Rayona Sharpnack

Rayona founded the Institute for Women’s Leadership in 1991 – an organization renown for its’ groundbreaking work throughout the United States, Australia, and Canada. Drawing from her successful careers in education, professional sports and business, Rayona is considered a pioneer in this field and has become an inspirational teacher, coach and mentor for executives in Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, emerging businesses and non-profit organizations. She has helped over 25 corporations launch and/or expand the impact of their women’s initiatives.


Rayona has presented her outstanding achievements in advancing women leaders and building high performance organizations to prestigious institutions and associations such as Harvard University, Stanford Business School, UC Berkeley Business School, Mills College, State of the World Forum, the Canadian Federal Government, the Australian Federal Government, Leadership America, and the Professional and Business Women of California. National publications such as Fast Company, Working Mother and the New York Times have showcased Rayona’s leadership model and she has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches, and designed large conferences focused on the topic of developing extraordinary women leaders. Rayona’s new book “Trade Up: 5 Steps for Redesigning Your Leadership & Life from the Inside Out” has enjoyed a great deal of success with individuals and organizations across the U.S. She is also one of several featured authors of the ground-breaking book, “Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership.”


Rayona’s masterful approach as a coach and educator helps her take very complex theoretical concepts and distill them down to poignant, relevant and easily accessible learning distinctions — resulting in dramatically more effective leadership skills for her clients. More than 20,000 professionals from Fortune 500 companies have relied on Rayona and the Institute for Women’s Leadership to produce breakthrough results both at work and in their personal lives.


In addition to numerous awards, Rayona was inducted the Sparks High School Alumni Hall of Fame and was a finalist in the 2006 Silicon Valley Woman of Distinctions Awards. Her groundbreaking work has earned her an appointment as Chairwoman of Leadership Development for Harvard’s Kennedy School, Women’s Leadership Board.


Rayona spends much of her free time playing sports. As shortstop for the California Express women’s senior softball team, Rayona helped the team claim the runner-up position in the 2 softball world championships. The crown jewel of Rayona’s life is her daughter, Chelsea, age 22, who inspires, challenges, coaches and generally keeps her Mom in a continuous learning mode regarding the power of negotiating win-win solutions.