Women of Distinction 2019 Spotlight: Jane Marie Chen
Get to Know the 2019 NCCWSL Women of Distinction
Name: Jane Marie Chen
Occupation: Co-Founder of Embrace Innovations
MBA, Stanford GSB
MPA, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
BA, Pomona College
Jane Marie Chen started her professional career as a management consultant in Hong Kong. But after reading a New York Times series about the 1990s AIDS epidemic, Chen was so moved by the stories that she went to work for nonprofit serving Chinese orphans who had lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.
Chen, who had majored in psychology at Pomona College, subsequently returned to the United States in 2007 to enroll in Stanford University’s MBA program to pursue a career in international development and healthcare. (Her studies were supported by an AAUW fellowship.) She was particularly inspired by a course called Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability, which presented Chen with a unique challenge: create an incubator that would cost less than 1 percent of the current cost, which at the time was as $20,000. Chen and her multidisciplinary team far exceeded their charge: They created an incubator for $25.
Today, Jane Marie Chen is the co-founder of Embrace Innovations, a social enterprise startup that aims to help the 15 million premature and low birth-weight babies born every year, through the low-cost infant warmers she developed at Stanford. The Embrace infant warmer is estimated to have helped over 300,000 babies worldwide. The technology has received numerous international design awards and has been featured in Time Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic, Economist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal among others.
Chen has been a TED Speaker and TED Fellow, and selected as one of Forbes’ Impact 30. In 2012, Chen was named as a Young Global Leader and Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the World Economic Forum. In 2013, she and her co-founders were awarded the prestigious Economist Innovation Award, under the category of Social and Economic Innovation.
In an interview for AAUW’s Following the Fellows series, Chen has simple advice for women pursuing their own vision: “Follow your passions, and dare to dream to change the world.”