Celebrating International Women's Day: An Interview with Joanna Berwind


I recently had the opportunity to attend a leadership and networking event, hosted by the Berwind Corporation, a fifth-generation family-owned investment management company. During this event, held in center city Philadelphia, more than 50 executive leaders across seven operating companies gathered to collaborate and bring about positive change in our organizations. We discussed critical topics like DE&I advocacy, what it means to be a change agent, and how we can better amplify & support others in their leadership journey.

It just so happens that all of these leaders were women. Notice that I didn’t start there. I didn’t say I attended a female leadership conference, or participated in a women’s networking event. For me personally, I take the view of:

I am woman, hear me roar!


Let’s ditch the labels at the door.


I’m honored to serve as a leader, and I’m proud to be a woman in business. I certainly recognize when I am the only woman in a meeting room, but I also know that discussions around diversity and inclusion happen a lot more often than they ever did before. I’m grateful for my journey—all the ups and the downs—and continue to learn more about the kind of leader I want to be every day. I love listening to stories whenever people are willing to share them.

One such story I heard recently was from Joanna Berwind, co-chair of the advisory board for the Berwind Group of Companies. She joined her siblings in conceptualizing and leading the establishment of Spring Point Partners, a Philadelphia-based social impact organization that invests in the transformational leaders, networks, and solutions that power community change and advance justice. Joanna participated in a Q&A panel, and she was honest, vulnerable, and frankly, refreshing. I wanted to share some of her story here, in honor of International Women’s Day.

Q. What does it mean to be a change agent?

A. For me, knowing myself has been the first critical step in becoming a change agent. That means seeing the good and the bad, my quirks and blind spots, as well as my own unique strengths. I like to say that I hold my own STRONG opinions, LOOSELY. I am consistently curious about other people, while bringing my full self to the table, complete with imperfections and vulnerabilities.

Q. How would you describe your leadership style?

A. In my opinion, leaders don’t need to choose to be one way or another. We can be humble, and assertive. We can be bold, and vulnerable. Confident, and gracious. Recognize the difference between influence and power. The best advice someone gave me is to be patient. Acknowledge that change doesn’t happen overnight and that nothing is permanent. If you want to change the dance, you must change the dance steps first.

Q. What would you consider your top strengths?

A. Growing up the way I did, surrounded by wealthy and often influential people, I learned how important humility is in human connection. As a result, I try to meet people where they are in their own journey, seeing them for who they truly are. I understand that honesty, and even vulnerability, are powerful tools in developing meaningful relationships that matter.

Q.  What advice can you offer business leaders today?

A. I know it sounds simple, but don’t be ashamed to take care of yourself—body, mind, and spirit. Put your oxygen mask on first, before you try to help someone else. Don’t give shame a place in your life. After all, shame is not helpful in bringing about positive change or equity.  

Thank you to Joanna, and cheers to all the kick-a$$ women out there. Happy International Women’s Day!

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