Annually, DirectWomen awards the Sandra Day O’Connor Board Excellence Award to women lawyers who have served with distinction as independent directors of public companies and have worked to advance the value of diversity in board positions. This award is named for Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. An innovator and pioneer, she became the first woman justice in the Supreme Court’s history. The women honored with the Sandra Day O'Connor Board Excellence Award exemplify the manner in which Sandra Day O'Connor leads her life, paving new paths for the women who come after her. A selection committee chooses recipients who epitomize the spirit of DirectWomen and honors them and the companies on whose boards they serve for their achievements and commitment to promoting board diversity.

Our 2017 Awards Luncheon was held at 12:00 p.m. ET on October 20, 2017 at the Midtown Hilton in New York. The press release announcing our 2017 honorees can be found here and photos from the event can be found here

The 2018 Board Institute Awards Luncheon will be held on October 12 in New York. If you would like to be added to a list of potential attendees that we will contact when tickets are available for purchase, please email Beth Barefoot ( 

Attending this luncheon not only supports DirectWomen’s mission of increasing the representation of women attorneys on corporate boards, but also provides an excellent opportunity for attendees to network with leading CEOs, directors, search firm executives, DirectWomen alumnae and honorees, and other prominent lawyers.


Pamela L. Carter is an Independent Director at Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., an Independent Director at Enbridge, Inc., an Independent Director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and an Independent Director at CSX Corp. She is on the Board of Directors at Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc...Read More

Jane Sherburne is Principal of Sherburne PLLC, a legal consulting firm providing strategic advice in crisis environments and in connection with regulatory policy developments.  Until July 2014, Ms. Sherburne was Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of...Read More


Patricia Diaz Dennis serves on two public company boards: U.S. Steel and Entravision. She also served on the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance board, retiring in April, 2017, where she was the longest- serving member, having joined in 1995. She was Chair of the Human Resources Committee and,...Read More

Gail Lione is a senior executive with business strategy, intellectual property, human resources, and corporate governance experience in the C-Suite. She is Senior Counsel at Dentons law firm and an adjunct professor of intellectual property law at Georgetown University Law School. She previously...Read More


Paula Boggs is the founder of Boggs Media, LLC, a business that manages her music, speaking, and other creative business activities. She is a Philanthropist, Fundraiser, Public Speaker, Lawyer and Musician. She is also a Board Member of numerous for-profit and non-profit organizations. Paula...Read More

Jamie Gorelick is a partner at WilmerHale in Washington, where she chairs the Regulatory and Government Affairs Department.  A litigator by training, she is listed as one of the “Best Lawyers in America,” a “Super Lawyer,” and a “Washington Legend in the Law.”  She handles matters at the...Read More


Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Chief Marketing and Talent Officer, and Head of Private Banking & Wealth Management New Markets at Credit Suisse AG, and a member of the Executive Boards of Credit Suisse Group AG and Credit Suisse AG. She has global responsibility for overseeing Human Resources,...Read More

Frances Fragos Townsend is an Executive Vice President for Worldwide Government, Legal and Business Affairs at MacAndrews and Forbes Incorporated. She works across MacAndrew’s portfolio companies focusing on international, legal, compliance and business development issues. Prior to that she was...Read More

Ann M. Veneman has a distinguished career in public service, serving as the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005 to 2010 and as the United States Secretary of Agriculture from 2001 to 2005. Veneman’s leadership and vision has been recognized both nationally...Read More


Mary B. Cranston is a Retired Senior Partner of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, an international law firm. She was the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Pillsbury from January 1999 until April 2006, and continued to serve as Chair of the firm until December 2006. She was Firm Senior...Read More

Gloria Santona is the Chief Legal Officer of McDonald’s Corporation, the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with more than 34,000 restaurants in 119 countries. In this role, she leads McDonald’s worldwide legal, compliance, regulatory and corporate governance functions. As part of...Read More


Helene L. Kaplan is of counsel to the firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. She represents not-for-profit institutions and individuals with substantial philanthropic interests. Mrs. Kaplan...Read More

Roberta S. Karmel is Centennial Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law at Brooklyn Law School. She was engaged in the private practice of law in New York City...Read More

Siri S. Marshall is a Director of Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (Presiding Director), Equifax, Inc., Alphatec Holdings, Inc. and BioHorizons, Inc. She retired as the Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary and Chief...Read More


Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky serves on the Boards of Directors of the American Express Company, the Estée Lauder Companies, Intel Corporation, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. She is a Trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and serves on the Board of...Read More

Edith (Ede) E. Holiday is a member of the Board of Directors of the H. J. Heinz Company, Hess Corporation, White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd., Canadian National Railway, and RTI International Metals, Inc. and is a member of the Board of Directors or Trustee of various...Read More

Suzanne Nora Johnson currently serves on the boards of Visa, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., Intuit, Inc. and the American International Group, Inc Ms. Nora Johnson’s community activities include service on the boards of The American Red Cross, the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Institution of...Read More

Deborah C. Wright serves on the boards of Kraft Foods Inc., Time Warner, The Partnership for New York City, The Children’s Defense Fund and Sesame Workshop. She is a member of the Board of Managers of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and served as a member of the Board of Overseers of...Read More


Betsy Z. Cohen has retired as Chief Executive Officer and board member of The Bancorp Bank (NASDAQ: “TBBK”), which she founded in August 2000. The Bancorp Bank is an FDIC-insured electronic institution that provides private label banking products to non-bank entities such as...Read More

Karen Hastie Williams currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Chubb Corporation, Continental Airlines, Inc., Gannett Company, Inc., WGL Holdings, Inc., SunTrust Bank, Inc. and the Fannie Mae Foundation. Ms. Williams’s community activities include service on...Read More

Linda Koch Lorimer is the retired Vice President for Global and Strategic Initiatives at Yale University. Ms. Lorimer has also served as a member of the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing board. She was one of six Officers of the University reporting to the President...Read More

Janiece M. Longoria serves on the Board of Directors of CenterPoint Energy, Inc., the third largest publicly traded natural gas delivery company in the U.S., and the provider of electricity transmission and distribution service for the Houston metropolitan area and natural gas...Read More

Catherine A. Rein serves on the board of directors of The Bank of New York Mellon, First Energy Corp., and is director emeritus of Corning, Inc. Ms. Rein also chairs the MetLife Foundation. She has retired as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of...Read More

Toni Rembe serves on the boards of AT&T Inc. and AEGON N.V. (an international insurance company headquartered in the Netherlands). She formerly served on the boards of Potlatch Corporation, Transamerica Corporation, Pacific Telesis, Safeco Corporation and APL Ltd. Ms. Rembe...Read More


Barbara Barrett’s career has focused on aviation, trade, and technology. In April 2012, she became interim president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She also owns Triple Creek Guest Ranch, a Montana hotel.  Barrett is a member of the boards of the RAND and...Read More

Beverly C. Chell is Co-Founder of Primedia Inc. and served as its Consultant. Over the years, Ms. Chell has held several key positions at Primedia, including Vice Chairman, interim Chief Financial Officer, General Counsel and Secretary. She retired in June 2006. She also served...Read More

Andrea S. Christensen currently serves on the Board of Directors of Keyspan Corporation. Ms. Christensen is Special Counsel in the litigation department at Kaye Scholer LLP, the firm where she was a partner from 1976 to 2005. Her practice focused on class actions, employment and...Read More

Maryellen C. Herringer is an attorney and serves on the boards of a number of corporate and community organizations. Ms. Herringer is presently a member of the Boards of Directors of Wachovia Corporation, a NYSE bank holding company; PG&E Corporation, a NYSE energy-based...Read More

Lisa A. Hook has served as Chief Executive Officer of Neustar, Inc. since October 2010, as a member of the Board since November 2010, and as President since January 2008. Previously, Ms. Hook served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sunrocket, Inc., a voice over IP service provider,...Read More

Patricia A. King served on the Board of Directors of Golden West Financial Corporation from 1994 until October 1, 2006, when Wachovia Corporation acquired Golden West. Ms. King is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Medicine, Ethics and Public Policy at Georgetown...Read More

Ambassador Vilma S. Martinez, a recipient of the ABA’s Margaret Brent Award in 1994, currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Fluor Corporation, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., and Bank of the West. Ms. Martinez was also chosen by President Obama...Read More

Victoria A. Morrison is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Edison Properties, LLC. Prior to that, she was head of the Real Estate Group at the Morristown, New Jersey, based law firm, Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP. Her work includes the acquisition,...Read More

Aulana L. Peters is a retired partner at the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Ms. Peters has served on the board of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, as well as the Boards of Directors of Deere & Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc...Read More

Sheli Z. Rosenberg serves on the Boards of Directors of Avis Budget Group, Inc., CVS Corporation, Equity Residential, Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc. and Ventas Inc. Her previous board service is extensive and varied. She has served on the Boards of Directors of Equity Office...Read More

Laura Stein currently serves on the Board of Directors of Franklin Resources, Inc. She also serves as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of The Clorox Company, with responsibility for global legal, compliance, ethics, internal audit, corporate communications, risk,...Read More