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The World’s Most Powerful Jewish Women

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Sheryl Sandberg at the Moët Hennessy Financial Times Club Dinner, San Francisco. (Photo credit: Drew Altizer)Forbes recently published its list of the world’s 100 most powerful women, detailing the accomplishments of the most influential female business leaders working today. As it turns out, eight out of that hundred are Jewish (and of those, two are Israeli).

Their positions are diverse, ranging from the chief executive of the Home Shopping Network, to the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. And if eight out of a hundred doesn’t seem like very many, consider this: With Jews comprising approximately one quarter of one percent of the world’s population, we are (in Forbes’ estimation), disproportionately represented by a factor of over 3000%! With that in mind, we present the Jewish Voice’s tribute to the world’s most powerful Jewish women.

Sheryl Sandberg

Chief Operations
Officer, Facebook

According to Forbes, after having served four years as Facebook’s COO—and after helping to steer the company through its much anticipated $100 billion IPO this past May–Sandberg was named to the social network’s board of directors in June. She is Facebook’s first female board member.

Sandberg oversees the firm’s day to day business operations across a variety of departments including sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications. Sandberg owns nearly $1 billion worth of unvested stock in the company. After obtaining her Harvard MBA, Sandberg served as chief of staff to then-United States Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers during the Clinton administration. She also served as Google’s Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations.

Irene Rosenfeld at World Economic Forum 2009  (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)Irene Rosenfeld

Chairwoman and CEO, Kraft Foods

Having been involved in the food and beverage industry over the past several decades, Rosenfeld’s early career featured a stint with Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency in New York and she later joined General Foods in consumer research.

Rosenfeld was appointed CEO of Kraft Foods in June 2006, and she worked to split Kraft’s North American grocery business and its global snacks business into two independent public companies. The break-up is on track to be completed by the end of 2012.

According to Forbes, the move means the Kraft name will be dropped and the company will be called Mondelez International. Modelez is an “invented” word meant to evoke the phrase “delicious world” in a variety of romance languages.

Rosenfeld was born in Westbury, New York to parents Seymour and Joan Blecker, both Jewish. Her father’s parents were Romanian Jews, and her mother’s grandparents were German Jews.


Diane von Fürstenberg during New York Fashion Week  (Photo credit: Ed Kavishe, Fashion Wire Press)Diane von Furstenberg

Fashion Designer

Diane von Furstenberg began her popular fashion line with a $30,000 investment of her own money in 1970. She is perhaps best known for introducing the knitted jersey “wrap dress,” which debuted four years later. After involvement with several different business ventures over the ensuing years, she re-launched her fashion company, Diane von Fürstenberg (DvF), in 1997, with the reintroduction of her famous wrap dress.

In 1998, she published her business memoir, Diane: A Signature Life. Her company is now a global luxury lifestyle brand offering four collections annually. DvF collections are available in more than 70 countries and 45 shops worldwide.

According to Forbes, in June 2012 von Furstenberg entered her fourth term as President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a position she’ll hold at least through 2014. In that capacity she oversees the 427 fashion designers on the group’s board.

Furstenberg was born in Brussels, Belgium. Her father was Romanian-born Leon (Lipa) Halfin, and her mother was Greek-born Liliane Nahmias, a Holocaust survivor.

Safra Catz, President of Oracle (Photo credit: Ilan Costica)Safra Catz

President &CFO, Oracle

Israel-born Oracle president and CFO as of April 2011, Catz has overseen the completion dozens of large deals, including Oracle’s $1.9-billion purchase of human-resources software company Taleo in early 2012 and the $7.4-billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2009. She is also a lawyer who graduated from University of Pennsylvania Law School.



Prominent Israeli-American businesswoman Shari Arison Shari Arison

Investor, Philanthropist

According to Forbes, Arison is Israel’s richest woman and owns several businesses, among them Bank Hapoalim. The multibillionaire also owns Israel’s largest salt manufacturer. In 2006 Arison founded global water efficiency company Miya, which is currently modernizing out-of-date water systems in the Philippines and the Bahamas.

Arison launched to support volunteer work and community service, and hosts her annual initiative, known as Good Deeds Day. During that event, her non-profit organization, Ruach Tova, inspires thousands of Israelis to get involved in volunteering across the country.

Chairwoman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Schapiro (Photo credit:SEC)Mary Schapiro

Chairwoman, Securities and Exchange Commission, United States

Mary Schapiro is the 29th Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). She is one of the world’s most powerful female regulators, says Forbes. She is also the first woman to serve in that role.

Schapiro’s career in public service stretches across several decades. She served in various roles as a financial services regulator during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Schapiro was born in New York City to a Jewish family and holds a law degree from George Washington University Law School.

Carol Meyrowitz is CEO of the TJX companies, which include TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and A.J. Wright, among others. In addition to ranking 24thon the Forbes list, she also ranked 26thof CNN’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2006. (Photo credit: TJX)Carol Meyrowitz

CEO, TJX Companies

Meyrowitz, runs over 2,900 discount retail stores in the U.S. and abroad, including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. According to Forbes, she wants to grow that number to as many as 4,500 stores over the long-term.






Home Shopping Network CEO Mindy GrossmanMindy Grossman

CEO, Home Shopping Network

Grossman has been at the helm of the $3-billion (sales) television home shopping network and its digital properties since 2006. She took the company public two years later. She has also added celebrity status to the channel by spotlighting tennis star Serena Williams and hip-hop recording stars Mary J. Blige and P. Diddy. These household names have all launched products on HSN. Before joining HSN, Grossman worked for well-known names in the fashion industry, like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Nike.

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