Top 13 Influential Women in CSR and Social Impact | Goodera Spotlight
To celebrate this International Women’s Day, Goodera spotlighted some of the most thoughtful leaders driving social impact around the world through our campaign #womenpoweringgood. This list includes visionary women in CSR and social impact with decades of experience, young leaders writing the next chapter of corporate citizenship, and nonprofit leaders reshaping the way we think about powering good. Here’s a snapshot of their accomplishments and ideas to inspire you this Women’s History Month and throughout the year:
1. Ursula Burns
Ursula Burns, ex-CEO of Xerox, today sits on the board of Uber, Veon, and several other corporations. Her journey – from being an engineering intern at Xerox to leading the Obama administration's national #stemeducation program "Change the Equation" aimed at improving student participation and performance – is nothing short of inspirational and phenomenal.
Ursula is a vocal champion of inclusive capitalism and racial equity, and she actions these beliefs through initiatives such as the Board Diversity Action Alliance whose goal is to increase the proportion of racially and ethnically diverse directors on corporate boards.
A true trailblazer for corporate diversity and equity, her advice to women? "We can't try to be men. Be women."
2. Bijinder Dugal
Bijinder Dugal is one of the founding directors of Aasha Australia. She is on a singular mission to care for those who care for us by helping senior citizens find a community.
The AASHA foundation aims to fulfill the social needs of senior citizens through social hubs while bridging the gap between Australian healthcare and its members. They facilitate health checks and medical advice on mental and physical well-being for the elderly from diverse communities.
3. Kate Walsh
Airbnb is renowned in the industry for embedding a culture of connection and belonging among its employees. Differences are celebrated and ambitious company goals like “Belong Anywhere” are advanced through diverse employee groups and an inclusive culture that starts with hiring. But who’s making all this happen? Meet Kate Walsh, one of the most thoughtful impact leaders driving social impact at Airbnb.
Kate is in charge of “ground” control—a quirky play on the company’s name. This means helping employees and talent feel connected and united in their mission, and this starts right from onboarding. Employees begin their journey at Airbnb by volunteering their time for causes that align with Airbnb’s giving goals. This embeds the company culture from day zero and organically creates engagement for volunteering opportunities that Kate and the team roll out every month.
Employees use their monthly volunteering hours to help their local communities and communities Airbnb operates in by addressing critical areas such as homelessness, disaster relief, and anti-discrimination.
Kate’s ideas—born out of a deep understanding of the employee experience—and empathetic leadership set her apart as a trailblazer, and we look forward to being inspired by her accomplishments in the years to come.
4. Alejandra Ceja
Alejandra Ceja is the Vice President of the Office of Social Impact and Inclusion and the Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation at Panasonic North America. A role model for all those committed to equity, her track record of social impact inspires us every day.
Alejandra is laser-focused on advancing equity. Early in her career, she served at the White House as Executive Director for Educational Excellence for Hispanics under the Obama Administration and as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Education, developing commitments to action to improve learning outcomes for Hispanic students across the nation totaling $355 million.
Today, Alejandra advances Panasonic’s core values, focusing on advancing equity as the driver to creating a positive impact in society.
5. Patrice Key-Rhone
Patrice Key-Rhone, MPA, the Global Director of Employee Giving and Volunteerism at IBM, has over 20 years of experience in the social impact space.
She spearheads IBM’s giving and volunteering program, which is among the largest corporate giving ambitions on the planet. Whether it’s equipping disabled students with workforce skills or mentorship and digital learning, Patrice is mobilizing IBMers across 100+ countries to give back in ways that matter to them.
6. Letitia King James
The next leader on our list is raising the bar for diversity, inclusion, and belonging at work. Meet Letitia King James, the Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at GXO Logistics, Inc.
Letitia enables GXO to walk the talk when it comes to DEI through policies, training, programs, sponsorships, and partnerships. She recently launched GXO’s first Belonging Week, which celebrates everyone’s differences and embeds inclusivity into GXO year-round, with the help of her colleagues. The campaign beautifully highlights stories of the diverse talent at GXO and celebrates their contributions to the organization.
Her work actioning DEI through intentional and thoughtful strategy serves as a guide for organizations looking to attract and retain diverse talent.
7. Neda Kellog
She’s a mother, philanthropist, author, mentor, speaker, and perhaps most significantly, a role model to over 5000 girls in America. Meet Neda Kellogg, the Executive Director and Founder of Project DIVA International.
She has spent the last 15 years building a sisterhood that guides black girls on their journey of self-discovery and empowerment through their teens and young adulthood. Project Diva International empowers black women in the US to discover their full potential through mentorship and development programs that facilitate career exploration, financial literacy, and self-determination.
Neda’s down-to-earth personality combined with her lived understanding of a young girl’s worldview means that everyone has fun while finding their purpose and financial independence.
8. Jan Michener
Jan Michener, the Founder and Executive Director of Arts Holding Hands and Hearts (AHHAH), is an inspiring educator, an honored playwright and teaching artist, and a professional actress to boot.
She had her first Ah hah! moment when she connected the dots between juvenile detention rates and the absence of an arts-infused curriculum in underprivileged communities during her thesis research for her master's degree in education.
To bridge this gap, she founded AHHAH in 2013 with a mission to transform lives using the expressive arts. The nonprofit sponsors beautiful and impactful initiatives like the Chester County Imagination Library where every child in the county aged 0 to 5 years receives a free book every month!
Through literacy initiatives, creative workshops, and youth center programs, AH HAH and Jan are equipping the youth and children in Coatesville and Kennett Square impacted by trauma and poverty with the tools and capacity to chart their own course.
Jan's mission is to stop the systemic "cradle to prison" system and implement alternative approaches to uplift communities from generational poverty.
When asked what inspires her mission, she recalls this galvanizing message from a young girl from her creative program: "I am the daughter of a teenage mother, who was the daughter of a teenage mother, who was the daughter of a teenage mother, with no father in sight."
9. Safia Jama
The next leader on this list has a train in London named after her. Safia Jama MBE, CEO and founder of Women's Inclusive Team (WIT), is whom you would call a quintessential leader.
The recipient of an MBE from the late Queen, she was determined to create a safe space for Black and ethnic minority women who experience inequality and racism and provide opportunities that would enable them to have better outcomes. And so, the Somalia Integration Team was born in 2004.
The team later expanded into the Women’s Inclusive Team, to better reflect the diversity of the community. Safia dons many hats as an independent police advisor, board member of the Tower Hamlets Volunteer Center, and more—apart from being a full-time mom of five—to lend her voice to improve the lives of ethnic minorities in her borough.
Her mantra? “If you’re not at the table, then you are the menu.” She strongly believes that alternate voices at decision-making levels will ensure the next generations are more able, confident, and empowered.
10. Lillian Bui
Over the course of Lillian’s career, she’s been instrumental in opening the Rainforest exhibit, DeBrazza’s monkey exhibit, and many others at AZA-accredited Pueblo Zoo, all to advance the conservation mission of the organization.
That’s not at all, she’s worked with amazing nonprofits like Boys Town Nevada, Habitat for Humanity, Bernie's Book Bank—the list goes on—to manage their marketing and fundraising strategy.
In her current role as the Development Director of Association House of Chicago, Lillian is driving the fundraising and marketing strategy—a strategy that is helping the nonprofit raise over $2 million annually. She’s helping Association House uplift and empower the community through the Association House High School, job training, and mental health services.
Fun fact: She likes to say she earned her fundraising chops as a Girl Scout outselling cookies to her neighbors.
An impact leader passionate about addressing economic, educational, and racial inequalities, Lillian's motto in life? Treat people with dignity.
11. Caitlin Quarrington
Caitlin Quarrington, Senior Program Manager for Employee Experience at Amazon Web Services (AWS), is on a mission to make work playful.
At work, Caitlin leads exciting initiatives around social impact, team building, learning & development, internal communications, and more. With a focus on improving mental health and well-being, Caitlin also manages training programs that teach inclusive language to fellow Amazonians! She’s also been actively involved in program development for STEM education in underserved communities for close to two decades.
With employee volunteering programs like AWS’s “Joy of Giving,” she’s enabling Amazonians to champion various causes ranging from LGBTQIA+ youth advocacy to veteran support.
Caitlin inspires us all to learn and grow together, and we celebrate her spirit and curiosity which set her apart as an impact leader.
12. Quiara Mosley
One of the young professionals in the impact world, Quiara Mosley, drives the corporate volunteering agenda as a corporate responsibility analyst for CBRE.
Just seven months into her role, she has led a month-long global volunteering campaign for CBRE employees across the US, Australia, the UK, Singapore, and more locations. She’s passionate about leading the way for underrepresented minorities in business and her commitment to purposeful social impact is truly remarkable.
13. Meghan Williams
Meghan Williams, Workplace Experience Manager & HR Generalist at StoreBound (parent company of Dash—the lovely waffle maker), is the quintessential people person. She leads the CSR & employee experience at StoreBound with her infectious energy that begins right from onboarding.
Meghan is taking a unique approach to building the organizational culture. Volunteering is a staple of the onboarding process at StoreBound, and she says this helps new hires and employees integrate better with their teams. This is especially true in remote and hybrid settings where team bonding is a very real challenge. In her words, “Everyone wants a company that is good, but now, candidates also want a company that does good.”
From awareness campaigns for Pride month to donating StoreBound’s products to young adults moving out of the foster care system, Meghan drives impactful CSR initiatives that help build better local communities. Through the organization’s Better World Days, she’s enabling employees to volunteer their time in engaging ways such as reef restoration projects and farmwork!