Japanese Women's Leadership Initiative


The Japanese Women's Leadership Initiative (JWLI) empowers Japanese women to become leaders and to make positive social change.

Japan is a country facing substantial economic and social challenges, creating an important time in Japanese history. Japanese women are an untapped resource with the potential to provide leadership to address many important issues. Further, the value of a vibrant nonprofit sector in Japanese society is beginning to be recognized, but barriers remain in place inhibiting its full potential. Volunteerism has not yet taken hold widely and social entrepreneurship is a slowly developing concept.

The Japanese Women's Leadership Initiative (JWLI) was founded in 2006 by three visionary women in Boston, Massachusetts: Atsuko Toko Fish, Mary Lassen, and Catherine Crone Coburn. In 2007, the Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO) at Simmons School of Business became the institutional and academic partner of JWLI. The Fellows Program brings women from Japan to Boston to receive four weeks of direct experience and training in nonprofit management and leadership development in areas of importance to women and Japanese society.

In 2010, the leadership of the Fellows Program expanded its vision to include the possibility of holding public pedagogical Forums in Japan to provide education about the nonprofit sector, the American style of philanthropy, and to inspire women to take leadership roles. The Forum Program is designed to reach hundreds of Japanese citizens and advocate for their involvement in addressing the needs of Japanese society.

The supporting organizations for the JWLI Program in Japan are the Business and Professional Women/Japan, a non-governmental organization which is a member of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women International, as well as the JWLI Association, a voluntary group consisting of JWLI fellow alumnae established in 2012 in Japan.

Center for Gender in Organizations - Simmons School of Business
300 The Fenway - Boston, MA 02115

Phone: 617.521.3824
Email: cgo@simmons.edu