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Laura  Liswood

Laura Liswood

Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders


Laura Liswood is an international, award-winning speaker who conveys her insights regarding leadership, diversity, women in politics, and business to both large and small audiences. In her speeches, she explores the questions surrounding myths of leadership and lessons of leaders. She looks at best practices of excellent leaders drawing upon the interviews she has conducted with women heads of state and heads of government. She shares insights on how to enhance opportunities to lead and shape one’s career successfully. Liswood is an expert on diversity and unconscious bias and why they matter. She uses her new book, The Loudest Duck (John Wiley and Sons), to explore the need to move beyond unconscious beliefs to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Read More >

In August 1996, Liswood co-founded the Council of Women World Leaders located at the United Nations Foundation, in Washington D.C. She is the Secretary General of the Council, which is composed of women presidents, prime ministers, and heads of government. The work of the council expands the understanding of leadership, and establishes a network of resources for high-level women leaders. It is the only organization in the world dedicated to women heads of state and government. From 2002 to 2015, Liswood held the position of Senior Advisor at Goldman Sachs, a global investment bank. She was previously Managing Director, Global Leadership and Diversity for Goldman Sachs.

Liswood co-founded The White House Project dedicated to changing the cultural message in the US about women as leaders. From 1992 to 1996, as Director of the Women’s Leadership Project, Liswood identified global leadership contributions by women heads of state. She interviewed 15 current and former women presidents and prime ministers, including Margaret Thatcher, and Benazir Bhutto and recorded her findings in her book and video documentary, Women World Leaders (Harper Collins).

Liswood’s professional experience includes CEO/President of the American Society for Training and Development, executive-level consulting at the Boston Consulting Group to Fortune 500 and international companies, and executive positions at Rainier National Bank and Group W Cable, a subsidiary of Westinghouse Broadcasting and Cable. She received the Westinghouse Award of Excellence for her contribution to women and minorities in the work place. She is also the author of a book on service quality, Serving Them Right (Harper Business) and was a Senior Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

An internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, Liswood has contributed to leadership in the women’s community for more than twenty years as a member of the International Women’s Forum, Leadership America, and the board of the First Women’s Bank of California. Former commissioner of the City of Seattle Women’s Commission, Liswood was the owner/publisher of Seattle Woman. In 2000, the U.S. Secretary of Defense appointed her to a three-year term on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS). Liswood is a Trustee of the World Economic Forum and a board member of the Smithsonian Friends of the National Zoo. After the events of September 11, 2001, she became a reserve police officer in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and recently retired as a Sergeant.

Liswood holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from California State University, San Diego. She holds a JD degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Law, and is permitted to practice law in California and Massachusetts. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

Myths & Lessons of Leadership

Communication Styles & Managing Well: Men & Women at Work

Finding the Leader Within

Women World Leaders

Challenges of Diversity: The Loudest Duck

Moving Beyond Unconscious Bias

Books & Media


The Loudest Duck