Birnbaum Women's Leadership Center

BWLC Founders

Birnbaum Sheila Portrait

Sheila L. Birnbaum ’65 is a mediator, arbitrator, and indepenent panelist at Phillips ADR. She was mostly recently co-chair of Dechert’s product liability and mass torts practice, focusing on on complex product liability, mass torts and insurance litigation. As one of the country’s preeminent product liability defense lawyers, she has served as national counsel or lead defense counsel for numerous Fortune 500 companies in some of the largest and most complex tort cases in the United States. Prior to joining Dechert, Birnbaum was co-chair of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s global product liability and mass torts practice and chair of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s product liability group. A trailblazer for women in the legal profession, Birnbaum is also a former NYU Law professor and associate dean of the graduate division and was the first tenured woman professor of law at Fordham University Law School. She was honored in 2008 with NYU School of Law’s Vanderbilt Medal, the highest honor bestowed on an alumna or alumnus. In 2011, Birnbaum was also appointed special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. In 2017, she was honored with the Judge Edward Weinfeld Award, which recognizes distinguished alumni who graduated from the Law School 50 or more years ago. Birnbaum is also the 2018 recipient of the Law Women Alumna of the Year Award, which is awarded annually to outstanding alumnae who are groundbreakers in the field of law.

Sara Moss

Sara Moss ’74 is the visionary supporter and namesake of the Sara Moss Women’s Leadership Training Program. Sara is the founder of Sara Moss Advisors, LLC and currently serves as a Senior Advisor at The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). Previously, Sara was the Vice Chair of The Estée Lauder Companies. In this role, she provided guidance to the Board, executive leadership, and the Lauder family. While Vice Chair, Sara established the Open Doors Women’s Leadership Program at Estée Lauder, which continues to be a success. Before becoming Vice Chair Sara was the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for 16 years. Sara began her career as a law clerk for the Honorable Constance Baker Motley, U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York, and then became a litigator at Davis Polk & Wardwell. She went on to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she prosecuted a wide range of federal cases. Moving back to the private sector, she was a senior litigation partner at Howard, Darby & Levin (now Covington & Burling) and then Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Pitney Bowes Inc. Sara’s passion for the law and community engagement is widely recognized. She is a Trustee of the New York University School of Law and serves on the Board of the New York Common Pantry and Central Synagogue. She also sits on the Advisory Boards of the Legal Aid Society and the International Rescue Committee. Throughout her career, Sara has been recognized with many awards and honors, including: the New York Law Journal Lifetime Achievement Award, the Legal Aid Society Servant of Justice Award, the Chambers Outstanding In-House Lawyer of the Year Award, the NYU Outstanding Alumna Award, the Anti-Defamation League Human Relations Award, and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund “Aiming High” Award.

Forrest Jeannie Portrait

Jeannie Forrest is a business coach who works with executive- and senior-level administrators. She previously served as vice dean for development and leadership initiatives at NYU Law, where she held several positions since she started as the coordinator for the Institute of Judicial Administration in 1994. In 2010, she became vice dean, where her primary focus was on developing synergies and collaborative communication among school-wide departments, with the aim of transforming the student, graduate, and administrative experience. She is a frequent consultant on issues of organizational effectiveness, communication, and emotional intelligence for institutions and corporate entities in a number of fields, including medicine, law, and finance. Forrest completed her undergraduate degree in communication theory at the University of Utah and received her PhD in counseling psychology at NYU Steinhardt. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation.