Moving the Needle: 2022–23 ACE Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program

Mentors offer invaluable insights and guidance to emerging leaders. As part of the strategy to increase the number and diversity of women serving in executive-level positions at institutions and on governing boards, the American Council on Education (ACE) has designed the ACE Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program to support and advance women through their careers in higher education. The pilot of the ACE Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program,* which begins in January 2023 and closes in June 2023, will select and match 30 pairs of mentors and mentees to engage in at least five virtual sessions over the course of the program.

* This is Moving the Needle project is an effort with the ACE Women's Network.

Women presidents 1986-2016 chart

Source: Heather L. Johnson, Pipelines, Pathways, and Institutional Leadership: An Update on the Status of Women in Higher Education. (Washington, DC: American Council on Education, 2017), 11.

A 2022 Women’s Power Gap study examined 130 major research universities and found that women serve at the helm as president for only 5 percent of these institutions.

The ACE Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program will provide an opportunity for women to engage in a mutually beneficial community designed to develop interpersonal and collaborative relationships. Participants can share and capture experiences and strategies that have helped to propel women to thrive in senior- and executive-level positions.

Mentors and mentees selected will reflect the diversity within higher education institutions. Mentors selected will include those serving as presidents, in cabinet-level positions, and as deans and associate vice presidents. Selected mentees will range from women who hold cabinet-level positions to those serving as deans or directors.   


All participants will:

  • Address and reflect on the complex roles of women leaders
  • Broaden their understanding of the scope of leadership responsibility
  • Collaborate on mentee and mentor goals/expectations
  • Promote professional fulfillment and personal satisfaction

Mentors will:

  • Receive personal satisfaction that comes with helping someone else advance their career
  • Actively engage in open dialogue about key issues and experiences
  • Gain new perspectives and ways of thinking

Mentees will:

  • Draw lessons from the experiences of a well-respected higher education leader and reflect on their own journey
  • Enhance active listening and communicating skills
  • Learn to work through existing obstacles, gaining new perspectives and insights
  • Identify strengths and work on areas for development
  • Overcome challenges and barriers
  • Develop an implementation plan for career advancement

Applications Now Closed

Submissions are being reviewed by ACE staff and members of the ACE Women’s Network Executive Council. ACE will soon formally announce accepted mentors and mentees.

For questions about the ACE Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program, please contact