Our Team

JANET COWELL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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Janet Cowell has always been passionate about serving others. Prior to joining Girls Who Invest, she held publicly elected offices in North Carolina for fifteen years and was the first woman elected State Treasurer, managing over $100 billion in assets and health and retirement benefits for more than 900,000 members. During her eight years as Treasurer, Janet consistently achieved exceptional results and national recognition, maintaining North Carolina’s AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies – one of only ten states to do so – growing pension assets from $60 to $90 billion and achieving an eight-year return of over 7.5%.

A longtime advocate for the power of education, Janet chairs the Executive Education Board of the Wharton School of Business. During her time as Treasurer, she was a member of the North Carolina Community College Board and State School Board.

Prior to public service, Janet held positions in the private sector in the U.S. and abroad. She was a securities analyst for Lehman Brothers and HSBC in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, and a business consultant with Sibson & Company working with U.S. Fortune 500 companies.

Cowell currently serves on the boards of James River Group Insurance, Channel Advisor and the international human development agency FHI360, in addition to volunteering for various non-profits. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, earning her MBA and M.A. in international studies from the Wharton School of Business and the Lauder Institute, respectively. In her free time, Janet enjoys non-fiction reads, dark florals, outdoor party lights, forests and coffee shops.  

 

JANET THERRIEN, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

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With more than 20 years’ experience in international marketing and business transformation and a passion for lifelong learning, Janet Therrien joined Girls Who Invest to work on the ambitious mission of diversifying the asset management industry. She has held leadership and advisement roles with diverse organizations and governments on brand positioning, marketing strategy, change management and negotiation training while based in the U.S., Canada, Singapore, and Dubai.

Most recently, Janet served as Consultant to a global investment advisor and led marketing strategy for several boutique Wall Street technology and research firms. Prior to that, she worked for the Singapore Economic Development Board, spearheading the rebrand of the country’s manufacturing sector and promoting a $1B biotech fund, and helped draft the Singapore 2015 Tourism Masterplan to raise $600 million in revitalization funding. Janet also co-founded a successful private school and a design agency. An advocate for restorative justice, she has worked with several startups in the areas of development, conflict resolution and peace education.

Janet holds an M.S. in public policy and management from the University of York, UK and undergraduate degrees from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. She lives with her husband in New York and is a proud mother of two who teach her something new every day.

 

DEBRA SOMERS, HEAD OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT

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Debra Somers has held various roles in finance and recruiting for the past 16 years. Most recently, she was the Program Director of Portfolio Recruiting at Vista Equity Partners, where she implemented recruiting-related best practices at the private equity firm's 25+ portfolio companies globally. She also managed a team that recruited for key roles at those portfolio companies, as well as at Vista Equity Partners and Vista Consulting Group. 

Prior to Vista, Debra managed campus recruiting efforts for the investment banking department at Credit Suisse. Debra started her career in finance as an investment banking analyst at Deutsche Bank followed by five years at Credit Suisse where she served as Vice President in Equity Capital Markets Origination, focused on technology companies.

Debra graduated from Georgetown University with a B.S. in finance. She enjoys traveling, running and wine, and is passionate about empowering women in the financial sector. 

 

CINDY ESPARRAGOZA, ACADEMIC OUTREACH AND PROGRAM MANAGER

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Cindy heads Admissions and Recruiting and brings years of project management, change management and process analysis experience to the role. Motivated to help women gain access to asset management, she designed and implemented GWI’s outreach program to colleges, universities and student groups. Prior to this, Cindy acted as the Strategic Operations Program Manager at the North Carolina State Treasurer's Office under the Chief of Staff and State Treasurer serving all North Carolinians. During this time, she served on the Corporate Governance Committee and worked on diversity and gender initiatives on corporate boards.

Cindy received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from North Carolina State University and is a PMI certified Project Management Professional. Cindy aspires to “retire” as an astrophysicist and spends her spare time learning quantum mechanics, working on her car, taking apart electronics and cooking cuisine from her Columbian roots for good measure.

 

SAFIYA SERGEANT, PARTNER RELATIONS & MARKETING ASSISTANT

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Safiya works with our Girls Who Invest partner firms to help coordinate our internships, fundraising initiatives and partner events, and serves as a program manager on campus during our Summer Intensive Program.  She also coordinates GWI's Ambassador program and Board communications. Previously, Safiya has held roles in marketing for the Motorcycle Safety School and in Investment Operations at Cannataro Park Avenue Financial. 

Safiya received a B.S. in Finance and B.A. in Sociology from Baruch College, City University of New York.  Our resident health and wellness advocate, she enjoys the great outdoors and music festivals, and has a weakness for salads.  


KELSEY DOOL, PROGRAM & MARKETING ASSISTANT

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Kelsey Dool manages marketing, social media and program efforts for GWI including outreach to our scholars and GWI community, coordinating our Summer Intensive Program, and serving as a program manager on campus during our Summer Intensive Program.  Prior to joining Girls Who Invest, Kelsey was a Resident Teaching Assistant for our cohort at the University of Notre Dame where she helped to facilitate the on-campus scholar community, promote the program externally and gather insights to enhance the experience for future scholars. She has also provided Writing and Project Assistance to the Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing and was a Manager and Reading Specialist with Kumon. 

Kelsey graduated cum laude from The University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in American Studies and English. Kelsey is a thespian at heart and can usually be found strategizing for a win at a weekly Quiz Night tournament in Manhattan.