Five Women in Field of Executive Search Have Been Selected Winners of the 2021 ACE Donna Shavlik Award
May 18, 2021

​​​​Also focused on the advancement of women in higher education, the ACE State Network Leadership Award goes to the ACE Women's Network of Florida's Pivoting With a Purpose program

ACE is proud to announce that Betty Turner Asher, Jean Dowdall, Jan Greenwood, Narcisa Polonio, and Shelly Weiss Storbeck have been selected as a group to receive the ACE Donna Shavlik Award. Collectively they have shaped the higher education executive search process and significantly contributed to women’s equitable representation across the leadership pipeline.

“Together, these five women have supported, promoted, and sustained a generation of women leaders to positions of importance and prominence,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “Thanks in no small part to their efforts, we are indeed 'moving the needle' when it comes to women in the highest ranks.”

  • Betty Turner Asher is partner and executive vice president of Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. She was one of the first women to serve as president of a flagship institution, and she paved the way for many others to follow in her footsteps through her career in executive search, consulting, and training.
  • Jean Dowdall is senior partner of counsel​ at Witt/Kieffer. She is a prolific writer on leadership and the search process, and the author of Searching for Higher Education Leadership: Advice for Candidates and Search Committees.
  •  Jan Greenwood is partner and president of Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. She was one of the first women to hold multiple presidencies at both public and private institutions, and was among the earliest executive recruiters focused on education and nonprofits.
  • Narcisa Polonio is executive team leader for community college practice at Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. She is well known as one of the leading authorities on community college governance, executive searches, and presidential leadership.
  • Shelly Weiss Storbeck is managing partner and co-founder of Storbeck Search. She was one of the first women to serve as chief of staff to a college president and was instrumental in shaping this higher education position. She is now one of the most widely recognized figures in the field of educational executive search, having recruited senior leaders for America's most prestigious colleges and universities.

In all, they have facilitated approximately 3000 executive searches, with women and people of color numbering more than half of the people hired through these searches.

ACE established the Donna Shavlik Award to commemorate the long and outstanding service of Donna Shavlik, former director of ACE's Office of Women in Higher Education. Presented annually, the award honors an individual who demonstrates a sustained commitment to advancing women in higher education through leadership and career development, campus climate, and mentoring.

2021 ACE State Network Leadership Award

The recipient of the 2021 ACE State Network Leadership award is the ACE Women’s Network of Florida for its initiative, Pivoting With a Purpose: Helping Women in Higher Education to Not Just Survive but Thrive During the Pandemic.

The ACE State Network Leadership Award recognizes an outstanding and innovative program sponsored by an ACE State Network or by a college or university that helps advance or support women or women's issues in higher education.

“Pivoting With a Purpose demonstrates the resilience and ingenuity of our state networks and the women who comprise them,” said Gailda Davis, chief of staff and senior director of ACE’s Learning and Engagement division. “The ACE Women’s Network of Florida met the challenges of the pandemic head on and rose above them.”

Pivoting With a Purpose allowed the ACE Women’s Network of Florida to provide continuity, connectedness, enhanced support, and professional and leadership development during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its online programming includes monthly Coffee & Conversation sessions with presidential sponsors, Communities of Care support groups, a virtual conference, and virtual book clubs.

ACE will be celebrating the recipients of the Donna Shavlik Award, State Network Award, and other 2021 ACE awards online next week with video interviews and more.