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Laura  Liswood

Laura Liswood

Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders


Laura Liswood is a lawyer and has been a senior line executive running operations in the banking, airline and cable TV industries.  She was CEO and President of the American Society for Training and Development and was named Managing Director, Global Leadership and Diversity for Goldman Sachs becaming a Senior Advisor to the global investment bank. Ms. Liswood has been a Senior Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, she was a member of the board of a public company, Charming Shoppes, a retail clothing store with 2300 stores.  An author and speaker, she has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, BBC, International Herald Tribune, and Newsweek and has provided leadership presentations for over 7000 Senior Executives in the U.S. government and cabinet level Presidential Appointees. Read More >

Ms. Liswood is also the Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders, located in Washington, DC, which is composed of women presidents, prime ministers, and heads of government. The work of the Council expands the understanding of leadership, establishes a network of resources for high-level women leaders, and provides a forum for the group to contribute input and shape the international issues important to all people. She co-founded the Council with President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir of Iceland. 

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 which is chronicled in her book and video documentary, Women World Leaders (Harper Collins).

She received the Westinghouse Award of Excellence for her contribution to leadership and to women and minorities in the work place. She is also the author of a book on service quality, Serving Them Right (Harper Business). The mayor of Seattle named her a commissioner of the City of Seattle Women’s Commission. In 2000, the Secretary of Defense appointed her to a three-year term of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS). After the events of September 11, 2001, Ms. Liswood graduated from the MPD police academy and became a reserve police officer in Washington DC and retired after 13 years in law enforcement with the rank of sergeant.  She provided crisis management and continuity of leadership expertise to Goldman Sachs after 9/11 and as a police officer was assigned to Special Operations Division.

She holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from California State University, San Diego. She holds a J.D. degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in California and Massachusetts.

Her latest best-selling book, The Loudest Duck (Wiley and Sons), is a business guide that uses parables and anecdotes to examine the challenges to traditional workplace leadership and diversity efforts and provides innovative strategies to create truly effective workplaces for all.

She lives in Bethesda, Maryland. 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