Welcome To Your Athena Journey!

Getting Started

This portal is a comprehensive resource for board service preparation and includes opportunities for connecting with the Athena community and applying for board opportunities.

When you dismiss this message, you will see your "Journey Dashboard." This dashboard is your roadmap for growth and has been specially designed to prepare you for board service.

You'll start with "Goal Setting and Journey Planning" with your mentor and then move into phase work. Please note that, although all phase resources are available to you at any time, we strongly suggest completing your current phase before moving on to the next.

If ever you get lost, simply click the "My Journey" button in the upper right-hand corner of the site to return to your Journey Dashboard. It is of the utmost importance to us that this portal provide you with all resources you need to reach your board goals. Please don't hesitate to reach out to coco@athenaalliance.org with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

Thank you for being a member of The Athena Alliance. We look forward to the journey ahead!



Save a Seat for Your Daughter with Our Amazing Honorees

By | Announcements, Board Gender Diversity, The Athena Program | No Comments

Before we share the final bio for our incredible speaker lineup for Athena’s Save a Seat for Your Daughter, we’re excited to share that we will also be honoring some crucial players in the campaign for boardroom equality. We are lucky to have the partnership and help from these companies and Athena Pioneers to help us move the needle that much faster.

Athena Pioneers

Liz Tinkham

Save a Seat for Your Daughter - Liz TinkhamLiz is Athena’s EVP of Seattle, a pro-bono role she contributes through her passion to see our mission accelerate the pace of change toward gender parity in the boardroom. Through this role, Liz introduced Athena to our largest investor yet, Microsoft, and helped us launch our second significant region outside the Silicon Valley.

Liz recently retired as a Senior Managing Partner of Accenture where, as a member of the firm from the very early days, she recently managed a team of 1,500 in 13 countries, as well as the largest and most strategic client and partner relationship in the Accenture portfolio. She not only puts in countless hours for Athena, almost always behind the scenes, every interaction with her brings enormous value to our members and our cause, and we are proud to honor her at Save a Seat for Your Daughter.

Kimberly Alexy

Save a Seat for Your Daughter - Kimberly AlexyKimberly serves on five public company boards (Alteryx, MicroSemi, CalAmp, FireEye, and Five9). She is one of those iconic women who is easily and often called on for more and more great board opportunities. Rather than simply turn them down as they come to her, or only use her own limited rolodex to suggest other women, Kimberly joined Athena to massively extend her personal impact in bringing more women to the boards she serves and those who seek her out.

She is tirelessly working behind the scenes with us to highlight and sponsor Athena women for opportunity. In this way, she is the ideal role model of Pioneer Membership and an easy choice to honor at Save a Seat for Your Daughter!

Christine Heckart

Save a Seat for Your Daughter - Christine HeckartChristine serves on the public company board of Lam Research. As an Athena Pioneer, Christine guides our members, and even more so our organization, to be powerful and impactful. She has single-handedly enhanced Athena’s power network with seated directors and board influencers by at least 30 individuals, and in so doing, has greatly enhanced our draw to boards seeking amazing women, to funding for Athena, and to mentoring support from others like herself. In this way, she is the ideal role model of Pioneer Membership, and we happily honor her at Save a Seat for Your Daughter!


Pioneer Investors in Women

Golden Seeds

Save a Seat for Your Daughter - Golden SeedsGolden Seeds, originally founded in 2004 by Stephanie Newby, now CEO of Crimson Hexagon, invests exclusively in female CEO founders. The organization has directly invested over $100M in female led enterprises, resulting in over $850M of follow-on capital for their businesses. Golden Seeds even goes a step further, investing heavily in women who are outside the traditional realm of entrepreneurialism generally associated with women; retail and beauty. They’re putting early bets on women working to cure Alzheimer’s, building B2B SaaS essential business enablement tools and working to create alternative energy solutions.

The recognition that women can and do build and run amazing ventures worth investor capital is only now becoming a mainstream idea, but Golden Seeds has backed and believed in this potential for over 13 years now. Their trust and early funding has spurred countless others to invest, and their team of investors has engendered confidence in female CEOs to believe in their value in spite of the challenges of presenting to all male decision makers in most all other investment arenas. Golden Seeds is truly a pioneer among investors backing women.

Diverse by Design


Save a Seat for Your Daughter - BetterUpFounded in 2013 by Alexi Robichaux and Eddie Medina, BetterUp is a male-founded, mobile-based coaching platform aimed at expanding access to executive-quality coaching to individuals across all levels. The BetterUp venture has maintained inclusivity as a goal since inception and boasts 47% of leadership roles as women, and 57% of company-wide roles held by women, a balance they are maintaining as they hire at least three new employees weekly in addition to their current 63.

With a constant working goal of 50% women as they scale, BetterUp is dedicated to ensuring that their employees are diverse, happy and feel supported in their endeavors both in-office and out. They recently sponsored a group of their engineers at AfroTech, and almost 40% of their engineering team is female. Their first engineer was African American.

For BetterUp leaders, hiring from a diverse talent pool has never been a question, and they work hard on job descriptions and other mitigating factors to ensure no one is passed up because of culture, personality, skin color, or the like. At BetterUp, there aren’t good managers and inclusive managers; good managers ARE inclusive managers. This attitude surrounding diversity is ideal and serves as an incredible example to companies across the board.

Maria Klawe Celebrates Athena Alliance and Diversity

By | Announcements, Board Gender Diversity, The Athena Program | No Comments

As we get closer to our fundraiser in Palo Alto, we’re looking forward to sharing the evening with wonderful, accomplished speakers including Maria Klawe, Geoffrey Moore and Samaira M. Following last week’s introduction to Geoffrey, we’re thrilled to share a bit about Maria Klawe and her incredible achievements.

Maria Klawe for Athena Alliance

Maria Klawe boasts an impressive career in computer science, mathematics and academia, currently serving as the first female president of Harvey Mudd College. She began her role at Harvey Mudd in 2006, taking a seat as the institution’s third president and the first woman to lead the university.

Maria has held leadership roles in higher learning for almost 30 years, serving as Dean of Engineering and professor of Computer Science at Princeton and Dean of Science, Vice President of Student and Academic Services and head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia over the last three decades.

Maria is also a renowned researcher, speaker and board member. She began her research at IBM Research in California and has since made significant strides in the fields of mathematics and computer science. Some of her contributions include human-computer interaction, gender issues in information technology and discrete mathematics, her current research focus. Maria is a distinguished speaker and has lectured at universities across North America as well as international conferences on topics ranging from engineering and gender and gaming to K-12 science and mathematics education and diversity in science.

She holds board seats on Math for America, EdReports.org, and the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Selection Board. Maria is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a trustee for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. She has received an ABIE Award for Leadership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Association of Computer Science, an Achievement Award from the American Association of University Women and Distinguished Service Award from the Computing Research Association. Maria was ranked 17th on Fortune’s 2014 list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and inducted into the US News STEM Solutions Leadership Hall of Fame.

We are honored to feature such an incredible woman at Save a Seat for Your Daughter. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Maria Klawe and other speakers. Join us and enjoy a silent auction, delightful company and purposeful, constructive conversation around increasing gender diversity in the boardroom. Don’t forget to bring your daughters and sons! Grab your tickets for our December 7 event, and help us move our future towards parity.

Spend the Evening with Geoffrey Moore and Athena Alliance!

By | Announcements, Board Gender Diversity, The Athena Program | One Comment

This year’s Athena Alliance fundraiser, on December 7 in Palo Alto, features an incredible lineup of speakers including Geoffrey Moore, Maria Klawe and Samaira M. These guests represent success across a wide range of fields and ages, and we are excited to introduce and welcome them, beginning with Geoffrey Moore.

Geoffrey Moore

Geoffrey Moore is an established and remarkably successful writer and advisor to both start-up efforts and renowned tech companies. He has advised many strong CEOs, including Salesforce.com CEO, Mark Benioff. Moore is also an investor with Mohr Davidow and Wildcat Venture Partners, has served on the boards of Akamai and Lithium, and is a world-renowned author known by top leaders globally.

Moore received a bachelors degree in American literature from Stanford University and a PhD in English literature from University of Washington. Following graduation, he served as a college English teacher before relocating again to the Bay Area and revamping his career. Since this move, Geoffrey has accrued experience as a technology training specialist, a salesman and a marketing expert. He currently provides services as a marketing consultant for a variety of companies, including giants like Salesforce and Microsoft.

In addition to his consulting services, Moore has also written numerous books on topics ranging from issues faced by both start-up and established companies to market dynamics. His most well-known book, Crossing the Chasm, has sold over a million copies and has been rewritten multiple times to include the notable client stories Moore continues to accumulate in his consulting work. With such an impressive base of knowledge, it is fortunate that Moore also enjoys speaking and delivers 50 – 80 speeches yearly on disruption, market dynamics and other areas of expertise.

The Athena Alliance is honored to feature Geoffrey Moore at Save a Seat for Your Daughter, our upcoming fundraiser to help move the needle toward board parity at a significantly faster pace. Join us in Palo Alto next month, and spend the evening with Geoffrey and other speakers, honorees and an amazing collection of silent auction items up for bid! We encourage you to bring your daughters and families so that we can all work together to increase diversity and gender representation in our board rooms. Let’s make sure our daughters, and our futures, have a seat. Grab your tickets now and mark your calendar!

Save a Seat for Your Daughter

By | Announcements, Board Gender Diversity, The Athena Program | No Comments

The Athena Alliance is very excited to announce our upcoming fundraiser, Save a Seat for Your Daughter, with support from Nasty Woman Wines, Delphix, PwC and Deloitte.

This December 7, join us in Palo Alto, California for an inspiring and entertaining evening with top leaders and investors throughout the San Francisco area and beyond. We’ll have a fantastic female DJ keep us company as we network, enjoy delicious food and drink and participate in a silent auction for incredible items including coaching sessions with John Chambers!

Featured speakers:

Geoffrey Moore
Maria Klawe
Samaira M

Save a Seat for Your Daughter is catered to all ages, so we encourage you to bring your future board members along for the experience!

Keep your eyes and ears open for more details in the coming weeks, and don’t forget to get registered and reserve your spot! Buy in groups for ticket savings!

Save a Seat for Your Daughter

Athena Alliance Hosts Joann Lublin

By | Announcements, The Athena Program | No Comments

Athena Alliance Hosts Joann Lublin

The Athena Alliance is honored and excited to share that next Friday, September 8, we will come together with DLA Piper and Deloitte to host Joann S. Lublin, Wall Street Journal editor and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Earning It. Joann will engage in a Fireside Chat with Athena Alliance CEO, Coco Brown, then participate in an intimate panel discussion with an incredible group of Athena CEOs:

Joann’s book, Earning It, chronicles many of the obstacles successful women in the business world, including herself, have faced as they climbed the ladder to find a top spot. The topic for the evening will focus on inspirational stories of finding mentors, overcoming challenges, and the ways in which positive male leadership and a strong peer network have supported their career growth to the top. We are looking forward to hearing from Joann and our fellow pioneering woman for a night of encouragement, motivation and camaraderie.

If you are an executive woman interested in joining Athena, a CEO or a Board Influencer and would like to join us for similar events in the future, please visit athenaalliance.org to learn more about our mission, membership and upcoming events.

How Athena Helped The Leader In Law Force Technology Bring a Woman to The Board: Julie Cullivan Joins the Board of Axon

By | Announcements, Board Gender Diversity, Board Matching, The Athena Program | No Comments

As of Wednesday, July 19, law enforcement technology giant, AXON has welcomed Athena Alliance member, Julie Cullivan to its Board of Directors. We are incredibly honored to have assisted in the placement of such a talented woman and excited to see the positive impact Julie can make in this role.

Axon CEO, Rick Smith, was introduced to Athena by the Head of Talent for a prominent Bay Area VC firm. With just one coffee and a follow-up phone call, Athena was able to suggest a number of terrific woman to consider. Rick Smith talked about this process and his experience in a video interview shared on the Athena YouTube channel. Rick touched on the importance of boards evolving with the company and shared how having diverse members, who are readily available through programs like the Athena Alliance, can help expand the impact of such an important decision.

Julie Cullivan has recently acquired a new role as SVP, Business Operations and CIO of ForeScout Technologies, following four and a half years as EVP, Business Operations and CIO at FireEye. At FireEye, Julie helped create and implement the company strategy, leading Business Operations and Information Technology through an IPO that increased the company’s overall revenue from $80 million to over $700 million and establishing their worth as a billion dollar corporation.

In her new role at ForeScout Technologies, Julie will build and maintain information security strategies for the Internet of Things company and lead actions across the company to move forward, namely through implementation of innovative technology solutions.

Julie brings an impressive skillset and portfolio to the Axon board, having secured her place as a thought leader in numerous aspects of technology, including cyber security, business digitization and more, and adding her experience in sales, channel and marketing operations, women in security and developing powerful, effective teams.

The Athena Alliance was pleased to work with Axon in taking steps toward a more diverse, representative board. In combination with Axon’s effort for diversity, Julie Cullivan’s expertise in technology and passion for gender diversity on boards is a promising move for the company, for Julie and for The Athena Alliance. Congratulations, Julie!

“I’m extremely happy to welcome Ms. Cullivan to Axon’s Board of Directors. Her combined extensive business, sales operations, IT and cyber security expertise brings huge value to the Axon Board of Directors. The value of such expertise can hardly be overstated at a time when our Company continues to grow, expand and evolve.”  

–  Axon CEO and founder, Rick Smith

If you want to introduce us to a board that could benefit from the support Axon received through Athena, email me coco@athenaalliance.org. I’m very bullish about our ability to make great introductions quickly and frictionlessly.

The Athena Alliance Welcomes Nancy Sheppard, Founder of Women2Boards, to Our Leadership Team

By | Announcements | No Comments

There is no shortage of qualified women for boards, but there is a need to connect these exceptional women to boards looking to fill an open seat. The current pace of change toward gender parity in the boardroom is 1% per year. At this rate parity for the largest companies will be achieved in 30 years, and for the smallest 50 or more.

The need for an organization that can scale to accelerate the pace of change has become increasingly apparent. We believe Athena is that organization! We expect to see significant expansion for the organization in 2017 through membership development, program sponsorships, and board opportunities. To accelerate our own scale and ability to drive change, Nancy Sheppard, who has expertly led Women2Boards with the same mission, is joining us. Her addition provides us with more resources to augment that expansion.

Nancy founded Women2Boards in late 2014 to provide matching services for smaller company boards. Women2Boards also assisted its members on their journey, providing 1:1 coaching and guidance as they explored board opportunities. Since its inception, the organization has served over 100 women nationwide, and has made more than 30 referrals of qualified women to boards and search firms.

Since Athena’s inception less than one year ago, we have connected women with 17 board opportunities at organizations of all sizes, from large public companies to late-stage private companies; there are more board opportunities on deck to be added this quarter. The organization has received more than $400,000 in donations, including major support from industry leaders Autodesk, Intuit and DLA Piper.

The Athena Alliance is not a recruiting firm and it is not a board training program. Rather, the organization serves as an extension of a board’s intimate network, introducing them to incredible executive women. At the same time, we are an essential part of a woman’s support structure, helping her overcome the ‘last mile’ barriers to board service and ensuring that she is prepared, such that when she is tapped for a board opportunity it’s hers if she wants it.

Nancy will join The Athena Alliance as a member of our Leadership Team with a focus on membership advisory services for women preparing to serve in board roles. She will also drive communications strategies and programs to advance Athena’s mission.

Nancy’s past experience includes 20+ years as CEO and director, Western Independent Bankers, founding board member for a bank services corporation, and trustee for a workers’ self-insurance group. She was a member of the leadership team at the California Bankers Association and spent several years on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Her record of working in male-dominated environments has given her a passion to assist more women break through the boardroom ceiling. She was selected as one of the Most Influential Women in Business by the San Francisco Business Times. Because of her leadership in the board diversity movement, she was asked to chair the 2020 Women on Boards San Francisco, National Discussion on Board Diversity for the past two years.

I am delighted that Nancy is joining Athena and bringing with her the best practices and wisdom she has developed through Women2Boards. Her past experience, obvious passion for and dedication to helping women as they reach for a board seat will be an incredible asset to our program..


The Athena Alliance Secures Its First Champion-level Sponsorship from Autodesk

By | Announcements | No Comments

The Athena Alliance is thrilled to announce our first Champion-level sponsorship from Autodesk, a global leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Autodesk’s generosity will enable The Athena Alliance to increase the visibility of executive women by diversifying their leadership opportunities through networking and corporate board matching.

The Athena Alliance wishes to extend special thanks to Amy Bunszel, Autodesk’s Vice President of Digital Engineering Products and our champion at the company. “At Autodesk, we enable people to imagine, design and create a better world,” said Bunszel. “In pursuing this mission, we are committed to advancing diversity at all levels of leadership and are proud to support efforts to increase diversity in the boardroom.”

In addition to sponsoring The Athena Alliance, Autodesk also supports the advancement of women in technology through involvement with Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, YesWeCode and TechWomen.

The Athena Alliance wishes to extend our sincerest thanks to Autodesk for their support.

If you or your company would like to sponsor The Athena Alliance in their mission to advance women’s leadership and visibility, please reach out to our CEO at coco@athenaalliance.org.

The Athena Alliance is now a 501c3 Nonprofit Organization

By | Announcements | No Comments

Dear members, supporters, and friends,

The Athena Alliance has achieved many important goals in its first six months of operations – we have strengthened our network, expanded our community, and made our very first board match. Today, we are proud to announce one of our most exciting achievements to date – the approval of our application for federal tax-exempt status!

The approval of this status is especially meaningful for me as both an Athena board member and as an attorney at DLA Piper LLP, Athena’s pro bono counsel. Together with my colleagues in DLA Piper’s tax group, we prepared and filed Athena’s application for tax exempt status. This status, more commonly known as 501c3 status for the section of the federal tax code which establishes the exemption, will enable The Athena Alliance to more effectively pursue its mission of board gender parity. The benefits of 501c3 status to Athena, and many other nonprofits, may include:

Donations from individuals and corporations to a nonprofit with 501c3 tax exempt status are generally tax deductible for the donors, which often enhances fundraising efforts significantly.

Grant Funding
Most foundations require a nonprofit organization to have 501c3 status as a condition of eligibility for grant funding. Nonprofit organizations without 501c3 status may miss out on these funding opportunities.

Tax savings
A 501c3 organization is exempt from federal taxes on income derived from activities related to organization’s tax-exempt purpose. The organization may also be exempt from state income taxes, sales taxes, and employment tax in certain states. Every dollar in tax savings may be used to advance the organization’s mission, a valuable benefit for every nonprofit.

Other perks
Nonprofit organizations with 501c3 status may be entitled to various other perks, including discounted rates from vendors and suppliers, discounted postage rates, and lower media outlet rates for announcements and press releases.

Overall, 501c3 status is a game changer for The Athena Alliance and its mission. With tax-exempt status, Athena will be even more capable of creating change at the highest levels of leadership.

Ready to support gender parity in the boardroom? Donate to The Athena Alliance here.

Many thanks to my colleagues at DLA Piper for all of their contributions to The Athena Alliance.

Debra Vernon
Attorney at DLA Piper & Board Member, The Athena Alliance