Advancing Women’s Leadership Locally and Globally
The International Women’s Forum is an invitation-only membership organization of more than 7,000 diverse and accomplished women from 33 nations on six continents.
IWF’s mission is to support the women leaders of today and tomorrow. We build better leadership across careers, continents and cultures by connecting accomplished women both locally and globally. Members include Fortune 500 executives, government leaders from the local to sovereign level, international nonprofit leaders, and luminaries from the academy, arts, and sciences. Each year, IWF hosts two international conferences that bring together these thought leaders to examine critical issues of the day within a local context and through a women’s lens.
IWF’s story begins in New York City in 1974, when a generation of women were just beginning to enter the executive ranks. Civic leader and philanthropist Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer founded the Women’s Forum of New York alongside Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange; Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is now Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, representing the District of Columbia; and Muriel Fox, one of the first female public relations executives and a founder of NOW. Their stated goal: “Bring together women of diverse accomplishments and provide them with a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. By thus becoming aware of their counterparts in all fields, and of mutual interests and attitudes, they can, when desired, speak in concert on issues confronting the total community.” It was the realization of a growing footprint of exceptional women, united to build better leadership through the exchange of ideas, support and friendship.
Over the next five years, local forums developed in Atlanta, Chicago, Colorado, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. In 1982, the forum expanded globally with the United Kingdom and later the Bahamas, Israel, Canada, Spain and Sweden. The National Women’s Forum officially became the International Women’s Forum in 1987.
The Leadership Foundation, Inc. (the Foundation), established in 1990, is a supporting organization of IWF and the mechanism by which IWF members advance the next generation of women leaders. The Foundation seeks to increase the number of women in the C-Suite and positions of influence globally and fulfills this mission through two central programs – the Fellows Program and the Women Athletes Business Network (WABN) Program.
IWF and the Foundation also provide intensive leadership training programs for women at every stage of professional development through its IWF Intensives Program.
Being an international organization allows IWF and its membership to amplify female voices all over the world. In doing so, IWF members are creating an expansive network of support for the next generation of women leaders.