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Linkage Names Carla Harris 2021 Women in Leadership Institute “Legends in Leadership” Faculty Member

October 11, 2021 Kristen Howe

This November, 2,600 women leaders will come together at the Women in Leadership Institute in Orlando, Florida, and virtually.

Each year, Linkage recognizes an exceptional leader with the “Legends in Leadership” Faculty Chair. The leaders who make up the Legends in Leadership legacy inspire and lead with a keen sense of purpose, and they have dedicated their careers—and arguably their life journeys—to activating a deeper purpose in those around them.


Carla Harris is Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley. She was Chair of the Morgan Stanley Foundation from 2005 to 2014 and sits on the boards of several community organizations.

Carla is a role model for us all. She represents a woman leader who has risen through the corporate ranks in an industry that still has a long way to go before achieving racial and gender parity. Her ascent within the financial industry is inspiring—but she is also a servant leader, dedicating her career with purpose and unlocking potential in those she impacts.

Her passion lies in supporting and helping others. She has said, “We are blessed, so that we can be a blessing to others.” Early on in her career, she vowed to provide others with the tools and strategies needed to succeed. Carla’s “pearls of wisdom” are treasured by the thousands of leaders who have received them.

Her commitment to raising up other leaders and championing a new future of inclusion and representation in the workplace has taken many forms—including in her books, speeches and music.

In the corporate world, she has most recently led multicultural client strategy at Morgan Stanley. With her colleague Alice Vilma, Carla leads the Multicultural Innovation Lab, an intensive five-month accelerator designed to help further develop and scale startups, in order to address inequities in funding of multicultural and women-led startups. In 2021, Morgan Stanley Investment Management launched Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund, L.P. The Fund, part of MSIM’s Private Credit & Equity platform, will invest in primarily early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies with women or diverse members as part of the founding team from target sectors, including technology, consumer/retail, financial technology, healthcare, and media & entertainment, and builds on the expertise of the Multicultural Innovation Lab.

On her podcast Access & Opportunity with Carla Harris, Carla asks the critical question: How can we connect capital with communities that traditionally have been left behind? Carla speaks with entrepreneurs, investors, developers and activists for a conversation focused on a new future. She is telling an important story and underlining the reality that multicultural and women-owned businesses achieve above-market returns.

In August 2013, Carla was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council. She is also a gospel recording artist and a popular public speaker who gives impactful career guidance to corporate audiences based on her book Expect to Win. Carla joined Morgan Stanley in 1987 after completing an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Here’s why I am so excited to recognize Carla with this achievement at this year’s Women in Leadership Institute: The world is calling out for inclusive, purposeful leadership, and Carla’s unique brand of leadership makes her an invaluable resource and model for inclusive and inspiring leadership in 2021, and beyond.

As we continue to strive to mitigate the impacts of an unprecedented health crisis, our ability to lead purposefully and with a keen focus on inclusion will allow our organizations to thrive.

Carla will share her pearls of wisdom on the main stage at the Women in Leadership Institute, which will be held November 2–5 in Orlando, Florida, and through our virtual platform. She will be joined by exceptional keynote speakers, including Magic Johnson, Molly Fletcher, Erica Dhawan and Sheila Lirio Marcelo.

About Linkage’s Legends in Leadership Faculty Position

This faculty member position is awarded to a trailblazing and innovative leadership strategist who has demonstrated commitment in their career and life to the evolution and lifelong process of becoming a leader, and to inspiring women and diverse populations as an ally. They demonstrate a consistent pattern of living out the Five Commitments of Purposeful Leadership® and concentrate current efforts on helping other leaders step more fully into their potential. Past recipients of the Legends in Leadership Award include Alan Mulally, former president and chief executive officer of the Ford Motor Company, and Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, a visionary leadership thought leader.

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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