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Recognizing Influential Female Leaders

Women's history month is a time to reflect on all the strong women who came before us, breaking down barriers and clearing the path for the rest of us. It's also a time to celebrate our contemporaries - women who are inspiring us to grow, do better and achieve more. Here are a few of the female leaders who inspire me:

Spanx founder Sarah Blakely: Her business chops aside, I find her leadership inspiring. Sarah has never forgotten those who work for her. In 2021, she gifted all her employees a first-class airline tickets and $10,000. Her "culture of us" inspires all leaders to remember it takes many people to build a company.

Shonda Rhimes (Photo Credit: James White/

Shonda Rhimes: One of the most influential producers in Hollywood, Rhimes is a bona fide hitmaker. In recent years, she's shared the challenges of being a working mom and the fallacy of "doing it all." Her honest take on parenting as a leader has helped me reconcile my role as a mom.

Nandini Jammi: Co-founder of Sleeping Giants and Check My Ads, Jammi is fearless in taking on digital publishers and suppliers to prevent the ad-tech industry from supporting the disinformation economy. She's a trailblazer and continues to make a huge impact in holding the ad industry accountable.

Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd: Whitney didn't let a tumultuous and disturbing departure from Tinder slow her down. Herd developed Bumble - a dating app that puts females in control. She's proven time and again that she's a savvy CEO who can outmaneuver trouble to keep her business growing.

Hint Founder Kara Goldin: Called "sweetie" and dismissed by a big-cola exec, Kara didn't back down from her idea for unsweetened flavored water. She developed and brought Hint water to market and it's a major success. Kara uses her story to inspire other females to follow their dreams and overcome the obstacles that will inevitably arise.

Photo of Kristen Cavallo, Global CEO of MullenLowe Group
Kristen Cavallo, Global CEO of MullenLowe Group (Photo Credit: AdWeek)

Kristen Cavallo: The leader of Ad Age's 2023 agency of the year, Kristen has been an advertising trailblazer and fierce advocate for equality. Now the Global CEO of MullenLowe Group, Kristen continues to inspire by lifting up others into leadership roles and clearing the way for her teams to produce incredible creative.

There are so many more inspiring women that I didn't get a chance to highlight. Here are some common threads of inspiring female leaders:

  1. They are undaunted by obstacles.

  2. They are honest about it not being "easy" to get to the top.

  3. They take on the system when needed.

  4. They are grateful for those who contributed to their success.

  5. They work hard. Really hard.

  6. They use their success as a platform to inspire others.

I'd love to hear from you - what female leaders inspire you?


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