Neha Shah, W’99, C’99, WG’06, Proves the Power of Women Donors

Neha Shah, W’99, C'99, WG’06, supported Wharton during the 2023 Alumnae Challenge.
Neha Shah, W’99, C'99, WG’06, supported Wharton during the 2023 Alumnae Challenge.

Neha Shah, W’99, C’99, WG’06, shared an analogy to illustrate the significance of The Wharton Fund’s Alumnae Challenge to her. She said, for families with both a mother and father, it sends a message when children see their mom get behind the wheel of a car and drive, instead of only ever seeing their dad drive.

“Seeing who drives the car creates a lasting impression on children’s lives,” Shah said. “It’s important that women are making decisions on everything in a household, from who drives the family car to really big financial decisions.”

Shah said she and her husband, Shalin, C’99, D’06, GD’10, aim to set an example for their daughter and two sons about the importance of advancing women.

Shah was a generous supporter of the 2023 Wharton Alumnae Challenge, which urged Wharton-educated women to give back to the School. These donations don’t just impact women students, though. Rather, they back the Wharton School’s core programs for all students, ongoing benefits for alumni, and more.

In essence, the challenge was the School’s way of encouraging its alumnae to make the financial decision to champion Wharton.

“Women are the future, and Wharton wants to be a part of that story,” Shah said. “The programs supported by the Alumnae Challenge could have an impact on women enrollment and future philanthropy from women.”

Shah said she takes pride in her Wharton education and has “a lot of appreciation and respect” for the School.

“With the appointment of Dean Erika James,” Shah said, “she came along and represented, quite frankly, someone like me.”

“Women continue to show that they make great leaders,” Shah added.

Since her time at Wharton, Shah said she feels the School has broadened its focus to growing all entrepreneurs, by offering more dynamic resources. The Coalition for Equity and Opportunity (CEO), Shah said, is one example of this.

“There are also programs for things like leadership development and sustainability,” Shah said.

Another Wharton sector that’s championing inclusion, supported by the Alumnae Challenge, is the McNulty Leadership Program (MLP). At its core, this programming aims to amplify the intellectual foundations of leadership, with cultures and communities in mind.

Some MLP-organized events include roundtables, where small groups of students can have high-level conversations with business experts that go beyond workplace challenges. Faye Teng, WG’24, said the roundtable discussions have covered topics such as unconscious bias and attribution performance. For Feng, these talks aren’t strictly educational. She said they’ve also helped her to expand her network and grow more confident as a leader.

“Especially when I was a first-year MBA student, it was very eye-opening to meet other motivated, successful, and ambitious women,” Teng said. “The McNulty Leadership Program really helped me find my footing at Wharton.”

Thanks to these MLP events that are made possible by the support of Shah and other donors, Lisa Yang, WG’24, experienced a similar feeling of community.

“Together, we talk about whether the companies we’re interested in have women in leadership, and then we ask ourselves if they resemble us. Do they live the lives we want to live?” Yang said. “For a lot of women at Wharton, we don’t want to be just career women. We might want to be mothers and wives too.”

Both Yang and Teng said they’re grateful for their experiences with MLP’s offerings, and they hope the program continues to be a resource for Wharton students.

Thankfully, Shah and other generous donors make these opportunities possible, so Wharton can continue to lift up its students and give them the space to have important conversations — and the resources they need to become prepared leaders.

In addition to supporting Wharton financially, Shah said she’s also honored to dedicate her time to the School, with her role on the advisory board of the McNulty Leadership Program, as well as serving as a guest speaker whenever she’s invited by faculty.

“I care about paying it forward to future generations,” Shah said. “I love the Wharton School, and the direction it’s going in represents my values.”