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Honoring Women Leaders


Since 1993, Michigan has hosted a women’s leadership event that features women business leaders, panel discussions, and skill-building workshops. The Women in Leadership Award recognizes business leadership and achievements that promote women’s success in business.

The 2009-2010 award was presented to Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, at the Ross School of Business spring Commencement on April 30, 2010.

Past award recipients include:

Cece Smith, retired co-founder and Managing General Partner of Phillips-Smith-Machens Venture Partners of Dallas

Christine Poon, Johnson & Johnson Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals Group


Mary Kay Haben, Group Vice President, Kraft Foods North America President, Kraft Cheese, Enhancers & Meals Group

Linda Dillman, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Mary Sue Coleman, President, University of Michigan

Madeleine Korbel Albright, Former Secretary of State of the United States of America


Muriel Siebert, President of Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc.


Kay Koplovitz, CEO, Working Woman Network


Barbara Mowry, President & CEO, Requisite Technology, Inc.


Connie Duckworth, Managing Director & Partner, Goldman, Sachs & Co.


Sheli Rosenberg, President & CEO, Equity Group Investments, Inc.


Sheila Wellington, President, Catalyst, Inc.


Paula Sneed, SVP, Marketing Services, Kraft Foods

Elaine Ullian, President & CEO, Boston University Medical Center Hospital

In conjunction with the Award presentation, the school and Michigan Business Women sponsor the Women in Leadership Conference. This event brings together highly accomplished women in business to interact with students.

2009: Zainab Salbi
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group that is dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. A survivor of war herself, Ms Salbi started Women for Women International in response to the rape and concentration camps in Bosnia in 1993. Since then, the organization has served more than 250,000 women in eight conflict and post-conflict areas from Congo and Rwanda to Afghanistan and her native country Iraq.
Ms. Salbi is the author (with Laurie Bucklund) of the national best selling book "Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam," that is an account of life in Iraq and the hold that Saddam Hussein had over her family. She documents the stories of women survivors of wars in her second book "The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope."

For her life dedication to providing educational and economic training and opportunities for women survivors of wars, Ms. Salbi has received many honors including but not limited to: A White House Honor from Former President Bill Clinton for her work in Bosnia (1995), the Forbes’ Trailblazer Award (2005), Innovator of the Month by Time Magazine (2005) and most recently a nomination from President Clinton as a Harper's Bazaar 21st Century Heroine. Women for Women International was the recipient of the prestigious Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize Award in 2006.

Her work has been featured in major media outlets, including eight appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and countless appearances on CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Ms. Salbi has a master’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and BA in Sociology and Women's Studies from George Mason University. She is a blogger for Marie Claire Magazine and the Huffington Post and documents her travels and encounters with women worldwide on Twitter.

2008: Cece Smith
Cece Smith is the retired co-founder and managing general partner of Phillips-Smith-Machens Venture Partners of Dallas, a $140 million group of venture capital funds that invested in retail and consumer businesses.   Portfolio companies have included Cheap Tickets, White House/Black Market, PETsMART, Hot Topic and Jamba Juice.

Prior to starting Phillips-Smith in 1986, Ms. Smith was Executive Vice President-Finance and Administration of Pearle Health Services, the world’s largest retail optical chain.      

Ms. Smith has been a director of many retailers, including Brinker International, Michaels Stores, Pier 1 Imports, Cheap Tickets, Hot Topic, BizMart and A Pea in the Pod.  She also served as a director and as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.  She is on the Executive Board of the Dallas Symphony Association and the Executive Board of the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.  She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Michigan and a CPA.

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2007: Christine Poon
Christine Poon is Vice Chairman of Johnson & Johnson, and a member of the Office of the Chairman. She serves as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors and the Executive Committee and has direct responsibility for the Pharmaceuticals Group. Ms. Poon began her career with Johnson & Johnson in November, 2000, as Company Group Chairman, Pharmaceuticals. In August, 2001, she was promoted to the Executive Committee and named Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Poon was appointed Worldwide Chairman, Medicines & Nutritionals, in October 2003. She was named a Vice Chairman of the Board in January 2005 and was elected to the Johnson & Johnson Board of Directors in April, 2005. From January to December of 2007, she also had responsibility for the Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, the Corporate Office of Science and Technology, the Corporate Office of Information Management, Worldwide Procurement and Worldwide Operations.

Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Ms. Poon spent 15 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb where her most recent position was President of International Medicines. Her career at Bristol-Myers Squibb included marketing and strategic planning positions. In 1990 she was named Vice President, Cardiovascular Strategic Product Planning, and she became Vice President and General Manager of Squibb Diagnostics in 1992. In 1994 she was named President and General Manager of the Canadian operation. She was named Vice President, then Senior Vice President for Canada and the Latin America Pharmaceutical Operations, and from 1997-1998 she was President of Medical Devices.

Ms. Poon is on the Board of Directors of Prudential Financial, Inc., in Newark, NJ, and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA. She is a past member of the Board of Trustees of the NJ Institute of Technology. In 2004 she was named Woman of the Year by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and in November 2005 was named Business Leader of the Future by CNBC/Wall Street Journal. She was named to Fortune Magazine’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business for 2006 and 2007.

Born in Brentwood, Missouri, Ms. Poon received a bachelor's degree in biology from Northwestern University, a master's degree in biology/biochemistry from St. Louis University and an M.B.A. in finance from Boston University.

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2006: Mary Kay Haben
Mary Kay Haben is Group Vice President, Kraft Foods North America, President of the Kraft Cheese, Enhancers & Meals Group, and is a member of the company’s Management Committee. She is responsible for brands such as: Kraft, Philadelphia Brand, Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, Cracker Barrel, Athenos, Churny, Breakstone’s Knudsen and Polly-O cheeses; Kraft and Velveeta boxed dinners; Di Giorno pastas and sauces; Stove Top stuffing mix; Minute rice; Kraft and Miracle Whip spoonable dressings; Kraft and Good Seasonings salad dressings; Kraft and Bull’s-Eye barbecue sauces; and Shake ‘N Bake coating mix. She was named to her current position in February 2001.

Haben joined Kraft in 1979 as a Marketing Research Analysis in the Cheese Division. A year later, she moved into brand management where she worked on most major cheese brands including Velveeta, Cracker Barrel and Philadelphia Brand cream cheese. In 1984 she became Category Manager of the Churny Cheese Company and in 1993 she assumed the added responsibilities of the U. S. confection business of Kraft’s European Jacobs Suchard and Callard & Bowser organizations. Haben was named Vice President for the Pizza Division in July 1995.

She moved to General Manager of Kraft’s Enhancers Division in March 1997. Later that year, Haben was named Executive Vice President of Kraft Foods, Inc. with oversight of Kraft’s Foodservice Division and Pizza Division, as well as the Sales & Customer Service, Information Services, Marketing Services, and Technology organizations. A year later, in 1998, she became Executive Vice President Kraft Foods, and President Kraft Cheese Division. In 2000, Haben was named Group Vice President, Kraft Foods, and President, Kraft cheese, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Haben previously chaired the University of Michigan Business School’s Board of Governors, and now serves on the school’s Visiting Committee. Haben is also on the Business Advisory Board for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for Junior Achievement, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children succeed in the business world. Additionally, she is a Trustee of The Goodman Theatre.

Born and raised in Chicago, Haben received her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Illinois in 1977 and her M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Michigan in 1979.

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2005: Linda Dillman
Linda Dillman serves as executive vice president and chief information officer (CIO) of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Prior to her promotion in 2003, she served as senior vice president and CIO.

A 13-year veteran of Wal-Mart, Dillman joined the company through the acquisition of The Wholesale Club in Indianapolis, Ind. At Wal-Mart, Dillman has served in several key information services management positions including applications development manager for SAM”S CLUB and application development manager for Wal-Mart store systems before being promoted to director of applications development in 1997. The following year, Dillman was named vice president of applications development where she led the system conversion for Wal-Mart’s acquisition of ASDA in the United Kingdom. Prior to serving as senior vice president and CIO, Dillman served as vice president of international systems.
Dillman has been instrumental in helping Wal-Mart to develop one of the most sophisticated information services networks in the world. In addition to her role in the ASDA conversion, Dillman’s most notable accomplishments were the implementation of the perpetual inventory and store Telxon systems at Wal-Mart. Prior to Wal-Mart, Dillman worked for the Hewlett-Packard Company for five years.
In addition to memberships in professional and retail organizations, Dillman serves as a board member of the Uniform Code Council and the Northwest Arkansas Community College Foundation.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and SAM’S CLUB locations in the United States. Internationally, the company operates in Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina and South Korea.

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2004: Mary Sue Coleman
Mary Sue Coleman became the 13th president of the University of Michigan on August 1, 2002. She is professor of biological chemistry in the U-M Medical School and professor of chemistry in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Prior to her appointment at Michigan, Coleman served as president of the University of Iowa for seven years.

Preceding her term at Iowa, Dr. Coleman’s wide-ranging experience includes her appointment as a faculty member at the University of Kentucky, where she taught for 19 years in the biochemistry department and worked as a Cancer Center administrator. She then served as associate provost and associate dean of research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Subsequently, she was appointed provost at the University of New Mexico.

Her extensive leadership positions in higher education also include serving on the Association of American Universities executive committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association board of directors, and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Recently, she completed a three-year appointment as co-chair of the Committee on the Consequences of Uninsurance at the Institute of Medicine.

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2003: Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Korbel Albright served as the 64th Secretary of State of the United States. She was the first woman Secretary and is the highest-ranking woman in U.S. history.

Dr. Albright is the founder of The Albright Group LLC, a global strategy firm.

Dr. Albright is the first Distinguished Scholar of the William Davidson Institute at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the first Michael and Virginia Mortara Endowed Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. She is also the Chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Accomplishments during former Secretary Albright’s tenure included the expansion and modernization of NATO and NATO’s successful campaign to reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo; the promotion of peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East; the reduction of nuclear dangers from Russia and North Korea; the expansion of democracy in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America; the expansion of our multifaceted relationship with China including trade as well as human rights; and the growth of trade in the Americas, in Africa and through the conclusion of hundreds of other agreements that facilitated American business overseas.

From 1993-1997, Dr. Albright served as the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a member of the President’s Cabinet and National Security Council. In 1995, she led the U.S. delegation to the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China.
Dr. Albright was the Director of Women in Foreign Services Programs and a Research Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University during the decade prior to her return to public service. From 1989-1992, she was the President of the Center for National Policy.
From 1978-1981, Dr. Albright was a member of President Carter’s National Security Council and White House staff. From 1976-1978, she served as Chief Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Edmund S. Muskie.

Dr. Albright received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her Masters and Doctorate from Columbia University. Dr. Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and immigrated to America with her family after Communists took control of that country in 1948. She is the mother of three daughters and has five grandchildren.

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2002: Muriel Siebert
Muriel “Mickie” Siebert is the founder and president of the discount brokerage firm that bears her name, Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc. She established her firm in 1967 when she became the first woman member of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”), and transformed it into a discount brokerage house on May 1, 1975, the first day that NYSE members were permitted under a new federal law to negotiate commissions. Muriel Siebert & Co. is the only woman-owned NYSE brokerage firm with a national presence. Ms. Siebert continues to oversee the firm’s day-to-day operations at its nine branches.

Ms. Siebert started her career as a $65-a-week trainee in research at Bache & Co., and became an industry specialist (airlines/aerospace). She later became a partner at Finkel & Co., as well as at Brimberg & Co. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended what is now known as Case Western Reserve University. Although she never graduated, she now holds 13 honorary doctoral degrees.

In 1977, Ms. Siebert took a leave of absence from her firm to serve five years as the first woman Superintendent of Banking for the State of New York under Governor Hugh Carey. As such, she was responsible for the safety and soundness of not only the banks, but other financial institutions chartered by New York State.

In October 2000, Ms. Siebert announced the purchase of two women’s websites which were used as the basis for the creation of a pioneering women’s financial institution. The Women’s Financial Network at Siebert (www.wfn.com) recognizes that women have unique investment needs and provides products and services to meet these needs. WFN at Siebert empowers women to manage their own financial affairs with confidence, regardless of their situation or experience.

Reflecting upon her commitment to philanthropy and “giving back”, Ms. Siebert started her own charitable program in 1990, the Siebert Entrepreneurial Philanthropic Program (“SEPP”). Under SEPP, half of the firm’s net commission revenue on new issue underwritings is donated to a charity, usually chosen by the issuer or purchaser.

In 1999 while president of the New York Women’s Agenda, she developed a Personal Finance Program that was introduced into the economics curriculum of New York City’s public high schools. The program was designed to equip seniors with two essential financial management skills – managing a checkbook and understanding the use and abuse of credit cards. In the interest of improving the financial literacy of our nation’s young people, Ms. Siebert has expanded the curriculum to include topics such as mortgages, retirement accounts, taxation, financial planning, etc. In keeping with her personal agenda, she hopes to see this program established nationally.

Throughout her career, Ms. Siebert has been actively involved with a wide range of non-profit, civic and women’s’ organizations. To name only a few of her affiliations, she is currently on the boards of The New York State Business Council, the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Guild Hall Museum. She is one of five founding members of The Museum of Women – The Leadership Center, an institution in the initial planning stages to be built in Battery Park City.

Ms. Siebert was an appointee of the National Women’s Business Council, a founder and former president of The New York Women’s Forum, former treasurer of the International Women’s Forum, and was a member of the Deloitte & Touche Council for the Advancement and Retention of Women. She is a former president of the New York Women’s Agenda (“NYWA”), a non-partisan coalition of 88 diverse women’s organizations. NYWA provides a unified “voice for women” on all issues, policies and programs. She is a member of The Committee of 200, an international organization of pre-eminent business women. Ms. Siebert serves on the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination, involved in the selection of Associate Judges for the Court of Appeals.

Ms. Siebert has received countless awards and honors throughout her career, including the first woman selected as “one who has made a difference” for the Working Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1994, she was inducted into the International Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY and The Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. She was the recipient of the Sara Lee Frontrunner Award in Business, which honors the service, accomplishments, and abilities of women who represent achievement and shape the future. She was honored at Mattel/Barbie’s 40th Anniversary Gala as an “Ambassador of Dreams”, representing women who have embraced the power of their dreams by becoming the very best in their chosen fields. She also received The Athena Foundation’s highest award, given to those “who open the doors of leadership opportunity for women.”

Her most recent honors include Town Hall Friend of the Arts Award, NAWBO First Signature Award for Lifetime Achievement as a pioneering women’s business owner, the Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger Award for Contributions to Family Life from Inwood House, and the Pride of New York Award.

Muriel Siebert is a sought-after speaker on current financial matters and a commentator on several television financial news networks.

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2001: Kay Koplovitz
Kay Koplovitz joined the Board of Working Woman Network in November 1999 and became Chief Executive Officer as of January 1, 2000. She is implementing the transformation of the business brands, under the Working Woman title, into a global multi-media resource of goods and services designed to serve the fast growing sector of career-committed, entrepreneurial, corporate and professional women.

About WWN
WWN was formed by the acquisition of the brands and content assets of MacDonald Communications Corporation and its subsidiaries. Included in the properties are WorkingWoman.com, which launched this summer as the first online center providing applications, information and community exclusively to the dynamic businesswomen’s market; Women’s Business Exchange, an online marketplace that facilitates selling to corporate and government procurement agents; Working Woman and Working Mother magazines with a subscription base of 1.6 million and monthly readership of 6 million. The company also owns the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), the largest women’s membership organization with over 150,000 registrants; WWN Events, hosting 12-15 major conferences a year; and Business Women’s Network, the largest directory of businesswomen’s associations, publications and events.

National Women’s Business Council/Springboard
Koplovitz was appointed by President Clinton to chair the National Women’s Business Council in 1998, the influential advisory board for women-owned businesses. From her own experience, Koplovitz recognizes that the key to empowering women in the business arena is to give them access to what matters most: venture capital. But less than 2% of venture capital funds get into the hands of women-run companies. That’s why Kay created – in cooperation with NWBC, prominent women's business organizations and major corporate technology partners -- Springboard 2000, a unique initiative to accelerate women's access to the equity markets as both entrepreneurs and investors. Since its launch in January, 2000, Springboard has generated more than $160 million of investment capital and funding for women-owned businesses. Koplovitz predicts that Springboard will generate $1 billion in funding revenues by 2001.

USA Networks
Kay Koplovitz is the founder of USA Networks, television's first advertiser-supported basic cable network, and was the first female network president in television history. She served as chairman and chief executive officer from USA’s premiere in 1977 as an all-sports service, until stepping down in 1998 when it was a leading provider of original programming around the world, consistently ranking in the top three networks in Nielsen ratings.

Under Koplovitz’s direction, USA launched the Sci-Fi Channel in 1992, which has become one of the industry’s fastest-growing networks. In April 1994, she launched USA Networks International, which now operates channels in Latin America, Europe, Brazil and Southern Africa.

Koplovitz was the first to negotiate the national cable rights to major league sports (Major League Baseball, NBA, and the NHL, among others). Upon re-directing USA Network as a general entertainment network in 1980, she engineered the acquisition of top off-network series and high-profile theatrical movie packages on a pre-syndication basis.

In 1989, USA Network became the first basic cable network to feature regularly scheduled original movies; the USA Pictures Original movie is still one of the most successful and recognizable on television. Among the award-winning movies developed under Kay’s supervision was Moby Dick, starring Patrick Stewart. This Hallmark Entertainment mini-series became the highest-rated entertainment program in cable history.

At USA, Koplovitz launched a non-profit national “Erase the Hate” campaign, which grew into a public affairs initiative interacting with dozens of national organizations in the promotion of tolerance. The documentaries won numerous industry honors, including Emmy and Ace Awards; and the Erase initiative with the Young Women’s Christian Association was lauded by the U.S. Senate and honored with the designation of the National “Erase the Hate Day” celebrated annually on April 30.

Koplovitz is a member of the corporate boards of Oracle, Liz Claiborne and FirstSource.com, and is Chairman of the Board of Broadway TV Network. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Television and Radio, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Central Park Conservancy. She has a record of investing in high growth and new media companies including WiseBear and Digital Campus.

Koplovitz holds a Master's degree in Communications from Michigan State University. She is also a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin. A native of Milwaukee, Koplovitz is married to private investor, William C. Koplovitz, Jr.

Currently, Kay is the founder of Koplovitz & Co., “a leading media and investment advisory firm specializing in marketing and growth strategies for early to late stage companies.”

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2000: Barbara Mowry
Barbara is currently President and CEO of Silver Creek Systems, Inc.

1999: Connie Duckworth
Connie Duckworth is now a retired partner of Goldman Sachs & Co., and the founding partner of Circle Financial Group.

1998: Sheli Rosenberg
Sheli Rosenberg was President and CEO of Equity Group Investments, Inc. from January 1, 1999 to January 1, 2000 and Vice Chairman of Equity Group Investments, Inc. from January 1, 2000 to October 1, 2003. She has been on the board of directors at Ventas since January 26, 2001.

1997: Sheila Wellington
President, Catalyst, Inc.

1996: Paula Sneed
Senior Vice President, Global Marketing Resources, Kraft Foods

1995: Elaine Ullian
President & CEO, Boston University Medical Center

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37% of Michigan advisory board members are women, the highest percentage of any ranking U.S. business school.

Financial Times, 2005