Executive Forum on Leadership: Fundamental Practices for Making a Difference

On September 18 in New York City, Schaffer is bringing together senior leaders from the Ford Foundation, Blackboard Insurance, and PBS to discuss the fundamental principles of leadership and share how they have mobilized people around common goals to achieve impact, at scale.

This event is invitation-only; space will be limited and advance registration is required to ensure access to the AIG Atrium.

Opening Remarks by Ron Ashkenas and Brook Manville, co-authors of The Harvard Business Review Leader’s Handbook. 

Panel to be moderated by Ania Wieckowski, Executive Editor, HBR

Panelist Biographies:

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation


Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, an international social justice philanthropy with a $13 billion endowment and $600 million in annual grant making. He chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and is co-founder and chair of the US Impact Investing Alliance.

Before joining Ford, Darren was vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs including the Rebuild New Orleans initiative after Hurricane Katrina. In the 1990s, as COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation—Harlem’s largest community development organization—he oversaw a comprehensive revitalization strategy, including building over 1,000 units of affordable housing and the first major commercial development in Harlem since the 1960s. Earlier, he had a decade-long career in international law and finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and UBS. 

Darren co-chairs New York City’s Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and serves on the Commission on the Future of Riker’s Island Correctional Institution and the UN International Labor Organization Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the High Line, VOW to End Child Marriage, and the Committee to Protect Journalists. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient of 13 honorary degrees and university awards, including the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University.

Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first class of Head Start in 1965 and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, which in 2009 recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award—its highest alumni honor. He has been included on numerous annual media lists, including Time’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative People, and OUT Magazine’s Power 50.


Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Media and Education, PBS

Lesli Rotenberg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, Children’s Media and Education at PBS, is responsible for the strategic direction of a dynamic media service that supports the entire ecosystem in which children learn, including parents, teachers and the community, helping to prepare the next generation for success in school and in life.

With a focus on kindergarten readiness, Rotenberg leads a cross-disciplinary team charged with content production, digital development, multi-platform asset distribution, licensing, educational product creation and marketing and communications for PBS KIDS, the #1 children's educational media brand. Rotenberg has led the development and distribution of top-rated PBS KIDS media properties that help children ages 2-8 build science, literacy, math, critical thinking and social-emotional skills, among others.

Under Rotenberg’s leadership, PBS KIDS has extended its reach through mobile apps, over-the-top platforms and the launch of a PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream, provided by local stations and available to more than 95% of US TV households. PBS KIDS also offers multiplatform parent resources to support children’s learning anytime and anywhere.

Rotenberg oversees PBS’ efforts to support and empower PreK-12th grade educators, helping improve learning outcomes for students across America. Rotenberg has positioned PBS and local member stations as key partners for teachers through content, community and professional learning resources tailored to their needs.

An educational media expert and frequent speaker on the topic, Rotenberg was named one of the nation’s top 15 “Women to Watch” by Advertising Age, and invited to participate in the prestigious FORTUNE Most Powerful Women in Business Forum. Rotenberg has received numerous honors, including six Emmy awards.

Seraina Macia, CEO, Blackboard Insurance and EVP, AIG


Seraina Macia is the Chief Executive Officer of Blackboard Insurance and Executive Vice President at AIG.  Ms. Macia leads Blackboard, AIG’s InsurTech start-up, which is focused on reimagining and transforming commercial insurance through digital technology, data analytics, and automation.

Ms. Macia rejoined AIG in 2017 from Hamilton Insurance Group, where she served as CEO of Hamilton USA, the group’s U.S.-based operations. Before being named CEO of Hamilton USA in 2016, Ms. Macia was CEO and Executive Vice President of Regional Management & Operations at AIG, having previously held the role of CEO and President of AIG EMEA, with responsibility for 47 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to joining AIG in 2013, she held several senior positions including Chief Executive of North American Property & Casualty for the XL Group; President of Zurich North America Commercial’s Specialties business unit; and Head of Investor Relations and Rating Agencies for Zurich Financial Services in Switzerland. Before joining Zurich in 2002, Ms. Macia was a founding partner and financial analyst for NZB Neue Zuercher Bank in Switzerland. Between 1990 and 2000, she held various management positions in underwriting and finance at Swiss Reinsurance in Switzerland and Australia.

Ms. Macia became a member of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse in 2015 and is currently serving on the Risk Committee. Since 2013, she has been an active member of the Board of Directors for Food Bank for New York City and was named Chairwoman in 2019. Ms. Macia is a member of the Board of Directors for St. John’s University School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science. She also serves as Board Chairwoman for BanQu.

In 2009, Ms. Macia was elected a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and named one of Business Insurance magazine’s Women to Watch. She holds an MBA from Monash Mt. Eliza Business School in Australia and is a Certified Financial Analyst. Ms. Macia is a dual citizen of Switzerland and Australia.


The Harvard Business Review Leader's Handbook: Make an Impact, Inspire Your Organization, and Get to the Next Level has been called “a tour through the best leadership ideas of the past few decades”.

Based on interviews with dozens of senior leaders, insights from the best of HBR and the authors’ experience, the book distills the practices that leaders need to succeed, and to keep working on throughout their careers. These include:

  • Creating an inspiring vision;
  • Shaping an effective strategy;
  • Mobilizing a talented team;
  • Driving for results;
  • Innovating for the future; and
  • Developing your own capacity to lead.

Each chapter focuses on one of these practices in depth, including case examples from the three leaders at our event: Darren Walker, Lesli Rotenberg, Seraina Macia.  The Leader’s Handbook is filled with insights from the Harvard Business Review and practical tools that leaders can start using right away. 


Schaffer Consulting works with leaders and teams to unlock organizational potential, attain breakthrough results, and develop critical capabilities. Our consultants are experts in driving major improvements to grow revenue, reduce costs, and deliver better performance. To help clients achieve these goals, we bring to the table an industry-leading approach combined with decades of proven experience. Schaffer is committed to delivering measurable results quickly, while coaching business leaders on how to successfully sustain and expand those results. 


Ron Ashkenas, Partner Emeritus of Schaffer Consulting, advises corporate, non-profit, and startup executives on how to accelerate growth and build leadership.  His clients have included the World Bank, GE, Thomson Reuters and Merck.  He is a frequent contributor to HBR and is the author of Simply Effective, and co-author of The GE Work-Out. The Boundaryless Organization, and Rapid Results.


Brook Manville, a former EVP of the United Way of America and partner at McKinsey & Company, now serves as an advisor to leaders on issues of strategy, organizational development and leadership effectiveness. He contributes to HBR, Fast Company, and Sloan Management Review; and his books include A Company of Citizens and Judgment Calls

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