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Women on Boards

Work with Yale to launch a successful board seat search.

The demand for accomplished women to take on independent board director roles has increased. Research has underscored the significant impact of gender diversity on boards: elevated decision-making, reduced operational risk, accelerated innovation, and superior financial results. 

Though more opportunities exist for women to join a board of directors, the competition is fierce. Securing a board seat can be challenging for even the most accomplished professional.

Enter Yale SOM’s Women on Boards program, providing the tools, expertise, and connections to prepare you for your board seat search. By focusing on the most complex of board scenarios, large corporate boards, this program will equip you with an acute understanding of the skills required to best serve the ever-evolving needs of today’s boards. 

Public, private, or non-profit board service, big or small: learn how to adeptly navigate the intricacies of this governing body and confidently launch your search.

A group of women walking through Evans Hall
Women in women on boards executive education program.
Woman at executive education certificate ceremony.

The program was exceptional. It provided superb education on a wide span of topics and a remarkable and fun group of peers. I had no idea how much I did not yet know about board service and how better equipped I would be at the end of an intensely productive week.

Virginia L. Bennett, Senior Director – International Programs, CNA and Former Acting Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State

Key Benefits

Becoming a board director enables women leaders to acquire and contribute invaluable strategic perspective, cultivate important professional mentor relationships across industries and sectors, and demonstrate highly visible, unique subject matter expertise to expedite advancement.

As more women aspire to secure a seat in the boardroom, Yale SOM’s Women on Boards program provides guided preparation and essential tools to jumpstart your board search.

  • Immersive academic sessions with Yale faculty will expand your knowledge of critical corporate governance issues.
  • Two individualized executive coaching sessions will provide an opportunity to discuss your board goals, review and revise your value proposition and board CV, and craft an action plan for your search.
  • Leading board search firms and experienced women board directors will share insights into the ever-evolving demands of today’s boards and tips for successfully finding a board seat.
  • A private LinkedIn group for past Women on Boards program participants will enable you to connect with board opportunities, showcase your board CV, and seek advice for your search.

About the Program

  • Identify your value proposition and develop a competitive board CV that emphasizes the skills most desired by today’s boards.
  • Create an action plan with guidance from an executive coach to keep building strategically important experience that strengthens your board candidacy.
  • Strengthen your grasp of the evolving responsibilities of board directors to pinpoint areas of alignment with your expertise and experience. 
  • Gain practical insights into the board director search process from leading search firms and women board directors.
  • Develop a long-term professional support network that provides accountability partners and accelerates your board seat search.

Senior women executives currently in or preparing for the C-suite, or who are preparing for a career shift into board service, and those who support them. 


Below is a sample of what you can expect to experience in the Women on Boards program. Content and topics are subject to change

  • Making High Quality Connections
  • Secrets to an Effective Board CV
  • Boards in the 21st Century: What Makes Great Boards Great?
  • Building Board Financial Oversight Skills
  • CEO Compensation: Attracting, Motivating, and Retaining Top C-suite Talent
  • Conflict Management on Boards
  • Cyber Security and Corporate Governance
  • Essentials of Board Corporate Financial Accounting
  • Ethical Dilemmas, Conflicts of Interest, and Corporate Boards
  • Executive Search Firm Speakers
  • Firing Back: Overcoming Adversity
  • From Green to Gold: Strategies for Sustainability
  • Key Concepts in Corporate Strategy 
  • Leading Your Leaders and Succession Planning
  • Women on Boards: What You Need to Know Going In


Faculty and lecturers are subject to change.

Faculty Director

Jeff Sonnenfeld
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies; Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management; Founder and CEO of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute

Areas of Expertise: CEOs, Corporate Governance, Ethics, Leadership, Workplace Issues

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is currently the Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies and Lester Crown Professor in Management Practice at the Yale School of Management, as well as founder and president of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute, a nonprofit educational and research institute focused on CEO leadership and corporate governance. He previously served as a full tenured professor at Emory's Goizueta Business School for a decade and a professor at the Harvard Business School for a decade.

Professor Sonnenfeld's related research has been published in 100 scholarly articles which appeared in the leading academic journals in management such as Administrative Sciences Quarterly, the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Social Forces, Human Relations, and Human Resource Management. He has also authored eight books, including The Hero's Farewell, an award-winning study of CEO succession, and another best seller, Firing Back, a study on leadership resilience in the face of adversity.

Professor Sonnenfeld’s work is regularly cited by the general media in such outlets as: BusinessWeek, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC as well as PBS, and he is a staff contributor for CNBC and a staff columnist for Fortune, Time, Chief Executive, and Corporate Board Member

Sonnenfeld was recognized by Poets & Quants Magazine as the 2022 Professor of the Year in recognition of his high-profile efforts to catalyze the historic exits from Russia of over 1,000+ global businesses after the invasion of Ukraine, and was named to Worth Magazine’s “Worthy 100 Leaders”, an annual global listing of the most influential leaders across society. 

Sonnenfeld has advised the White House, U.S. State Department, U.S. Treasury Department, and Council of Economic Advisers on Russian economic sanctions and business retreats and has testified to the U.S. Congress; in addition, he has been profiled by various media outlets including TIME, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the Washington Post, and Business Insider. BusinessWeek listed Sonnenfeld as one of the world’s 10 most influential business school professors and Directorship magazine has listed him among the 100 most influential figures in corporate governance. 

He is the first academician to have rung the opening bells of both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange having done so ten times. Professor Sonnenfeld earned the 2018 Ellis Island award from the US Ellis Island Foundation. He was Harvard’s first John Whitehead Faculty Fellow and won outstanding educator awards at Yale, Emory and the American Society for Training and Development. 

He is now a member of the board of Lennar, the leading American homebuilder, as well as IEX, Atlas Merchant Capital, and the Ellis Island Honor Society. Professor Sonnenfeld was appointed by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to serve as co-chair of Advance CT, where he helps lead the state’s economic development, including attracting and retaining leading global businesses and developing the state’s workforce. Sonnenfeld also serves on the Board of Directors of Connecticut Innovations, which is focused on building the innovation and business ecosystem within the state of Connecticut.  

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Namrita Kapur
Namrita Kapur

Lecturer in the Practice of Management

Namrita Kapur combines a unique mix of traditional finance skills from her time in investment banking with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact assessment experience as a senior leader in the nonprofit space. She formerly advised the National Geographic Society on its philanthropic impact investing strategy; and, currently consults to several philanthropists, including founders of one of the oldest venture capital firms and of a Fortune 500 company. She is also a Resident Fellow at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY). She serves on the boards of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, the IE-Brown Executive MBA Program, and the Museum of Science. She holds an MBA and a MA of Environmental Management from Yale University, and a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton. As a mother of two strong girls, she enjoys imbuing them with her love of foreign languages and is teaching them Hindi and Spanish.

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Sonia Marciano
Sonia Marciano

Lecturer in Management

Areas of Expertise: Consulting, Corporate Strategy, Insurance, Investment Banking

Sonia Marciano joined New York University Stern School of Business as a Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations in July 2007. Prior to joining NYU Stern, Professor Marciano taught Strategy at Columbia Business School and was an Institute Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Harvard University's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. In Chicago, Professor Marciano also was a Clinical Professor of Management and Strategy at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management for eight years, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Strategy at the University of Chicago. Professor Marciano has worked in the consulting, banking and insurance industries, and has taught executive education courses for Ernst & Young and Abbott Laboratories, among others.

Professor Marciano received her B.A. with honors, her MBA and her PhD in Business Economics and Industrial Organization, all from the University of Chicago.

Emma Seppala
Emma Seppälä


Areas of Expertise: Positive Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Well-being, Social Connection

Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, Yale lecturer, and international keynote speaker. She teaches executives at the Yale School of Management and is faculty director of the Yale School of Management’s Women’s Leadership Program. A psychologist and research scientist by training, her expertise is the science of happiness, emotional intelligence, and social connection. Her best-selling book, The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016), has been translated into dozens of languages. Seppälä is also the Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

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Application Information

Program Details

Registration closes: April 19, 2024
Program dates: May 23 (live online) and June 10–14, 2024 (on campus)
Program fee: $12,250Includes lodging and most meals.
Contact: Joanne Legler, Senior Director of Learning Partnerships

How do I explain the benefits of the certificate program to my supervisor?
Download the Sample Justification Letter.

The application requires participants to submit a current CV and complete three questions about your state of readiness to serve on a board. The three questions are listed below. You can submit a PDF of your LinkedIn profile, if desired. It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete the full application.

  1. Why do you want to serve as an independent director on a board and on what kind of board are you interested in serving? 
  2. Please describe why you believe you are qualified to serve on a board of directors?
  3. What is your subject matter expertise or unique value proposition to contribute to a board?

Yale SOM Executive Education offers a 15% reduction in program fee for:

  • those who work in the nonprofit sector. (Apply NONPROFIT code at time of registration.)
  • those who work in government. (Apply GOV code at time of registration.)
  • Yale University alumni. (Apply YALEGRAD code at time of registration.)
  • groups of 3-6 participants. Groups can be from an organization or be self-formed.
  • those who have previously participated in a Yale Executive Education program with Yale SOM, ExecOnline, or 2U/GetSmarter.

Discounts cannot be combined.

Yale School of Management is proud to offer funding support for veterans interested in this program. For more information about financial aid options and eligibility please visit the Executive Education Veterans Benefits page.

Refunds are allowed for live online and in-person programs if requested in writing to the Yale Executive Education Registrar.  The Yale Executive Education Cancellation Terms are as follows:

Request for change in registration/cancellation Refund provided
30 days, or more, prior to Program start date 100% Program Fee Refund Provided
15-29 days prior to Program start date 50% Program Fee Refund Provided
14 days, or less, prior to Program start date No Refund Provided

Yale reserves the right to cancel or reschedule programs if enrollment is deemed insufficient or health and safety would otherwise be jeopardized.  Yale School of Management is not responsible for any travel or incidental costs incurred by a registrant if a program becomes cancelled. If a program is canceled by Yale, a full refund of fees paid will be processed within 30 days. 

While it is our goal to deliver our programs as scheduled, we may postpone programs, deliver them online, or cancel them. If one of our programs has a scheduling change, we will notify those affected as soon as possible.   

Here are some of our commonly asked questions to help you prepare for the program. For more helpful information, please visit our Participant Information page.

How do I explain the benefits of the certificate program to my supervisor?
Download the Sample Justification Letter.

Where is the program taking place?
Module one of the program will be delivered live online on May 23, 2024. Module two will be held from June 10 to June 14, 2024 on campus at Edward P. Evans Hall, Yale School of Management, 165 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT.

Where can I make a hotel reservation?
Accommodations at a local hotel are included in your program fee. Check-in will be on Sunday, June 9 and check-out will be on Friday, June 14. More information about your hotel accommodations will be shared after your program registration is complete.

Am I allowed to record sessions or presentations during the program?
Recording during sessions is not permitted; however, some live online sessions may be recorded by Yale and available upon request.

Additional Information

Some organizations prohibit their employees from joining a board of directors. This may be for potential conflicts of interest or confidentiality concerns. If your plan is to serve on a board while with your current employer, it is wise to consult with your employee handbook or HR staff regarding serving on a board of directors. 

Open House for Yale SOM's Women on Boards, featuring Yale SOM Executive Education Executive Director Kavitha Bindra and past participants Yolanda Cabrera-Sybesma and Kehli Harding Woodruff.
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Open House for Yale SOM's Women on Boards, featuring Yale SOM Executive Education Executive Director Kavitha Bindra and past participants Tracy Steinwand and Paula Volent.
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Pathways to Getting the Gig: A Conversation with Corporate Governance Expert, Betsy Atkins
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Participant Spotlight

January 24, 2024

Business leadership to boardroom impact

Determined to make her mark in the boardroom with her passion and expertise, Kehli Harding Woodruff joined Yale SOM’s Women on Boards program.

Kehli Harding Woodruff raises her hand during a session


“I had very high expectations from the program, both in terms of what I would acquire in class and what I would learn from the other participants. The week exceeded my expectations in so many ways. It was informative, thought provoking, rich with discussion and distinguished experts; all of which created an amazingly smart and generous environment. The program took us on a wonderful journey throughout the week and then left us exhausted but still yearning for more. I am a new and improved person at the end of my WOB week; a sentiment shared by each of the participants.” Yakut Akman, former Chief Third Party Management Officer, Citigroup

I recommend the WOB experience without hesitation. The program, including the top-notch curriculum, teachers, mentors, guest stars, and fellow attendees exceeded all expectations. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s devotion to equality shone through every aspect of the seminar. Jeff’s depth of knowledge about corporate governance, CEOs, and Boards of Directors combined with his outstanding ability to integrate all of it into one jam-packed week simply stunned me and my classmates. (All of whom are now friends.) The WOB week flew by, and I came away thinking it was more than worth the investment. Plus, we had so much fun every day!” – Lynne Federman

The program provided an understanding of the role of a board member in the current environment and how to begin a process of seeking a board seat. It provided the tools to create an informed plan of actionable steps to improve my skills where needed and to create a strategy to pursue my goal.” – Amy Lazarus, Chief Operating Officer, SPP Capital Partners, LLC 

I highly recommend Women on Boards to those seeking a high caliber, intense management class that is sure to propel you personally and professionally.” – Nicole Russo, President and CEO, Microboard Processing, Inc. 

The Yale women on Boards program was perfect for my interests and giving me background, information, and inspiration in my search. The teachers were outstanding and working with colleagues helped to build our knowledge and bios. I would recommend for anyone at the stage in mid- to later-career that is contemplating board work.” – Holly Hotchner, President, National Women's History Museum and Hotchner Consulting

“The Women on Boards program tapped into Yale's tremendous resources—its faculty, network, thought leadership—to curate an ideal experience for board-ready candidates. The program confirmed that I'm on the right path and created a community of colleagues and friends!” – Carol Van Den Hende, MBA, Global VP Digital Transformation, Mars

“The program offers everything you need to know to skew yourself for success. If you are serious about wanting to join a board, dive into this program first, secure the tools and knowledge you need to be successful, and make the investment in yourself. You will leave feeling well prepared to seriously pursue the board position of your dreams!” – Patricia Russo, Executive Director, The Campaign School at Yale