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!


The Athena Program

Athena Member Feature: Helen Yu

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

We’re very excited for the upcoming growth in 2018 and looking forward to featuring our incredible Athena members, like Helen Yu. Helen Yu is an accomplished Athena Pioneer with wonderful insight and experience to offer around board service. Athena members, please reach out if you would like to work with Helen Yu. If you’re not an Athena woman yet – let’s make that happen!

Helen Yu, Athena Alliance

What does your career journey look like?

I am an experienced leader with a track record of transforming organizations, whether it’s accomplishing a turnaround within a Fortune 1000 organization or coaching a startup to profitability. Known for my passion and sharp strategic thinking, I am able to operationalize my vision and oversee successful end to end execution, from building brand awareness to landing significant customer deals. By improving and scaling business models, I have delivered millions in incremental revenue growth and profitability in sales, consulting and education businesses.

In general manager roles with $250+ million P&L responsibility, I have built high performing global organizations through innovative strategy, collaboration, motivated teams and vigorous execution. Over the last decade, I have achieved multiple turnarounds in both traditional and SaaS based businesses, for sustainable top and bottom line growth. I am a collaborative and inspirational team leader committed to the growth of the people who work with me. Many of my team members have followed me from company to company.

As the Chief Growth Officer at Clinc Inc., a Conversational AI company, I am responsible for their Global Field Operation team consisting of Sales, Marketing and Customer Success. I am CEO and Founder of TIGON Advisory Inc., a company that provides consultancy that advises CXO or/and founders in the development of their vision, operation strategy, organization alignment and cross functional performance metrics pre and post IPO, GTM strategy to drive sustainable growth and team accountability. I was Group Vice President at Marketo for 3 years, a Regional Director at Adobe and before then at Oracle and Hyperion.

Can you highlight ways in which being female particularly shaped that journey? Are there female or male mentors who supported you as you developed?

Having grown up with 10 cousins, being the only girl and youngest, it prepared me well to learn how to get a seat at the dinner table at young age. It also makes me feel extremely comfortable working in a male dominated environment. I have had amazing female and male mentors who supported me along the journey. Phil Fernandez, who was the founder and CEO of Marketo, and Jason Holmes, who is President and COO at Showpad, former CCO at Marketo, are both instrumental to my journey to the C-Suite. Kris Bennett, who was my second manager at Hyperion, taught me what difference a great manager can make.

When did you decide board service was the next step for you?

I have been ready after serving on the Advisory Board at a couple of companies since last year. I started my own company last year to focus on advising CEO/Founders on their vision, operation strategy, organization alignment and cross functional performance metrics pre and post IPO, GTM strategy to drive sustainable growth and team accountability.

How did you hear about Athena?

Athena’s mission is very aligned with my passion. I heard about Coco through a couple of people in my network, and she reached out to me after I filled out the online board assessment form. We met when she visited Chicago last November.

What are you hoping to achieve through your membership with the Athena Alliance?

I hope to get on 2-3 board seats, help Coco jump start Midwest operations and assist with fundraising for Athena in the Midwest. Most importantly, I’d like to help create more opportunities for other women.

What is your proudest moment in your career so far?

My proudest moment in my career so far is that I have mentored and coached so many team members, and each of them have grown significantly. The multiplier effect to be a hero maker makes me proud. As a servant leader, I take pride in team growth and success.

Will you share a time in your business career when you felt being a woman was used against you?

I joined a company where I was the only female executive. They were not able to embrace different perspectives and never really treated me fairly. I left the company knowing that I made the right decision.

I have learned lessons from being mistreated. I decided to take part in making the work place much more appealing to up-and-coming female leaders. I have devoted energy to mentor and coach many of them in the past decades. Having more talented women believe in themselves and help each other is a step forward. The biggest mistake women can make is not to support each other. I have worked with so many inspiring male and female leaders who sponsored me throughout my career.  I am always looking for opportunities to give it back to others who are in need.

What would you say to women who are just beginning their careers and hope to make a difference as you have?

Be very good at what you do to get a seat at the table. It doesn’t matter what you know. It matters who knows what you know.

My success formula is:

  • Only do things you are passionate about.  
  • Curious about everything and learn as much as you can.
  • Be gritty.  Never settle for less.

Thanks so much to Helen Yu for sharing her journey and insights with us. Stay tuned for more Athena member features, and if you haven’t completed the Board Ready Assessment to become a member alongside Helen Yu, get started here.

Here’s why Silicon Valley companies need more women on boards

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

Happy New Year, Athena Alliance! We’re excited to share our first post of the year – Coco Brown featured in Silicon Valley Business Journal! Coco weighs in on why we push for more women on boards, and Athena gets a mention as well! Check out the article here, or visit Silicon Valley Business Journal to read the original!

What do you say, Athena network? Can we help Silicon Valley learn to love broccoli?

Save a Seat for Incredible Girls Like Samaira M

By | The Athena Program | No Comments

Our annual Athena Alliance fundraiser, featuring speakers like Samaira M, is coming up in just over a week, and we’re getting excited to share an evening with such incredible speakers, honorees and guests. One of our coolest speakers for Save a Seat for Your Daughter is Samaira M, 9-year-old, fourth grader, coder, Maker, CEO.

Samaira MAfter dominating family game day one summer afternoon, first-grade Samaira hatched the novel idea of combining her love for coding with her skill at board games and created CoderBunnyz, a board game that teaches anyone to code and have fun all at once. After pitching the concept to her parents, Samaira worked with graphic designers all over the world to bring her game to life, and now she has a new title as CEO (at 9 years old!).

Samaira didn’t just invent the CoderBunnyz game; she also travels to schools, tech events, libraries and more to introduce and demonstrate her game to budding coders of all ages. Her mission is to offer a fun, playful way for learners from ages 4 to 104 to grasp the concepts of CS coding. So far, she’s given more than 40 CoderBunnyz workshops in Silicon Valley and has taught over 1400 kids. Samaira M has even taught coding to over 50 kids at Google HQ!

Samaira M and CoderBunnyzInventing and teaching a high-level board game is an amazing accomplishment on its own, especially for someone in grade school, but Samaira didn’t stop there! She’s also launched her own nonprofit organization, Girls Code U, dedicated to teaching coding to underrepresented girls. Samaira is committed to the goal of getting kids excited about STEM and coding from young ages, and she is a shining example of what our daughters can accomplish with encouragement to succeed. We’re honored to have her as a guest at Save a Seat for Your Daughter.

Save a Seat for Your Daughter with Our Amazing Honorees

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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

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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!

Athena Member Feature: Robin Carmichael

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Last month, we introduced you to Athena woman, Billie Otto. This month, just in time for our Seattle launch, Robin Carmichael is in the spotlight.

Robin Carmichael

We are incredibly proud to represent each of the amazing women in our network and organization, and Robin Carmichael is one of those outstanding executive women. Successful, experienced and determined to rise above gender barriers without batting an eye, Robin Carmichael embodies the Athena woman, and we are excited to celebrate our growth with her!

What does your career journey look like?

My career has been primarily based in the Life Sciences and medical devices. My degree is in Nursing, and I tutored Chemistry in college. While I only worked in a hospital for a couple years, my nursing background has helped my business career immensely. It gave me a holistic view of the healthcare industry and how to navigate products through the system. It also eased my early path in the [male dominated] corporate world, as nurses are perceived as credible, resourceful and steady in a crisis.

I was recruited by Baxter Travenol to be a diabetes clinical specialist, and as it happens in big companies, programs come and go, so I moved into Sales and Marketing and found that I was really quite good at leading a sales team. Later, I went back into the clinical research at ProCyte, a peptide-based biopharma and quickly moved up into the VP of Marketing position once commercial products began to roll out. I launched seven major product lines using the company’s technology, built the international distribution business and established core licensing partners. I served as Chief Operating Officer at DERMAdoctor, Inc., a leading health and dermatology product e-commerce retailer, which gave me a solid understanding of the transitioning internet platforms and consumer engagement.

I came to my current company, Helix BioMedix, Inc., in November of 2007 as VP of Marketing & Business Development, then was promoted to COO and am now President & CEO.  I also serve on our board of directors. At Helix BioMedix, I have worked to leverage the company’s core IP efforts in multiple pathways including the drug, device and personal care markets. While I have not taken a traditional career path, I think the common theme is loving a technology and the people I work with while making things happen that move the company forward.  

Can you highlight ways in which being a female particularly shaped that journey? Are there female or male mentors who supported you as you developed?

I’m not sure that being female really shaped my career journey other than I did change jobs so that I did not travel as much when my father was terminally ill. I think tweaking your job for family reasons is a fairly typical career decision for most women.  

By way of mentors, I have been very fortunate to have had several, and each imparted wisdoms that have helped me be successful. John Fowler at Baxter Healthcare was an ex-marine, and he taught me discipline, planning and execution. John Walsh showed me how to manage people. Jack Clifford, President & CEO of ProCyte Corporation, pushed me out of my comfort zone, gave me extensive boardroom exposure and gave me the opportunity to lead on critical projects. He turned around a distressed company and drove a lean team to produce impressive results – it was an incredible learning experience to be part of this evolution.

When did you decide board service was the next step for you?

I’ve been actively presenting board meetings for twenty years, and it was just a natural progression to put my skills to use by serving as a board member. I joined my company’s board several years ago. My former board members have often recommend me to start-ups they are working with, as I am able to contribute in a variety of areas from strategic to practical. Being on an outside board is also a great way to connect with a group of colleagues who have a depth of experience and expertise that are valuable resources.  

How did you hear about Athena?

My wonderful friend, Liz Tinkham, invited me to the Seattle Athena launch event. Coco Brown, Founder & CEO of Athena Alliance, gave an overview of its success in fostering women on boards and in networking with each other. The more I learned, the more I wanted to be a part of it!

What are you hoping to achieve through your membership with the Athena Alliance?

I think the Athena Alliance is an important resource for learning about new board opportunities as well as networking with other successful and dynamic women. And hopefully, I will be able to give back to the group as well by being a mentor or resource for others.

What is your proudest moment in your career so far?

There are a lot of career moments that have made me happy, but overall it is really a journey – like chapters in a book. Hitting breakeven and moving forward to profitability at ProCyte was one of them. Navigating an exit in a difficult M&A was another. Seeing those who have worked (or interned) for me go on to find success and then take the time to keep in touch as they grow in their careers has been very rewarding.  

Will you share a time in your business career when you felt being a woman was used against you?

Personally, I don’t dwell on this, because everybody has something they have to overcome in life, and I believe mastering challenges leads to inner strength. My father always told me I could do anything I wanted in life: “Just focus on your goal and move forward.” For me, it’s about personal grit. Handling objections was something I learned early in my career when I was in sales, and it is a necessary skill for overall success.

If you look at Russell Wilson, of the Seattle Seahawks, many people would say he is too small to be a quarterback and, in fact, he was a third round draft pick. But he shuts out the crowd noise, focuses on winning, executing the task at hand and getting to the goal line. I like to think about great role models like Gertrude Boyle, Chairman of Columbia Sportswear. An accidental CEO, she resourcefully and successfully turned around a struggling company and kept her own persona in the process. She is on my list of great women I’d like to meet.  You can find more of her inspiration wisdoms for daily encouragement here.

What would you say to women who are just beginning their careers and hope to make a difference as you have?

Find your passion and follow it. If you love what you are doing, you will find your own self-motivation to get through challenges. Passion radiates and stimulates your team.  It also makes you memorable.

Work hard, work smart and fail fast. Cliché but true. If you do your job well, people will notice, but you also need to showcase your successes as well – don’t be a wallflower. Mistakes are opportunities to grow, so take that situation and make it a new asset: what did we learn, what can we do to correct it, what can we do to prevent it happening again, and with this new knowledge, can we do it better in the future?

You are always selling. When I left nursing and went into the corporate world, my boss told me that regardless of your title and your department, you are always selling – yourself, your personal brand, your projects and your team. So develop your pitch, make it clear and concise and go for it! This mantra has served me well.

Network, network, network. Both in your industry as well as outside. My career has been in the life sciences, but some of the best inspiration for new ideas has come from networking with Washington Wine industry executives and tech industry leaders.  

Be there for other women. We don’t seem to mentor our own in the same way men mentor other men or women. This is changing, so be part of that revolution! You have something you can give at any point in your career; don’t think you have to wait to hit the C-suite before you reach out! If you read about a woman’s success, send her an email with a pat on the back. Getting involved in various women’s business groups, even as an event volunteer, gives you great exposure in so many ways.  

We’re grateful to Robin Carmichael for sharing her journey and insight with us and future Athena members across the country. We are so excited to work with you!

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 Member Feature: Billie Otto

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

The Athena Alliance isn’t just an organization dedicated to achieving gender parity in the boardroom. We’re a collection of outstanding executive women, like Billie Otto, with the skills and experience necessary to make this push a reality. Without these incredible women, we would be missing an integral part of the solution to America’s boardroom diversity challenge: connections. We’re proud of our Athena network and each of the women included, so we’re starting a series to share a peek into each of these amazing lives and what they bring to a boardroom table.

We’re very excited to feature Billie Otto as first in our series, as Billie is from the Seattle area and represents our expansion as a community. Athena is growing as an organization, and we are looking forward to sharing our mission with members from Seattle, California and across the U.S. Let’s get to know Billie Otto.

What does your career journey look like?

I began my career in public accounting,  where I enjoyed serving a diverse set of clients in a wide variety of industries while working for and with a variety of different teams and leaders. From there I had the opportunity to support the growth of a newly-public company. I spent 16 years there in several executive roles including ten years as EVP and CIO working heavily on M&A activity. For the most recent three years, I’ve been with a national professional services firm and have had the pleasure of expanding my board work and advising middle market companies and CEOs.

Can you highlight ways in which being a female particularly shaped that journey? Are
there female or male mentors who supported you as you developed?

I didn’t spend much time thinking about my gender in the workplace until we had our first of two daughters. Shortly after that, I became a more visible leader in the organization and realized I had more than my daughters watching me evolve as a leader. I learned to embrace the idea that gender played a role in my leadership journey, and learned to recognize things I brought to the table that differed from my male counterparts.

I have had both male and female mentors in my career, but my role models and sponsors were mostly male. Their feedback, support and guidance has been invaluable.

When did you decide board service was the next step for you?
I started serving on nonprofit boards very early in my career, but I didn’t really see the power of good corporate board governance until my work at a publicly traded company that began in the late 90’s. I was exposed to the Board every quarter and saw clearly how the role of an evolving, maturing board can impact the trajectory of a corporation and the outcomes for its shareholders.

How did you hear about Athena?
Early this spring, Liz Tinkham, Athena’s EVP of the Seattle Chapter, introduced the mission of the Athena Alliance to a group of board ready women.

What are you hoping to achieve through your membership with the Athena Alliance?
I hope to get the opportunity to meet board members and CEOs who are looking to
make additions or changes to their board. Additionally, I hope to meet and support
other Athena members.

What is your proudest moment in your career so far?
When I left the public company and my colleagues after so many years, I left with great pride and no regrets. We had more than doubled the size of the company, but more importantly, we’d dramatically improved and expanded the capabilities and services we brought to market. It was wonderful to reflect on what we’d accomplished, the teams we’d built and the great future that lay ahead for the

Will you share a time in your business career when you felt being a woman was used against you?

I can recall several points where I was the first or the minority, and that made things a little more challenging. I chose to see it as just that though – a challenge. I was fortunate that no doors were closed to me, they just might have been a little harder to open.

What would you say to women who are just beginning their careers and hope to make a
difference as you have?

First I would say to have goals but to be flexible and opportunistic. Don’t be afraid to
take on challenges and move toward difficult and new things – it will make you that
much more a capable, trusted and confident candidate for the next big challenge.

Thank you, Billie Otto, for sharing your insight and experience with us. We look forward to working with you as an Athena Alliance member!

The Athena Alliance – Year 1

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Athena Alliance - Year 1

Just under 18 months ago, a group of dedicated, powerhouse executive women made the decision to upgrade their regular meetings to a mission-driven non-profit organization — dedicated to furthering gender parity on corporate boards. Since then, the Athena Alliance has made incredible strides in seeing this objective through to fulfillment. Our vision is of a world where everyone benefits from the indisputable value of women contributing at the highest levels of leadership, alongside men and in parity – 50/50. Our first mission in achieving this vision is to bring more women to the boardroom by supporting women in the last mile efforts to get them in the right place at the right time and ready to share their unique and relevant value. Further we support our mission by enhancing the intimate network of boards and making introductions to the right women for the vacant seats they need to fill.

Our first 18 months have been spent mostly as an unknown entity relying on critical early believers like Autodesk, Intuit, Microsoft, OpenView Venture Partners, Deloitte and PwC and a few key connections within our small team to drive opportunity and awareness. We all worked hard to contribute far more than we might ever see come back to us to build relationships, deliver value and spread the word. We are now beginning to see ourselves on a national stage, with VCs calling Athena, with F500 companies reaching out and women and boards spreading the word of the great value they are getting.

Board Matches

In just 18 months, we have supported more than 30 boards and women from all over the US in the consideration of women directors. Within this, we have more than 20 actively considering Athena women today (a combination of both private and public companies). Six have brought Athena women to their boards. Beyond these end results, the meaningful expansion of networks for women and boards is almost immeasurable. We’ve put forward more than 150 women, ensuring “eyeballs” to their profiles, and we’ve secured more than 60 first interviews, many resulting in multiple interviews with board directors and CEOs.

Member Growth

While we have well over 700 C-level women in our close network, by the end of the year we expect more than 100 will be Athena members (we have 94 now). These women are Pioneers (already on a public company board), or Aspiring Directors (breadth and level of leadership clearly qualified to serve on a private — generally series B or later — or public board). Our members get white-glove, high-touch, 1:1 and intimate group coaching around board selection readiness. We also work actively to enhance their networks in the right ways, connecting them to CEOs, VCs, seated directors and board recruiters. And, we help raise their visibility through PR, speaking opportunities and awards.

Amazing Feedback

We have received incredible feedback from the CEOs and board members of those companies we have worked with so far.

“Sourcing world class board members is a tough challenge for a startup. Typically, our options are limited to going through our existing board, or personal networks. Athena opened up a new channel for us, and allowed us to meet incredibly talented and driven women execs who were board ready. I could not recommend Athena more strongly if sourcing world class women leaders for your board is important to you.” – Lawrence Coburn, CEO – DoubleDutch

“The Athena Alliance connected us with a broad array of incredibly talented women from a variety of disciplines, all with deep knowledge and experience in various technology sectors. Importantly, the process could not have been easier and more enjoyable.” – Rick Smith, CEO – Axon

“… The Athena Alliance has given me an incredibly high quality peer group to network with and learn from. The connections I’ve made through Athena are with people who truly care about supporting each other and have the wisdom and experience to add Value.”  – Amy Bunszel, VP of Digital Products – Autodesk, Athena member

“Athena has a unique approach to not just help women prepare for board service, butbuilding an active network that connects boards directly with candidates. Within monthsof joining Athena I was in conversation with a Fortune 500 company.” – Obi Felten, Head of Moonshots – X (Formerly Google X), Athena member

Acquired Funding

Athena closed 2016 with total contributions slightly over $300,000, in large part due to a few key believers – Autodesk, Intuit, DLA Piper, and those 35 women I mentioned earlier. 2017 could be a $1,000,000 year, enabling us to accelerate impact on a much bigger scale. We have $800,000 in our sights now and are preparing to launch in two new regions. I want to encourage you to put our December 7th fundraiser on your calendar (more info coming to our site) and do what you can to help us raise the last $200,000 to reach, not only a goal, but significantly enhanced momentum and power for a very worthy vision.

We are honored to report such wonderful success in such a short time. It takes a village, and we are blessed with an amazing one. Athena is devoted to making even more progress in the rest of 2017 and in years to come. Join us, and let’s move this needle at an acceptable rate together! Please visit us at athenaalliance.org to learn more.