Los Altos Hills resident Alepin pushes cause of women leaders around world for humanity

Photo Shelly Gordon/Special To The Town Crier Linda Alepin, left, meets Patricia Eiyo-Elotu, a graduate ofthe 2009 GWLN program. Eiyo-Elotu is from Uganda and works with women farmers to train them in sustainable farming techniques.

The Global Women’s Leadership Network, in partnership with Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and Law School, has scheduled its Global Leaders for Justice Program July 31 through Aug. 7 at the university. More than 20 global leaders will participate in the program dedicated to developing effective leadership.

The program is the fulfillment of a dream for Linda Alepin, a 37-year resident of Los Altos Hills.

Since Alepin formed the network in 2004, the organization has trained 100 women leaders from nearly 30 countries and various sectors of society and encouraged them to transform their work into breakthrough global projects.

They continue their projects in environmental sustainability, health care, economic development, food security, gender equality and human rights with ongoing coaching from Alepin and network volunteers using Internet technologies like Skype, Web conferencing and social media.

“Linda has always been a visionary,” said Linda Thompson, a longtime Los Altos friend and business colleague for 30 years. “Linda thinks big and is willing to take the actions to make dreams a reality. She can see and take advantage of opportunities that others might ignore.”

Alepin forged a partnership between the Global Women’s Leadership Network and the law school to develop the training program. They raised funds to sponsor leaders from India, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ghana, Iran, Cambodia and Costa Rica.

The program demonstrates how to implement projects through workshops and classes in social policy, supplemented with opportunities to network with Silicon Valley social entrepreneurs working in developing countries. This year’s projects focus on food security, rights of disabled citizens, clean water, children’s health, education and human rights advocacy.

Alepin, who raised two sons and two daughters with her husband, Ronald, in Los Altos Hills, has blazed a trail for women since 1967, when she was one of three women to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in economics. That same year, she joined IBM as the first woman hired in sales and was promoted to sales engineer when IBM introduced its first desktop computer.

“Acceptance of women in business at that time was an issue, but I didn’t let the barriers stop me,” Alepin said.

When Alepin took a marketing position with Amdahl, she mastered the discipline of finance and within three years was promoted to vice president of strategy – the company’s second female officer.

When Amdahl foundered under a $700 million loss in 1993, Alepin led the team that returned the company to profitability a year later.

Alepin remembers driving home after a trying day and stopping at Rancho San Antonio County Park. Standing on a sandbar along Permanente Creek, Alepin envisioned an international group of women leaders, bound together by the Internet, changing the world. She’s now channeling that vision through a powerful leadership course that she wanted to make available to potential women leaders.

“It’s become painfully obvious that the world’s most persistent problems ... cannot be overcome with traditional models of leadership,” she said. “(The network’s) mission is to leverage the talents of women leaders and ignite a new future for humanity. Our goal is to create 500 women leaders by 2013.”

A public event, The Global Innovation Dialogue, to introduce the leaders is scheduled Aug. 4.

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