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Mika Brzezinski To Host Inaugural Ascend Summit Featuring All-Star Lineup of Business, Government, Academia, and Non-Profit Leaders


Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, there are more men named John than there are women. It is a shocking fact but reflects a situation where women held only 24 of those CEO roles in 2018, a number that is 25% smaller than in 2017. Women only hold 12% of the board seats among the world's largest companies and 15% of US companies have no women at all on their boards of directors.

It is against that backdrop that ASCEND, a new initiative focused on expanding the role of women in the c-suite and on boards of directors, announced today the agenda for its inaugural summit, to be held May 10 in New York City. The Summit will feature prominent leaders from business, government, academia, media and the non-profit sector discussing the latest research on diversity and inclusion in business and the best proven methods for driving meaningful change.

The Summit will be hosted by Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, and will feature, among other experts and prominent business leaders:

Modupe Akinola, Columbia Business School Anu Duggal, Founding Partner of the Female Founders Fund Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post/ CEO and founder of Thrive Global Valerie Jarrett, author and former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama Katty Kay, Lead Anchor of BBC News America and co-author of "The Confidence Code" Steph Korey, CEO and founder of Away Ellen Kullman, former CEO of Dupont and Founder of Paradigm for Parity Eileen Murray, co-CEO, Bridgewater Associates Annie Lamont, Managing Partner, Oak FC/HT Claire Shipman, Correspondent ABC News and co-author of "The Confidence Code" Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times and CNBC

Brzezinski remarked, "It is an honor to lead the conversation with such an accomplished group of leaders. The number of women in the c-suite and board rooms of American companies has plateaued in recent years, and some instances even fallen backwards. The ASCEND Summit is a critical opportunity to launch an effort to reverse this situation and expand diversity in business leadership - and we know if we are successful companies will do better and the entire economy will do better."

The ASCEND Summit was developed in partnership with the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School. Professor Katherine Phillips, the director of the Bernstein Center, will lead a panel of renowned scholars from around the world who will discuss the latest business school initiatives and research about the experiences of women in the workplace, as well as strategies for creating diverse and inclusive workplaces where all members can thrive. Professor Phillips remarked, "this is a great opportunity to lead a panel which bridges theory to practice, highlighting the intrinsic significance of the groundbreaking research emanating from the leading academic institutions on diversity and inclusion efforts in business." The Summit will also include new polling data from ASCEND's research partner, Morning Consult.

The inaugural ASCEND summit will be held at the Harmonie Club in NYC on May 10. More information and ticket registration is available at

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