20 Executives Selected for Women in Bio’s First Boardroom Ready Class

Aug 23, 2016

Program will prepare women in life sciences for Board of Directors roles

August 23, 2016 (Boston, MA) — Twenty accomplished female life sciences executives will comprise the first ever cohort of Women In Bio’s Boardroom Ready program, the organization announced today. The women will spend five days this fall at George Washington University completing a new executive-level board certification training program to prepare them to join corporate Boards of Directors.

Women In Bio (WIB), an organization of professionals committed to promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences, announced the new program in June and received over 70 applications from executives for 20 available seats in the initial class. WIB’s Boardroom Ready selection committee comprised of six men and women with extensive board experience in the biotech/pharma industry conducted an in-depth review of the applications to choose the top 20 candidates who would benefit most from the Boardroom Ready program.

The newly selected 2016 class participants include:

  • Alison Arter, President, Apted, Baer & Clark
  • Alpna Seth, Senior Vice President, Global Head Biosimilars Business Unit, Biogen
  • Cindy Jacobs, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Cynthia Smith, Chief Commercial Officer, ZS Pharma, Inc.
  • Eliana Clark, Vice President, Global Manufacturing Sciences, Biogen
  • Ethel Rubin, Entrepreneur in Residence, BioHealth Innovation, Inc.
  • Faith Charles, Partner, Corporate Transactions and Securities for Thompson Hine LLP
  • Heidi Higginson, Vice President, Global Pricing & Reimbursement Strategy, Biogen
  • Jennifer Carver, Senior Vice President, Operations for La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company
  • Johanna Friedl-Naderer, Senior Vice President Head of Europe & Canada, Biogen
  • Jzaneen Lalani, Chief Operating Officer, Curemark LLC
  • Kate Haviland, Chief Business Officer, Blueprint Medicines
  • Marianne De Backer, Vice President, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Janssen Business Development
  • Mary Thistle, Chief Business Officer, Dimension Therapeutics
  • Sharon Ayd, Chief Science Officer and Senior Vice President, Pharmaceuticals for Regulatory Compliance Associates
  • Sofija Jovic, Chief Executive Officer, ProPhase LLC
  • Stacy Lindborg, Vice President, Biometrics, Biogen
  • Susan Dillon, Global Therapeutic Area Head, Immunology, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Tara Nickerson, Chief Business Officer, Prothena Biosciences
  • Terri Matkovits, Senior Vice President, Drug Development, ContraVir Pharmaceuticals

“The selection committee did an incredible job picking all-star executives with the expertise, industry experiences, and attributes to make excellent board members,” said Boardroom Ready Co-Chair Carolyn Brougham.  

WIB will host a five-day board competency building and certification program at George Washington University this fall to help candidates understand the duties, responsibilities, and commitment on serving on both public and private boards. The course has been tailored for the Boardroom Ready candidates based on their current skill sets and backgrounds as well as specific case studies.  Course topics include fiduciary responsibility, corporate governance, investor relations, legal liability, corporate strategy, and risk management. 

In addition to the board certification class, candidates will be paired with a seasoned board coach and will participate in networking events designed to facilitate board appointments. The goal is to have 100% of the Boardroom Ready class placed on a board within one year of completing the board certification course. 

LifeSci Advisors, an investor relations consultancy focused in the life sciences sector, is the Founding Sponsor of the Boardroom Ready program, with additional support provided by MassBio and Biogen. 

“We could not be more impressed by the extensive knowledge base and depth of experience exhibited by the inaugural class of participants in the Boardroom Ready program,” said Michael Rice, Founding Partner of LifeSci Advisors. “LifeSci is incredibly proud to be sponsoring this program, and we look forward to helping the Boardroom Ready class participants make meaningful connections, with the goal of getting placed on corporate boards.”

If you are a CEO or corporate board member and are interested in diversifying your board, please consider attending the second annual Liftstream event hosted by Biogen on September 15, 2016:   http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160810005067/en/Leaders-Target-Biotech-Boardroom-Diversity-Liftstream-Annual.  Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the Women in Bio Boardroom Ready program and the importance of biotech boardroom diversity, as well as meet some of the Boardroom Ready class participants.

Liftstream’s CEO Karl Simpson said, “The WIB ‘Boardroom Ready’ program is a great way to promote the many highly qualified women in the biotech sector who could serve corporate boards, and as executive recruiters and promoters of diversity we are pleased to support it. We look forward to profiling the ‘Boardroom Ready’ program at our upcoming diversity event in Boston.”

“We are thrilled to host and introduce WIB’s ‘Boardroom Ready’ program participants at Biogen. They represent the growing ranks of superbly qualified women in the Life Sciences that are ready to serve. With this program, which follows our own successful ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative, the many benefits of diversity at the board level are now available industry-wide,” said Javier Barrientos, Senior Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Biogen.

“We are proud to partner with Women in Bio on this board training program customized for our industry and its needs in this fast-changing scientific and economic environment,” said Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio, a 750+ member life sciences trade association. “We look forward to welcoming many of the candidates on to boards in the Massachusetts supercluster.”

WIB will be holding the Boardroom Ready training program on an annual basis.  If you are aware of available board positions, interested in sponsoring this important program, and/or interested in becoming a mentor to one of the class participants please email boardroomready@womeninbio.org.

For more information, please visit http://womeninbio.org/executives/board-ready.



Women In Bio (WIB) is an organization of professionals committed to promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences. Each local chapter hosts numerous events throughout the year, that vary from networking events to career development, to professional education, to executive level-focused events. In addition to events, WIB hosts a mentorship program which offers women the chance to mentor or be mentored, a Young Women In Bio program, which offers events and encouragement to middle-school aged girls, webinars, and the support of a large national organization with 13 chapters and growing. As a volunteer organization, WIB offers leadership opportunities at every stage of your career, and a chance to expand your network in a supportive and professional environment. For more information, visit www.womeninbio.org.


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