Directors to watch 2009: as one of the accomplished members of our class of 2009 states, 'building a strong base of corporate governance is the best preparation for facing extraordinarily challenging economic times'.

Author:Chase, Scott

WITH A NOD TO a once-popular song, what a difference a year makes. When it comes to emerging female and minority directors reaching the boardrooms of North American publicly traded companies, 2009 already has seen some milestones, and there's no turning back.

For the team at DIRECTORS & BOARDS, a recent indicator of a shifting paradigm was reflected in our first quarter 2009 Directors Roster. The number of new women directors tracked from January through March was 38 of 101 board seats filled, or 38% of the total number named to boards. This was up from 23% in the fourth quarter of 2008. For all of 2008, women made up 25% of board appointments, according to DIRECTORS & BOARDS research.

Meanwhile, significant strides in board-level appointments of minority and female candidates continued apace on other fronts. Boardroom Bound (, an organization dedicated to filling the pipeline of qualified and savvy board-level candidates, has seen support for its mission grow year over year. The organization actively participates with DIRECTORS & BOARDS to nominate rising directors for our annual recognition. Indeed, most of the leaders highlighted below are strong advocates for Boardroom Bound and they have shared their expertise as seminar speakers in the Boardology Institute.

Also notable, the quarterly Directors Roster is sponsored by Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., a leader in executive and director recruiting. Heidrick & Struggles earlier this year announced increased financial support and a global partnership with Women Corporate Directors ( to accelerate the development of "the next generation of board leadership," in the words of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Executive Officer Kevin Kelly.

This goal is worthy of sharing, and Directors & Boards is proud to partner with Boardroom Bound, Crowe Horwath, Heidrick & Struggles, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and other organizations to advance that next generation of board leadership upon which the future of business will rely.

Evelyn Dilsaver

Board member, HighMark Capital, Aeropostale, Tamalpais Bank

EVELYN DILSAVER is a recognized leader in building highly motivated teams in both the public and nonprofit sector. As president and CEO of Charles Schwab Investment Management, she was responsible for all facets of the business, from portfolio management to product development, sales, operations, and technology, growing the assets from $137 billion to over $200 billion in four short years while generating $1 billion in revenue. Simultaneously, she was chair of the board for Women's Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps lower-income women become economically independent by providing a one-stop organization for training, microfinancing, and savings to help them start their own businesses. She took this organization through a founder transition, restructuring the board and its finances after the dot-com bust, to a healthy and growing organization serving over 3,000 women annually.

Recognized in the community for her leadership, Dilsaver received the 2003 Filipinas Magazine Corporate Award, the San Francisco Business Times "100 Most Influential Woman" award for the last five years, the California Women's Leadership Alliance Award 2006, Legal Momentum's Women of Achievement Award 2007, and California State University East Bay Alumnae of the Year 2008.


Dilsaver is on the board Aeropostale, a specialty teen retailer, Tamalpais Bank, a community bank, and HighMark Funds, serving on the audit and nominating and governance committees. She is also on the board of three nonprofits; Women's Initiative, the Commonwealth Club, and is chair of the board of regents for Bishop O'Dowd High School. As a friend of Boardroom Bound, she has championed the cause of bringing diversity into the boardroom.

The Role of the Board Member: "Board members play important roles and many have come under heightened scrutiny and shareholder activism in light of the big business failures of the past year. Valued board members take their role seriously and are the source of independent thought through insightful questions that are enterprise-wide and sometimes tactical, coaching and mentoring the CEO and, most importantly, staying calm in periods of crisis. Great board members know how to solicit differing points of view and help others come to a solution that is good for the company and the shareholders. The blend of deep industry knowledge and broad operating experiences among the directors helps a company survive in these tumultuous times."

Gisselle Acevedo

President and Chief Executive Officer, Para Los Ninos

AS PRESIDENT AND CEO of Para Los Ninos, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit agency that provides child care, schooling and other services to at-risk children and their families, Gisselle Acevedo, M.A., J.D., has overall...

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