President and Chief Executive Officer
Alyse Nelson is president and chief executive officer of Vital Voices Global Partnership. A cofounder of Vital Voices, Alyse has worked for the organization for 17 years, serving as vice president and senior director of programs before assuming her current role in 2009. Alyse has worked with women leaders to develop training programs and international forums in over 140 countries and has interviewed more than 200 international leaders, including Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former presidents Mary Robinson and Bill Clinton, as well as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, and Muhammad Yunus. Under her leadership, Vital Voices has tripled in size and expanded its global reach to serve a network of over 14,000 women leaders in 144 countries.
Previously, Alyse served as deputy director of the Vital Voices Global Democracy Initiative at the U.S. Department of State. Her position aided former First Lady Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s commitment to promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy objective. Alyse helped design and implement Vital Voices initiatives throughout the world. From July 1996 to July 2000, Alyse worked with the President’s Interagency Council on Women at the White House and U.S. Department of State. She attended the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. Alyse is a Member in the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on Secretary Clinton's Advisory Committee on Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society and is a Board member of Running Start and RAD-AID International.
Alyse is the author of the best-selling book "Vital Voices: The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World," which shares the stories of remarkable, world-changing women, as well as the story of how Vital Voices was founded, crossing lines that typically divide.
Alyse has been featured in international and national media, including the Washington Post, Financial Times, the Miami Herald, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Reuters, and has appeared on BBC, PBS, CNN, NPR, FOX News, and CNBC. She completed her graduate degree work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. In 2006 Alyse was named one of ''Ten Women to Watch'' by Washingtonian Magazine and was honored by her alma mater, Emerson College, with the distinguished speaker award. In 2011 she was featured in Newsweek as one of ''150 Women Shaking the World,'' and in 2012 she was The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) World of Difference 100 Award recipient. In 2013, Alyse was invited to speak at the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and at the Department for International Development’s Distinguished Speaker Series. In 2014, Alyse was invited to speak at the Oxford Union at Oxford University and Fortune Magazine named Alyse one of the 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter.
Chief Operating Officer
Alvin is a results-oriented leader with a 22-year track record of leadership success in operations, financial management, board relations, sales, marketing, and public relations. His extensive experience includes leading service companies with multi-location operations and 15 years of senior management team experience. Alvin was most recently the senior vice president at Edisonlearning, Inc., where he developed and oversaw the Virtual and Alternative Education Solution. The Magic Johnson Bridgescape and Provost Academy initiatives expanded high school education opportunities for kids across the country. Prior to that, Alvin was the founding executive vice president and chief operations officer of Educational Services of America, one of the leading providers of special education and alternative education services in the nation. Alvin is a veteran of the United States Army, and earned a BA in advertising and public relations and an MA in organizational management.
Human Rights Program Coordinator
Alia Awadallah joined Vital Voices as the Human Rights Program Coordinator in June 2014. In this position, she supports several international and domestic programs on issues including gender based violence and human trafficking. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Alia served as a Field Organizer for the Obama 2012 campaign and a Program Assistant at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. As an undergraduate, she held editorial internship positions with the Middle East Research and Information Project and the Embassy of Jordan in Washington, DC. Alia has spent much of her time in the Middle East and speaks Levantine Arabic fluently. Alia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from Kent State University.
Program Coordinator, Middle East and North Africa Program
Anam Raheem is the Program Coordinator for the Middle East & North Africa team, supporting and leading programmatic, communications, partnership building, logistical, and administrative elements of Vital Voices’ economic empowerment portfolio in the region, working directly with women business owners across the region to achieve business growth. Anam has also dually served as a Program Coordinator for the Economic Empowerment team with a particular focus on supporting the design and implementation of the pilot year of the VV GROW Fellowship Program. Previously, Anam served as an intern and Program Assistant for the MENA team, in which she supported projects for the regional MENA businesswomen’s network, regional advocacy programs as well as the development of research reports. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Anam held internship positions at PalestineNote.com and Doctors Without Borders. Anam holds a B.A. from Georgetown University in Linguistics with a minor in Arabic. She also spent a semester abroad to study Arabic language, Arab feminist literature and politics at the University of Jordan.
Director of Online Communications
Ann Hoffman is Director of Online Communications and responsible for the overall growth and strategic direction of Vital Voices' digital and social media communications. In this role, she manages the organization's thought leadership content and voice across a range of platforms and applications to fulfill marketing, fundraising and partnership management objectives. She began her nonprofit career at the Middle East Research and Information Project and developed expertise in program management, online communications, fundraising and multi-channel marketing at NGOs focused on democracy, social justice and civil and human rights, and public health. Ann joined Vital Voices in March 2009 and holds a BA in Political Science from the State University of New York at Geneseo.
Assistant to the President & CEO and Coordinator of Special Projects
Annie Hurwitz is the Assistant to the President & CEO and Coordinator of Special Projects at Vital Voices Global Partnership. She coordinates special projects and program initiatives that are of particular focus to the President & CEO and supports the President & CEO on programmatic, administrative and logistical activities both locally and internationally. Before joining Vital Voices, she worked at Taurus Education, an education consulting firm, in Shanghai, China. Annie graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Asian Studies. During college, she worked at Women’s World Banking in New York and spent her junior year abroad in China.
Development and Engagement Coordinator
Benjamin is the Development and Engagement Coordinator at Vital Voices. In this capacity, he supports the Development and Engagement Team at all stages of the donor cultivation process. He spends most of his time implementing fundraising strategies, identifying prospective new donors and partnerships, and working on Vital Voices’ signature events. Before joining Vital Voices, Benjamin worked with Plan International USA’s Corporate Relations team. He has also worked with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ghana and Togo where he focused on anti-child trafficking programs. After his undergraduate studies, Benjamin lived and worked in rural India where he taught English, Geography, and Comparative Politics and conducted a library revitalization project. Benjamin holds an MA in International Relations and a CAS in Conflict Resolution from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University as well as BAs in Political Science and International Studies from Stonehill College.
Program Assistant, Latin America and Caribbean/Economics
As Program Assistant for Latin America and the Caribbean, Benjamin Schneider manages program logistics, supports impact evaluation, and provides general administrative and programmatic support. Benjamin joined Vital Voices in January 2012 as an intern for the Latin America and the Caribbean team. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Benjamin worked as a project assistant for the Latin America and the Caribbean Program at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), where he supported the implementation of government grants in Honduras, Ecuador and Mexico. He also served as a research assistant for Voices on the Border, where he conducted research and wrote about sustainable development in El Salvador. He has a B.A. in Spanish and International Relations from Tufts University with a Regional and Comparative Analysis of Latin America concentration and four years of experience working at internationally oriented organizations focusing on Latin America.
Vice President, Development and Engagement
Bobbie Greene McCarthy is the Vice President of Development and Engagement. Before this role, Bobbie served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, and is a founding member of Vital Voices.
Previously, Bobbie was the director of Save America’s Treasures at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Bobbie has served as deputy chief of staff to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and helped her create the Save America’s Treasures program. She has over 25 years of nonprofit experience, including 12 years as vice president of people for the American Way. Prior to that she served as the deputy director of the Indochina Refugee Action Center and the Cambodia Crisis Center, working with the Carter administration to ease the Post-Vietnam refugee crisis. Earlier in her career, she spent 10 years as the chief of the oral history program at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
In 1972, Bobbie played a major role in Vice President Joe Biden’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate. A graduate of Syracuse University with a double major in Journalism and Political Science, Bobbie was among the first Peace Corps volunteers in Kenya. She is married with two sons, three bonus daughters and five perfect grandchildren.
Celena Green is Director, Africa. Celena leads Vital Voices’ Africa Region in developing and implementing programs for women’s political participation, economic empowerment and human rights in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to joining Vital Voices, she worked with the International YMCA and with Global Kids, Inc., and spent several years leading capacity-building and training programs serving women and youth throughout Southern Africa, with extensive work in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. Celena has a BA in Africana Studies from Brooklyn College-City University of New York.
Program Coordinator, Africa
Christiane is Program Coordinator, Africa at Vital Voices Global Partnership. With a background in international development and gender, she previously worked with Women for Women International on economic development in post-conflict countries and with the UNFPA supporting women’s reproductive care in humanitarian operations. Christiane has a BA in Laws from University of Law and Health in Lille, France, and an MA in International Politics, Gender and Development from American University.
Vice President, Human Rights
Cindy is the Vice President of our Human Rights team and oversees all program and partnerships related to sexual violence, human trafficking and harmful cultural practices. Prior to joining Vital Voices in 2008, Cindy Dyer served as the Director of the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. Cindy was nominated to this position by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate. As Director, she served as the liaison between the Department of Justice and Federal, State and International governments on crimes involving violence against women.
Cindy has spoken at numerous conferences and professional training sessions before national and international audiences. She was a specialized domestic and sexual violence prosecutor for 13 years and has received numerous awards and recognition for her service to victims. Cindy served for 10 years as a member of the Public Policy Committee of the Texas Council on Family Violence and she was a weekly hotline volunteer for 9 years at a shelter for battered women and their children.
Controller, Finance and Administration
Curt Hansen is the Controller with the Finance and Administration department and joined Vital Voices in April, 2013. He manages many of the financial functions of the agency. Prior to coming to Vital Voices, Curt spent 24 years as a Controller within MedStar Health and Adventist Healthcare and two years as Controller for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. A California native, Curt received a B.S. degree from UCLA and was a lifeguard at Santa Monica beach for seven years.
Program Coordinator, Global Ambassadors Program
As Coordinator for the Global Ambassadors Program, Cynthia provides logistical and strategic support for a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership that offers mentorship opportunities to emerging women leaders. Cynthia first started working for Vital Voices in 2008 as the Contracts and Office Administrator. In that capacity, she managed the office and assisted the Finance and Human Resources Departments. Cynthia received her MPP in 2012 from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. While there, she interned for an anti-trafficking organization called MATTOO (Men Against the Trafficking of Others), acted as a Research Assistant for the Humphrey School’s Center on Women and Public Policy, and volunteered at a St. Paul shelter for victims of domestic violence. Cynthia also holds a B.S. in Business Administration from American University.
Program Assistant, Global Programs
Elyse is the Program Assistant for the Global Programs team at Vital Voices. In this position, Elyse supports the VVLead Fellowship, the FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, and the Global Ambassadors Program. She first joined Vital Voices as an intern with the Development and Engagement team in Spring of 2012, and returned as an intern with the Global Programs team in Spring of 2014. In between her two terms at Vital Voices, Elyse interned at the Center for Women in Business at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University. She has also volunteered at Women for Women International and performed in a benefit production for V-Day. Elyse received her B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University, where she was also an active member of WRGW District Radio. She studied abroad in Marseille, France and Fes, Morocco, and is proficient in French.
Senior Program Manager, Global Leadership Network
Emma Hersh is the Senior Program Manager for Global Programs. In this role, she leads the VVLead Fellowship Program, a partnership between Vital Voices and the UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID). VVLead is a three-year fellowship for emerging and established women leaders that engages participants in both online and in-person programming opportunities for learning, mentoring, networking and collaborating. In addition to VVLead, Emma manages the online platform for the Global Ambassadors Program and supports strategic planning and programming for Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Network. Emma joined Vital Voices in August of 2011. Her prior work experience includes consulting for a non-profit economic development corporation; serving as constituent services manager and chief of staff for two members of the San Antonio City Council; and field organizing for a number of local, state and national campaigns. Emma graduated from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with a Master of Public Administration and Trinity University (TX) with a Bachelor of Arts. She also holds a Certification in Nonprofit Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio and Certification in Project Management from InsideNGO.
Program Coordinator, Human Rights
Emily Hooker is Program Coordinator for the Human Rights team. She works closely with the rest of the Human Rights staff to support a variety of domestic and international programs. Emily joined Vital Voices as the Office and Finance Coordinator in January 2013. In that role, supported the finance team in its weekly activities, and provided administrative and logistical support to Vital Voices staff. Prior to joining Vital Voices, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso from 2010 to 2012. During her time there, she worked as a Girls Education and Empowerment specialist, supporting the staff of her local primary and middle schools and creating extracurricular activities for young girls. Emily received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and International Studies from Wake Forest University.
Director, Latin America and the Caribbean
Eugenia is the Director for Latin American and Caribbean and is responsible for vision and leadership; day-to-day program and financial management; program design, quality and integrity; new business development; and internal and external relations. She also oversees the regional network of Vital Voices Chapters. With over 10 years of international development experience and a demonstrated commitment to public service Ms. Podesta has led tourism development projects in Latin America and served as an advisor on sustainability and business development. Prior to joining Vital Voices, she provided legal assistance to incarcerated persons in Wisconsin and managed public policy and literacy programs for the Hispanic/Latino community with the United Way. She also served as an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College. Eugenia received her BA in Spanish Literature and Hispanic Studies, and Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies, MA in Latin American Studies (sustainable development focus) and Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has also studied International Law at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima.
Director, Economic Empowerment
Florence Navarro is the Director of Economic Empowerment and leads the direction of Vital Voices economic empowerment work globally. Grounded with 15 years experience in international development, and with a passion to unlock the promise of impact investment, Florence drives outcomes through strategic thinking and relationship-building. In her work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and later the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), she sought out opportunities to spur the private sector as an efficient means to delivering social benefits.Florence has an M.S. in Management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where she was a Sloan Fellow. She also has an M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a Diplôme de Relations Internationales from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Strasbourg, France.
Director of Human Resources
Georgene Murray is the Director of Human Resources. She supports management and staff in issues related to organizational objectives and knowledge of the full range of Human Resources functional areas . She has over 25 years of human resources experience in the non-profit community, including 10 years with the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and 20 years with Child Trends, Inc. Georgene has a B.S. in Developmental Psychology from George Mason University, Graduate Certificate in HR Management from the University of Virginia, and is certified by the HR Certification Institute and Society for Human Resource Management as a Senior Professional in Human Resources.
Director of Human Rights
Ms. Scoles joined Vital Voices Global Partnership in the fall of 2013 as the Director of Human Rights, where she develops and implements programs for and with foreign leaders on issues involving gender based violence, human trafficking, harmful traditional practices, sexual assault and domestic violence. Prior to joining Vital Voices, she spent more than 8 years as an Assistant Prosecutor at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in Newark, New Jersey, where she spent the majority of her tenure assigned to the Special Victims Unit. She has been active on issues involving the abuse of women and children, developing an expertise in policy issues involving human trafficking and sexual assault. In 2009, Ms. Scoles was selected by the U.S. Department of Justice to serve as the intermittent legal advisor to Djibouti on Human Trafficking from November 2009 to June 2012. She has taught and designed courses on a variety of topics ranging from the commercial sexual exploitation of children, child protection, and human trafficking in New Jersey and around the world, particularly in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania, and Mexico. Ms. Scoles received her undergraduate degree from McGill University in Montreal; her law degree from the Rutgers University School of Law, Camden Campus and an LL.M. Adv. in Public International Law from the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands. Ms. Scoles clerked for the Honorable F. Lee Forrester, JSC, in the Family Part of the Mercer County Vicinage of the Superior Court of New Jersey from 2002-2003.
Senior Program Manager, Middle East and North Africa
Gillian Robinson is the Senior Program Manager for the Middle East and North Africa responsible for Vital Voices’ economic empowerment portfolio in the region, leading the development and implementation of programs which encourage the growth of women-owned businesses. Prior to this role, Gillian served as the MENA Program Manager in which she supported the formation of a regional businesswomen’s network, led the development of the Ready for Growth: Solutions to Increase Access to Finance for Women Owned Businesses in the Middle East and North Africa report and the Engendering Growth Report, and built partnerships with the private and public sector in support of women owned businesses in the Middle East and North Africa. She first joined Vital Voices in 2008 and in various roles has facilitated the creation of a network of women building peace, supported regional policy advocates, and fostered public-private partnerships and corporate social responsibility initiatives to combat domestic violence. Gillian holds a B.A. from The George Washington University in International Affairs, with a concentration in the Middle East. She also studied international affairs at the University of Jordan and development and public health at The School for International in Switzerland, where she also conducted research on the inclusion of women in peace-building.
Program Coordinator, Global Leadership Network
Jana Spacek is the program coordinator for the Global Leadership Network. In this position, she contributes to the management of the VVLead Fellowship Program for emerging and established leaders working to improve the wellbeing of women and girls around the world. The program provides technical trainings, mentorship opportunities and state-of-the-art resources to women who provide unique and sustainable solutions in the areas of violence against women (VAW), forced/early marriage and economic empowerment. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Jana was the Senior Associate for Women and Girl Programs at the Center for Interfaith Action (CIFA) where she managed a Nike Foundation funded program focused on equipping and mobilizing religious leaders to combat forced/early marriage and female genital cutting in Ethiopia and Nigeria. She has interned and volunteered on projects focusing on the intersection of gender, development and health for the past 10 years. Jana holds a BA in International Development and Social Change, with a minor in Women and Gender Studies from Clark University.
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Jennifer has worked as a consultant to global companies, helping to develop and expand corporate social responsibility programs and build multi-sector stakeholder engagement platforms that address issues related to global supply chains, economic development, capacity building, labor relations, and international trade.
As Director of Strategic Partnerships for Vital Voices, Jennifer manages a diverse portfolio of corporate and government supporters, cultivates new relationships and opportunities for partnership and engagement with business and government leaders.
Jennifer holds a B.A. in English Non-Fiction Writing & Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.A. in International Relations and International Communication from Boston University.
Program Manager, Human Rights
Jessica J. Leslie is the Program Manager for Human Rights at Vital Voices. In this role, Jessica manages the Gender-Based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiative and leads policy and advocacy work on human trafficking and gender-based violence. Over the last seven years, she has held positions in a range of organizations from the very grassroots level to large international development institutions, and in regions of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Jessica has authored several publications on issues of education and human trafficking, and she is passionate about gender equality and rights-based international development. Jessica received her B.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington, a Graduate Certificate in Law from Sciences-Po Paris, an M.A. in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University.
Program Coordinator, Africa
Julie Muriuki is the Africa Program Coordinator at Vital Voices Global Partnership. In this capacity, she assists with the development, coordination and execution of programs in Africa that are designed to build capacity, connections and credibility of African women leaders working in the fields of Economic Development, Political Participation and Human Rights. Prior to joining Vital Voices, she was based in Nairobi as a Research Consultant at Dalberg Research A/S, part of the Dalberg Group where she provided research and analytics on issues of development, social impact and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Julie has also worked with NGOs in Uganda and Tanzania, focusing on preventative approaches to gender based violence and HIV/AIDS. She received her Master of Public Administration with a Concentration in International Public Service and Development from Rutgers University and her Bachelor of Social Science in Government & Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Program Manager, Africa Team
Karine Lepillez is currently Program Manager, Africa at Vital Voices, leading work on the Supporting Public Advocacy for Regional Competitiveness (SPARC) Program in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Previous to joining Vital Voices, Karine managed multi-million dollar development programs in microfinance, trade, SME development, and capacity building in Africa and the Middle East with the International Executive Service Corps. She also worked with the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Independent Diplomat on programs providing practical assistance and advice in diplomatic strategy and technique to the governments of Somaliland, South Sudan, and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. Karine began her career as a Research Analyst with Compassion International, a child advocacy organization. She holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University and an M.A. in International Human Rights from the University of Denver.
Senior Advisor for Programs
Kathleen Hendrix is Senior Advisor to Vital Voices for Programs. Kathy has served as a Senior Advisor to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize, evaluating NGO finalists for the Prize around the world. She has also consulted with several U.S.-based NGOs and government contractors on international development and humanitarian projects, especially focusing on gender-related issues. During the 1990s Kathy worked at the U.S. Department of State and was involved with policy preparations, participation in, and follow up to the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Later at the White House and at State, she was Associate Director of the President's Interagency Council on Women. A former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she wrote about domestic and international social and political issues, Kathy served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sarawak, East Malaysia.
Senior Manager, Innovation and Strategic Investments
Lauren is the Senior Manager leading the Innovation and Strategic Investments department. In this role, she develops and guides tailored, individual investments and programming to support established women leaders in the Vital Voices Network. Lauren is responsible for building strategy to integrate innovative approaches through technology to engage the Network, as well as adapting and implementing Vital Voices’ signature leadership curriculum across regions. Since 2006, she has served in a variety of programmatic and consulting roles at Vital Voices, creating training tools and managing leadership summits and programs in Africa, Latin America and Eurasia. Lauren has previous experience in political organizing, research, strategic communications and public policy work both in the nonprofit and academic sectors. She was most recently the Research Analyst for Governmental and Legal Affairs in the University Counsel Office at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where she oversaw the implementation of the University’s community benefit initiative and supported policy research around health care reform. Lauren received her Master’s Degree in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Temple University.
Director of Development
Liam T. Dall joins Vital Voices as Director of Development, working with individual supporters, family foundations, and other private foundations. Liam is a development professional with over 10 years of experience in international fundraising and development, having worked at organizations focused on the global advancement of women, HIV and AIDS prevention and international health. He joins Vital Voices after three years at Women for Women International (WfWI) as the Senior Development Officer. In this role, he worked with the organization’s top individual donors and family foundations on efforts to support rights education and economic development programs for women survivors of war. He led the design and implementation of WfWI’s individual major gifts program and the organization’s Global Men’s Campaign launched at the Clinton Global Initiative. Liam also led groups of supporters on donor trips to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Rwanda.
Prior to Women for Women International, Liam was a Development Officer at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. He also served as Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Development Services at Georgetown University’s School of Nursing & Health Studies. Liam received both his B.A. and M.A. from Georgetown University and also studied at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain.
Senior Director, Middle East and North Africa
Malini Patel is the Senior Director for Middle East and North Africa and Acting Senior Director for Economic Empowerment at Vital Voices Global Partnership. She is responsible for vision and leadership; day-to-day program and financial management; program design, quality and integrity; new business development; and internal and external relations.
With 20 years of international development experience, Ms. Patel has led teams globally in Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, Middle East, Latin America and the Pacific and Ms. Patel has overseen technical programs in SME/MAGE growth, community development, democracy and governance, advocacy, local and regional economic development, micro-finance and organizational development globally. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Ms. Patel worked at numerous non-profit, for-profit, educational, and government entities including CHF International (Global Communities) and Peace Corps. Ms. Patel received her Bachelor of Arts from University of Michigan and Masters in Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Program Assistant, Global Leadership Network
Margarita is the program assistant for the Global Leadership Network at Vital Voices. In this position she supports the VVLEAD Fellowship Program, the FORTUNE/U.S. State Department exchange program, and the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Margarita was at the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR) where she focused on issues facing veterans and military families as they transition into the community. She has experience in the nonprofit and academic fields working in event planning and research positions. Margarita received her B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California.
Vice President, Global Strategic Engagement
Margaux serves as the senior liaison to the multi-lateral and bi-lateral community, engaging with international stakeholders and the thought leadership community. In particular she guides the organization to identify and create public-private efforts to fund innovative initiatives. In addition, Margaux serves as the senior communications advisor for the organization, overseeing internal and external communications. With over 20 years of expertise in strategic communications and philanthropy, Margaux has led institutional branding platforms, executed international fundraising and media strategies, and leveraged social media for global advocacy and increased programmatic and grassroots support.
Margaux joined Vital Voices in 2011 after senior communications roles at the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, United Way of America, and the World Bank. Born in Paris and raised in London, she received her Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh in History. She is a former Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Vice President for Impact, Evaluation and Research
Marguerite (Meg) Berger is currently the Vice President for Impact, Evaluation and Research. She has over 30 years of experience in economic development in the Americas and Asia, focusing on gender issues, women’s empowerment, micro and small enterprise, access to finance and public financial management. She has led program design and execution, monitoring, evaluation and research in these areas.
Prior to joining Vital Voices, Meg served in various capacities at the Inter-American Development Bank. She began her career there as Advisor for Women in Development and led the creation of the Women in Development Unit as its first chief. She was also Chief of the Bank’s Microenterprise Unit and Grants and Co-financing Management Unit and was seconded to the Brazilian small business agency as an advisor to the president. She was an economist at the International Center for Research on Women, and consulted for the US Small Business Administration, UNCDF, IFAD, USAID and the World Bank.
Meg is a Fulbright Scholar with a doctorate in Economics from the American University. She has authored numerous books, articles and evaluations, including An Inside View of Latin American Microfinance (with Goldmark and Miller) and Women’s Ventures (with Mayra Buvinic).
Program Coordinator, Innovation & Strategic Investments
Maya Babla is the Program Coordinator for Innovation and Strategic Investments at Vital Voices. In this role, she provides tailored support and resources for established women leaders globally and supports implementation of the organization’s leadership curriculum across regions and issue areas. Over the last two years at Vital Voices, Maya has supported various leadership training and mentoring programs including the Global Mentoring Walk, which unites women from across Vital Voices’ Network, and the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative, which seeks to train the next generation of American women leaders. Her previous experience includes public diplomacy consulting, government communications, public affairs and media research. A California native, Maya received both her Master’s degree in Public Diplomacy and her B.A. in Communication from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California.
Program Coordinator, Africa
Miriam Kirubel joined Vital Voices in September 2011 as an intern for the Africa team. Now as Program Coordinator, Miriam works with Africa program staff to provide programmatic, administrative and logistical support for the development, execution and follow-up of Africa Programs. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Miriam was an intern with the U.S. State Department's Office of the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance-Africa Regional Team and a Research Assistant at the University of Virginia. She also previously worked with the Afterschool Alliance as a Development Assistant, supporting fund development research and donor prospecting; and as a Program Manager with MY Webinars, where she organized educational webinars for corporate audiences. She has a B.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.
Senior Program Manager, Latin America and the Caribbean
Rebecca Ganster is the Senior Regional Program Manager for Latin America in the Caribbean and is responsible for Vital Voices’ economic empowerment portfolio in the region. She leads the design, implementation, and monitoring of economic development programs that support the growth of women-owned businesses. Since joining Vital Voices in 2009, Rebecca has also supported the formation of the Latin America and the Caribbean Businesswomen’s Network and managed the regional network of Vital Voices chapters. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Rebecca was a Fulbright fellow in Vietnam and curriculum design consultant at the Institute of International Education in Ho Chi Minh City. Previously, she served as Border/Environmental Research Assistant at the Institute of the Regional Studies of the Californias at San Diego State University. As an undergraduate at Knox College, Rebecca conducted gender/human rights research in Costa Rica and Mexico, contributing to university publications, and co-developed the first national Peace Corps Preparatory Program. Rebecca holds a B.A. from Knox College in Integrated International Studies and Spanish and studied at the Universitat de Barcelona in Spain, the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur in Mexico, and the Universidad de Palermo in Argentina.
Regional Program Manager, Middle East North Africa
Samer Altaher is the Regional Program Manager for the Middle East and North Africa. In this capacity, he designs and implements economic empowerment programs that increase the knowledge, assets, and growth potential of women-owned businesses while also building strategic partnerships, expanding access to networks, and influencing stakeholders to address the gaps in women’s economic engagement. Samer joins Vital Voices with six years of combined experience in program management, trade information management, and economic development. Samer most recently worked with the Palestine Trade Center (PALTRADE) where he managed the creation of Palestine's first trade information portal, authored the country's non-tariff measures report, evaluated the operations of micro and small enterprises, and provided them advice and support in reaching international markets. Prior to his work in Palestine, he managed $20+ million projects at an information technology and services company. Samer has an MBA from Marymount University, a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech University, and is a certified Export Management Development Adviser by the International Trade Centre (ITC). He speaks fluent Arabic and elementary French.
Vice President, Finance
Sara Vandepeute joined Vital Voices in 2004 as the Office Administrator. Since 2005, she has served as Office Manager, Associate Director of Finance and Administration and Director of Finance and Administration. Since joining Vital Voices, Sara has played an integral role in the finance, human resources and administrative functions. Since 2007, she has provided fiscal oversight for federal and private agreements and has overseen the organization's rapid growth. Prior to joining Vital Voices in August 2004, Sara worked at the American Field Service (AFS), an international exchange program for high school students. Sara also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia, where she taught Physical Science and Math. Sara holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Willamette University.
Online Communications Coordinator
Sarah joined Vital Voices in November 2013 and supports the strategic direction and day-to-day management of our social and digital platforms. As a key member of the strategic communications team she curates online content and engages our community of supporters to promote programs and events, and to shine a spotlight on members of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network. Sarah launched her career at the National Park Service, National Capital Region, where she served as a visual media specialist in videography and photography. She holds a BA in Broadcast Journalism and History from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Program Coordinator, Global Programs
Shereen coordinates the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. Shereen’s passion for empowering women developed at Franklin & Marshall College where she studied Sociology and Women & Gender Studies and was on the Executive Board of the Alice Drum Women’s Center. After graduating, Shereen worked in the social work and early education fields. Most recently, Shereen served in the Peace Corps for two years as a Youth Promoter. Throughout her service, she taught daily life skills classes to 930 middle school students, organized a variety of large-scale events and workshops, and served on the Project Advisory Committee to produce curriculum materials and monitoring and evaluation tools. After she returned, Shereen worked at the Arab American Institute as a Program Manager for the Gabr Fellowship, leading 20 American and Egyptian professionals during a two-week cultural exchange program and coordinating all logistics.
Senior Director of Global Programs
As Senior Director of Global Programs, Zoë heads up the organization's global leadership development and mentoring programs, providing vision and leadership; day-to-day program and financial management; program design and execution for the Global Ambassadors Program, a multi-year signature partnership between Vital Voices and Bank of America, the Fortune / U.S. State Dept Global Mentoring Program and the multi-year VVLead Fellowship Program, a partnership between Vital Voices and the UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID).
Between 2007 and 2011, Zoë was based in her home country of Swaziland and assumed the role of Senior Director of Vital Voices’ Global Entrepreneurs in Handcrafts Program. During this time, she also worked with TechnoServe Swaziland, mentoring a number of emerging handcraft export organisations and helping to develop the country’s handcraft sector. Her activities have also included working with IFC’s Grassroots Business Initiatives across Africa and in South East Asia on handcraft development.
In 2011/2012, Zoë worked with The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, leading and project managing the Foundation’s programs in Water, Health and Youth Development across Africa. Prior to 2007, she was Managing Director of Gone Rural (Pty) Ltd, working with over 700 women handcrafters in Swaziland, exporting beautiful hand-crafted tableware and homeware products across the globe. She launched the Gone Rural BoMake non-profit organisation facilitating programs such as access to clean water, food security, HIV/AIDS support, women’s rights education & literacy and youth entrepreneurship.
In 2011, Zoë received a World of Difference Award from The International Alliance of Women and in 2005, she received a 2005 Pan African Business Woman Award for Capacity Building. Zoë has been active in public speaking internationally as a social entrepreneurs as well as addressing issues concerning Swaziland such as HIV/AIDS, women’s rights and basic community needs.
She is an Advisory Board Member of the Good Shepherd International Foundation (Rome, Italy). Between 2007 and 2013, she was a Jury member of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. As a Social Entrepreneur, she has participated in the World Entrepreneurship Forum and the Opportunity Collaboration Forum. In 2008, Zoë initiated the Vital Voices Young Women’s Mentorship Program to foster a culture of Mentorship between successful women and potential young women leaders in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Since 2012, she has been a Mentor in the Cherie Blair Mentoring Women in Business program.