Irene Natividad – WOMAN of ACTION™



A Celebration of Women™

is elated to Celebrate the Life of one of our world’s leading women activists of this generation. It is not often we find a feminist who is not only influential in Corporate America, but who is also of Asian origin. That was before you met Irene Natividad, a recognized women’s leader who has made waves in the United States over the last 30 years, and globally still today.





Irene Natividad

‘My commitment to promoting women, nationally and internationally, stems from my decade-long involvement with the National Women’s Political Caucus, a 30-year-old bipartisan organization dedicated to electing and appointing more women to public office, and I was elected President in 1985 and re-elected in 1987 -the first Asian American ever to head a national political organization.’

Irene Natividad [born in 1948], a recognized leader for women in the United States, wears many hats. Born in Manila in 1948, Natividad is the eldest of four. Her father’s work as a chemical engineer took the family from the Philippines to Japan, Iran, Greece, and India. Partly because of the frequent moves, Natividad speaks Spanish, French, Italian, Tagalog, Farsi and Greek fluently.

In Greece, Natividad completed her high school education as Valedictorian of her Class.

“My mother only attended my college graduation when I informed her I was valedictorian of my class. Her only prescription for my future career: I don’t care what it is, just be number one,” she says.

doctorate-degree-english-800x800In 1973, Natividad received a master’s degree in American literature and in 1976, a master’s in philosophy, both from Columbia University in New York.

She has only to complete her dissertation to earn her doctorate. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Long Island University (1989) and Marymount College (1994).

Natividad’s first taste of politics came in 1968 when she distributed campaign leaflets for Eugene J. McCarthy’s presidential bid. She joined the working world during the 1970s, when she held faculty and administrative positions in higher education.

In 1980, Natividad served as founder and president of Asian American Professional Women and as founding director of the National Network of Asian-Pacific American Women and the Child Care Action Campaign.

She went on to serve as chair of the New York State Asian Pacific Caucus from 1982 to 1984, and as deputy vice-chair of the Asian Pacific Caucus of the Democratic National Committee.

By 1985 Natividad’s career as a political activist was in full swing. She was elected to chair the 77,000-member National Women’s Political Caucus, becoming the first Asian American woman to head a national women’s organization.

Throughout her career Natividad has focused on using organizations to achieve her goals.

During her tenure, the caucus trained candidates and their staffs throughout the US on the basics of campaigning. The workshops covered topics key to running a successful campaign, such as polling techniques, fund-raising, grassroots organisation, and strategies for dealing with the news media. The caucus also gathered hard data to analyze factors influencing women’s congressional races and compiled an annual Survey of Governors’ Appointments of Women to state cabinets.

Through the work of the caucus’ Coalition for Women’s Appointments in 1988, Natividad was invited to meet with President George Bush to promote women candidates for administration posts.

An estimated one-third of all women appointed to high-level positions in the Bush administration had been recommended by the coalition led by Natividad.

NWPC_logo.25772106_stdIn 1989, Natividad stepped down as chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus to pursue other interests.

“People may say bad things about the US, but in the US, I have the freedom to do what I want to do. US has that fluidity in society. It provided me a platform to become an advocate, and I feel some measure of success in it,” she says.

Ms. Natividad is President of the Global Summit of Women, an annual international gathering of women leaders from around the world, and is the Chair of Corporate Women Directors International, which promotes the increased participation of women on corporate boards globally. Most important, she runs her own public affairs firm, GlobeWomen, based in Washington, D.C.



A sought-after commentator, her views are aired nationally on PBS’ ‘To The Contrary’, an all-women news analysis series in which she has served as a regular panelist for over two decades. She has appeared on CNN news shows, Crossfire, the Today show, Good Morning America, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. Her editorials have appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Des Moines Register, Chicago Tribune, to name a few.

Ms. Natividad’s commitment to promoting women, nationally and internationally, stems from her decade-long involvement with the National Women’s Political Caucus, a 35-year-old bipartisan organization dedicated to electing and appointing more women to public office. Widely recognized for her outstanding leadership of the Caucus, she was elected President in 1985 and re-elected in 1987, the first Asian American ever to head a national political organization.

During the nineties, she assumed the chairmanship of the National Commission on Working Women, which works on economic equity issues affecting women through groundbreaking research and training programs. Her commitment to women’s economic empowerment has extended to the global arena, where she has provided a forum through the Global Summit of Women to exchange best practices in accelerating women’s economic progress.

Long known for her coalition work, Ms. Natividad has served on the numerous boards of directors and advisory boards of nonprofits such as the Global Economic Symposium and the National Museum of Women in the Arts to corporate advisory boards for Cigna,Wyndham International, and the National Association of Corporate Directors. She brings to each of these groups her policy expertise, skills in network building and creative program development. In 1994, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of Sallie Mae, a Fortune 100 company, by President Clinton.

Philippines_flagA native of the Philippines, Ms. Natividad is also a leader in the Asian American community, where she has focused her energies in politically empowering a group frequently referred to as “the invisible minority.” She served as Deputy Vice Chair of the Democratic Party’s Asian Caucus from 1982 to 1984, and has continued to organize numerous Asian American groups at all levels. She was the Executive Editor of the first-ever Asian American Almanac that was published by Gale Research in 1995.

Irene working mothersMs. Natividad’s work has been honored by numerous media organizations. She is one of Diversity Journal’s 2012 “Women Worth Watching.” In 2004, she was selected by Women’s eNews as one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.” She was named in 1997 as one of “25 Most Influential Working Mothers” by Working Mother Magazine; in 1993 as one of the “74 Women Changing American Politics” by Campaigns & Elections Magazine; and recognized by A. Magazine as one of the top 25 influential Asian Americans. Ms. Natividad was also named in 1988 as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies Home Journal.

She has been awarded a Doctorate in Humane Letters by Long Island University, from where she graduated valedictorian in 1971; and by Marymount College (New York) in 1994 for her global work on behalf of women.

Ms. Natividad resides outside of Washington, DC with her husband Andrea Cortese. They have one son, Carlo Natividad Cortese. On her domestic life, Natividad is married to Andreas Cortese, director of digital communications services for the Communications Satellite Corp. They married when she was 26. Because of her busy schedule, son Carlo Natividad-Cortese was only born a decade later.

Natividad describes her husband as someone who is extremely supportive. The couple take turns cooking and washing.

“We respect each other, and have other interests. Because I’m always travelling, we have different worlds. So that helps and we don’t get bored of each other.”

Irene Natividad entrega Premio Women Global Leadership Award a Michelle   Bachelet2009 Global Women’s Leadership Award to President of Chile Michelle Bachelet at the Summit’s Welcoming Dinner.


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IRENE reatha photo resized for enewsColloquium on Global Diversity, February 21-22, 2013

“Creating a Level Playing Field for Women”

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for more information.

Dr. Reatha Clark King, Board Director Allina Health Systems and National Association of Corporate Directors speaking at last year’s Colloquium in Washington, DC.


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2013 Global Summit of Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia June 6 – June 8, 2013

On the Global Summit of Women, Natividad describes it as a gathering of best practices for women. She points out that there are few events in which women across the globe can meet and exchange views and information, without being overshadowed by governments, corporations and men.

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“It’s a gathering for business and economic purposes. I don’t want to replicate the United Nations. We celebrated the 19th year of the summit in Chile last month. We had some 1,000 women from about 90 countries come together. I don’t consider this a job. This is my life,” she says.

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2013 Global Summit of Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia June 6 – June 8, 2013


RosmahMansorWith its legions of women business leaders and enthusiastic engagement in the global marketplace, Malaysia is the proud host of the 2013 Global Summit of Women. Chaired by the First Lady of Malaysia H.E. Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah binti Mansor, the 2013 Summit, the foremost international economic forum for women leaders in business, government, and civil society, takes place in Kuala Lumpur at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur Hotel from June 6-8, 2013.

Malaysia, a rising economic dynamo whose economic growth was recently described by the Financial Times as a “gravity-defying boom”, benefits from its strategic location connecting the Far East to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. At the center of high growth Asian markets, the country offers ample business and investment opportunities in sectors such as oil and gas, energy, financial services, wholesale and retail, electronics, communications, and healthcare. In addition, its culture and beaches attracts tourists from throughout the world, making Malaysia the 9th most visited country in the world.


Under the theme of “Women: Creating NEW Economies”, the 2013 Summit emphasizes that women are changing the global marketplace with the creative new enterprises they are building, their emphasis on business’ responsibilities towards their workers and surrounding communities, and their protective initiatives towards nurturing a fragile environment. The prowess of Malaysia’s women entrepreneurs and business leaders provides ample best practices of women’s abilities to grow businesses while affecting positive change in the marketplace and throughout society.

A sampling of Malaysia’s women business leaders: Ellie Xie of Procter and Gamble Malaysia and Singapore; Jamelah Jamaluddin of the Kuwait Finance House; Yasmin Mahmood of YTL Communications; Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Malaysia’s Central Bank; Angel Choi of Pfizer Malaysia.

Waiting to welcome the delegates are Malaysia’s powerful women leaders in government and business and its influential associations of women in business. A sampling of Malaysia’s women leaders includes Ellie Xie, CEO of Procter and Gamble Malaysia and Singapore; Angel Choi, Country Manager of Pfizer Malaysia; Yvonne Chia, Managing Director and CEO of Hong Leong Bank; Yasmin Mahmood, Managing Director, YTL Communications; Jamelah Jamaluddin, CEO of the Kuwait Finance House; and Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Malaysia’s Central Bank.


Some of the highlights of the 2013 Summit include the Welcoming Dinner at the new Palace in Kuala Lumpur hosted by the Queen, a Closing Reception in Putrajaya the government capital, hosted by the First Lady and the Prime Minister, a special session on “Doing Business in Malaysia” with the Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, and dozens of hands-on, practical workshops.

The 2013 Global Summit of Women is delighted to offer women in business and government globally an opportunity to become more acquainted with Malaysia and its impressive women. For the registration form, hotel information, and more information, go to, and click to the Global Summit of Women.

What women need

irene-344x268On her opinion of women, Natividad does not begrudge women and the choices they make. Right now, she feels women are still nowhere near equity in anything.

She says that women are products of their culture, and culture is something that is hard to change, especially in Asia.

“Two decades ago, women couldn’t even get into the workforce. Now they make up 50% of the workforce. Not too long ago, the status of a women depended on the type of husband she could get. Not anymore,” she points out.

“For women, it also depends a lot on how you view yourself. Right now, I have more single friends than married friends. I think it can be very frightening for guys to be with someone very accomplished. For women, it’s very hard to marry down.”

Her advice to women? You need to be financially responsible and invest for your future, she says. It is absolutely necessary for women to earn their own money, as more often than not, finances are the heart of a problem.

Natividad is adamant on finding a balance between work and family. She believes that until this issue is resolved, women cannot forge ahead.

“We need to break the notion that women are only responsible for children. I’ve been asking companies to get flexible schedules for people with children. I think younger men today want to be more involved with their family. I think some men are changing,” she argues.

“Does it really matter whether a person works at home or at the office, as long as she or he delivers? This is what I call ‘face time’. Do you measure success as a measure of ‘face time’ or results?” she asks.

And the legacy she would like to leave?

“Hopefully I have put women in a better place. And I would like my summit to continue,” she says.

Irene Natividad

2013 Global Summit of Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia June 6 – June 8, 2013

Natividad is passionate about wanting to jump-start the lives of women. She does not accept that women have to start from zero. That is why she puts together the summit, hence allowing women to find business and economic partners globally.

“I had one woman from Bangladesh who was merely selling pashmina shawls. And through my summit, she now sells it to other women in Iceland and Japan! Now, how is that kind of networking possible without my summit?” she asks.

“We also had a 15-year-old South African teenage entrepreneur who was sent by South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry. Can you imagine the exposure she gets, meeting such high-level people from all over the world, how that could have impacted her life?”

The more micro aspects of organizing the event definitely gets Natividad’s attention. Being a women means caring about every little thing, from the coffee to the speeches to the itinerary. “Whether it’s food for the participants or if people are having a good time, I worry about everything,” she exclaims.

Nonetheless, Natividad says she is proud of women and marvels at how creative and determined they are.

Despite all the setbacks and glass ceilings, women still make up half the workforce.

“They have limited access to credit, yet half of them are business owners. Women have done it on their own,” she says resolutely.


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A Celebration of Women™


is elated to honor this powerhouse, a true visionary for all women.




Brava Irene!



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