Women in Alternatives


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The Solution

Through its partnership with the American Investment Council (AIC) and The Robert Toigo Foundation, NAIC’s Women in Alternatives Initiative (WIA): “In, Up and Beyond,”  strategy is designed to tackle the challenge of improving the representation of diverse female professionals within the alternative investment industry.

This will happen by (1) “IN,” increasing the number of diverse women entering the private equity and hedge fund sectors of finance, (2) “UP,” advancing women’s careers through firm leadership structures, and, ultimately, (3) “BEYOND,” equipping high-performing female investors with access to the training and critical networks needed to successfully launch their own firms.

Given the current gaps in curricula and support structures for women in alternatives, the NAIC, with its member firms and partner organizations, is ideally positioned to provide the coaching, training, tools, and exposure necessary to propel women’s careers within this important segment of the U.S. economy.

Our Approach: In, Up and Beyond


This program focuses on “Getting a broader selection of women IN the industry.” Specifically, NAIC has launched the NAIC PARADIGM CHANGERS Undergraduate and Graduate Internship Program, in partnership with the Toigo Foundation. This internship program is targeted towards graduate and undergraduate level women with the potential to lead in the alternative investments industry. NAIC and its partners understand that in order to truly drive towards parity, this industry must make adjustments to the ways it has traditionally sourced talent. NAIC Paradigm Changers interns will come from nontraditional fields of study such as healthcare, technology, law, mathematics, business, and others.


This program focuses on “Advancing women with existing careers in the industry up through leadership hierarchy at their firms.” NAIC will host a series of training sessions for women seeking to advance their careers in alternative investments. These monthly sessions will last one-hour. These sessions will be provide hard and soft skills training that will position the participants to more effectively navigate the challenges they face and better position themselves for opportunities to grow. Furthermore, participants will be matched with a peer mentor to help support their professional development and offer technical career advice on topical areas such as deal negotiations, investment committee meetings, and promotion interviews.


This program focuses on “Providing support for women considering launching their own firms.” As an extension of NAIC’s existing symposia titled, Establishing the Next Generation of Private Equity Firms (NextGen), NAIC will also host a similar program designed exclusively for women seeking to launch their own institutional-grade fund. Programming will be led by women founders and other industry experts, who will offer insights and the tools required to successfully transition to an entrepreneurial track. Topics covered will include, but are not limited to, selecting your founding partners, raising capital, managing fund administration, compliance and operations capabilities.

"IN": PARADIGM CHANGERS Undergraduate & Graduate Internship Program

Tapping into a deeper talent pool, crafting a truly inclusive approach to recruiting requires a paradigm shift in thinking and action. The NAIC PARADIGM CHANGERS Undergraduate and Graduate Internship Program is designed to build a pathway for the next generation of women to access careers in alternative investments. Providing private equity and hedge fund internship opportunities, and education, the program sources diverse undergraduate and graduate women from various academic disciplines including business, law, healthcare, technology, mathematics and engineering, among others, for careers in alternative investment. 

Assessment Criteria

  • Aspiring leader with demonstrated experience managing competing priorities
  • Curiosity in exploring an area of investment with a focus on understanding capital allocation, market trends, and private transactions
  • Excellent communicator, both written and verbal
  • Passionate about being a part of increased diversity and inclusion in a professional role.
  • Present strong potential for data and analysis, research and spreadsheet skills.


The Undergraduate track is open to sophomores and juniors currently enrolled or transferring to a four-year U.S. university, offering students a unique and highly sought-after summer internship opportunity. 

The Graduate track will be accepting women who are applying to or have been accepted to an accredited, US-based graduate school program, providing valuable graduate and pre-graduate program internships in advance of matriculating into their graduate school programs in Fall 2021.


How to Get Involved?

NAIC & AIC Members

We are excited to invite NAIC and AIC member firms to participate in hosting the inaugural cohorts of the NAIC PARADIGM CHANGERS Internship Program by reserving internship positions at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels. 

Students Seeking an Internship

The PARADIGM CHANGERS Internship is committed to engaging differently and with a new set of prospective candidates who represent excellence in leadership and capability and bring to bear valuable transferable skill sets. It will be critical for hosting firms to provide context and content to the PARADIGM CHANGERS interns to further their understanding of our industry and to fully mine the tremendous talent they bring to bear. 

The 2021 PARADIGM CHANGERS Internship application period has ended.

Women in Alternatives Working Committee Members

  • JoAnn Price, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Fairview Capital Partners
  • Daphne Dufresne, Managing Partner, GenNx360 Capital Partners
  • Maura Reilly Kennedy, Managing Director, Neuberger Berman Private Equity
  • Renae Griffin, Executive Director, GCM Grosvenor
  • Shana Johnson, Principal, Strategy & Corporate Development, GCM Grosvenor
  • Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner, Avante Capital Partners
  • Jeri Harman, Founder & Chairman, Avante Capital Partners
  • Mina Pacheco Nazemi, Managing Director, Barings Alternative Investments
  • Nia Gandy White, Partner, Astra Capital Management
  • Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, Partner & Chief Human Resources Officer, TPG
  • Kathlika Fontes, Director of Investor Relations, Grain Management
  • Nina Boone, North America Leader, Diversity & Inclusion, Korn Ferry
  • Maria Jelescu Dreyfus, Founder & CEO, Ardinall Investment Management
  • Carmen Rojas, Director of Investor Relations, GenNx360 Capital Partners

Thank you to our Founding Sponsors:

2017 Launch Event

To address the lack of women in alternative investing, the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC) and the American Investment Council (AIC) jointly presented the Women in Private Equity Initiative Forum and hosted by KPMG LLP in New York City. Held on February 1st, approximately 100 investment professionals attended to discuss how hiring practices, trade associations and industry professionals can bring about solutions to reduce this disparity.

Lynne Doughtie, Chair and CEO of KPMG LLP, delivered opening remarks and discussed KPMG’s commitment to the advancement, development and empowerment of women in the marketplace. KPMG recently released the fifth “Women in Alternative Investments Report” that uncovered, among other things, 10 percent of investor respondents now have specific mandates for women-owned/-managed funds, a significant improvement since its 2013 survey in which only 2 percent of investor respondents had women-owned/-managed mandates.

Afterwards, Kelly Williams, Chair and CEO of the Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN), moderated a discussion between Mike Sommers, President & CEO of the AIC, and Robert Greene, President & CEO of the NAIC, regarding the Private Equity Women’s Initiative Best Practices and Guidelines issued in 2016. Sue Townsen, National Managing Partner, Diversity and Inclusion, KPMG LLP, stressed the importance of diversity and spoke of solutions to implement throughout the hiring processes at all levels as well as the unconscious bias that exists in the marketplace.

Alisa Wood, Partner, KKR and Steering Committee Member for PEWIN moderated a solutions-oriented conversation that highlighted resources for women in the industry. Each of those organizations align with the mission and purpose of the initiative. Among those resources are: PEWIN, http://pewin.org/; Girls Who Invest, http://www.girlswhoinvest.org/; and the Thirty Percent Coalition, https://www.30percentcoalition.org/.