NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program | NAWBO

NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program


The NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program equips, educates and positions high potential, diverse, business owners, executives, and leaders for corporate board leadership through mentorship and coaching.


The NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program will incubate a socially and professionally diverse pipeline of leaders to optimize corporate board leadership across California and beyond.

Program Overview

The purpose of the NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program is to provide confidential and in-depth ideation, guidance, and thought-partnership to position outstanding business owners, executives, and leaders for corporate board leadership. 

Qualified candidates will be selected for a six month, customized pathway development program with a seasoned corporate director. The program is not a training program, but a tailored mentorship program and entry point for understanding and accessing advanced corporate leadership opportunities. 

Interested business owners, executives, and leaders must apply for admission to this fee-based mentoring program. 
Each year, cohorts will have access to:

  • 1-on-1 guidance supported by a seasoned corporate director
  • Peer engagement and networking experiences supported by Corporate Directors
  • Assessment of Resume 
  • Individualized recommendations for training resources
  • Development of board statement and value proposition
  • Diverse decision-makers, influencers, and corporate board leaders
  • Strategic introductions

Application and Program Fees 
The application fee is $295 for NAWBO members and $595 for non-members. Upon selection, there is a $2,995 program cost for NAWBO-members, and $4,995 program cost for non-members. Please note that the application fee does not guarantee admission to the program. Applicants can reapply for future cohorts if they wish. 

 Apply for the 2021 NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program

Applications are accepted September 16 - October 14

Application Fees

To pay by credit card, click "create an account" and enter your email address. This will bring up the credit card form. 


Who should apply?
The  NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Programs for experienced business owners, executives, and leaders who have previous knowledge of corporate boards and have started to network strategically for board opportunities. We encourage candidates to apply who have: 

  • Capability, time, resources, and commitment to serve on a corporate board 
  • Demonstrated commitment towards corporate board engagement through trainings or webinars 
  • Significant revenue or multimillion dollar P&L experience 
  • Financial acumen
  • Demonstrated leadership experience plus a deep knowledge and expertise in a specialty sought after by corporate boards
  • Engaged in driving the overall strategic direction of their organization
  • Time and commitment to attend NAWBO-CA Corporate Board Pathway meetings, networking opportunities, and capacity building Roundtables (an estimated 4-7 hours per month)
  • Time, commitment, and resources to pursue additional trainings as recommended by the Mentors (an estimated 3-8 hours per month, time commitment various depending on previous knowledge and need for training).
  • Capability, time, and commitment to take ownership of the process and your pathway to a board seat
  • If part of a large corporation, the support of their CEO or Board Chair to take part.

Contact Information

The program is run by voluntary Executive Directors, Renee Fraser and Schenae Rourk, and Program Coordinator, Caroline Toren. For questions and additional information, please email 


NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program Partners

Corporate Partners

By investing in the program as a sponsor, your business demonstrates its commitment to reducing barriers for diverse professionals to prepare for and access corporate board leadership opportunities.

Founding Funder Recognition

With a multi-year commitment of $25,000 or more starting in 2020, firms will be recognized as  NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Founding Funders. The opportunity to become a Founding Funder is open through the end of 2021.

The inaugural 2020 cohort of the NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program was made possible by the support of our Founding Funder, Southern California Edison. 

For more information, please email 


NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program Partners FAQ

What is NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program? 
The NAWBO-CA Education Fund Pathways Program  is a tailored mentorship program aiming to provide customized insight into public board leadership, create opportunities to elevate corporate executives - both mentors and mentees -, and create a larger pool of qualified and equally capable candidates for board service. For more information/questions, connect with us at

Who is it for?
The program is for business owners, executives, and leaders interested in positioning for corporate board leadership who have previous knowledge of corporate boards and have started to network strategically for board opportunities. We encourage candidates to apply who have

Why is it needed? 

  • SB 826: NAWBO-LA, along with the other 10 chapters across the state, sponsored SB 826 (Jackson, Atkins, Leyva), the groundbreaking legislation that requires companies headquartered in California to have more women on their corporate boards by 2021.
  • The data: Many companies are ahead of the curve and already have women on their boards - forty-three percent of Russell 3000 companies have 20% or more of their board seats held by women, up from 37% in 2017, and the number of companies with no women on their boards fell to 17% from 22% in 2017. 
  • The benefits: The increase in women on boards is not a result of SB 826 alone. The research is clear: companies with more women executives in decision-making positions continue to generate stronger market returns and superior profits.

As a response to SB 826 and the clear business case for women on boards, we created this program to provide additional support to business owners, executives, and leaders interested in positioning themselves for corporate board opportunities and increase the pool with board-ready women candidates. 

Historically, women business owners have a harder time getting on corporate boards as their experience tends to be questioned depending on the company size and revenue, so we also saw a need to provide this opportunity specifically to women entrepreneurs. 

What can Mentees expect?
Qualified candidates will be selected for a six-month, customized pathway development program with a seasoned corporate director. Mentees can expect one-on-one coaching with an experienced corporate director, peer reviews and meetings, and access to coveted meetings and introductions. 
Potential candidates submit their application and then go through an interview process to determine whether they qualify.

How have you tailored the program to the COVID-19 environment?
To meet the goals of the program, provide great value, and professional guidance and support in this new reality, we have developed the Pathways Fundamentals Roundtable Series and Leadership Series that offer participants a deep dive into critical board topics, such as board governance, audit and finance, and social responsibility, and an opportunity to network with board directors. All corporate directors selected are currently serving on corporate public boards and are women or people of color.

What are any current challenges you may see with regards to women on boards?
In these times of economic stress, shareholders may see any change as a threat to higher returns. Although the research is clear on the value and long term gains companies achieve with diversity in leadership and on their corporate boards, some companies are still not convinced they can achieve both higher profits and diversity in the boardroom. A 2019 study published by Organization Science suggests that investors believe companies that appoint women directors prioritize diversity over shareholder value maximization.

What can we do about this? 

  • Continue to monitor diversity in the boardroom and hold companies accountable. 2020 Women on Board and other organization’s research is critical in this regard. 
  • Continue to advocate for diversity in the boardroom. The leadership from CA State Senators Jackson, Atkins, and Leyva, and many others helped us achieve SB826, and now we must keep the momentum by making sure it stays on the agenda. A key component in this effort is to engage more male leaders in the conversation. 
  • Promote and engage in intentional outreach and provide more networking opportunities for women and women of color to connect with board directors who often serve as door openers. 
  • Change the narrative that diversity and the boardroom and higher profits is not an “either- or,” but a “win-win.”


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