Our founding members gathered at the NEW Legacy luncheon, July 26, 2015.
Our founding members gathered at the NEW Legacy luncheon, July 26, 2015.


The Network of Executive Women was incorporated April 1, 2001 — but the organization has its origins long before our official launch.

NEW pioneers held organizational meetings in Atlanta, New York and elsewhere in 2000-2001. These founding members gave the Network its name, its mission and the push it needed to get started. Five thousand dollars in seed money was provided by The Minute Maid Company (then CEO Don Knauss was an early Champion; Ahold USA CEO Bill Grize was the first major male retail leader to lend his support).

NEW held a kick-off meeting at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, January 22, 2001, and the Network’s first official meeting was held April 2, 2001 at VNU headquarters in New York City. On June 1, 2001, the Network held its second official meeting and elected its first Board and Officer slate.

Many of these leaders remain active with NEW today. Without their leadership, there would be no Network now. NEW salutes the pioneers who had the courage to say, “It’s Time” when so many felt it wasn’t.


Before incorporation

Founding President Michele Hanson ExecuInsight (formerly of Minute Maid)
Joan Toth Simpactful/Gender Fair
Debbie Grosh DLG Strategies (formerly of Minute Maid)
Joy Nicholas JN Retail Connections (formerly of FMI)
Jennie Jones S&D Coffee (formerly of Crown Central)
Jamice Obianyo Ecolab
Hilary Hoting GMA (retired)
Priscilla Donegan Avanade (formerly of Grocery Headquarters)
Susan Sato Ellerbe The Regis School (formerly of Minute Maid)
Kimberly Betts Deloitte (formerly of Ahold USA)
Betsy Cohen St. Louis Mosaic Project (formerly of Ralston Purina)
Hedy Halpert Bill Communications (died 2002)
Andy Lapayowker Attorney (Crown Central)
T.C. Richards (formerly Philip Morris)
Laura Canty-Swapp REI (formerly Catalyst)


First leadership team

President Michele Hanson
President-Elect Kim Betts
Vice President Jennie Jones
Secretary Joan Toth
Treasurer Debbie Grosh

Executive Directors
Education Susan Sato-Ellerbe
Communication/Public Relations Priscilla Donegan
Membership Joy Nicholas
Long Range Planning Jamice Obianyo
Manufacturing & Supply Channel Lucia Crater
Grocery/Drug/Mass Merchandise Channel Lynn Marmer
Convenience Store Channel Elizabethe Bogart
Industry Trade Association Channel Hilarie Hoting

Directors At Large
Dan Abraham
Sandra Bushby
Betsy Cohen
Mike Gorshe
Sue Griffin
Sonja Hubbard
Andrew Lapayowker
Cynthia McCloud
T.C. Richards
Michael Sansolo
Natalie Taylor
Bonnie Wurzbacher


Carole Christianson, Western Association of Food Chains
Mike Gorshe, Accenture
Maria Edelson, Sales & Capability Development LLC


Sponsors as of Dec. 31, 2001

Campbell Soup Co.
Coca-Cola North America
Crown Central
CSP Information Group
Dr Pepper/7-Up
Efficient Market Services
Mass Connections
McLane Company
Minute Maid
Phillip Morris
Procter & Gamble
Sara Lee

Michele Hanson, Joy Nichols and Joan Toth, NEW’s first Board president, membership director and executive director (later CEO).
Michele Hanson, Joy Nichols and Joan Toth, NEW’s first Board president, membership director and executive director (later CEO).




  • The Network makes its industry debut at FMI Midwinter Jan. 22
  • NEW is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) effective April 1
  • Michele Hanson of Minute Maid is named Network’s first president
  • Nearly 100 attend first-ever NEW Leadership Summit
  • NEW ends first year with 150 members, 14 sponsors and 20 Champions


  • NEW Secretary Joan Toth is named executive director
  • Second NEW Leadership Summit at P&G headquarters draws 125
  • NEW has 300 members and 26 national sponsors


  • NEW launches its first regional group in New England
  • Kim Betts of Ahold USA begins three-year tenure as president
  • Third NEW Leadership Summit draws nearly 200
  • Network launches newonline.org
  • NEW has 800 members and 27 national sponsors


  • Regional groups launch in New York Metro, Northwest Arkansas and Western Michigan
  • NEW introduces redesigned website and monthly e-zine
  • NEW Leadership Summit attracts 200 in Chicago
  • NEW has 1,000 members and 29 national sponsors


  • NEW Dallas/Fort Worth region holds inaugural event
  • First Best Practices report outlines advantages of gender diversity
  • NEW Leadership Summit attracts record crowd of 250
  • NEW has 1,450 members and 27 national sponsors


  • Fifth anniversary is marked by extraordinary growth
  • More than 2,500 attend 14 regional events
  • NEW regions launch in Florida, Greater Philadelphia and Twin Cities
  • Helayne Angelus of P&G is elected president
  • NEW ends 5th year with 1,900 members and 38 sponsors


  • First NEW Executive Leaders Forum attracts 70 senior leaders
  • Regional groups launch in Chicago and Northern California
  • Network publishes The NEW Woman Rules – book profiling 52 industry women
  • NEW publishes fifth Best Practices report
  • NEW has 2,000 members and 42 national sponsors


  • Regional groups are created in Carolinas, Cincinnati, Mid-Atlantic and Southern California
  • Alison Kenney Paul of Deloitte begins two-year tenure as President
  • First NEW Multicultural Forum is held in New York
  • NEW Leadership Summit draws sold-out crowd of 550 in Minneapolis
  • NEW has 2,000 members and 52 national sponsors


  • NEW unveils new website, logo and brand design
  • NEW Leadership Summit attendance grows 36% to 750
  • Network releases landmark study on white men and diversity
  • Six scholarships are awarded — total scholar support by NEW tops $60,000
  • NEW has 2,364 members and 59 national sponsors


  • Seattle and Portland groups join to create NEW Pacific Northwest
  • Michelle Gloeckler of Walmart is elected NEW Board chair
  • Joan Toth is named NEW president and CEO
  • NEW launches NEW Leadership Academy webinar series
  • Walmart and Kraft become Network’s first Foundation sponsors
  • Network has 3,307 members and 72 national sponsors


  • Tenth anniversary awareness campaign makes 2 million impressions on industry
  • Regional groups launch in Atlanta, Phoenix and South Texas
  • Ten leaders are inducted at NEW Diversity Hall of Fame gala
  • 100,000 copies of NEW10 supplement are distributed in 7 industry publications
  • NEW ends 10th year with 5,009 members and 73 national sponsors
  • The Network extends its mission outside the U.S. with the first mixer in Toronto


  • Walmart CEO Mike Duke is inducted in NEW Diversity Hall of Fame
  • NEW Leadership Summit attracts sold-out crowd of 1,000
  • Catherine Lindner is elected NEW Board Chair
  • Network launches Phase I of NEW 2020 initiative to better serve industry
  • NEW Regional Awards Gala honors Network’s officers and volunteers
  • NEW has 7,000 members and 84 national sponsors


  • Landmark “Women 2020” report examines women’s leadership in industry
  • NEW Denver becomes Network’s 20th region
  • Network launches award-winning website and blogging community
  • NEW Executive Leaders Forum and NEW Leadership Summit sell out
  • More than 20,000 attend national conferences, Leadership Academy and regional events
  • Network has more than 8,300 members and 97 national sponsors


  • Network establishes high-level Inclusion Committee
  • NEW publishes “Tapestry” report on multicultural women in industry
  • Accenture’s Mike Gorshe presented with Bill Grize Hall of Fame Award
  • Famed editor Tina Brown defines influence at NEW Forum
  • NEW expands, adds five new professionals to staff
  • Membership tops 9,000; corporate partners increase to 105


  • NEW unveils new mission, vision statement and logo
  • NEW launches “It’s Time” Movement for workplace change
  • Drew Barrymore inspires leaders to embrace their power at NEW Forum
  • Record falls as 1,200 members attend NEW Leadership Summit in Dallas
  • NEW Southern California named region of the year
  • NEW membership tops 9,700; social media followers near 30,000


  • 64,000 readers receive NEW Leader magazine on workforce issues
  • NEW Forum celebrates 10th anniversary July 26-28 in California
  • One thousand women and men serve as NEW volunteers
  • First NEW Rising Stars program graduates 141 mid-level leaders
  • Twenty regions host 103 mixers and 40 learning events
  • Membership reaches record of 10,500; social followers top 44,000
  • Founding CEO Joan Toth leaves NEW effective December 31


  • Sarah Alter joins NEW as president and CEO
  • NEW unveils a more powerful, mobile-friendly online experience
  • A new online Community connects NEW members
  • NEW Idaho becomes Network’s 21st region in North America
  • NEW launches NEWIQ newsletter for c-suite executives
  • NEW regions host 13,000 attendees at 130 events
  • Social media followers grow to 62,500
  • NEW welcomes 14 new corporate partners


  • NEW expands reach into financial services and technology sectors
  • Nashville becomes NEW’s 22nd region in the U.S. and Canada
  • Membership tops 12,000 corporate and individual members
  • NEW honors NEW Northwest Arkansas as Region of the Year and The Coca-Cola’s Company’s Kelly Rolader as Regional Leader of the Year
  • Two research reports, “The Female Leadership Crisis” and “Advancing All Women” outline the barriers to gender and racial equality in the workplace
  • NEW Action for Women of Color, NEW Career Booster, NEW Executive Leadership Lab and NEW Leadership Essentials are added to NEW’s menu of leadership development programs
  • PepsiCo Inc. Chairman Indra Nooyi receives the William J. Grize Award for her commitment to gender diversity and inclusion