Aspen Institute Announces First-Ever All Women Fellowship

March 3, 2020

Women Leaders from U.S., Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Haiti Selected for SOAR Fellowship Devoted to Improving Lives of Women and Girls

Contact: Marni Morse
Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls | 202.736.3534

Isabelle Schellenger
Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls | 202.736.5836

Washington, DC, March 3, 2020 – Today, the Aspen Institute announced its first-ever fellowship of all women leaders dedicated to improving the lives women and girls globally. The inaugural class of 12 barrier breakers and society shapers is committed to pursuing bold change on a host of issues – from stopping the disappearance and murder of Native women across the United States to providing health care to young women in Zimbabwe to radically changing who gets investment capital and who is given the chance to lead so more women of color have CEO behind their name. They are each powerful and fearless in their own right, and working together over the next year, they will have a chance to inspire, challenge, and support each other to use their leadership in exponential ways.

“As a 2020 SOAR fellow, I see a future where Indigenous women and girls are in leadership roles and feel confident, happy, loved, and equally important, safe – and our land and our waters are healthy,” said JoRee LaFrance, PhD student and Climate Action Task Force member, National Congress of American Indians.

The fellowship is an integral part of the just-launched SOAR Leadership Initiative, a partnership with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. It brings together a diverse group of women to inspire and learn from one another and builds a much needed support system for engaging in courageous acts that can truly change the world for women and girls.

“Across the globe, women are leading remarkable social movements. Consider Marc Julmisse, Chief Nursing Officer at the University Hospital of Mirebalais in Haiti who is developing an integrated healthcare and wellness approach for young mothers. Or North Dakota State Senator Erin Oban, who is building bridges between new Americans and more established North Dakotans to create a collaborative and understanding community. Our fellows work in communities big and small and drive change in our world with bold vision and determination,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

“We have never needed courageous and informed women’s leadership as much as we do today. Challenges for women the world over are the same — and require all of us to step up with our best selves to create a new world where women are truly equal and long held discriminations and abuses are finally tolerated no more,” said Peggy Clark, co-chair of the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls and a vice president of the Aspen Institute.

“SOAR fellows represent some of the most courageous women who are fighting for gender equality,” said Anne Mosle, vice president, Aspen Institute, and co-chair, Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls. “Each of these leaders is a force of nature and together they will be unstoppable. The opportunity to learn from each other and consider where they can best use their leadership for maximum impact is an invaluable resource that will pay dividends for generations.”

In addition to the fellowship program, SOAR is also hosting five conversations – the first of which kicked off on March 3 – featuring speakers who are breaking barriers, challenging the status quo, and championing change for women and girls.

“Even with broken systems, we can win if we change the culture,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center, who joined an exciting panel discussion with Piper Kerman, author and activist; and Rohini Anand, Former Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo, and moderated by award-winning journalist Gloria Riviera, correspondent, ABC News.

Other conversations will take place in Washington DC July 29; Birmingham, Alabama September 15; and again in Washington D.C. in December 8. As part of its Women’s History Month activities, the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls will also host a Book Talk on March 20 with Susan Rice, former U.S. National Security Advisor, and Judy Woodruff, Anchor and Managing Editor of the PBS Newshour.

For bios and photos of all 12 SOAR fellows visit: 

The Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls lifts up promising ideas and leaders and builds on the strength of families to support women and girls in the U.S. and around the world in moving toward opportunity and equality. The Forum hosts a series of conversations and programs with diverse, creative, and bold social justice leaders to advance women’s economic justice, political participation, civic engagement, and leadership. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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