Lynn Yeakel, who was director of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership and held the Betty A. Cohen Chair in Women’s Health since 2002, passed away on Thursday, January 13.
For 20 years here, Lynn pushed forward the work of the Institute to achieve shared leadership among women and men in all aspects of life, including business, government, voting representation and public service. She founded 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 the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. VisionForward, formerly known as Vision 2020, is a coalition of more than 90 national and regional Allied Organizations representing over 22 million people, and more than 150 individuals who serve as Advocates across the country.
Lynn was integral to the development of the Woman One Award and Scholarship Fund and the D. Walter Cohen Shared Leadership Scholarship for medical students from underrepresented communities. To date, the Institute has raised almost $3 million in tuition support for 36 medical students.
In addition to scholarship funds, Woman One annually honors a person of exceptional leadership. This year, Lynn was unanimously chosen by the selection committee, composed of former honorees, to receive the 2022 Woman One Award, in recognition of her longtime leadership and contributions to the Philadelphia region and for her role in founding the award and scholarship fund program almost two decades ago. The award ceremony, which will be held in April, will now be a remembrance of Lynn and a celebration of her life.
Prior to her work at Drexel, Lynn 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 be mid-Atlantic regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Lynn 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 for many years in leadership positions for local and national nonprofit organizations, and she received numerous honors and awards for leadership and humanitarian contributions, including the Pennsylvania Citizen Action Award, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania Award, the John Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award from Common Cause, and the Integrity Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Lynn was the author of two books: A Will and A Way (2010) presents insights into the key issues of women’s independence based on her own experience and lessons from history, and Majority Rules: Completing the Journey to Women’s Equality (2020), which looks to the past, present and future in making the case that women should have a 50/50 share of leadership positions.
Lynn's legacy as an unrelenting advocate for women’s equality will undoubtedly continue at Drexel and beyond.
If you would like to make a gift to the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership in honor of Lynn, visit giving.drexel.edu/yeakel.