Stanford is home to thousands of women faculty, staff, and students who teach, lead, inspire, research, and mentor. For some, leadership roles and responsibilities were intentionally pursued. For others, it happened organically over time. But for all, there is a shared passion for working toward change and cultivating the next generation of women who will continue in their place.

Over the course of March, Women’s History Month, Stanford Report talked with several women leaders – from all different professional, personal, and spiritual backgrounds – about what women leaders bring to their roles, the importance of mentorship, and the power of community.

Here’s what they had to say.

Zhenan Bao portrait

Zhenan Bao

“One thing I’ve learned through my own experience is that there’s no fixed mode of an effective leader. … The most important thing is to be authentic and true to yourself.”

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Andrea Rees Davies portrait

Andrea Rees Davies

“Don’t forget where you came from, and don’t be afraid to be visible. But know that being comfortable with visibility comes from not being afraid to make mistakes.”

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Lori Nishiura Mackenzie portrait

Lori Nishiura Mackenzie

“If it feels better to you, think about the power of negotiating on behalf of the people, groups, and ideas that are important to you. Maybe it will help you be fiercer.”

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Faith Kazmi portrait

Faith Kazmi

“Listen to yourself. When you really practice knowing what matters and what is in alignment with what you think, then even if things go wrong, you can still say you made decisions and did things with authenticity.”

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Ximena Sanchez Martinez portrait

Ximena Sanchez Martinez

“Building community can be difficult, and it can be hard to get everyone together. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. Do what works for you and what’s best for the community.”

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Rania Awaad portrait

Rania Awaad

“A leader is somebody who has taken even just a few steps before you on the path, but they’ve been able to ‘send the elevator’ back down to help you get where you need to go.”

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