Professional Background

Donna Cornell
Donna Cornell
Donna Cornell at Women's Breakfast
Donna Cornell

Donna Cornell, a highly successful entrepreneur, has been a driving force within the professional search, career counseling and life skills industries, as well as being an exceedingly accomplished community leader.

She founded her first recruitment firm in 1978 and built the organization to entail eight offices in four states, and with more than 100 employees and a temp service with 200 employees, all of which she eventually sold to Hobart West Group.

She repeated her entrepreneurial ventures, creating other businesses nationally that she then also successfully sold. She also was founder of Cornell International, a Wall Street search firm, eventually acquired by Adecco as well as Cornell Associates, sold in 2007 and an Arizona based firm, Circuit Technology Search.

But more than that, her exceptional leadership talents have been called upon on behalf of many community endeavors. Her contributions have been wide reaching with her commitment to the community by her appointments (now or prior) to several Boards of Directors, including:

The Family Health Center/Cornerstone; the Dutchess County Arts Council; Elant, Inc.; the Advisory Board of Fleet Bank; Eastern O.C. Chamber of Commerce; Healthcare Trustees of New York State; the Advisory Board of HUBCO Bank; Hudson Valley Philharmonic; Hudson Valley Technology Development Center Boards; International Association of Personnel Consultants; Marist College Advisory Board; Mid-Hudson Patterns for Progress; Orange County Partnership; Orange County Workforce Development Board; Regional Venture Capital Group; the Chambers SCORE program and the SUNY MBA Advisory Board. Additionally, she served as a Big Sister for 12 years through Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

She serves currently as a volunteer Chairman of the Board of Directors of Elant, Inc., a not-for-profit healthcare system which cared for more than 3,000 individuals daily, with 1,100 long-term care beds, six locations, a 90-million-dollar budget and 1,200 employees. With her superior leadership skills, she has helped this organization travel the challenging road of change that is taking place within the healthcare industry today. She has a myriad of impressive accomplishments in leading change within this organization and so many others.

One organization, The Orange County Partnership, an award-winning regional economic development organization, had Donna Cornell as part of its team, who served as the startup Chairperson and with others, helped develop and guide the organization to earn national recognition.

She has been cited as among the most influential people in the region and has adorned covers of regional publications. With little formal education after high school, she has successfully positioned herself as a powerful force, frequently serving as the first and only woman to break into the smoky male dominion of influential boards and committees.

Donna Cornell was honored to be an entrepreneur who participated in reviews of the results of the Grace Commission. The Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (PSSCC), commonly referred to as The Grace Commission, was an investigation requested by United States President Ronald Reagan, authorized in executive order 12369 on June 30, 1982. The focus of it was waste and inefficiency in the US Federal government. Its head, businessman J. Peter Grace, asked the members of that commission to "be bold" and "work like tireless bloodhounds.”

She was also appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council in the 1980s and served as the first female President of the Eastern Orange Chamber of Commerce from 1982-1984.

Donna was featured in issue 17, 2003 of The International Executive Search Magazine. In 2013, she was accepted into the International Women’s Leadership Association. Additionally, and as a less than complete list, Donna is registered in Who’s Who of the Year (1993); the World’s Who’s Who of American Women; Strathmore’s Business Leaders (1996/1997). She has been recognized by United States Congressional and State of New York Senatorial citations. Additionally, she has been recognized as Business Leader of the Year by The Family Health Center; Business Leader of the Year by the Orange/Rockland Arthritis Foundation; Entrepreneur of the Year by the Hudson Valley Chapter of Women in Management; Distinguished Citizen by the Hudson Valley Council of Boy Scouts; a 2008 Flame of Excellence Recognition Award and the 2007-2008 Cambridge Who’s Who of Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs.

An accomplished mentor and author, Donna has created programs, seminars, newsletters and books for life empowerment and personal fulfillment. Her “The Power of the Woman Within” series was critically acclaimed, as was her “Circles of Success” program. She launched her new book for women, “Conquering the Life Balance Hoax - One Woman’s Journey from Despair to Millionaire” in 2018.

Donna holds the designation of Certified Personnel Consultant and International CPC.  She is also a graduate of an entrepreneurial program conducted by Dr. Jeffry Timmons through the Harvard Entrepreneurial program. In 2004, the US Association named Dr. Timmons the Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Donna has impacted the lives of women all across America who can offer heart-warming testimonials about the powerful results of her guidance and sage advice.  A much sought-after motivational speaker, Donna has captivated nationwide audiences from all walks of life with her high energy and inspiring messages of a woman’s path to happiness, success and fulfillment.