Distinguished Alumna

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The Katherine Delmar Burke School Distinguished Alumna Award is given each year to an alumna who embodies the values at the heart of the school’s mission to educate, encourage, and empower girls. The recipient exemplifies a life of learning, service to community, individuality, and the ability to make a difference in the world.

Distinguished Alumna: Lisa McKnight '82

Lisa McKnight ’82 is Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls for Mattel. Lisa oversees the entire Dolls portfolio for Mattel, leading a global team in brand strategy, product development, and marketing execution.

Lisa has been instrumental in evolving the iconic Barbie brand into the most diverse doll line on the market that is reflective of the world kids see around them. With tenets rooted in the power of purpose, empowerment, inclusivity, culture, and role models, the Barbie brand continues to inspire the limitless potential in every girl and has never been more relevant than it is today.

Lisa has led the charge in defining the brand’s global social mission with the launch of the Barbie Dream Gap Project – a multi-year initiative dedicated to leveling the playing field for every girl. Since launching in 2018, Lisa has overseen the celebration more of than sixty global role models and raised more than a million dollars for nonprofit organizations that have powerful vehicles in place to reach girls at a global scale.

Lisa is the 2016 recipient of AdWeek’s Brand Genius Award and serves on the boards of MAKERS Women and the Toy Industry Foundation, with a focus on the DE&I committee. Lisa is also the executive sponsor of Women of Mattel and and a member Women In Toys, through which she serves a mentor to women in the toy, licensing and entertainment industries. In 2020, she was a finalist for WFA’s Marketer of the Year title and in 2021, named to Business Insider’s most innovative CMOs list. Lisa is a frequent guest speaker at conferences such as the Cannes International Advertising Festival, Fast Company Innovation Festival, WFA Global Marketer Conference, Most Contagious Summit, Brand Innovators and The Gathering Summit, which welcomed Barbie as a cult brand in 2021.

Distinguished Alumnae Award Recipients

Lisa McKnight ’82 
Shafia Zaloom '85
Blair Rosenblatt Shane '85
Ebony Frelix Beckwith '91
Mary Shen O'Carroll '90
Zoe Duskin '97
Robin Hauser '78e

Erica Howson Fortescue '89

Lareina Yee '87

Nancy Bibbero Cherney '70

Pauline Moffit Watts '66
Rachel Skiffer '88
Vendela Vida '85
Jean Afterman ’75
Ann Blumlein Lazarus ’67
Dr. Mary Maillard Piel ’73
Mary Lowrey Gregory ’71
Dr. Bella Shen Garnett ’89
Nancy Hellman Bechtle ’55
Heather Martinez Zona ’81
Elisa "Bambi" Escamilla Schwartz ’56 

Nominate a Distinguished Alumna

We are currently accepting nominations for the 2024 Distinguished Alumna. Nominations will close in mid-November 2023, and we look forward to announcing the recipient!
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.
Burke's admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.