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Pretty Powerful Podcast - Episode 38: Dr. Leen Kawas

Dr. Leen Kawas has shattered ALL the glass ceilings in her quest to chase the American Dream. As a researcher, inventor and founder of a bioscience company, Leen fueled her passion for change with innovation and tenacity, while raising $400 million to lead her company into a groundbreaking IPO.

Dr. Kawas is the Managing General Partner of Propel Bio Partners. She is the co-founder of Athira and a co-inventor of its lead drug candidate ATH-1017, and also invented several of the innovative drug candidates in Athira’s pipeline. ​ Dr. Kawas served as Athira’s chief executive officer and president, and as a member of its board of directors from January 2014-2021. In this role, she led the technological and financial growth of Athira, raising around $400M and taking the company through its public offering. According to Business Insider and GeekWire, Dr. Kawas was one of only 22 female founders and CEOs to lead their company to an IPO, as of February 2021, and was the first woman to guide a company through an IPO in Washington State in over 20 years (at the time of Athira’s IPO in September 2020).

Join us for this in-depth talk about Dr. Kawas' journey through the IPO process, the need for women at the executive level and why bioscience is so personal for her.




Managing General Partner


Dr. Kawas is the Managing General Partner of Propel Bio Partners. She is the co-founder of Athira and a co-inventor of its lead drug candidate ATH-1017, and also invented several of the innovative drug candidates in Athira’s pipeline. Dr. Kawas served as Athira’s chief executive officer and president, and as a member of its board of directors from January 2014-2021. In this role, she led the technological and financial growth of Athira, raising around $400M and taking the company through its public offering. According to Business Insider and GeekWire, Dr. Kawas was one of only 22 female founders and CEOs to lead their company to an IPO, as of February 2021, and was the first woman to guide a company through an IPO in Washington State in over 20 years (at the time of Athira’s IPO in September 2020).


Dr. Kawas serves on multiple boards, including, Inherent Biosciences, Persephone Biosciences and Omnivis. She served on the Scientific Review Board for the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, and the Alzheimer’s Association‘s Washington Chapter Board. She also served as the co-chair of the International Alzheimer’s Association Business Consortium and was on the Washington Governor’s Life Science Advisory Board. She is also part of the Forbes Business Council, Chief and Springboard Network. She is a passionate supporter of scientist entrepreneurs, in particular women.


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