Marissa Wesely

Marissa Wesely

Global Fellow, the Wilson Center, Global Women’s Leadership Initiative

Marissa Wesely is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center, affiliated with the Center’s Global Women’s Leadership Initiative, and is a long-standing advocate for gender equality and women’s rights in diverse settings. In 2014, she was a Fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative where her work focused on cross-sector collaboration – particularly between the corporate sector and local women’s organizations – to advance women’s rights and empower women globally. Her recent article “Empowering Women at the Grassroots” is the cover story of the spring 2015 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Marissa is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an active member of a number of non-profit boards, including the Global Fund for Women, DirectWomen and The Wenner-Gren Foundation.

Prior to 2014, Marissa was a corporate finance partner at the global law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. In her 33 years at the firm, she advised corporations, private equity funds, banks and other financial institutions in a wide variety of international and domestic financing transactions, including acquisitions, recapitalizations and restructurings. She has written and spoken extensively on various topics in her field, including as a regular PLI speaker on the leveraged finance market. She has been recognized as a leading lawyer in banking and finance over a number of years by Chambers & Partners and Best Lawyers in America, among others, and was named the 2013 Finance Lawyer of the Year at the Chambers’ Women in Law Awards.

Marissa served in various leadership roles at the Simpson Thacher, including as a member of the firm’s twelve-person Executive Committee and four-person Compensation Committee. She was instrumental in establishing Simpson Thacher’s Women’s Initiative and was selected by her women partners to be the first chair of the firm’s Women’s Committee. In 2007, Marissa co-founded the Kate Stoneman Project, a leadership organization for women partners at 10 leading New York-based law firms. Marissa was recently selected as a recipient of the ABA’s 2014 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, which recognizes lawyers who have excelled in their fields an inspired other women lawyers.  She was a 2010 recipient of the Diversity Champion Award from the NYC Bar Association and the 2009 recipient of the Kay Crawford Murray Award from the NYS Bar Association in recognition of her efforts to mentor women and promote diversity in the legal profession.

Marissa received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Williams College, and her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School. She has been a devoted traveler since the age of 16 and has lived and worked in Sydney, London, Beijing and Jakarta. For the past several years, she has lived in New York City with her husband, and is the proud mother of a daughter who is on the editorial staff of The New Yorker.