Notable Alumnae

Barnard’s more than 31,000 alumnae excel in virtually every field. They start and lead corporations, make important scientific discoveries, write critically acclaimed novels, develop national policy and more. Each year, hundreds of alumnae return to campus as guest speakers, provide internships in their workplaces, and act as informal job referral sources. Below is a sampling of some of the most notable Barnard alumnae.

  • Sheila Abdus-Salaam ’74, first African American woman appointed to New York's highest court
  • Laurie Anderson ’69, performance artist and NASA’s first Artist-in-Residence
  • Natalie Angier ’78, science reporter, The New York Times
  • Jacqueline K. Barton ’74, pioneer in the study of DNA structure
  • Ann Bernays ’52, novelist
  • Katherine Boo ’88, journalist and recipient of the Pulitzer and MacArthur Foundation prizes 
  • Ann Brashares ’89, author
  • Grace Lee Boggs ’35, activist
  • Elsie Clews Parsons ’1896, the "founding mother of anthropology" and the first woman president of the American Anthropological Association
  • Edwidge Danticat ‘90, author
  • Helen Gahagan Douglas ’24, actress and the first Democrat woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress
  • Ronnie Myers Eldridge ’52, New York politician and television host
  • Delia Ephron ’66, author, playwright, and screenwriter
  • Eileen Ford ’43, cofounder of Ford Models
  • Muriel Fox ’48, founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • Ellen Futter ’71, president of the American Museum of Natural History
  • Cristina Garcia ’79, journalist and novelist
  • Helene Gayle ’76, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative
  • Greta Gerwig ’06, actress, screenwriter, director
  • Mary Gordon ’71, author
  • Betsy Gotbaum ’61, former New York City Public Advocate
  • Lauren Graham ’88, actor
  • Alex Guarnaschelli ’91, chef and television personality
  • Susan Herman ’68, ACLU president
  • Patricia Highsmith ’42, author
  • Maria Hinojosa ’84, anchor, NPR
  • Cathy Horyn ’78, fashion journalist, The New York Times
  • Zora Neale Hurston ’28, author
  • Erica Jong ’63, author
  • June Jordan ’57, poet
  • Judith Kaye ’58, first female chief judge for New York State
  • Suki Kim, investigative journalist and novelist
  • Jeane Kirkpatrick ’48, first woman U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Jhumpa Lahiri ’89, author
  • Linda Laubenstein ’69, pioneering HIV/AIDS physician and researcher
  • Wilma Liebman ’71, chairwoman of the National Labor Relations Board
  • Margaret Mead ’23, anthropologist
  • Sheila Nevins ’60, president of HBO Documentary Films
  • Cynthia Nixon ’88, actress and politician
  • Chelsea Peretti ’00, comedian and actress
  • Anna Quindlen ’74, journalist and novelist
  • Azita Raji ’83, U.S. Ambassador to Sweden
  • Helen Ranney ’41, a physician scientist whose pioneering research demonstrated a link between genetic factors and sickle cell anemia
  • Joan Rivers ’54, entertainer
  • Atoosa Rubenstein ’93, former Editor-In-Chief of Seventeen and founding editor of COSMOGirl!
  • Ntozake Shange ’70, poet and novelist
  • Erinn Smart ’01, silver medalist in fencing at the 2004 Olympics
  • Dean Spade ’97, lawyer, writer, professor, and founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project
  • Susan Stamberg ’59, special correspondent, NPR
  • Martha Stewart ’63, entrepreneur and television personality
  • Twyla Tharp ’63, choreographer
  • Suzanne Vega ’81, singer/songwriter
  • Lila Wallis ’47, the "godmother of women's health"