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About this event

The push toward boardroom diversity means that there will be more first-time directors than ever before.  Join Cate Goethals, Athena coach and co-founder of the Better Boards Initiative ( who will be sharing the advice for new directors from 103 sitting corporate directors who are also thought leaders on board diversity. Cate and her partner Joanna Lohkamp interviewed these directors on what they wish they knew when they joined their first corporate board and what new directors don't realize they need to know before taking their first seat. These interviews unveil a different picture of the hidden workings of boards. This session is designed to help aspiring and new directors to navigate boardroom hierarchy, communication patterns, and issues that have confronted more seasoned board members. In this session, we will look at:

- Research findings from 103 corporate director interviewees; this session will focus on onboarding for first-time and diverse directors.  Later releases will focus on best practices for diverse boards in areas such as refreshment, leadership, tone at the top, group dynamics and facilitation, boardroom culture and processes.

- How you can prepare for your first meetings - when should you speak?  About what?

- How to suss out who the influencers are on a board - and how to build relationships with them.

- Other tips from insiders like where to sit and what to make sure is included in your onboarding.


Cate Goethals Chief Journey and Strategy Advisor

As an executive leadership coach, consultant and thought leader, Cate Goethals designs innovative programs and inspires those who want to make a difference in their organization and the world. She has inspired hundreds of women and men to locate and unleash their personal leadership potential - to become more deeply and powerfully themselves rather than imitate management styles and values that feel inauthentic. Passionate about the potential for excellent women to make their organizations and the world a better place, Cate specializes in working with professional women and non-traditional leaders 'on the cusp':

--Executives (especially senior executives) who want to reach higher and create a bigger impact
--Those who want to shape their lives more around meaning and purpose to make a difference.

Areas of focus include moving from management to board director, transitioning from technical/operational manager to strategic leader, building gravitas and executive presence for greater influence, and finding ways to shine as a leader while managing multiple work and home priorities.

About Cate: A certified leadership coach (PCC, CHIC) and longtime business professor at the University of Washington, Cate’s many programs include the UW Foster Women Board Director Development Program, MBA “Women at the Top,” named by Forbes as one of the 10 “most innovative” MBA courses, and Women in Leadership. She serves as a Chief Journey and Strategy Advisor for the Athena Alliance, an organization dedicated to seating women on company boards of directors.

Holder of two passports with experience in technology, engineering, government, biotech, nonprofit and finance organizations, Cate has worked with women in the UK, Europe and India. Founder of multiple co-mentorship programs connecting South Asian female leaders and changemakers with students and professionals from the U.S, she has come to love India and working with Indians in the U.S. and Americans in India.

Coco Brown CEO

Coco is founder and CEO of Athena Alliance. Prior to her current roles, Coco served as President, COO, and Board Director of Taos, a market leader in IT Services serving hundreds of F1000 companies, including Apple, Cisco, ebay, Facebook, and Silicon Valley Bank. Coco brings rich experience across F1000 companies, start-ups, and nonprofits in the roles of CEO, COO, advisor, and Board member to Athena. She possesses a unique understanding of the breadth of challenges and opportunities of leadership. She empowers leaders to execute successfully, working with them to develop the relationship between a company’s strategy and its organizational design and environment. Coco’s expertise in developing and strengthening these important linkages makes her a powerful C-level advisor and Board member. In addition to serving on the Board of Taos from 2004 to 2014, Coco served as a Board Director for MentorNet during its rebranding, product transformation, and subsequent acquisition by Great Minds in STEM. Coco was on the finance committee supporting the Board of Directors of Samasource and established the Operating Committee for the Silicon Valley arm of Golden Seeds, a New York-based early-stage investment firm. She also currently serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee for the Anita Borg Technology Leadership Award, one of the most prestigious awards honoring women in technology.

Key Details

Unwritten Rules for First-time Directors - Better Boards Research

Tue, Jan 18 @ 9:00am PT (1 hr)

Virtual (RSVP for link)


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