For more than 20 years, Lynn Yeakel was director of Drexel University College of Medicine’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership® where she held the Betty A. Cohen Chair in Women’s Health. Yeakel was the founder and president of VisionForward, a national initiative of the Institute to achieve gender equity through women's leadership, with its focus on the year 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights. A coalition of more than 90 national and regional organizations representing over 22 million people, and women leaders who are advocates across the country, VisionForward, formerly known as Vision 2020, ignited an American conversation on women and leadership in 2010. Its goal is to achieve shared leadership among women and men in all aspects of American life, beginning with business and government.
Yeakel was a founder of Women’s Way, the first and largest women’s fundraising coalition in the nation, and served as its CEO from 1980 until 1992, when she ran for the U.S. Senate. She drew national attention in what was called the “Year of the Woman,” winning the primary and nearly unseating the longtime incumbent. In 1994, she was appointed by President Clinton to the position of mid-Atlantic regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Yeakel was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate and former trustee of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and received a master of science in management degree from the American College. She was active in leadership positions for local and national non-profit organizations and was the recipient of numerous honors and awards for leadership and humanitarian contributions, including the Pennsylvania Citizen Action Award, the Lucretia Mott Award, and the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania Award. She was honored with the John Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award from Common Cause, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Red Cross, a leadership award from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, the Alice Paul Equality Award from the Alice Paul Institute, and the Helena Devereux Award from the Main Line Chamber of Commerce.
Her second book, Majority Rules: Completing the Journey to Women’s Equality, was published in 2020. In it she looked to the past, present and future in making the case for women, who are 52% of the population, to have a 50/50 share of leadership positions. Her first book, A Will and A Way (2010), presented insights into the key issues of women’s independence based on her own experience and lessons from history.
Yeakel passed away on January 13, 2022, at the age of 80. Donations to the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership can be made in her honor at giving.drexel.edu/yeakel.