Graphic illustrating executive women.
The organization works for inclusion and corporate diversity. Photo: Pixabay.

How Women Lead announces changes to its Board of Directors

The executive women's organization made important appointments to strengthen its leadership.



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The renowned community of outstanding female executive leaders, working to redefine female leadership, recently announced three strategic appointments to strengthen the organization's leadership.

Lorraine Akiba, President and CEO of LHA Ventures and Board Director at HMSA's Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), as well as Lori Castillo Martinez, Executive Vice President and Chief Equality, Sales Force and Board Director at Rhia Ventures, were appointed to its executive board.

The organization also added to its Silicon Valley board Shawnte Mitchell, General Counsel and General Counsel, Genomics and Board Director at Life Science Cares Bay Area and Stanford University Women on Boards.

“I continue to feel both intense pride and complete awe at the remarkable caliber of women executive leaders we’ve enticed to join our leadership team in progressing the ever-important cause of gender equity,” said Julie Castro Abrams, How Women Lead Founder and CEO.

Lori Castillo Martínez’s Career

Executive Vice President and Chief Equality Officer in the sales force, where she leads global equality efforts, including strategy and action programs.

Previously, Castillo served as head of global employee relations and sales force equality, a role uniquely designed as a way to accelerate and integrate people and equality initiatives in this area, led by employees.

She was noted for her management of performance and employee relations around the world, as well as the impetus she gave to equality initiatives in the company. Under her leadership, the company has continued to increase representation and create a more inclusive culture through equity-focused processes and programs.

Castillo is also co-chair of the Salesforce’s Racial Equality and Justice Task Force and serves on the Board of Rhia Ventures, a nonprofit venture capital firm that invests in reproductive health solutions that empower women.

Lorena Akiba’s Career

Senior advisor, board member, lawyer and internationally recognized speaker, who brings a wide and diverse experience in regulatory and energy policy, ESG, healthcare and risk management, in both the public and private sectors.

She focuses on providing entities with tools to identify their most pressing organizational issues, deal with policies and regulations, as well as develop corporate ESG goals and metrics to address those issues.

Akiba is a member of the board of directors of the Hawaii Medical Services Association (HMSA), Blue Cross's licensed affiliate for Hawaii. She has served prominently as a member of the audit, quality oversight and community engagement committees, while conducting the board's strategic planning, financial budget reviews and approvals, executive director selection and business transformation.

She also serves on the boards of several national nonprofits, including the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, where she chairs the governance committee.

Shawnte Mitchell’s Career 

She most recently served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Zogenix Inc., a publicly traded commercial-stage pharmaceutical company.

As a member of the C-suite, she supported the establishment of the company's strategic direction, providing input on long-term product development and financial plans. Additionally, as Zogenix's first general counsel, she set the strategic direction for the legal affairs team, oversees corporate compliance globally, and has created the corporate legal, intellectual property, and compliance team.

Mitchell has extensive experience on nonprofit boards, including those of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle and ArtsFund. She recently joined the Life Sciences Cares Bay Area board and was elected to the position of Vice President.

“Lorraine Akiba, Lori Castillo Martinez and Shawnte Mitchell are at the top of their game and I have no doubt our organization will benefit from their deep knowledge, experience and perspective as we work to bring more deserving women into the boardroom, the C-suite and the world of venture capital,” noted Castro Abrams.

Comprised of more than 14,000 female senior executives, How Women Lead, founded in 2011, works to set the course for female leadership and what it can achieve through continuing education, unparalleled mentorship opportunities, and peer-to-peer networks.


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