Admissions Blog: 5 fierce Sweet Briar women leaders 45 and under

Alumnae leadersSweet Briar alumnae are pretty amazing: They’re entrepreneurs and artists, lawyers, teachers and scientists. They’re explorers, innovators and leaders. They’re collaborators, community builders and change-makers. Here are some recent Sweet Briar women leaders you should know.

Leah Busque
Leah Busque

Leah Busque ’01: Founder and Chairwoman of TaskRabbit, California

Major: Mathematics and Computer Science
Ten years after founding TaskRabbit, receiving multiple awards and eventually stepping down as CEO to chair the company’s board, Leah Busque has turned her attention to funding other startups. Earlier this month, the Sweet Briar College board member talked to Bloomberg TV about her Silicon Valley venture fund Fuel Capital. Working with other women leaders in tech and politics, she also recently launched an initiative, Shine Together, that is “dedicated to celebrating and amplifying the awesome impact women have every day while simultaneously creating measurable opportunities for them around the world.” You can read more about it on Medium and join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #ShineOn and #ShineTogether.

Nicole File ’95: Senior Copy Editor at CNN, Atlanta

Nicole File
Nicole File with a street girl in Kolkata

Major: English and Creative Writing
Nicole File will probably never forget the day she walked into the wrong office building in Atlanta. A senior at Sweet Briar at the time, she was there during spring break to interview for a job at a law firm. Instead, she encountered a headhunter agency owned by two Sweet Briar alumnae. The chance encounter landed her a one-day gig at Turner Entertainment and eventually a permanent job at CNN. For the past 17 years, she has served as senior copy editor for the network. She’s in charge of the control room and all dayside shows, writes and edits all breaking news headlines and approves all graphics we see on our TV screens. She also has researched and written human trafficking stories for CNN’s Freedom Project — a cause she is extremely passionate about. (Read more about it in our 2013 magazine.) Nicole’s work at CNN has earned her multiple Peabody awards over the years. “Before [I came to Sweet Briar], I thought I had to be more like a man to be successful,” Nicole told us in a 2007 interview. “I learned you can be a woman and be just as accomplished.”

Emily Johnston ’02: Founder and Fashion Blogger at Fashion Foie Gras, London

Emily Johnston
Emily Johnston in a recent photo on her blog, Fashion Foie Gras

Major: Art History
Emily Johnston is living the dream. In 2009, the Sweet Briar grad was working a full-time PR job at an auction house in London when she launched her own fashion blog, Fashion Foie Gras. “It was exclusively fashion news, but it quickly developed into a lifestyle site, covering travel, food and fitness,” she told Stylist magazine in a recent interview. After two-and-a-half years of nighttime blogging, Emily realized her part-time gig was getting out of hand. “By that time, I was getting approached by different brands about advertising, so I took the plunge, quit my job and made this a career,” she said. Today, it’s all Emily does, jet-setting from one fashion week to another — and sometimes home to South Carolina — and blogging daily about whatever pops into her head. Her blog has been featured in Vogue, Glamour and the Huffington Post. In 2015, she also wrote a passionate piece about her Sweet Briar experience.

Heidi Trude ’07: French Teacher at Skyline High School in Front Royal, Virginia

Heidi Trude
Heidi Trude receiving her most recent award in March

Majors: French, History
When you’re doing what you love, you tend to get noticed for it. Heidi Trude has been racking up awards virtually from the day she became a teacher. A Google Certified Educator and Trainer, Heidi was Virginia’s 2017 Region IV Teacher of the Year and the 2017 David Cox Virginia World Language Teacher of the Year. This month, she was named the 2018 SCOLT World Language Teacher of the Year and is now one of five finalists for the ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year award. “I always look for the best in my students, [and] I like to incorporate active learning and differentiated instruction,” she told us in 2016. Heidi is especially passionate about creating global citizens in her classroom. In 2012, she established a partnership with the Lycee Bazin in Charleville-Mezieres, France, so her students could collaborate on projects with their French peers. Next month, Heidi will represent Virginia during a trip to France to work with the French Ministry of Education.

Leah Jorgensen ’96: Owner of Leah Jorgensen Cellars, Oregon

Leah Jorgensen
Leah Jorgensen during a special dinner

Major: English and Creative Writing
Earlier this month, Food & Wine magazine named Leah Jorgensen one of “15 Women in Wine to Watch” from around the globe. This isn’t the first time Jorgensen’s wines have been noticed. A few years ago, Leah Jørgensen Cellars was named a 2014 Oregon Winery to Watch by Winepress Northwest. “I’m still new at this in terms of production,” she told the magazine back then. “To me, this is not second nature. It’s even weird for me to call myself a winemaker.” Well, she certainly can call herself a winemaker now!

Want to know what other alumnae are doing with their Sweet Briar educations? Check out our profiles of Sweet Briar graduates in the arts, humanities, social sciences and STEM.

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