past event
Gender Equity

Breaking Barriers: Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls SOAR Leadership Series Launch

This March, the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls is hosting the launch of our 2020 SOAR Leadership Series, the first conversation in a series featuring leaders who have broken barriers, championed change, and pursued bold ideas to advance the causes of women and girls in communities and across the world.

From disrupting workplace cultures that hold women back to advancing women’s health by combating the rising rates of maternal mortality, especially among black women, these women are a driving force for change. They have taken down seemingly

unmovable barriers and tackled pervasive challenges, often unseen, but experienced deeply and disproportionately by women.

Moderated by award winning journalist Gloria Riviera, we will hear from women actively confronting these barriers with fresh energy and bold ideas and, in the process, changing the rules of the game for women and girls. We’ll explore new ground that cuts across sectors, regions, generations, and backgrounds. We’ll learn what it means to take risks, push through setbacks, and rise above. And we’ll learn what inspires these

leaders, what drives them, and what we need to do to activate and support more women leaders.

Join us March 3 as we bring together fearless women from politics, business, and civil society to tell us what drives them to flip the script for women and girls. We’ll discover the leader in ourselves, identify our greater purpose, and make a commitment to bold change. We will also be announcing our inaugural SOAR Fellows, the first fellowship at the Aspen Institute with a focus on women and girls.

RSVP to attend in person or watch the live stream here


Representative Lauren Underwood, Represents Illinois 14th District in the US House of Representatives (@RepUnderwood)
As the youngest Black woman to serve in Congress, Underwood brings her experience as a nurse to the floors of the House to combat maternal mortality. Rep. Underwood will share what drives her, the challenges she faced – and still faces – and how’s she’s continuing to put young women of color at the forefront of her policy work and ensuring access to high-quality and affordable healthcare.

Piper Kerman, Author of Orange is the New Black and Criminal Justice Reform Advocate (@Piper)
Accidental advocate Piper Kerman turned her experience in a women’s prison into a perch to discuss the unjust and broken criminal justice system, of which women are the fastest growing population. Her book, which served as the inspiration for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, broke barriers by bringing into living rooms the often heartbreaking tale of women in prison, making a better case than any fact sheet about the need for reform. Piper will address why it is important to use our life experience as advocates for issues that matter to us, what hard-earned lessons she’s learned about creating change, and her current quest to make sure those incarcerated get access to the educational opportunities they need to successfully reenter society.

Fatima Goss Graves, Co-Founder of Times Up Legal Defense Fund; President and CEO of the Women’s Law Center (@FGossGraves)
As a giant slayer changing the game for women in the workplace, Fatima has spent her entire career tearing down barriers that hold back women and girls from opportunity. We’ll ask Fatima what fuels her work, what barriers were previously invisible to her, and what issues she’s prioritizing now – across income security, health and reproductive rights, education

Rohini Anand, Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo
A trailblazer in the fight for corporate responsibility, Rohini unflinchingly guided Sodexo, a Fortune500 company, to become a global leader in sustainability and diversity. We’ll ask Rohini what led her to break this barrier, what inspired her to take action in the corporate world – the types of problems and conflicts she witnessed – the impact of her position on women of color in her field, and what barriers she’s still fighting to tear down.

Gloria Riviera (Moderator), ABC News Correspondent and co-founder of Press Forward (@griviera)
Gloria has been on the front lines of breaking news around the world for the past 25 years. As an investigative journalist, she’s uncovered gripping stories related to terrorism and counter-terrorism, human rights abuse, women’s reproductive rights, nuclear disarmament and women’s empowerment in third world countries. In 2017, her award-winning work exposing under-age sex-trafficking in “Daughters for Sale” illustrated the horrors of trafficking here in the United States and brought desperate attention to an often invisible issue. As a barrier breaker herself and a leader in advocating for culture change in newsrooms, Gloria will moderate our panel of women barrier breakers and open the discussion to the room.

Leadership remarks by co-chairs of Aspen Forum on Women and Girls:
• Lola Adedokun
Program Director for Child Well-Being and
Director for the African Health Initiative, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Co-Chair, Aspen Forum on Women and Girls
• Peggy Clark
Vice President, Aspen Institute
Executive Director, Aspen Global Innovators
Co-Chair, Aspen Forum on Women and Girls
• Anne Mosle
Vice President, Aspen Institute
Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute
Co-Chair, Aspen Forum on Women and Girls

The Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls aims to accelerate the next generation of leaders, conversation, and solutions that unlock the full potential of women and girls in the U.S. and across the globe. The SOAR Leadership Series, a partnership with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is a series of conversations throughout 2020 that will feature leaders who have broken barriers and pursued bold ideas and, in doing so, advanced the causes of women and girls. We are featuring news makers and society shapers.

We will host conversations that explore new ground across sector, generation, race, and ethnicity. We want to connect with women leaders and create a space for them to share their honest and provocative thoughts on how we, as a society, can support and learn from women who are driving this emerging power shift. We believe a room full of smart and ambitious women can shape solutions to improve the lives of women and girls across the world.

The Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls is hosted by Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Global Innovators Group, two policy programs of the Aspen Institute. The Forum is led by Anne Mosle and Peggy Clark, Vice Presidents of the Aspen Institute, with support from the Ascend and Global Innovators Group teams.

Visit our website here for more information.

Questions? Please contact Marni Morse, Program Associate, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, at or 202-736-5847.

SOAR Leadership Series Launch: Breaking Barriers

Watch the conversation live here.

Event information
Tue Mar 3, 2020
10:00am - 12:00pm EDT
Smith, Aspen Institute Offices
Washington, DC