DirectWomen was founded in 2007 as a project of the American Bar Association. Over the past ten years, our network has grown to include over 150 Board Institute alumnae, 35 Sandra Day O'Connor Board Excellence Award honorees, a vibrant group of volunteers, and leaders of the business community, including CEOs and directors.

Since 2010, DirectWomen has been a project of the Tides Center. The following organizations continue to be important strategic partners for DirectWomen:


Catalyst is the leading research and advisory organization working with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. As an independent, nonprofit membership organization, Catalyst conducts research on all aspects of women's career advancement and provides strategic and web-based consulting services globally. In particular, Catalyst tracks the advancement of women on boards of the largest U.S.-based public corporations with its Census of Women Board Directors of the Fortune 500. With the support and confidence of its member organizations and firms, Catalyst remains connected to business and its changing needs. In addition, Catalyst honors exemplary business initiatives that promote women's leadership with the annual Catalyst Award. 


In late 2016, DirectWomen joined Equilar's Board Diversity Network through Board Edge. The Equilar Diversity Network is the “registry of registries” of board-ready executives from leading ethnic and gender diversity organizations. EDN’s goal is to build a consortium that advances diverse representation in boardrooms across the globe. 

Equilar is the “#1 provider of executive data,” collecting data points on 140,000+ public companyboard members and executives. Equilar’s mission is to: “provide the most accurate, up-to-date executive data, corporate governance, and shareholder engagement solutions in easy-to-use software platforms to drive business decisionsand better results.”  The data provides a user with information and tools on corporate governance, shareholder engagement, and compensation benchmarking.  The goal is for the user to use thisinformation to make “better business decisions” and “to drive exceptional results.” 

ABA Commission on Women in the Profession

The Commission was created in August 1987 to assess the status of women in the legal profession, identify barriers to advancement, and recommend to the ABA actions to address problems identified. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first chair of the Commission, set the pace for the Commission to change the face of the legal profession by issuing a groundbreaking report in 1988 showing that women lawyers were not advancing at a satisfactory rate. From this report, the Commission found that a variety of discriminatory barriers remained a part of the professional culture, the significant increase in the number of women attorneys would not eliminate these barriers and a thorough reexamination of the attitudes and structures in the legal profession was needed.

DirectWomen Advisory Board member, Stephanie Scharf is the current Chair of the Commission. Bobbi Liebenberg, Chair of DirectWomen, and Mary Cranston, 2007 Alumna and 2013 Honoree, have also served as Chair of the Commission. 

Vision 2020

DirectWomen is a National Ally of Vision 2020, a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in the commitment to achieve women's economic and social equality. Vision 2020 works to achieve women's economic and social equality by the year 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. Vision 2020 also connects with and convenes National Allies, like DirectWomen, that represent more than 20 million women and girls, and works to advance the initiatives of its Delegates from all 50 states.


Formed in 2004, ION is a national nonprofit network of 16 regional member organizations across the United States representing more than 10,000 executive-level women from a wide range of disciplines. ION gives its members a national voice to advocate for the advancement of women to positions of power in executive suites and boards of directors of publicly traded companies. To read ION’s 2016 Annual Census of Women Board Directors and Executive Officers, click here.

Thirty Percent Coalition

The Thirty Percent Coalition is a unique and groundbreaking national organization of over 60 members committed to the goal of women holding 30% of board seats across public companies by the end of 2015.  Founded in late 2011, the Coalition includes senior business executives, national women's organizations, institutional investors, corporate governance experts and board members for the first time working together to drive the pace of change. The Coalition's work is on the demand side of board diversity – influencing corporations to strengthen their efforts to increase the number of women on their boards. 

Women in the Boardroom

Women in the Boardroom (WIB) is committed to translating the intellect, skills and expertise of their members into inaugural or additional powerful corporate director roles. WIB enables the women they work with to focus on the value they bring to the boards and companies they serve. They do this through board and executive coaching to help assess skill-sets, critique your board bios and launch successful board campaigns. Other WIB offerings designed to help make the right board connections include WIB's Matchmaking Program, board opening notifications and exclusive invites to events such as the Annual Board Assembly. Senior-level executive women are encouraged to join as a member of WIB for the opportunity to accelerate their path and broaden connections to the corporate boardroom.