Women of Distinction Program

Held annually in conjunction with the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders presented by AAUW, the Women of Distinction program pays tribute to women leaders who have made extraordinary accomplishments in their professions or their communities.

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The women highlighted are leaders in their fields, innovators of unique programs and services, and prime examples of lifelong commitments to promoting equity for women and girls everywhere.

The Women of Distinction program not only honors excellence, but also ingenuity and the ability to overcome barriers that still exist for women. Women selected for this honor represent a number of different professional fields and the diversity of personal characteristics and life experiences of women.

With their commitment to women, international issues, and public service, these women serve as role models for us all.


Simone Askew, First Captain, West Point
Carrie Goldberg, Esq., Founder, C.A. Goldberg PLLC
Aisha Bowe, Co-founder and CEO, STEMBoard
Carmen Perez, Executive Director, The Gathering for Justice; co-founder, Justice League NYC and founder of Justice League CA; National Co-Chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington


Rosie Rios, 43rd Treasurer of the United States
Danielle Feinberg,
Director of Photography for Lighting at Pixar
Amanda Nguyen,
President and Founder of Rise
Crystal Valentine, 
Author and Poet


Anu Duggal, Founding Partner, Female Founders Fund (F Cubed)
Sarah McBride, Campaigns and Communications Manager, LGBT Research and Communications Project, Center for American Progress
Kimberly Bryant, Founder, Black Girls Code
Marisa J. Demeo, Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Kelly Tsai, Writer, Performer, Director, and Producer


Elizabeth Acevedo, Poet
Marcia Ann Gillespie, Magazine Editor and Writer
Lynn Rosenthal, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, National Domestic Violence Hotline
Debbie Sterling, CEO and Founder, GoldieBlox
Amanda Simpson, Executive Director, U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives
Miriam W. Yeung, MPA, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum


Hattie Kauffman, Veteran Network News Correspondent and Author
Lily Liu, Co-founder, PublicStuff
Pamela Ann Melroy, NASA Astronaut
DeRionne P. Pollard, President, Montgomery College in Maryland
Judy Smith, Founder and President, Smith & Company


Katie Miller, Policy and Government Affairs Chair, OutServe-SLDN Board of Directors
Deborah Owens, Chief Executive Officer, Owens Media Group
Reshma Saujani, Former Deputy Public Advocate of NYC and Founder, Girls Who Code
Donna E. Shalala, President, University of Miami
Ritu Sharma, Co-founder and President, Women Thrive Worldwide
Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Chief Scientific Officer at Cytonome ST


Noorjahan Akbar, Co-founder and Assistant Director, Young Women for Change
Alison Cohen, President, Alta Bicycle Share
Liza Donnelly, Cartoonist and Writer
Sandra Fluke, Women’s Advocate and Georgetown Law Student, @SandraFluke
Michel Martin, Host, Tell Me More
Maggie Williams, Founding Partner, Griffin Williams Consulting


Swanee Hunt, President, Hunt Alternatives Fund, and Founder, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Natalie Randolph, Head Coach of the Calvin Coolidge Senior High School Football Team
Marsha A. Guenzler-Stevens, Director, Adele H. Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park
Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Connie Chung, Emmy-winning broadcast journalist


Patti Solis Doyle, partner, Utrecht & Phillips; president, Solis Strategies; political organizer and campaign strategist
Dorothy Height, president, National Council of Negro Women; recipient, Congressional Gold Medal; recipient, Presidential Medal of Freedom; recipient, Presidential Citizens Medal; American administrator; educator and social activist
Christina Lagdameo, deputy director, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; social, economic, and political activist
Marie Tillman, founder and chair, Pat Tillman Foundation; veterans and military families activist
Nomfundo Walaza, chief executive officer, Desmond Tutu Peace Centre; clinical psychologist; human rights activist


Anucha Browne Sanders, Senior Associate Athletic Director of Marketing, University of Buffalo; Former Senior Vice President, Marketing and Business Operations
Tammy Duckworth, Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Major, Illinois Army National Guard
Melissa Poe Hood, Founder, Kids F.A.C.E.
Diane Rehm, Host, The Diane Rehm Show
Martine Rothblatt, Founder and CEO, United Therapeutics


Maya Ajmera, Founder and President, Global Fund for Children
Jovita Carranza, Deputy Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration
Majora Carter, Founder and Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx
Kimberly Dozier, Award-winning Journalist
Evelyn ‘Pat’ Foote, Brigadier General (ret.), U.S. Army


Deborah Bial, President and Founder, The Posse Foundation
Caryn G. Mathes, General Manager, WAMU 88.5 FM
Alison Malmon, President and Executive Director, Active Minds, Inc.
Asra Q. Nomani, Writer-Activist
María Otero, President and CEO, ACCION International


Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.); Author; and Founder, Educational Achievement Services
Beverly Tatum, Ph.D., President, Spelman College; Clinical Psychologist
Eve Ensler, Playwright; Performer; Activist; and Founder, V-Day
Rebecca Walker, Author; Co-Founder, Third Wave Foundation
Bernice Sandler, Scholar and Author, received a special NCCWSL award for Achievement in Sexual Harassment Education


Jehmu Greene, President, Rock the Vote
Rachel Muir, Founder and Executive Director, Girlstart
Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation
Gail Wyatt, Psychologist and Sex Educator


Dominique Dawes, Olympic Gold Medalist; Activist; and President, Women’s Sports Foundation
Amy Richards, Co-Founder, Third Wave Foundation; Author; and Consultant
The Honorable Linda Sánchez, U.S. Representative
Stacey Davis Stewart, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fannie Mae Foundation
Deborah Tannen, University Professor of Linguistics, Georgetown University
Marie C. Wilson, President, The White House Project, and Former President, The Ms. Foundation for Women


Sarita E. Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute
Kendra Fox-Davis, Training Director, Center for Third World Organizing
Ruth B. Mandel, Director, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, and Board of Governors Professor of Politics, Rutgers University
Jane E. Smith
, Chief Executive Officer, Business and Professional Women/USA
Melanne Verveer
, Chair, Vital Voices Global Partnership
Belle S. Wheelan
, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Virginia


Sheila Trice Bell, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, National Association of College and University Attorneys
Danise Jones-Dorsey, Director, Catholic Charities USA
Elizabeth Lisboa-Farrow, Chair, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; President and CEO, LISBOA, Inc.
Joan Rector McGlockton, Sodexho Marriott Services
Sharon Murphy, Co-Founder, Mary House


Joyce Hale, Paralympic Medalist
Marie C. Johns, President and CEO, Bell Atlantic, Washington, D.C.
Ruth Watson Lubic, Founder and President Emeritus, D.C. Developing Families Center
Indira Nair Ph.D.,  Vice Provost of Education, Carnegie Mellon University 
Angela E. Oh, Attorney; Teacher; Public Lecturer


Sharon Barbano, President, Women’s Sports Marketing Group
Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Senior Global and e-Health Advisor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Amy Cohen, Plaintiff, Landmark Title IX Case
Laura Groppe, President, Girl Games Inc.
Sylvia Peters, Founder and President, Whole Village/Whole Nation, Inc.
Eva M. Plaza, Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Jennifer Sheehy, Vice President and Director, CEO Council, National Organization on Disability
Luci Tapahonso, Navajo Poet and English Professor
Wilma L. Vaught, Brigadier General (ret.), U.S. Air Force


Bettie Baca, Director, Executive Secretariat, U.S. Department of Commerce
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Singer/Songwriter and Grammy Award Winner
Rita Dove, Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress
Nancy Gruver, Founder, New Moon Publishing
M. Charito Kruvant, President and CEO, Creative Associates International, Inc.
The Honorable Blanche Lambert Lincoln, U.S. Representative
Aimee Mullins, Paralympic and Olympic Medalist


Kavelle R. Bajaj, Founder and CEO, I-Net, Inc.
Norma V. Cantu, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
The Honorable Deborah J. Doxtator, Tribal Chairwoman, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
A. Danielle England-Dansiker, Fire Battalion Chief, Maryland
Margaret B. Rawson, Author and Dyslexia Educator
Carolyn S. Shoemaker, American Astronomer; Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey
Isabel Carter Stewart, National Executive Director, Girls Inc.


Ada E. Deer, Head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
Shannon Richey Faulkner, Cadet, The Citadel
Beatrice Gaddy, City Councilwoman; Advocate, Patterson Park Emergency Food Center
Juliet V. Garcia, President, University of Texas at Brownsville
Beverly J. Harvard, Chief of Police, Atlanta, Georgia
Susan Stroud, Founder and Executive Director, Innovations in Civic Participation
Dolores D. Wharton, Chairman and CEO, Fund for Corporate Initiatives, Inc.
Elvira Felton Williams, Co-Founder, Adventures in Higher Education and Agricultural Development, Inc. (AHEAD)
V. Cheryl Womack, Founder, VCW, Inc.


Mae Jemison, Astronaut, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Betty Jean Murphy, CEO, Savannah Development Corporation
Nancy H. Richardson, Mariner, Girl Scouts of America Leader
Patricia Rueckel, National Association for Women in Education
Haley Scott, University of Notre Dame
Leslie C. Shields, Author, Work Sister Work
Catherine Filene Shouse, Philanthropist


Jill Alper, Head of Campaign Practice, Dewey Square Group
Margaret Bridwell, Director, University of Maryland Health Center
Diane Carlson Evans, Nurse, Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project
Elaine Chao, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way of America
Kimi Gray, Chairperson, Kenilworth-Parkside Resident Management Corporation
Barbara Hedges, Director, University of Washington Department of Athletics
Ellen Malcolm, Founder, EMILY’s List
Karen Thompson, Author and Activist
Sarah Weddington, Attorney and Author


Donna Brazile, Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton
Judy Canales, President, Mexican American Women’s National Association
Rayna Green, Curator and Director of the American Indian Program, National Museum of American History
Susan Hester, Founder, Mautner Project for Lesbians With Cancer and National Coalition of Feminist and Lesbian Cancer Projects
Doris Leader Charge, Teacher, Sinte Gleska College
Lorraine Mintzmyer, Regional Director, National Park Service
Sima Wal, National Women’s Studies Association


Eleanor Baum, Dean, Cooper Union Department of Engineering
Brigadier General Hazel Johnson-Brown, Chief,  Army Nurse Corps
Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY; Founding President, Asian American Federation of NY; Principal Investigator, The Japanese American Life Course Study on Long-Term Effects of Japanese American’s Wartime Incarceration
Ruth Otte, President and COO, Discovery Communications
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Curator Emeritus, National Museum of American History; Founder, Sweet Honey in the Rock
Marilyn Russo, Psychotherapist and Advocate for Young Women With Disabilities
Dr. Bernice R. Sandler, Director, Project on the Status and Education of Women


Lois J. Barber, Founder and President Emerita, 20/20 Vision
Sarah K. Brady, Activist, Handgun Control, Inc.
Eugenie Clark, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist and Professor Emerita, University of Maryland
Barbara Hart Esq.., Noted Author; Founder, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Chief National Correspondent for PBS, MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour
Ann Lewin, Director, Capital Children’s Museum
Wilma P. Mankiller, Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation
Bonnie Newman, Director of FairPoint Communications; Former Director, White House Office of Management and Operations
Dr. Nancy K. Schlossberg, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland
Molly Yard, President, National Organization for Women (NOW)


Margaret Burroughs, Founder, Museum of African American Art
Dr. Elaine Copeland, Associate Dean, Graduate College, University of Illinois
Dorothy Gilliam, Columnist, Washington Post
Ruth Knee, Consultant
Carmen Neuberger, Dean of Educational Services, Dickinson College
Anne-Imelda Radice, Director, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Estelle Ramey, Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University
Donna Shavlik, ,Director, Office of Women in Higher Education (OWHE) at the American Council on Education (ACE)


The Honorable Lindy Boggs, U.S. Representative
Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President, Children’s Defense Fund
Dana Harris, President, Homelessness Information Exchange
Florence Howe, Founder, Feminist Press
Karen Keesling, Acting Administrator, U.S. Department of Labor
Jewel LaFontant, Attorney, Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholtz
Cokie Roberts, Senior News Analyst, National Public Radio
Emily Taylor, Director, Office of Women in Higher Education (OWHE) at the American Council on Education (ACE)


Cathleen Black, President, USA Today
Julia Chang Bloch, Founder and President, U.S.-China Education Trust
Anna Fisher, Astronaut, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, Co-Founder, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Elizabeth Duncan Koontz, Director, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor
Candy Lightner, Organizer and Founding President, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Wilma Rudolph, Olympic Gold Medalist


Jessie Bernard, Author, The Female World
Donna de Varona, Sportscaster, ABC Sports; Olympic Gold Medalist
Catherine East, Executive Secretary, Inter-Departmental Commission on the Status of Women and the Citizen’s Advisory Council on the Status of Women
The Honorable Nancy Landon Kassebaum, U.S. Senator
Shirley M. Malcom Ph.D., Head, Education and Human Resources, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Justine Merritt, Poet and Missionary
Loret Ruppe, Director, Peace Corps
Helen Thomas, White House Bureau Chief, United Press International