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Before she accepted a recent offer to become chief executive of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Yvonne Greenstreet consulted two women she respects, her mother and her daughter.

Miranda Greenstreet, 88, is from the West African nation of Ghana and often blazed trails, her daughter said. She married a white Englishman whom she met in the 1950s when they were students at the London School of Economics. Later, she set up an institute that promoted adult literacy in Ghana. When Yvonne Greenstreet called to ask if she should take the job, she recalled, her mother didn’t hesitate, saying, “Is there a choice?”

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