Women are always considered as lesser-achievers, however with the ride turning rapidly, it is also blowing away the digital industry led by visionary women who are pioneering the charge in the widespread adoption of crypto within institutional frameworks. These pioneering female trailblazers are not just dismantling barriers but also reshaping conventional financial norms.
We will delve into the narratives of these trailblazing female leaders who play pivotal roles in steering institutions through the intricate transition from traditional finance to the dynamic and disruptive field of digital assets. These women serve as the catalysts for a paradigm shift, utilizing their expertise to bridge the divide between the established financial order and the revolutionary potential of blockchain technologies.
Elizabeth Stark – Lightning Labs
Elizabeth Stark stands out as a highly influential figure in the cryptocurrency sector. Holding the position of co-founder and CEO at Lightning Labs, she spearheads efforts to enhance the speed and affordability of Bitcoin transactions.
With more than a decade of experience in the cryptocurrency industry, Stark has devoted her career to advancing decentralized technologies that empower individuals.
Beyond her role at Lightning Labs, Elizabeth Stark contributes to the industry as a fellow at Coin Center, a prominent digital currency policy organization. Additionally, she lends her expertise as an advisor to Chia, a company dedicated to the development of a new and user-friendly blockchain protocol.
Michela Silvestri – Binance Institutional
Michela has become a noteworthy figure in the institutional landscape of digital assets, by crafting an impressive career within the largest crypto exchanges. At Binance Institutional, Michela facilitates the onboarding of traditional finance (TradFi) asset managers toward decentralised finance (DeFi) seamlessly.
For years, the limited infrastructure for secure institutional access posed a barrier to widespread adoption. However, Silvestri keeps demonstrating that the necessary infrastructure is already in place to catalyze exponential growth. Her impact on expanding institutional participation in the digital assets market is widely recognized—a disruptive shift with widespread ramifications.
In her current role, Michela has collaborated with hundreds of traditional investment firms, modernizing their existing infrastructure, and driving financial innovation. She has also conducted dozens of institutional workshops across Europe, educating VCs, family offices, hedge funds, and wealth managers about the immense potential of the industry, especially as blockchain technology evolves into a mature and investable asset class.
Galia Benartzi – Bancor Protocol
Galia Benartzi, a Silicon Valley native, entered the world of smart contract development immediately following her college graduation in 2005. She also co-founded Mytopia, a social gaming company for smartphones, immediately after graduating from Dartmouth.
After dedicating over two years to scrutinizing the disparities inherent in our existing banking systems, she promptly recognized the imperative to align herself with the crypto movement. In 2017, she played a pivotal role in the establishment of Bancor, a non-profit foundation focused on the conversion of cryptographic tokens.
Presently, Benartzi stands as a technology entrepreneur and co-founder of the Bancor Protocol. This blockchain-based decentralized exchange facilitates seamless cryptocurrency token trading while enabling users to generate passive income by providing liquidity to the platform. In addition to her role at Bancor, Benartzi assumes the position of CEO and Founder at Particle Code. This innovative company focuses on creating cross-platform solutions and automating the software porting process for developers.
Staci Warden – Algorand Foundation
Staci Warden serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Algorand Foundation, responsible for overseeing the operations of the Algorand blockchain network.
Her extensive background includes a notable tenure at the Milken Institute, where she played a pivotal role in managing initiatives focused on capital market development, fintech, financial inclusion, and cryptocurrencies. Before her role at the Milken Institute, Warden held positions at prominent institutions such as JPMorgan, Nasdaq, and the U.S. Treasury.
Staci holds a position on the Board of the Global Blockchain Business Council and provides advisory support to various organizations, including the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee (STOA) and Evolution Environmental Asset Management. Additionally, she maintains a permanent membership with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Caitlin Long – Custodia Bank
Caitlin Long serves as the Founder and CEO of Custodia Bank, leveraging her extensive 22-year career on Wall Street. Her involvement with Bitcoin dates back to 2012, and she previously held the position of managing director, overseeing Morgan Stanley’s pension solutions business in New York from 2007 to 2016. Prior to that, Ms. Long held senior roles at Credit Suisse from 1997 to 2007 and began her career at Salomon Brothers from 1994 to 1997. Between 2016 and 2018, she played a key role in a blockchain project aimed at delivering market index data to Vanguard. During this period, she served as the chairman and president of Symbiont, an enterprise blockchain start-up.
In 2017, encountering an impediment in a Wyoming law that prevented her from donating appreciated bitcoin for an endowment to support female engineers at the University of Wyoming, Ms. Long took the initiative to rectify the statute. This effort evolved into a multi-year project to position Wyoming, her home state, as a hub for blockchain companies in the United States. Since 2018, Wyoming has enacted 33 blockchain-enabling laws under her influence.
Cathie Wood – Ark Invest
Cathie Wood is the Founder and CEO of Ark Invest, an investment firm that manages several exchange-traded funds.
She was named the top stock-picker of the year by Bloomberg’s chief editor. Wood has always supported the crypto sector while talking about the blockchain industry. In 2022, Wood will restructure its investment portfolio to stop the free-fall afflicted by the famous Ark Innovation ETF.
Wood stands as an inspiring role model for women in asset management. According to her, the asset management industry can offer a fulfilling career for women, particularly when they transition into roles where performance is objectively measured, such as portfolio manager and research analyst positions.
Emilie Choi – Coinbase
Emilie Choi, a Wharton School MBA graduate, plays a pivotal role in the development of the Coinbase exchange. She is well known for her efforts to onboard the top executives at Coinbase. Choi is also an active angel investor, participating in successful fintech funding rounds across various stages.
Before her time at Coinbase, Emilie Choi served as LinkedIn’s Vice President of Corporate Development, where she led over 40 transactions, including notable acquisitions and strategic investments.