Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 100 Women Leaders in Finance of 2021. This year’s awardees were nominated and selected for their achievements in several areas like accounting, banking, funds management, mortgage broking, insurance, and investments. These women are trailblazers in the industry, focused on making progress in a sector where they continue to be under-represented. Their dedication and determination have led to the success of companies like East West Bank, where Irene Oh is bridging the gap between banking on two continents allowing businesses and community members on both sides of the Pacific to explore new markets and create new opportunities.
In highlighting the achievements of the awardees, we should also recognize women like Muriel Faye Siebert, the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange or Stacey Cunningham, the first female Nasdaq chairman who worked her way up from a trading floor clerk. These leaders should be recognized for their outstanding contributions and dedication to their profession, community and society at large. This year’s awardees are only a fraction of the women who are contributing to the strength of the financial services industry around the world. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 100 Women Leaders in Finance of 2021.
4. Elizabeth Ward
Elizabeth Ward is the Chief Financial Officer of MassMutual. MassMutual is a mutual life insurance company that provides investment management and trust services. Ward has 35 years in the finance industry. She began her career in 1986.
Before joining MassMutual, Ward was a Managing Director at Babson Capital Management and before that a Managing Director and Founding Partner at Charter Oak Capital Management. Earlier in her career, she worked with Aetna Life & Casualty as a Vice President. Ward graduated from the University of Rochester with an undergraduate degree in Economics and Spanish.
7. Melinda Chausse
Melinda Chausse began her professional career 23 years ago. Today, she is the Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer of Comerica Bank. Comerica Bank is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, strategically aligned by the business and retail banking and wealth management.
Prior to her role as Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer, Chausse was the EVP of Small Business Banking. Chausse graduated from University of Michigan-Dearborn with an undergraduate degree in Managerial Finance and Economics.
16. Andra Bolotin
Andra Bolotin is the Chief Financial Officer of Putnam Investments, first joining the company in 2017. Putnam Investments is a global money management firm with 75 years of investment experience. Their broad range of investment products includes advisor-sold mutual funds; 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement plans; variable annuities; and institutional portfolios. Bolotin also the EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Empower Retirement. She first joined the company in 2016. Empower Retirement is an owner and operator of a retirement plan services business.
Previously, Bolotin was an SVP and Chief Financial Officer of Developing Business Group at Fidelity Investments and before that a VP and Corporate Treasurer at Polaroid Corporation. Earlier in her career, she worked with IBM Global Services and IBM US Sales and Marketing as a team leader. Bolotin earned an MBA in Finance and Operations from MIT Sloan School of Management and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
20. Terry Akins
Terry Akins is the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer of First Horizon National Corporation. First Horizon is an industry leader in fixed income sales, trading, and strategies for institutional customers in the United States and abroad. The company also provides investment services and balance sheet management solutions.
Prior to her role with First Horizon, Akins was the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer and served as the Director of Commercial Strategic Initiatives of IBERIABANK, which later merged with First Horizons. She spent 17 years with Wachovia Bank where she held positions in Risk and Market Management for large corporate banking, international risk administration, derivatives, and foreign exchange. Akins has a bachelors in Finance from the University of Tennessee.
21. Vanessa Rosenthal
Vanessa Rosenthal is a Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Institutional Equity and Multi-Asset business with Neuberger Berman. She first joined the firm in 2004. Neuberger Berman is an independent, employee controlled global asset manager. The firm manages equities, fixed income, private equity and hedge fund portfolios for global institutional investors, advisors, and high-net-worth individuals.
Prior to her current roles within the firm, she was COO for the Quantitative and Multi-Asset Class team, and before that a Portfolio Specialist with the Quantitative Investment Group which she joined in 2008. Prior to that, she was with Lehman Brothers Absolute Return Strategies group, focusing on hedge funds, commodities, and fund of funds. She first got her start as a Research Analyst and Associate Director of Research with CPM Group. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in Mathematics and Economics and an MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
25. Ruth Green
Primary Residential Mortgage
Ruth Green is the Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of Primary Residential Mortgage (PRMI). PRMI is a nationwide, independent, full-service residential mortgage banker with over 325 branches in 49 states. Green has 22 years in the financial services industry. She began her career in 1999.
Green has held numerous positions within PRMI, including underwriter, training manager and Vice President of Business Relations.
28. Joan Cleveland
Joan Cleveland is the President and Chief Executive Officer of SWBC Life Insurance Company, first joining the company in 2013. SWBC is a provider of insurance, mortgage, and investment services to financial institutions, businesses, and individuals. Cleveland has 42 years in the banking industry. She began her career in 1979.
Before joining SWBC, Cleveland was a Senior Vice President of Business Development at Prudential Financial, and before that a Senior Vice President and National Sales Leader at Genworth Financial. Earlier in her career, she worked as a Vice President at companies like ING Security Life of Denver, AXA Client Solutions and J.J. Schumacher Associates. Cleveland graduated from California State University, Northridge with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration.
View the complete list of awardees.
31. Donna Bland
Golden 1 Credit Union
Donna Bland is the President and CEO of Golden 1 Credit Union. Golden 1 Credit Union is a financial cooperative that offers checking, savings, home loan, investment, insurance, and online services. Bland has 25 years in the banking industry. She began her career in 1996.
Bland currently serves on the Visa Senior Client Council, Department of Business Oversight Credit Union Advisory Committee and on the Board of Credit Union Direct Corporation. She is also active on the board of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council. Bland graduated from San Francisco State University with an undergraduate degree in Accounting.
Prosperity Home Mortgage
Katherine Bosma is the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Prosperity Home Mortgage, a residential mortgage lender. Prosperity specializes in residential purchase and refinance loans, with a mission of providing financing solutions that positively impact lives and make a difference in the communities where they lend. She is responsible for contract negotiation, licensing, corporate law, and our relationships with regulatory entities
Bosma previously worked as Corporate Counsel for Long & Foster Companies. Prior to joining Long & Foster, Bosma was a foreclosure and bankruptcy attorney representing banks in Rhode Island and Massachusetts during the housing crisis. Bosma began her career working for a US Congressman in the House of Representatives. Bosma is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and she received her Juris Doctorate from Campbell University’s Adrian Wiggins School of Law.
39. Mary Clark
Strategic Financial Solutions NY
Mary Lynn Clark is the President of Strategic Financial Solutions NY. She first joined the company in 2021. Strategic Financial Solutions is an award-winning financial services firm that is dedicated to helping people burdened with debt. They leverage a highly consultative approach to deeply understand the needs of their clients and use this information to create a personalized debt relief program that includes debt consolidation loans and debt resolution programs.
Previously, Clark was a Managing Director at MLC Group, her most recent position prior to joining Strategic Financial Solutions. Before she held various positions at Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Club and Wyndham Worldwide, including President, Vice President and Project Director roles. Clark earned an MBA from the University of Maryland University College and an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Finance from Duquesne University.
40. Judy Varney
Judy Varney is the Senior Vice President and Director of Banking Center Services for BankPlus. She first joined the company in 2003. Founded in 1909, BankPlus is one of the Southeast’s premier regional banks serving consumers and businesses with the latest technology through a full suite of financial services, including retail banking, commercial banking, mortgage lending and wealth management.
Prior to joining BankPlus, Varney was the Vice President of Operations at SunCom Wireless. She earned a bachelors in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Mississippi.
43. Logan Marcus
Logan Marcus is the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Appreciation Financial, a full-service retirement planning company serving the unique needs of public employees and their families and an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company two years in a row (2018 & 2019). Their mission is to help public employees make their income last their entire lifetime because everyone deserves to have a comfortable retirement.
Marcus first got her start as a Law Clerk for The Law Offices of Stephen G. Cline before rising to a Contract Attorney. Later, she moved to McCarthy Holthus LLP where she was an Associate Attorney. She also spent time at King & Ballow as an Associate Attorney where she was one of only two associates working on the precedent-setting copyright infringement trial, Pharrell Williams, et al. v. Bridgeport Music, et al., that resulted in a jury award of more than $7,000,000 and was upheld on appeal. Prior to joining Appreciation Financial, Marcus was a Contract Attorney with Present Future Films, Inc. Marcus graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and from California Western School of Law with a J.D.
44. Amy Klotz
Amy Klotz is the Chief Financial Officer of Advisors Excel. She first joined the company in 2010. Advisors Excel takes a holistic approach to help independent financial professionals build dynamic practices so they are free to create the businesses and lives they want while helping their clients create their desired retirement lifestyles as well.
Previously, Klotz was an owner at Klotz Accounting Services Inc and before that an accountant at CBIZ MHM, LLC. Earlier in her career, she worked with Columbian Bank and Trust as a loan processor. Klotz earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Washburn University.
48. Katherine Bader Courtney
GreenState Credit Union
Katherine Bader Courtney is the Chief Operating Officer of GreenState Credit Union. She first joined the company in 2018. GreenState Credit Union is a federally insured financial services company that is member owned. Its services are available within 18 locations across Iowa for anyone working or living in the state. For nearly 80 years the credit union has grown to over $5.5 billion in assets and over 200,000 members.
Previously, Courtney was the Chief Administrative Officer at Northern Trust Corporation and before that a Senior Manager at Charles Schwab. Earlier in her career, she worked with PriceWaterhouseCoopers as a Management Consultant for CRM/data warehouse practice. Courtney earned an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and an undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Iowa.
View the complete list of awardees.
49. Becca Boyd
Becca Boyd is the Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at SmartBank. She first joined the bank in 2016 as the Vice President and Director of Human Resources. SmartBank delivers exceptional banking solutions like checking, savings, investing, and planning to help their customers meet their goals. Their vision is to build exceptional value for their brand and for their shareholders, associates, clients, and communities by delivering more than they think possible.
Prior to joining SmartBank, Boyd was the Director of Human Resources at Weigels Inc. Before that, she was the Senior Manager of Human Resources at Sysco and also Keller Group, LLC. She first got her start in 1999 as a Senior Human Resources Admin with Fingerhut. Boyd graduated from Tusculum University with a bachelors in Organizational Management.
53. Cecilia Saez
Cecilia Saez is Chief People Officer at Aspiration and leads the strategic planning and execution of the company’s human capital plan across HR operations, talent acquisition, organizational development, performance, compensation, succession, culture, and DEI. Aspiration was founded to be the financial firm for everyone by offering everyday people access to the financial products they need, to give them the trust they deserve, and to both build value and honor their values at the same time.
Prior to joining Aspiration, Saez held positions as CHRO, VP of HR and Global Director across Tech, Retail and Finance industries, including Albert Financial, True Car, Patagonia, Washington Mutual-Chase, and Gallup Consulting. In her 20-year career span, Saez’s experience encompasses scaling high growth Tech companies, M&A, leading culture, solving business crises, and managing turnarounds. Saez earned a bachelors in Psychology from California State and a masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Alliant International University.
54. Olivia Ferris
Olivia Ferris is the Director of Strategy and Operations at Capstone Partners. She first joined the firm in 2012 as an Associate before moving her way up to Vice President and Executive Director. Capstone Partners is one of the largest independently owned investment banking firms in the United States. For over 20 years, the firm has been a trusted advisor to leading middle market companies, offering a fully integrated range of expert investment banking and financial advisory services uniquely tailored to help owners, investors, and creditors through each stage of the company's lifecycle.
Prior to joining Capstone Partners, Ferris was an Assistant to the Office of the Dean at Daniels College of Business. She earned a bachelors in Finance from the University of Denver.
59. Tara Smith
Rev Federal Credit Union
Tara Smith is the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of REV Federal Credit Union. She first joined the company in 2020. REV Federal Credit Union has been proudly serving the financial needs of its members since 1955. As a not-for-profit financial institution, REV is an active community partner that offers innovative banking solutions designed to enhance its members financial well-being.
Previously, Smith was a Senior Vice President and Chief Retail officer at DuPont Community Credit Union and before that a Vice President of Retail at Orion Federal Credit Union. Earlier in her career she worked with Chartway Federal Credit Union as a Contact Center Director.
69. Sallie Krawcheck
Sallie Krawcheck is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest. Ellevest was built by women, for women and provides an engaging investing experience to help their clients meet their financial goals in life. Krawcheck has 26 years in the financial services industry. She began her career in 1995.
Before founding Ellevest, Krawcheck was a chairman at Pax Ellevate Management and before that a CEO at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and US Trust. Earlier in her career she served as CEO at several other companies like Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, Smith Barney and City Wealth Management. Krawcheck graduated from Columbia Business School with an MBA and from UNC Chapel Hill with an undergraduate degree in journalism.
77. Raquel Shingleton
Raquel Shingleton is the Vice President of Compliance at Coin Cloud. She first joined the company in 2019 as the Director of Compliance. Coin Cloud is the world’s largest network of two-way digital currency machines. They provide the easiest way to buy and sell Bitcoin and other digital currencies, making vital financial services accessible to everyone, including the unbanked and underbanked.
Shingleton first got her start as a Compliance Manager with Mandalay Bay before moving on to become a Gaming Compliance Manager with The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. She was also the AML/SAR Manager for Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Her most recent position prior to joining Coin Cloud was with William Hall as the Director of Compliance.
82. Heidi Boswell
The Oechsli Institute
Heidi Boswell is the Chief Financial Officer of The Oechsli Institute. She first joined the company in 2015. The Oechsli Institute is a research-based coaching organization specializing in affluent sales and marketing that combines the academic with practical application. Much of their work focuses on the financial industry where they have researched wealth management teams, financial advisors, managers, wholesalers, and support personnel.
Previously, Boswell was a Credit Administration Officer at Carolina Bank and before that a Product Development Associate at RMIC. Boswell earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an undergraduate degree in Finance & Banking and Risk & Insurance from Appalachian State University.
View the complete list of awardees.
84. Caroline Willard
Caroline Willard is the President & CEO of Cornerstone League, first joining the company in 2017. Cornerstone League is committed to protecting their member credit unions while promoting their growth, strength, and unity. They provide enhanced and expanded products and services to credit unions, maintain a critical focus on advocacy and regulatory and compliance support, and increase its influence at a national level. Willard has 20 years in the banking industry. She began her career in 2001.
Before joining Cornerstone League, Willard was an Executive Vice President of Markets & Strategy at CO-OP Financial Services and before that a Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Planning at American First Credit Union. Willard graduated from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School with an MBA and from California State University, Fullerton with an undergraduate degree in Communications.
86. Olga Ayvazyan
Olga Ayvazyan began her professional career 11 years ago. Today, she is the Head of Product and Engineering of FarmTogether. FarmTogether is a technology-enabled farmland investment platform that allows direct ownership of institutional quality farmland. Their team and partners are cross-industry professionals with over 100 years of experience across farmland investing, agriculture and real estate in the US and globally.
Ayvazyan first got her start in 2010 as a Junior Relationship Manager at ING Bank (Eurasia). From there, she went on to Akshell, before eventually rising to Product Manager at Pronounce App, her most recent position prior to joining FarmTogether. She is also the Founder of Appjets Web Studio. Ayvazyan graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology with a master’s degree in Physics and Mathematics.
90. Katie Feders
Katie Feders is a Branch Manager at iLoan, a trusted lender backed by OneMain Financial with over 100 years of successful history. She currently serves the Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Feders has nearly 20 years in the banking industry.
Feders first got her start in banking as a Mortgage Loan Officer with Union River Mortgage before moving on to RiverCity Mortgage & Financial where she was also a Mortgage Loan Officer. Her most recent position prior to joining iLoan was with Gradient Home Mortgage as a Loan Officer.
100. Casey Halliley
Casey Halliley began her professional career 22 years ago. Today, she is the Senior Vice President of Financial Education of Sqwire. Sqwire helps low- to moderate-income families realize their financial promise through financial education.
Halliley first got her start in 1999 in Institutional Sales of Foreign Exchange at Citi. From there, she went on to Barclays Capital, before eventually rising to Chief Education Officer at Wealthology, her most recent position prior to joining Sqwire. She also spent several years as the Senior Vice President at Cove Capital Management. Halliley graduated from NYU with a master’s in Public Finance and from Providence College with an undergraduate degree in Sociology.
View the complete list of awardees.