Ilene H. Lang

Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Catalyst

Ilene_LangIn their new book, Uplifting Leaders* (*Who Happen to be Women), BrownFlynn co-founders Barb Brown and Margie Flynn capture insights and advice from 25 of the nation’s most accomplished and influential women in business.

One such leader—who is a trailblazer in empowering aspiring leaders—is Ilene Lang, the former president and chief executive officer of Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion.

Ilene is broadly recognized as a pioneering female high-tech/internet executive, having founded AltaVista Internet Software Inc. and serving as senior vice president at Lotus Development Corporation before becoming president and chief executive officer at Catalyst.

During her tenure at Catalyst, she helped double revenue, triple membership, quadruple brand awareness, and increase the number of research reports and knowledge products tenfold.

In Uplifting Leaders, Ilene talks about an upbringing that was marked by college-educated parents who believed she could succeed at anything. She discusses how those voices of encouragement carried her when she was met with obstacles.

“When I was 11, a religious instructor told me, ‘You’ll never be a leader because you’re a girl.’ And when I got to Harvard, an advisor said, ‘You’re not smart enough to major in math here—in fact, girls aren’t smart enough to get As in economics.’”

“But, lucky me, there was always someone else who said, ‘Try this. Do this. You can.’ And, thanks to them, I did.”

To honor her legacy, Catalyst established the Lang Legacy Fund, an individual giving program to sustain the growth she directed and honor her impact on the world of women and business. In 2013, Ilene was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal, and named to the National Association of Corporate Directors Hall of Fame in 2014.


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