Ayana Ledford, Founding Executive Director for Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society at Carnegie Mellon University, is a highly sought out national lecturer by nonprofits, corporations, government agencies, and academic institutions that seek to improve diversity and inclusion in all facets of their organization. She is an expert on multiple factors influencing women’s long-term career success and utilizes negotiation as an essential leadership skill within her program offerings. Ms. Ledford seeks to fulfill the mission of PROGRESS (improve society by empowering all women) by providing results oriented workshops that increase the self-sufficiency of women. In addition, she developed an innovative capacity building curriculum that is based on sound academic research for the next generation of women leaders called “Speak Up!”
Ms. Ledford presented to well over 500 organizations from a variety of sectors; for example, the 2014 Women of Courage Awardees, Harvard University, PNC Bank, Emory College, Carnegie Mellon’s Women in Engineering, BNY Mellon, WQED’s national “Close the Wage Gap” webcast, Charles Schwab, Otterbein’s Women & the New American Dream Summit, and the Association for Latino Professionals for America.
The path that led her toward this profession was built on a foundation of advocacy, with past work experience with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University. She served as a consultant for the Consumer Health Coalition and Wireless Neighborhoods to improve access, recruit customers, and retain employees from economically challenged communities. Some of her past and present commitments include serving on the board of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Sojourner House, Athena Awards, Terry McAdam Book Committee for Nonprofit Management, and founding member of the Sankofa Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania. She is a recipient of the Friend of Equity Award and Pittsburgh Courier’s Fabulous 40. Ms. Ledford holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Dickinson College and a Masters degree from the University of Pittsburgh.