SIPA is proud to honor Women’s History Month and highlight some of the many extraordinary notable alumnae. Observed in March each year, Women’s History Month provides an occasion to commemorate and celebrate the indispensable role of women throughout American history. Here at SIPA we’re pleased to use the opportunity to salute some of our most notable alumnae and their vital work—in the United States and around the world.


From 2014 to 2022, Penny Abeywardena MIA ’05 was commissioner for international affairs for the City of New York, leading the agency serving the largest diplomatic corps in the world. She was recently appointed to the rank of knight in France’s National Order of Merit by President Emmanuel Macron for her work in human rights, international affairs, and diplomacy. In 2020 she received the Golden Helsinki Medal for leadership on sustainability and the UN’s global goals.

María José Abud MPA ’15 was appointed in January 2021 as the under secretary of Chile’s Ministry of Women and Gender Equality.

In February, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to confirm Alice Albright MIA ’85 as the next CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. government agency that works to reduce global poverty through economic growth.

Madeleine Albright CERT ’68 was the United States’ first female secretary of state, serving from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton after four years as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Today she is a professor at Georgetown University and the chair of both a global strategy firm and an investment advisory firm. Albright was a featured speaker at the graduation of SIPA’s Class of 2021.

Dean Emerita Lisa Anderson CERT ’76 led SIPA from 1997 to 2007. She was the first woman to serve as the School’s dean and went on to become the first woman to serve as president of the American University of Cairo, from 2011 to 2016.

In June 2021, Karen Attiah MIA ’12 became an opinion columnist for the Washington Post. In 2019, the National Association of Black Journalists named Attiah, then an editor and writer at the Post, as its journalist of the year. The previous year she won a George Polk Award, with David Ignatius, for their writing about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Attiah’s forthcoming book is Say Your Word, Then Leave: The Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the Power of the Truth.

Judy Cheng-Hopkins MIA ’78 is the United Nations’ assistant secretary general for peacebuilding support. She has been recognized by Forbes as one of the 10 most powerful women at the UN, and was the first Malaysian to be so honored.

Anisa Kamadoli Costa MIA ’98 is chairman and president of the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and chief sustainability officer at Tiffany & Co.

Randi Davis MIA ’91 is the United Nations Development Program’s resident representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten. She also leads UNDP’s gender team.

Ruth Dreessen MIA ’80 is chairman of Gevo, a producer of sustainable aviation fuels and other low-carbon transportation fuels, and a leader in the world’s energy transition.

After 15 years as in-house counsel for ING Investment Management, where she ultimately led legal and compliance functions for the firm’s U.S.-based Eurasian investment advisory business, Jodi Erlandsen MPA ’98 has built a successful securities law practice and compliance consultancy providing support to financial service providers in the United States and abroad.

Negin Farsad MPA ’04, a comedian and filmmaker, is a regular on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, host of the Fake the Nation podcast, author of the Thurber Prize-nominated How to Make White People Laugh, and co-star of HBOMax’s Birdgirl.

The award-winning journalist and longtime business TV anchor Susie Gharib MIA ’74 is a senior special correspondent for Fortune magazineGharib previously spent 16 years as co-anchor of Nightly Business Report, which was the longest-running business news program on public television.

Nellie M. Gorbea MPA ’92 is currently in her second term as Rhode Island’s secretary of state. The first Hispanic to have won a statewide election in New England, Gorbea took office in January 2015.

In 2020, Margaret Huang MIA ’95 was named president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund. Read a profile of Huang in the Fall 2021 SIPA Magazine.

Constance Hunter MIA ’94 was named AIG’s Global Head of Strategy and ESG in December 2021. A regular guest on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, and Fox Business, Hunter also serves as president of the National Association for Business Economics.

Rose Carmen Goldberg MPA ’08 is a deputy attorney general in the Public Rights Division of the Office of the California Attorney General. She litigates complex cases to protect vulnerable populations in her native California. Goldberg is also a lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she is the codirector of the Veterans Law Seminar and Practicum.

Dina Kawar MIA ’85 is the ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States and previously served as Jordan’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

In January 2020, the Financial Times named Roula Khalaf MIA ’89 as its editor, making her the first woman to hold that position in the publication’s 131-year history.

Azusa Kubota MIA ’02 leads UNDP’s program and operations in Bhutan, where it is the largest in size among the country’s various UN agencies. She was previously country manager and head of the UN joint office in Solomon Islands for UNDP, UNICEF, and UN Women.

In 2020, Sara Jacobs MIA ’12 was elected to Congress representing California’s 53rd district.

From 2013 to 2017 Deborah Lee James MIA ’81 served the United States as its 23rd secretary of the Air Force. She is the author of the book Aim High: Chart Your Course and Find Success.

Karine Jean-Pierre MPA ’03 is the principal deputy press secretary for President Biden and one of the leaders comprising the first ever all-female senior White House communications team. In May 2021, Jean-Pierre became the first openly gay spokeswoman and second Black woman to brief the press from the White House briefing room podium. .

In 2019 Lorie Logan MPA ’99 became manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s asset portfolio. Logan oversees the bank’s $4 trillion securities portfolio and open market operations, advising on and implementing Fed officials’ interest rate decisions.

Claudia López MPA ’03 was elected mayor of Bogotá in October 2019. She is the first woman and the first openly gay person to lead Colombia’s capital.

As national security adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris, Nancy McEldowney MIA ’86 is one of the three women holding the top three positions in the office of the vice president—a first. McEldowney served in the foreign service for over 30 years, in posts including U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, director of the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, and chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission in Turkey and Azerbaijan.

In May 2020 Jennifer Morris MIA ’97 became CEO of the Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental NGO. Read Morris’s December 2020 interview with SIPA News.

Nthabiseng Mosia MIA ’16 is the cofounder and chief commercial officer of Easy Solar, which distributes and finances affordable clean-energy products to households with limited access to the electrical grid. Operating in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the company is one of Africa’s fastest-growing in its sector. In 2021, Mosia was named among the inaugural Bloomberg’s New Economy Catalysts, and was invited by President Biden to speak at the Leaders in Climate SummitRead about Easy Solar in the Winter 2021-22 Columbia magazine.

In January 2020, President Joe Biden named Anne Neuberger MIA ’05 as the National Security Council’s deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity. Before that Neuberger had worked at the National Security Agency for more than a decade, serving as director of cybersecurity beginning in 2019.

Roya Rahmani MPA ’09, Afghanistan’s former ambassador to the United States and Indonesia, is a senior advisor at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. She also serves as a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security and a senior fellow for international security at the New America Foundation.

Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez MPA ’04 is managing director of Daily Provisions, a chain of cafes from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. She previously served for 10 years as CEO of the award-winning Hot Bread Kitchen, a social enterprise she founded that continues to serve as an incubator for start-up food businesses.

Elizabeth Rossiello MIA ’06 is the CEO and founder of AZA Finance, a global financial technology company that is accelerating economic growth in Africa through its foreign exchange, payments, settlement, and treasury services. She was named among Bloomberg’s New Economy Catalysts for 2021—comprising CEOs and leaders driving development and impact.

In November 2020, Elissa Slotkin MIA ’03 was elected to Congress for a second term representing Michigan’s 8th district.

Claire Shipman MIA ’94, a journalist, author, and public speaker, is the coauthor of several books including The Confidence Code and two sequels. Shipman is the vice chair of the Trustees of Columbia University.

Joan E. Spero MIA ’68 was president of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation from 1997 to 2008. Before that she was the under secretary of state for economic, business, and agricultural affairs under President Bill Clinton. She had previously served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, among other roles.

Katie Jacobs Stanton MIA ’95 is the founder and general partner of Moxxie Ventures. Before starting her current company, Stanton was the chief marketing officer of Color Genomics and the vice president of global media at Twitter.

Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett MIA ’85 is the deputy assistant administrator and deputy director of the UN Development Program’s Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy. She was previously the director of programs for UN Women.

Often called the “Oprah of China,” Yang Lan MIA ’96 is a journalist, talk-show host, and cofounder, and chairperson of the Sun Media Group.

Mi Wang IF ’11 took part in SIPA’s International Fellows program while pursuing a PhD in pharmacology and molecular signaling at Columbia. After earning her doctorate in 2013 she worked for a time in management consulting, focusing on clients in the healthcare industry. Today Wang works at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she leads a team striving to control the TB and HIV epidemics with innovative biomedical interventions.

Chingyu Yao MIA ’03, director-general of secretariat of New Taipei City Government, has been recognized for sharing Taipei’s experience of combatting COVID-19 with the world.


For more information about our incredible alumnae, please check out SIPA Office for Alumni and Development.