News and Announcements

Ilene H. Lang to Step Down as Catalyst President & CEO; Deborah Gillis Named as Successor

NEW YORK (September 16, 2013)—Catalyst President & CEO Ilene H. Lang today announced that she will step down as President, CEO, and Director of Catalyst, effective January 1, 2014. The Board of Directors has appointed Deborah Gillis, currently Catalyst’s Chief Operating Officer, to succeed her. In the 51 years since its founding, Catalyst has had only three presidents. Ms. Gillis will be the fourth—the first from outside the United States and the first internal successor to this office.

“Ilene’s inspired leadership has positioned Catalyst as a global force for women and business. For 10 years she has led Catalyst through its most significant period of growth, expanding its knowledge platform, tripling its membership, and extending its reach beyond North America to Europe, India, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. We salute her passion and steadfast commitment to driving Catalyst’s mission impact in the 21st century,” said Peter Voser, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell, plc, and Chair, Catalyst Board of Directors. “Deborah is a proven leader. As we look to the future, the Board is confident that her broad experience, strategic vision, and operational savvy will accelerate Catalyst’s global impact.”

Joining Catalyst in September 2003, Ms. Lang became the third Catalyst president and the first with a business career, having been a high-tech and Internet executive in both F500 and entrepreneurial companies. With global executive experience in fast-paced innovative markets, she recognized that, to increase mission impact among its global corporate members, Catalyst must adopt emerging technologies, globalize, and virtualize. Under her leadership, revenue doubled, membership tripled, brand awareness quadrupled, and the number of Catalyst research reports and knowledge products increased tenfold. To sustain that growth, in conjunction with Catalyst’s 50th anniversary in 2012, Ms. Lang launched the “Changing Workplaces. Changing Lives.” major gift campaign, a first for Catalyst, which is helping to secure well into the future Catalyst’s longitudinal research and the development of women leaders globally.

 “Catalyst is recognized by millions of working women and men around the world, from the classroom to the boardroom, in business, government, and media, as the expert and ‘go-to’ resource for research and advice about the power of women and diversity in the workplace,” said Ms. Lang. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Catalyst president for 10 years. Having worked closely with Deborah since hiring her, I have seen her remarkable leadership first-hand. Experienced in both business and public policy, she is the right person to take Catalyst to the next level.”

 Ms. Gillis has had a distinguished career at Catalyst. Appointed Senior Vice President, Membership and Global Operations, in 2011, and then Chief Operating Officer in 2012, she led Catalyst’s global growth strategy, expanding Catalyst’s membership and opening new offices in India and Australia. She joined Catalyst in 2006 as Executive Director of Catalyst Canada and became Vice President, North America, in 2008, introducing a new global membership model which enabled Catalyst to support members and their operations around the world. She initiated Catalyst Canada’s signature event, the Catalyst Canada Honours, paying tribute to champions of women’s advancement to leadership in corporate Canada.  In anticipation of the current attention to board diversity challenges in Canada, she led Catalyst’s initiative to increase women in the boardroom, resulting in the successful launch of the Catalyst Accord and Catalyst’s first acquisition, Women on Board™. She is a recognized strong voice for women in business and public leadership.

“I am honored to be entrusted by the Board of Directors to follow Ilene as the steward of Catalyst’s mission,” said Ms. Gillis. “Ilene is an outstanding leader, mentor, advocate, and friend who has inspired me, our colleagues, and women globally to reach our full potential. She has earned the profound respect of business leaders as she worked to support Catalyst members in new ways and new geographies. Catalyst’s reach and impact are growing and our leadership team is strong.  Together with our talented staff, we remain focused on sharing insights and, importantly creating solutions that will drive sustainable change globally for women and business.” 

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, and Australia, and more than 600 members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women's advancement with the Catalyst Award.