In Conversation with Ann Miura-Ko ’98, the Newest Member of the Yale Corporation and a Modern-Day “Wonder Woman”

Ann Miura-Ko ’98 is essentially a modern-day “Wonder Woman.” She is the newest member of the Yale Corporation, a Silicon Valley pioneer investor, a co-founding partner at Floodgate (a seed-stage venture capital firm), a wife, and a mother of three children.

YaleWomen Council member, Rose Jia ’07, spoke with Ann about being a woman at Yale and in her career; how she got to be a “Wonder Woman”; and her advice to women everywhere.

Ann grew up in Palo Alto, California, surrounded by technology. And yet, she never imagined she would end up in a world that would eventually fund the next generation of tech companies like Twitter, Twitch, Refinery29, and Okta. Her passion at the time lay with music, especially piano. When she chose to attend college, she decided on Yale because she knew she would be at an institution that would allow her to pursue her musical interests while getting a strong education.

At Yale, Ann’s interest in music opened a door to finding a sisterhood outside of her main course of study — electrical engineering — a major without many female students. She quickly found herself singing with Proof of the Pudding (an acapella group on campus), where she met an “incredibly dynamic group of diverse interests and backgrounds brought together by a common love for singing.” These women went on to become some of her closest friends and the women she most admired.

When Ann first began her career, she could not imagine she would one day be a repeat member of the Forbes Midas List and The New York Times Top 20 Venture Capitalists Worldwide. At that point in time, there just weren’t that many women in the field she could have looked up to. In almost every industry she was a part of — from electrical engineering at Yale to consulting to investing to getting her PhD at Stanford in mathematical modeling of computer security — women were far and few between. When she first approached the investing world, she asked one partner, “Do you know any female general partners in venture capital?” Their response: none on the East Coast and only a handful on the West Coast. In a February 2018 CNBC interview, Ann remarked: “There isn’t a multitude of people where you could just point to that person and say, ‘That’s the person I am going to be in 10, 20, 30 years.’ And I think that’s what’s tough.” Even today, women hold only 10 percent of all senior positions in private equity and venture capital firms globally (according to IFC paper).

Despite all these challenges, Ann made her way to the top. She didn’t see her future through gender-biased glasses; instead, she cared about being different. “It’s important to be different, not just better,” she emphasized. “Different is memorable, and different sticks.” She credited her technical PhD in venture capital as what differentiated her from her peers. “Being a woman can be different, but I don’t see it as a disadvantage or an advantage.” In venture capital, her successes were based on what companies she invested in and how well those companies performed. Being a woman didn’t change those factors. However, it did allow her to see and invest in companies that might have gone unnoticed and tap into new investment opportunities with female-led companies.

Ann has made it, but it wasn’t without some pitfalls. For women early in their careers, she has these words of wisdom:

Be self aware and train yourself to have a stronger and more professional presence.

“Earlier in my career, I was told I sounded really young,” Ann explained. “I remember replying, ‘Well, I’m 21, that’ll solve itself.’ My manager was a serious woman and said, ‘I’m not kidding. You need to listen.’ And so, she stuck me in a theater program, where we had to record voicemails and listen to the recordings. I was mortified when I heard my voice. I sounded like a 10-year-old. The theater director said, ‘Now, imagine if you were the CEO of a company and you got this voicemail. What do you think your reputation would be afterwards?’” After that, Ann modified her tone and ensured she presented herself professionally each time. According to Ann, “Presence is not just about how you are in person, but it’s also about what you represent. So listen to your voice, hear your speech patterns, watch your body language, and be aware of how you come off in all aspects of communication.”

Use the tool of interruption.

Ann encourages women to interrupt to get their points across. “Notice when others are interrupting and how effective they are in getting their points across,” she says. “As women, we’re told not to interrupt, but in many meetings, there are people who continue to speak and make their points many, many times. If you notice, it’s usually a guy who interrupts. It’s okay for us to interrupt so we can make our points. If interrupting still makes you uncomfortable, try saying something in the first ten minutes of a meeting (before things feel more intimidating) and prepare all the smart things you want to bring up in the meeting because you’ll feel more prepared and confident when speaking up.”

Remember that people say a lot of stupid things and most people don’t notice.

Ann emphasized how the consequence of saying something stupid is not as large as we think it is, so it’s oftentimes about getting over the hurdle of speaking up. And, we, as women, must learn to speak up.

After her formative years at McKinsey, then Charles River Ventures, and then the PhD program at Stanford, Ann became a co-founding partner at Floodgate, where she leads and mentors many people. When pressed on her leadership style and how other female leaders could emulate her, Ann responded: “There is no cookie-cutter style. You need to figure out your own personal style. Be the leader you wish you had when you were younger. Women have to make it up. [...] So, be the change that you want to see.” But most importantly, she noted, “be visible in the choices you’re making.” She gave an example of a leader being visible in her decision-making: Ann had been a PhD student attending a talk by a female academic. In the talk, she noticed the academic had brought her baby, who was in an infant car seat, and she was rocking the seat with one foot while giving her talk in front of everyone. For Ann, it was inspirational to see, especially since she had been debating whether to have a child during her PhD program. Later on, when Ann had her own children, she decided to bring one of them to a conference she had to attend. Many years later, the chief marketing officer of one of the companies she had backed told Ann how she had debated whether to bring her own child to a conference when she remembered Ann doing just that. As a result, this CMO brought her child to the conference. “I just love that lineage of: I saw it once and decided to do it myself, and then she saw it and did it as well,” Ann said fondly. “I told her by her doing that, she probably inspired another woman to do the same.”

Near the end of our conversation, we had to bring up the topic most women love and hate simultaneously: work/life balance. Is it doable or just a myth? Here was a woman who has differentiated herself in her career and has a loving husband, three adoring kids, and one spoiled pet. Could work/life balance be real? The answer: not really. “You have to decide what you’re willing to give up and what you won’t,” she advised. “Trade-offs are really hard because work can creep into every element of your life.” She personally dealt with work/life balance by having a strong support system, specifically, a strong partnership with her husband and having her parents close by. “It really does take a village,” she noted with a laugh.

Still wondering what this Wonder Woman Ann Miura-Ko is like? Here are some answers to a series of rapid-fire questions:

  • Favorite food: Japanese comfort food (ramen, tonkatsu, tempura), basically everything mom makes
  • Currently reading: Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
  • Currently listening to: Whatever the kids want, which is usually bad pop music
  • Currently watching: A Handmaid’s Tale
  • Last internet search: Map of Barcelona
  • Personal mantra: “Greatness is a decision”

— Rose Jia ’07 

Note: Background also include articles from Floodgate, Tim Ferris’ blog, CNBC, Forbes, and Yale.


A Message of Gratitude: 2018-2019 Fiscal Report

YaleWomen received extraordinary financial support during the past fiscal year (7/1/18 – 6/30/19), especially in response to our annual appeal. We are thrilled to acknowledge the generosity of the following donors – alums from Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools – whose gifts totaled $17,300. We are deeply grateful for each and every gift. Together they enable YaleWomen – an all-volunteer organization – to act on our bold mission and vision.

We are also grateful for the generosity of sponsors and friends whose support helped make the Award for Excellence: Working Toward Gender Equity such an extraordinary success.

We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of our donor list. If we have made any errors, please accept our apologies and let us know by sending an email to info@yalewomen.org.

Joan Abrahamson ’73        

Amy Armitage ’86 MBA

Seyma Aslan ’12 PhD

Elizabeth Atlee ’87    

Beth Axelrod ’89 MPPM

Lucy Austin ’69 MDiv

Chieko Barry ’84 JD

Anne Boucher ’80 

Marie Colbert ’95

Nina Deutsch ’73 MMus

Jennifer DeVore ’87

Kirstin Dodge ’88

Ellen Estes ’63 JD

Akosua Barthwell Evans ’90 JD

Marilyn Richard Figueroa ’91

Shannon Foucault ’06

Elizabeth Gerard ’89

Lauren Graham ’13 MEM

Yvonne Green ’79 MSN

Laura Thompson Grondin ’85

Juliet Guichon ’81

Deirdre Hamaguchi ’87

Deborah Hill ’73 MFS, ’77 PhD

Patricia Huntington ’72

Kathryn Johanessen ’88

Beverly Jurenko ’86

Katherine Kincade ’85

Amy Levine Klein ’93, ’98 JD

Susanna Krentz ’80

Susan Lauritzen ’92 MBA

Elizabeth Le ’93 MD

Susan Lennon ’85 MPPM

Stephanie Yu Lim ’00 

Jennifer Ebisemju Madar ’88 

Ellen Gibson McGinnis ’82

Meryl Menon ’61 MAT

Danielle Morgan ’00 MSN

Deena Myers ’89 MPH

Jeanne Murphy-Stone ’94 MSN

Wendy Naratil ’83 

Patricia Perry ’73

Eve Rice ’73

Toby Richard ’82

Anne Riney ’74

Diane Robins ’73

Susan Schorr ’87

Lisa Shell ’93 MAR

Denise Stevens ’95 PhD

Lydia Temoshok ’72

Stephanie Vardavas ’77

Karen Warner ’06 PhD

Susan Warren ‘73

Vera F. Wells ’71

Joan O’Meara Winant ’73

Suzanne Willis ’79 PhD

Mylinda Willsey ’90

Pearl Yuan-Garg ’03 JD

 

Award for Excellence: Working Toward Gender Equity

Platinum Sponsor: Haynes and Boone LLP

Silver Sponsor: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Blue Sponsor: Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

Charlotte Martin Foundation

Hogan Lovells

McAllister Olivarius

The Barthwell Group

Vestry Laight

Yale Law School

Yale School of Management

Women Faculty Forum

Women’s Campaign School at Yale

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated

 


YaleWomen NYC Hosts College Admissions Seminar

On Tuesday, June 18th, at the home of Sofia Milonas ’89, YaleWomen NYC hosted a very well-attended event on parental support for college admissions. Eva Ostrum ’86, former admissions officer, award-winning educator, and author, guided a thoughtful discussion on how to properly support our children through the process. It was one of YaleWomen NYC's most engaging and educational events, with a wait list to attend! 

Thank you to Sterling Thomas ’08, Eva Ostrum ’86, and Sofia Milonas ’89, and all great Yale Women! 

To learn more, contact the chapter at nyc@yalewomen.org.

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YaleWomen DC Hosts Potluck for alums and undergraduates

On Sunday, July 21st, at the Chevy Chase home of Juliet Drake ’86, YaleWomen DC hosted its annual summer potluck brunch for alums of all decades and female undergraduates who were interning in Washington, DC. Always a highlight of the chapter's summer calendar, the brunch was a great networking opportunity.

To learn more, contact the chapter at dc@yalewomen.org
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50 Women at Yale 150 - 50th Anniversary of Coeducation | The Oral and Written History Projects

In 1969, women were first accepted to Yale as undergrads.  What was it like for each of these extraordinary women as they entered those hallowed halls steeped in tradition?  What circumstances led to their pursuing an undergraduate education at Yale?  How did that education affect their lives after graduation?

Over the years, a small number of individuals have been interviewed about their experiences of the early years of coeducation at Yale; however, most women in the Classes of ’71, ’72, and ’73 have not had the opportunity to contribute to the history of this remarkable period. As we near the 50th anniversary, “getting the history right” is becoming more urgent than ever. Two companion projects – the Written History Project (WHP) and the Oral History Project (OHP) – are working in tandem to capture the voices of a comprehensive group of these women who were part of this extraordinary transformation. 

The goal of the OHP and WHP is to preserve accounts of this time, traveling around North America, interviewing a broad cross-section of the women with diverse backgrounds, interests, and life experiences.  Interviewees are encouraged to tell their own stories whatever they want future generations to know. 

Filmed interviews have already taken place with shoots in New Haven, New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Women in the first three classes will be contacted to schedule interviews as additional dates or cities are added. 

Women alums can also submit their memories directly in the form of written recollections (and, eventually, via recordings on personal cameras or cell-phones once guidelines are created).

If time and resources allow, a further aspect of both of these projects will be to capture the stories of men from that time – those who were at Yale before coeducation and during the transition and to interview male and female members of the faculty, staff, and the administration. 

The collection of interviews will be archived in the Manuscripts and Archives division of Sterling Memorial Library at Yale, where they will be available to library users and researchers.       

 Information about the WHP and the OHP can be found on the 50 Women at Yale 150 website at celebratewomen.yale.edu.

Questions also may be directed to  https://celebratewomen.yale.edu/contact.

- Ursula Burton ’88

 


YaleWomen at Yale Day of Service 2019

YaleWomen Chapters Participate in Yale Day of Service 2019

YaleWomen Connecticut co-sponsors Newborns in Need event with the Yale School of Nursing, helping to pack 375 bags of newborn baby supplies for the Maternity Unit at the Hospital of St. Raphael's, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at YNHH, and the Pediatric Primary Care Center.

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YaleWomen Hong Kong volunteers to educate domestic helpers about plastic recycling, re-use, and no use.

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YaleWomen Houston at the Yale Club of Houston's project to help maintain the Japanese Gardens in Houston's Hermann Park.

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YaleWomen DC volunteers at the Montgomery County Girls on the Run 5K race.

 

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Women's Campaign School at Yale Turns Twenty-Five

 

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From left to right: Marta Moret '84 MPH, Patti Russo, Kate Stith '90 MAH 

More women are entering the political arena, and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale (WCSYale) is working to prepare them for success. WCSYale is a non-partisan, issue-neutral, non-profit organization that provides training to aspiring women candidates for political office and campaign management. Women in the program come from a variety of backgrounds and party affiliations; they are not all Caucasian, and they are not all Democrats. WCSYale had a class of eighty women in its June 2019 summer program, including almost 50% women of color and a record-breaking number of Republican students. The percentage of Republicans attending WCSYale has increased so much that an exciting new element, entitled “The Future of Women in the GOP,” was added to this year’s program.

We welcomed our twenty-fifth class to Yale Law School this year, and we are so grateful for the unwavering support of Yale University. In 1994, pioneer women at Yale joined our founder, Andree Aelion Brooks, to create the Women’s Campaign School at Yale. Linda Lorimer, then Vice President at Yale, and Kate Stith, Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law at Yale Law School, were the key players in making our School a reality. Past Yale Law School Deans, and the current Dean, Heather Gerken, have been key supporters of WCSYale.

Yale’s dedication to helping create a political pipeline for women continues to be visible in Dr. Eve Hart Rice’s ’73 and Marta Moret’s ’84 MPH exceptional contributions to WCSYale. Eight years ago, Dr. Rice founded the Yale Women in Government fellowship. Each year, eight Yale undergraduate women have the opportunity to attend the School, funded by Dr. Rice, before they leave for their public policy summer internships. In addition, Marta Moret, the First Lady of Yale, serves on the WCSYale Board of Directors and will soon take on the leadership role of WCSYale Board President. Marta’s passion for WCSYale’s mission has made our School extraordinary.

Of course, the School’s strong partnership with YaleWomen has strengthened WCSYale’s connection to Yale alums. WCSYale has spoken at the majority of YaleWomen’s chapters, and YaleWomen NYC chapter head Joan O’Meara Winant ‘73 made it possible for the WCSYale to speak at Oxford University, forging an ongoing international bond.

The increase in women’s political engagement is not simply a domestic phenomenon. While WCSYale students come from all regions of the United States, they also join us from countries across the globe. This year, our American students came from twenty-five different states. Our international students hailed from countries as widespread as Mongolia, Australia, Panama, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, and the United Kingdom.

WCSYale also does more to train women than provide its signature five-day intensive annually at Yale Law School. The School provides one-day training sessions across the country throughout the year. These are critical for women who are still considering whether or not to run and who need more insight into what it would truly take to do so. These women are our future candidates. The five-day program’s students are our present.

To learn more about the work of the WCSYale, please visit the website at www.WCSYale.org, or connect with Patricia Russo, Executive Director, PRusso@WCSYale.org.


YaleWomen Webinar on Ageism

On June 26th, Diane T. Ashley ’76, MS, JD; joined Ashton Applewhite, author and activist; and Leslie Morrison Faerstein, EdD, LCSW, and Executive Director of amazing.community for an enlightening conversation about how to combat ageism and thrive. Moderated by Amy Armitage ’86 MBA, the webinar covered a range of topics, including:

  • Debunking ageism myths (and why it’s the “ism” we all face)
  • Untapping possibilities in your career at any age
  • The advantages of aged-based diversity
  • Practical strategies for gaining back your work mojo
  • Combating unconscious bias

The full hour-long webinar is available on our website at www.yalewomen.org/yalewomen_webinars.



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