Gift Opens New Paths for Aspiring Business Executives

Dashney Women’s Leadership Accelerator set to propel alumni into the C-suite

Portrait of alumna Priya Balasubramaniam

Gift Opens New Paths for Aspiring Business Executives

Dashney Women’s Leadership Accelerator set to propel alumni into the C-suite

In 2023, men are 2.5x more likely than women to be executives in top leadership teams and only 10% of CEOs are women. A game-changing gift to Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business seeks to address the gender gap and propel women graduates and their allies into the C-suite.

The gift, from Priya Balasubramaniam (MBA ’01) establishes the Dashney Women's Leadership Accelerator (DWLA) to equip dozens of students each year with the abilities and confidence to pursue professional leadership positions. With long-term mentoring, coaching, workshops and experiential learning opportunities, the DWLA provides a powerful immersive experience for select undergraduates.

For more than 20 years, Balasubramaniam has called Broad College faculty member Helen Dashney a mentor and friend, and her gift is in honor of their lasting relationship. Dashney will serve as the DWLA director, offering one-on-one mentorship to the admitted students—known as DWLA Scholars. Her role will also include crafting personalized leadership development plans and cultivating a champion network to assist scholars when they become alumni and to connect them with future DWLA cohorts.

“I have grown and derived joy from special relationships with students over the years, many of them still ongoing,” says Dashney, who has worked at the Broad College since 1996. “To have someone as accomplished and humble as Priya recognize my work at Broad with this gift is perhaps the pinnacle of my 50-plus-year career. I will strive to honor her by contributing to the confidence with which DWLA Scholars and their connected peers launch their professional careers.”

Balasubramaniam, vice president of operations at Apple, says the unwavering support she received from Dashney was her driving inspiration to pay it forward. Whether it meant knowing she had someone who cared or having a sounding board to provide meaningful guidance when facing professional challenges, she says Dashney’s mentorship has been immensely helpful.

“She exemplifies the kind of support from advisors who can help you ‘turn hopelessness into hope,’” Balasubramaniam says, “and that is paramount in the creation of the Accelerator.”

Balasubramaniam, who has given back to MSU in many ways, says establishing the DWLA is all about making sure young leaders are “geared up to be intentional and have purpose in their actions and activities. Shining a light and passing things forward.”

Selections for the inaugural cohort were announced on December 8, 2023, welcoming 14 DWLA Scholars to the program with programming beginning in January 2024.

Alexis Cuellar, a junior majoring in accounting, is one of the first DWLA participants. As the first in her family of eight siblings to attend college, she says being selected helped validate her decisions and expand her leadership skills.

"I am grateful and beyond excited to be part of a community of women with diverse experiences that can add to my learning and personal growth, and I hope to contribute to their journeys as well," she says.

LEARN MORE about support for the Eli Broad College of Business by contacting Associate Director of Development Jackie Richardson  at or by calling (517) 355-8504.