn Marie Driscoll with US Congresswoman Xochiti Torres Small



Jesse Mermell for Congress

564 392 Olivia Sayah

MWF member, Jesse Mermell has officially announced that she is running to represent Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District. Throughout Jesse’s 20-year career, she has championed women’s and workers’ rights and protecting the environment, among other progressive causes. Read more about her campaign here.

Jennifer Lerner: First Chief Decision Scientist for the U.S. Navy

1024 576 Olivia Sayah

Member, Jennifer Lerner, was recently featured in an article in the Harvard Kennedy School Magazine for her appointment as the first Chief Decision Scientist for the U.S. Navy.


The article describes how “The role aims to refine how the Navy makes choices, integrating decision science (otherwise known as behavioral economics) into its calculus. Using her understanding of the cognitive, social, structural, and emotional factors that shape decision making, Lerner is working with the Navy’s top military officer, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson. Together, they are seeking to improve ‘decision environments’ by modifying the way choices are structured and incorporating decision science into leadership training. At the same time, she is working with the Navy’s leadership to bring a more science-based approach to such longstanding behavioral challenges as eliminating discrimination in hiring and reducing sexual harassment and assault.”


Click here to read more about the impact Jennifer will bring to military decision-making in this new role.

Vikki Spruill: Creating a Civic Anchor for the Community of Boston

684 1024 Olivia Sayah

Vikki Spruill, CEO and President of the New England Aquarium, has led
the impassioned fight for ocean conservation in many different organizations
throughout her career. Her love for the ocean began in high school when living
in Florida. However, after receiving her master’s degree in Communications,
Spruill worked at public relations firms, until a specific project presented the
opportunity to pivot back to the ocean. This experience pushed her to start the
nonprofit organization SeaWeb, focusing on translating science and raising
awareness of ocean issues and communicating to policymakers and
journalists. This work helped elevate public awareness of ocean issues at a
time when most of the focus was on terrestrial challenges. She also served as President and
CEO of Ocean Conservancy, a nationally renowned advocacy organization and the Council on
Foundations, an association of philanthropic organizations working to advance the common good.
For the past year, Spruill has led the New England Aquarium and its research institute, the
Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, and furthered its reputation as a leading institution for
scientific research, advocacy, and public education.


Individual moments will lead to great purpose


We recently had an opportunity to speak with her and reflect on her career, her proudest
moment and her career accolades. Vikki’s career has been focused on purpose – she
has been most proud of the opportunities she has had “leading teams of people beyond
individual moments in service of larger goals” and watching organizations “grow into
greatness.” A major fight of her career has been turning complex information into
accessible information for the public, especially in the past when there was less
awareness about environmental issues. In her time at SeaWeb, she co-created the “Give
Swordfish a Break” campaign. This initiative brought awareness to the overfishing of
swordfish and prompted the public to think more critically about the seafood choices they
were making. This movement heavily influenced the framing of the current sustainable
seafood movement.


Support & Community


Vikki is a recent transplant to Boston from Washington DC, and she believes that the
instant connection to peer level female professionals that the Forum provided was
instrumental in her transition and that the community and support that came from the
Massachusetts Women’s Forum when moving here was invaluable. She spoke about her
mentors as powerful women that guided her within her personal life and career. Her
mother taught her confidence and instilled in her that she “could do anything,” in sharp
contrast to a male teacher who once told her “there wasn’t a place for women in the
sciences.” In her career, Spruill was mentored by women like Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the
past Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and marine
biologist, Sylvia Earle. She is also inspired by her two daughters who have continued her
legacy through involvement with nature and ocean conservation.


Opportunities come in many different forms


When counseling emerging leaders in her world Vikki recommends that they do not close
themselves off. She credits many transitions in her career to her ability to “be open to
opportunity!” She would advise her former self and others not to overthink things and to
go with the natural flow. She believes following this path will lead you to where you are
meant to be in life.


A “Civic Anchor” in the community


Vikki lights up when she talks about her vision for the Aquarium and how she plans to
transform the institution going forward. In comparison to previous advocacy work where
she did not have a captive audience, Vikki’s vision for the New England Aquarium began
with the opportunity to have an existing “flow of people to influence and educate.”
Through community outreach and lecture series, she sees the museum becoming “more
than a place to take your kids” and hopes that the Aquarium is seen “as a civic anchor in
the community” and a leader in marine conservation.


Small steps are the key to change


Vikki recommends educating yourself and starting with a small step as a way to get
involved in preventing climate change and aiding ocean conservation. She encourages
members to visit the New England Aquarium website at to get more information
about its conservation work. The Aquarium recently led an initiative for a plastic-free July
where they brought awareness to the issues of single-use plastic. Vikki asks we examine
our habits as consumers and try to eliminate single-use plastic from our lives. Vikki
believes that in order to solve issues of climate change, it is important to be civically
minded and elect officials well-informed around environmental issues.


Vikki Spruill has worked tirelessly to conserve our oceans and continues to do so in a high-stakes moment for our planet. It is our privilege to call her a member and a part of our MWF community.