Philanthropy < Back
The Athena Center for Leadership Studies was established as a special initiative of Barnard's President, Debora Spar in fall 2009 with an ambitious goal – to create a world renowned center dedicated to the advancement of women leaders. Not just any women leaders, but women who are visionary, bold, courageous, resilient and globally aware; women who embrace diversity and are determined to make the world a better place.

From its distinctive platform of a liberal arts college devoted to women – located in one of the world's great centers of commerce and art – Barnard is ideally positioned to house the Athena Center. In our first two years, we have:

  • Created the Athena Scholars Program, enrolling a diverse group of 145 Barnard students who are studying the theoretical underpinnings of leadership, developing practical leadership skills, and are enthusiastically engaged in internships, social action projects, and with mentors.

  • Launched the Athena Leadership Lab, a professional development training center that teaches women to be compelling communicators, effective managers, strong negotiators, and to be more resilient and more firmly in control of their financial future. In its first year, the Leadership Lab offered 85 workshops on a wide range of skills and enrolled nearly 1000 professional women and Barnard students from across New York.

  • Created opportunities for public dialogue about leadership that enhances the intellectual life of Barnard and communities across the globe. Athena’s conferences, visiting scholars program, Power Talks lecture series and the Athena Film Festival have attracted thousands of people to the Barnard campus for lively conversations about what it means to excel, collaborate and lead. Our participation in the Barnard Global Symposia in Dubai and Johannesburg have given us an opportunity to learn from illustrious women leaders and share knowledge about leadership with women across the globe.