DirectWomen is increasing the representation
of women lawyers on corporate boards.

Thank you to our sponsors!

The mission of DirectWomen is to increase the representation of women lawyers on corporate boards. DirectWomen identifies leading women lawyers from around the country who are able to provide the experience, independence, and business judgment required for board effectiveness. Through its various programs, DirectWomen develops and positions women attorney leaders for board service. It also serves as a resource for companies seeking qualified women board candidates.

Who We Are

DirectWomen is a national nonprofit that works to increase the representation of women lawyers on corporate boards. More than 40% of DirectWomen alumnae have been elected to serve on at least one corporate board.

What We Do

DirectWomen hosts its Board Institute, Sandra Day O’Connor Board Excellence Award Luncheon, and many regional programs and webinars. These events provide education and networking opportunities around the issue of women on boards.

Upcoming Programs

Board Institute

The application for the 2023 Board Institute is now closed. Please email [email protected] to be notified when the application for the 2024 Board Institute opens around Labor Day.

The annual Board Institute is a key way in which DirectWomen fulfills its mission. The goal of this annual two-day program is to position an elite group of exceptional women lawyers for service as directors of major U.S. corporations. 

Each year, DirectWomen identifies a small group of leading women lawyers from around the country to participate in the Board Institute based on an assessment of their ability to provide the experience, independence, and business judgment required for board effectiveness. The Board Institute provides working sessions designed to help participants develop their value proposition and personal board-search strategies.

At the Board Institute, the class meets with an extraordinary faculty comprised of CEOs, C-suite Executives, and directors of public companies to discuss key issues facing corporate directors about ESG, nominating, and governance, and other relevant topics. The class also meets with DirectWomen honorees and alumnae, many of whom have extensive board experience. The Board Institute also provides opportunities to learn from senior search firm executives. 

More than 250 women have participated in the Board Institute over the past 15 years and provide a rich pool of director candidates. 

Success Stories

Marcia Backus

Marcia E. Backus is Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Chief Compliance Officer at Occidental Petroleum Corporation, where she is responsible for the

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Kimberly T. Ellwanger

Kimberly Ellwanger serves as a board member of Heritage Bank, a full-service commercial bank headquartered in Olympia, WA, with 67 branches in Washington and Oregon,

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Sarah Hlavinka McConnell

Sarah Hlavinka McConnell serves as Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary for Xerox Corporation. Prior to joining Xerox, Ms. McConnell served as Executive

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