The Board of Directors of the Network of Executive Women has named Chicago-area business executive Sarah Alter president and CEO effective June 5. NEW is the largest women’s leadership organization serving the North American retail and consumer goods industry.
Alter, former chief marketing officer for General Growth Properties, said, “I am so excited to lead NEW during this transformative time. Given my passion for its mission, I cannot think of a more important job than growing NEW. Working with our 10,000 members, 20 regions and more than 100 partner companies, we can help even more women and diverse leaders advance.”
NEW Vice Chair Lisa Walsh of PepsiCo, who headed the Board’s CEO search committee, said, “We are thrilled to have an executive of Sarah’s caliber leading NEW. When we started our search, we defined the CEO we needed to transform NEW and the industry we serve,” Walsh said. “Sarah fits the bill, and then some.”
“NEW is at a pivot point,” Walsh said. “Sarah will guide us as we expand our services and become a more powerful voice for gender equality and workplace transformation in our industry. She has strategic vision, proven experience in the retail, services and technology markets, financial acumen and global experience,” Walsh said. “Most important, she is savvy about leading people and has a very inclusive and engaging style.”
Alter has wide experience in the retail and financial industries and has worked internationally. She served as vice president of Discover Financial Services and vice president for digital sales and marketing at Quill.com.
As vice president of Discover Financial Services, Alter led the product strategy for all credit card features, benefits and services, increasing revenue and earning the organization a J.D. Power award for its digital experience.
At Quill, she helped transform the business, increasing its digital sales from 9 to 65 percent of revenue.
In her most recent job — chief marketing officer for General Growth Properties — Alter developed and executed business and consumer marketing strategies for 200 shopping mall properties and their top retailers.
Alter has served on a number of non-profit boards and is an accomplished fundraiser. She is an organizer of Chicago’s annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Gala, which has raised millions of dollars to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. She is a high school mentor and is active in the Beyond Sports Foundation for gifted athletes.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwestern University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Alter is married, has three children and lives in Glencoe, Illinois. She will be based in NEW’s headquarters in Chicago.