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Leah Joy Zell

Senior Fellow


Leah Joy Zell

Leah Zell is a nationally recognized expert in international investing, and a pioneer in the international small-cap category. From 1992 to 2005, she was a co-founding partner and portfolio manager at Wanger Asset Management, a global small-mid cap equity specialist known today as Columbia Wanger Asset Management and owned by Ameriprise. During her tenure there, she was Head of the International Equities Team; Lead Portfolio Manager of the Acorn International Fund; and Portfolio Manager of the Wanger European Smaller Companies Fund. From 1984 to 1992, Ms. Zell was a global equity analyst for Harris Associates.

She began her career in investment banking at Lehman Brothers in 1979. Ms. Zell earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1971, graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In 1979, Ms. Zell received her Ph.D. in modern social and economic history from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she won Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright (DAAD), and Krupp Foundation fellowships. Ms. Zell earned her Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation in 1987. She is currently on the executive committee of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, where she has served as Treasurer since 2004.

She is a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, the Global Advisory Council of Harvard University, and the University of Chicago Harris Council. She serves as a director of the Horton Trust Company LLC, and a member of the investment committee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Previously, she was on the Harvard University Board of Overseers, and the Board of Trustees of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.


  • Founder & Chief Executive Office, Lizard Investors
  • Senior Fellow, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University