|Address||257 S ITHAN AVE. |
Rosemont, Pennsylvania 19010, United States
|| July 09, 1941
|Contributor||Not in Public Domain|
|Last Modifed||Christie-Toomey '16|
Nov 25, 2011 04:05pm
|Info||Lynn Yeakel |
Director, Institute for Women's Health & Leadership, Drexel University College of Medicine
"I gave up absolutely everything [to run]"
Lynn Yeakel willing to take chances
From the Philadelphia Business Journal
Lynn Yeakel is not afraid to take risks.
“I like to seize opportunities,” said Yeakel, whose résumé includes co-founding the country’s first women’s funding federation, running for a U.S. Senate seat, working for the federal government and leading a women’s health institute.
“There are consistent themes throughout my career, which has taken some different directions,” said Yeakel, who, for the past two years, has served as director of Drexel University College of Medicine’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership. “I’ve always been very interested in working to improve the quality of life for women and advancing women’s opportunities.”
Yeakel also said she is a strong believer in public service.
“I grew up in a family where public service was a key element,” she said. “My father was a United States representative for 22 years.”
Among all she has accomplished, co-founding Womens Way in 1977 is one of things that gives her the most pride.
The mission of Womens Way, a nonprofit women’s funding federation, is to raise money and public awareness to fight for and achieve women’s equality, safety, self-sufficiency and reproductive freedom through women-centered funding, advocacy and education.
Yeakel served as president and chief executive of Womens Way from 1980 to 1992.
“When Womens Way started, there was very little support from the business community for the kinds of programs we were sponsoring, like rape crisis counseling and domestic violence shelters,” she said. “What we were able to do is build a bridge between the business community and nonprofit organizations. There was a great distance between the executives in corporate offices, be they male or female, and the volunteers in the hospital emergency room there to help a child who had been abused. We needed to build bridges.”
Yeakel’s departure from the organization coincided with her first run for political office.
In 1992, she decided to run for a seat in the Senate. She won the Democratic primary, but narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Arlen Specter.
“[Yeakel] woke us all up to the importance of the participation of women in politics,” said Juliet J. Goodfriend, the chairwoman and president of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, who nominated Yeakel for the Philadelphia Business Journal “Women of Distinction” honor.
Goodfriend said she has known Yeakel for three decades.
“She’s a very inspiring person; she can really set a fire under you,” Goodfriend said of Yeakel. “She’s incredibly creative and a real entrepreneur. She defines nonprofit entrepreneurship.”
Yeakel said she was motivated to run for the Senate seat after watching Specter’s interrogation of law school professor Anita Hill during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas.
“I was so annoyed with [Specter] after the hearings,” she said. “People were calling me asking me to run. I decided to do it.”
Looking back, Yeakel doesn’t regret the experience.
“I gave up absolutely everything [to run],” she said. “I gave up my job. It took four years to pay off the debts. It was a very traumatic time. It was a little while before I appreciated the extraordinary experience I had. I got a chance to meet people I never would have met — everybody from the Clintons to movie stars to union workers and people working in factories all over the commonwealth. It was really a wonderful experience.”
The connections she made led to her being appointed regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Philadelphia office, which covers Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“It was fascinating,” she said. “It was very different from working in the nonprofit world — being on the other side of the equation where the resources are and the decisions are made about how the resources are allocated.”
Yeakel is back in the nonprofit arena as director of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel.
During that time, the institute has doubled in size, increasing the number of programs it administers from five to 10.
“I learn new things every hour because I am in a medical school surrounded by people doing all this innovative research,” she said. “And I feel we are really providing a major service educating women to take better care of themselves and live healthy lives.”
DOB verified with PA Dept. of State.