Legend Achievement Award Honoree


Jeannie Diefenderfer

Jeannie Diefenderfer is the Chief Executive Officer at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership (www.higherambition.org), a not-for-profit community of leaders committed to building high-performing organizations that deliver superior economic and social value. As a business leader who turns the challenges of modern corporations into profitable opportunities, with extensive experience as a senior executive in a Fortune 20 environment, she understands how to transform operations to focus on customers for competitive advantage.  

During her 28-year career at Verizon Communications, Jeannie held a range of roles including SVP of Global Engineering & Planning, Chief Procurement Officer, and SVP of Enterprise Customer Care. She managed organizations with up to 10,000 staff, operating budgets up  to $1 billion and capital programs over $10 billion. She ran and expanded the world’s largest voice and data network to connect six continents and shifted the complexities of  customer care into a strategic growth driver. She rallied her teams around a common vision  and strategy, shifted routine thinking into continual innovation, and improved important  business drivers such as capital productivity and cost efficiency. 

Along the way, Jeannie celebrated the human side of business. She cultivated workplace cultures that empowered and engaged employees, developed strong business relationships, and operationalized Verizon’s commitment to diversity. She initiated a consortium of Fortune 100 companies to support procurement from women and minority suppliers and served on Employee Resource Groups including the Minority Multicultural Association of NYNEX, Women’s Association of Verizon Employees, and the Asian Focus Group.

Her board and executive leadership have been recognized from business and industry groups, including NACD Directorship 100 honoree, Directors & Boards Racial & Ethnic Directors to Watch, Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business and Asian Women in Business Corporate Leadership Award. 

Jeannie is currently an independent director on the board of DigitalBridge Group, Inc. (NYSE: DBRG), Lead Executive Advisor of Ascend Pinnacle, a member of the NACD NJ chapter board, trustee of Olin College of Engineering, and vice chair of Women In America. She previously served on the boards of Windstream Holdings, MRV Communications, Westell Technologies, Ms. Foundation for Women and Tufts University. 

Jeannie holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Tufts University and an  MBA from Babson College. Jeannie resides with her family in Chester, New Jersey. A native  of South Korea, she immigrated to the US at age 13.