CMU Academy for Women receives recognition at Leadership Excellence Awards

Credit: Lisa Qian/ Credit: Lisa Qian/

One of Carnegie Mellon’s greatest strengths has come from its role in attracting female students to STEM fields — areas of study that have been heavily skewed towards men for decades. On March 8, Carnegie Mellon University’s Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women was recognized as the top program for continued education for organizational development and leadership by’s 2017 Leadership Excellence Awards. This honor recognized the university’s involvement as a leading institution for teaching female leaders critical negotiation skills for decades.

“This award is a great honor for the academy, its participants, and all of those who have worked so hard to make it the premier program that it is today,” Leanne Meyer, the director of the Academy, states in a university press release. “It is wonderful to be recognized among our distinguished colleagues from Cornell, Stanford, Harvard, and many other leading universities.” Meyer is also the director of leadership development at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business.

The Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women is a collaboration between the Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society, Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, and the Tepper School of Business. Its mission is to teach female leaders critical negotiation skills that they need to succeed in the workplace. At five years old, the program develops skills in female executives who are preparing to assume significant leadership roles and the responsibilities that come along with them. Participants master techniques in important areas of knowledge like negotiation, leadership brand, communicating with impact, conflict management within teams, and financial decision-making.

Carnegie Mellon’s Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women was founded by Linda Babcock, the James Walton Professor of Economics and head of the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, as well as the late MJ Tocci. Babcock also holds an appointment in the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.

“The Leadership and Negotiation Academy has made a tremendous impact on both my professional and personal life,” said Kathryn Heidemann, who holds the position of Carnegie Mellon’s assistant dean for arts and entertainment. “I was able to apply negotiation strategies to my life with a near-immediate ‘return on my investment’, and also make lifelong friends that will likely be champions for my whole career and beyond.”

People who participate in this program receive more than 100 hours of instruction from experts in both academia and the industry. They are also eligible for one-on-one coaching following an assessment which identifies areas of need and provides insight into leadership and negotiation strategies.

As a senior director of event strategy at Merkle Inc., Erin Hutchinson reflected on how the academy helped her become more valuable as a worker. “The academy has provided me with leadership insights that have had a meaningful impact on my relationships and on my approach to business,” she said. “With a strong and unique focus on executive skills, the academy has helped me hone those that I already had and has helped me develop and grow others so that I’m now able to add more value to my organization and create more impact than ever before.”

Meyer adds that “since its inception, the Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women has helped women build valuable skills that can be immediately translated into their professional and personal lives. We look forward to expanding our portfolio of opportunities for professional women in the future, as we have with the recent addition of our Women on the Rise program.”

In addition to the Women on the Rise program, which seeks to help emerging leaders, in 2016, the Tepper School has incorporated leadership and networking workshops, custom programs for corporations, and professional conferences into its opportunities for women.