Wilson Center Experts

Laura Liswood

Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders

Affiliation:
Senior Advisor, Goldman Sachs

In August 1996, Laura Liswood co-founded the Council of Women World Leaders with President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir of Iceland. Ms. Liswood is the Secretary General of the Council, which is composed of women presidents, prime ministers, and heads of government. The work of the Council expands the understanding of leadership, establishes a network of resources for high-level women leaders, and provides a forum for the group to provide input and shape international issues important to all people. The Council’s mission is to promote good governance and enhance the experience of democracy globally by increasing the number, effectiveness, and visibility of women who lead at the highest levels in their countries. 

In 2001, Liswood was named Managing Director, Global Leadership and Diversity for Goldman Sachs, a premier global investment bank. She is now a Senior Advisor to the firm.

From 1992 – 1996, as director of the Women’s Leadership Project, Liswood identified global leadership contributions by women heads of state. She interviewed 19 current and former women presidents and prime ministers, which is chronicled in her book and video documentary, Women World Leaders (1996, 2007 and 2009, Harper Collins). Her quest was to find out what it would take for a woman to become President of the United States.

In 1997, Liswood co-founded The White House Project, which is dedicated to electing a woman President of the United States. Her work with women presidents and prime ministers was the inspiration for the Project, which seeks to change the cultural message in the United States about women as leaders.

Liswood’s professional experience includes CEO/President of the American Society for Training and Development, executive-level consulting to Fortune 500 and international companies, and executive positions at Rainier National Bank and at Group W Cable, a subsidiary of Westinghouse Broadcasting and Cable. She received the Westinghouse Award of Excellence for her contribution to women and minorities in the work place. She has held management positions in the airline industry, including general manager for the Pacific Northwest and for TWA, and was a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. She is the author of Serving Them Right (Harper Business, 1991). Liswood’s latest book, The Loudest Duck, is a business guide that explores workplace diversity and uses practical stories to offer an alternate, nuanced approach to diversity to create a truly effective workplace for all.(Wiley & Sons, January 2010).

Liswood, a nationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, has contributed to leadership and diversity in the women’s community for more than 20 years as a member of the International Women’s Forum, Leadership America, the board of the First Women’s Bank of California, and the Washington Women’s Political Caucus.  Former commissioner of the City of Seattle Women’s Commission, Liswood was the owner/publisher of Seattle Woman and is the founder of May’s List, a bipartisan political donor network emphasizing women’s leadership in the political arena.   In 2000, the U.S. Secretary of Defense appointed her to a three-year term on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS). After the events of September 11, 2001, Liswood became a reserve police officer in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and is now a Sergeant.

She holds a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from California State University, San Diego. She holds a J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in California and Massachusetts.

For additional information, please visit: www.lauraliswood.com.

Major Publications

  • Women World Leaders (1996, 2007 and 2009, Harper Collins)
  • Serving Them Right (Harper Business, 1991)
  • The Loudest Duck (Wiley & Sons, January 2010)

 

Related Content for this Expert

EMAIL UPDATES

Stay in Touch

Are you a Wilson Center alumnus? We want to hear about your latest move, award or project. Please send us your news at alumni@wilsoncenter.org.