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 19 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 15,000 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 a part of the Expert Group for the B Team and is on the Advisory Board of Chime for Change.
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.
Chief Development & Communications Officer
Katherine O’Hearn, Chief Development & Communication Officer at Vital Voices, is a pioneer in the communications field with decades of experience spanning the live event, broadcast network, cable, and digital spectrums. Starting as one of the first women to carry a camera in the field for CBS News, she went on to produce worldwide network news coverage, create many TV news shows, develop brands and innovate content creation across multiple platforms. As an executive producer at MSNBC, she crafted and managed the digital/millennial/impact journalism brand of Ronan Farrow across various NBC News platforms; prior she was Senior Vice President of Video & Events at Newsweek Daily Beast, creator & Executive Producer of CNN’s Amanpour, creator & Senior Executive Producer of CNN’s American Morning, Executive Vice President of CNN Business News/CNNfn, and Executive Producer of CNBC’s Topic A with Tina Brown, a show she co-created with Brown. Over two decades at ABC News, O’Hearn also held positions ranging from Executive Producer of THIS WEEK, to executive producer of two presidential debates, ABC bureau chief in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, Executive Producer of World News Tonight Weekend and ABC's LA Bureau Chief. Awards she has received include six Emmys, three Murrow Awards, and a Peabody.
Director, Monitoring & Evaluation
Alejandra Garcia-Diaz Villamil has over 10 years of research, evaluation, and monitoring experience within Latin America, Africa, and the United States. Her prior work experience focused on maintaining monitoring and evaluations systems for ProMujer, Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University, NeighborWorks America, and National Democratic Institute. She led the program design and set up of M&E systems for $30M+ programs funded by USAID, DRL, State Dept, DFID, SIDA, and DANIDA to reduce poverty and increase women’s empowerment and political participation. Alejandra designed and conducted gender-sensitive formative and summative evaluations using participatory methods. She has also authored curriculum and learning tools to gender mainstreaming M&E.
Alejandra has taught as an adjunct faculty at the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University. She has a Masters in Liberal Arts and Professional Studies in Gender and Women Studies from Armstrong Atlantic State University and Masters in Public Administration from the University of Oregon. Alejandra is a current member of the American Evaluation Association, Washington Evaluators, and Eastern Evaluation Research Society.
Human Rights Iraq Program Manager
Avan Shwany joined Vital Voices in Feb 2016 as the Iraq Program manager on the Human Rights team. In this role, Avan is leading the implementation and management of Iraq program which is focused on Women and Girls empowerment and protection. Prior to joining Human Rights of Vital Voices, Avan work for IREX as their Women Justice and Media Senior Project Manager as well as their Grants Manager in Iraq providing day-to-day program and financial management; program design and execution, M&E, donor cultivation and relationship management, recruiting and training nationals, strengthening partnerships with key actors representing government; public officials; community leaders; and international and national NGOs. Counseling and trauma based therapy were other areas of Avan’s focus after she moved from Kurdistan region of Iraq to live in United States. In 2012/2016 she worked for International Counseling and Community Services, a program of Lutheran Community Services in Seattle Washington as Cross Cultural Counselor providing high quality counseling, outpatient psychiatric treatment, social services, and advocacy to refugees, immigrants, asylums and other individuals needing help to overcome their trauma and mental disorders caused by war and conflict, were among them a great percentage were GBV survivors.
Before devoting her work fulltime to LSCNW, Avan worked for USAID/ Tatweer, UNAMI/KRG, US Corps of engineers and several local NGOs in Kurdistan Region of Iraq in areas of conflict resolution, anti-corruption and transparency, peacebuilding & elections, women economic empowerment, and project site safety.
Avan received her Masters of Arts in English Drama from University of Sulimanyah, School of Languages, and her Bachelor of Art in English Literature is from University of Salahadeen, Erbil, Iraq. Avan is fluent in Kurdish, Arabic, and elementary proficiency in Farsi and Turkmani.
Program Coordinator, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship
Benjamin Schneider is the Program Coordinator for Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship. He is responsible for administrative; logistical; monitoring, evaluation, and learning; and programmatic support for Vital Voices’ economic empowerment programs, with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. He also manages VV GROW Mentoring, a six-month mentoring program carried out in partnership with local organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. 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 received his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University in Spanish and International Relations with a Regional and Comparative Analysis of Latin America concentration.
Vice President, Human Rights
Cindy is the Vice President of our Human Rights team and oversees all program and partnerships related to gender based violence including domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and harmful traditional practices. Prior to joining Vital Voices in 2009, 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 Manager, Global Programs
Emily is Program Manager for the Pond’s Fellowship Program, on the Global Programs team. Emily’s 10 years of experience ranges from grassroots women’s rights advocacy and community development management, to crisis counseling, coalition building and organizing, public relations, strategic planning, and international advocacy. As Executive Director of the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society, Emily fearlessly led a women’s anti-violence organization in the oil and gas center of northern British Columbia, Canada. In this role, she served on numerous social development councils, launched a federally-funded GBV community research initiative, founded and chaired the FSJ Food Security Committee and Community Garden, and served as Vice Chair for the city’s affordable housing policy advisory council. Following graduate school and a stint at a jazz club in Harlem, Emily relocated to Washington, D.C. for a Fellowship with Oxfam America in policy advocacy and campaigning where she specialized in qualitative evaluations and planning of global advocacy and influencing initiatives. Emily received her M.A. in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute of World Learning and her B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from Skidmore College.
Director, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship
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 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.
Program Coordinator, Human Rights, Europe & Eurasia
Jaime Cordes joined Vital Voices in May 2016 as the Program Coordinator for Europe and Eurasia on the Human Rights team. In this role, she coordinates the Hilton Global Freedom Exchange for Anti-Trafficking Leaders and provides linguistic and regional expertise on Europe and Eurasia to the Voices Against Violence Initiative. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Jaime recruited high school exchange students for the FLEX and YES high school scholarship exchange programs in Southeast Europe with American Councils for International Education. She received her Master of Arts in Eurasian, Russian and East European from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she earned a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Crises and held internship positions at the U.S. Department of State, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the U.S.-Russia Business Council and the Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies. She spent several years living in Eastern Europe while serving as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Russia, a David L. Boren Fellow to Serbia, and a volunteer English teacher in Ukraine. Jaime received her Bachelor of Arts in Russian and Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and is proficient in Russian and Serbo-Croatian.
Program Coordinator, Human Rights
Jennifer Guzman joined Vital Voices as a Human Rights Program Coordinator in June 2016. She is from Little Rock, Arkansas and recently completed her Master of Public Service (MPS) degree at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Jennifer spent time working in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where she conducted an evaluation of the Lotus Kids’ Club, a program that uses holistic education to prevent future cases of human trafficking and exploitation among some of the poorest families in the region. Prior to her graduate studies, Jennifer worked at a local elementary school, where she taught French and Spanish to children ranging from pre-K to the fifth grade. Previously, she had an internship with the Criminal Intelligence Branch of the U.S. Marshals Service. Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with degrees in International Studies and French.
Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships
For the past decade, 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, rule of law, labor relations, and international trade.
As Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships for Vital Voices, Jennifer is responsible for driving the organization’s global approach to partnership and stakeholder engagement in the areas of economic development, human rights, and political leadership. She leads a diverse portfolio of corporate partnerships, and is responsible for cultivating new relationships and opportunities with corporations and multi-sector actors to advance the organization’s mission.
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.
Director of Programs, Human Rights
Jessica J. Leslie is the Director of Programs 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 ten 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, Innovation and Strategic Investments
Kristen is the Program Coordinator for the Innovation and Strategic Investments department at Vital Voices. In this role she coordinates the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative while also supporting other programs and projects on the Innovation and Strategic Investments team. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Kristen was the Events & Volunteers Manager at Lung Cancer Alliance where she led and executed LCA’s portfolio of fundraising and awareness events across the US. In this role she was responsible for the identification, cultivation, and engagement of sponsors and donors while supporting the advancement of the lung cancer community through mobile, fundraising, and sponsorship platforms. Kristen received her B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communications and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Program Coordinator sub-Saharan Africa, Human Rights
Kristen joined Vital Voices in August, 2016 as the Human Rights Program Coordinator for sub-Saharan Africa. In this role, she provides linguistic and regional expertise to the Voices Against Violence project and leads case management for emergency assistance funding through the Gender Based Violence Global Initiative. Kristen also provides support to the Global Freedom Exchange and international trainings on GBV issues. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Kristen spent several years working for faith-based organizations in Washington, DC, advocating for federal legislation on sexual, domestic, and gender-based violence issues, reproductive health and rights, and economic inequality. She previously served as a Community Health Extension Advisor with the Peace Corps in Madagascar, where she launched an after-school girls’ empowerment club for high school girls, trained community members in maternal and child health promotion, and partnered with a local water committee to improve clean water access in her community. Kristen is proficient in French and Malagasy. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from American University with concentrations in International Peace and Conflict Resolution and African Studies, and is currently earning her Master of Public Administration from George Washington University.
Director, Innovation and Strategic Investments
Lauren is the Director of the Innovation and Strategic Investments department. In this role, she develops and guides tailored, individual investments, programming and messaging 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.
Program Manager, Economic Empowerment
Lisa Leander is an international development expert with over 14 years of experience managing capacity building projects globally. In her role as Program Manager, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship at Vital Voices, she is leading overall program management and design for the VV Grow Fellowship Program. Most recently Lisa was at the Global Business School Network in the capacity of Engagement Officer where she was leading relationships with 70 top-tier business schools and their faculty around the world and managing corporate partnerships. In her previous positions she has overseen USAID, World Bank, U.S State Department and DFID projects in the Middle East and Africa worth up to 24 million. She has managed overall operations, implemented programs, conducted assessments and evaluation, managed grants and contracts, and built systems in multiple countries and contexts. Lisa has a MA in International Development Studies from Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University and a BA in History and Spanish from Sonoma State University.
Major Gifts Officer
Madeline Fetterly joins Vital Voices as Development and Engagement Coordinator, working with individual supporters, private foundations, and Vital Voices councils. Madeline earned her Master’s in Asian Studies with an emphasizes in International Development from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University where she wrote her Capstone thesis on the relationships between sex trafficking and national prostitution policies. During graduate school Madeline interned on the Development and Engagement team at Vital Voices as well as interned at the U.S. Department of State and the Wilson Center for International Scholars. Between her time at Vital Voices she worked at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas, Austin as a program coordinator. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University and spend a year in Beijing, China learning Mandarin.
Vice President, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship
Malini Patel is the Vice President for Economic Empowerment at Vital Voices Global Partnership. She is responsible for vision and leadership; program and financial management; program design, quality and integrity; new business development; and internal and external relations of economic empowerment programs with women small and medium business leaders.
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 small and medium enterprise 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 Coordinator, Innovation and Strategic Investments
Margarita is the Program Coordinator for the Innovation and Strategic Investments team at Vital Voices. In this position she supports the Global Leadership Network 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.
Program Coordinator, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship
Melissa Graham joined Vital Voices in March 2015 as the Program Coordinator for the Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship team. In this position, she provides program logistics for the Middle East and North Africa, supports communications and partnership efforts, and provides general administrative and programmatic support for the VV GROW Fellowship. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Melissa worked in the corporate sector for Meijer, where she focused on corporate regulatory compliance for major projects, implemented employment initiatives and supported departmental operations. She also previously worked with the YWCA as a Sexual Assault Advocate and interned for former U.S. Senator Carl Levin. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations, Comparative Cultures and Politics from Michigan State University with a focus on the Middle East and is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Affairs from the Elliot School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. She is proficient in French.
Human Rights Program Manager, Voices Against Violence
Morgan is the Voices Against Violence Program Manager for Human Rights. In this role, Morgan provides oversight and coordination for the Voices Against Violence program, which aims to ensure that victims and survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful traditional practices around the world have better access to services, protection and the justice they deserve. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Morgan spent nine years in leadership roles overseeing intervention and prevention-related programs at domestic and sexual violence centers in the United States. In addition to local work, she served as the Prevention and Social Change Initiatives Coordinator with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, representing the Coalition on several national workgroups. Ms. Moeller also served on the Florida Council Against Sexual Assault Board of Directors, with which she worked to influence policy at the state level in favor best practices for survivor services and perpetrator accountability. In 2015, Ms. Moeller was awarded the Distinguished Victim Services Award by Florida’s Office of the Attorney General for her extensive advocacy to affect system change in Northeast Florida. Morgan obtained her B.S. at the University of Florida.
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.
Program Assistant, Human Rights
As the Human Rights Program Assistant, Sarah Wentz supports all human rights programs and initiatives related to gender-based violence, including domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking, and harmful traditional practices. Sarah first joined Vital Voices in September 2015 as an intern with the Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship team. Previously, Sarah served as an Economic Affairs intern at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian studies with a concentration in Spanish language studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Program Coordinator, Innovation and Strategic Investments
Sarra Karzai is the Program Coordinator for the Innovation and Strategic Investments Team with a focus on the ANNpower Program. Prior to joining Innovation and Strategic Investments, Sarra was a member of the Development and Engagement, as well as having interned with the Human Rights team. Sarra graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washigton D.C. with a Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology and International Affairs with a concentration in Growth and Development. Upon graduation, Sarra lived and worked in the UAE and Afghanistan in the fields of Public Relations and Procurement. She is fluent in Pashto and Dari (Farsi).
Office and Finance Coordinator
Shannon joined Vital Voices as the Office and Finance Coordinator in February 2015. In this role, she supports the finance department with processing and recordkeeping and helps coordinate the day-to-day management of the office. Before she joined Vital Voices, Shannon worked as a support representative at AT&T, where she oversaw inventory management and audit preparation. She has a MA in political science from the University of British Columbia.
Program Manager, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship
Shea Garrison is Program Manager for Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, leading the development and implementation of programs supporting the growth of women-owned businesses all over the world. In this role, Shea is responsible for the VV GROW Fellowship, a one-year accelerator program for owners of small- and medium-sized businesses, which provides training, technical assistance, and network and leadership development. Immediately prior to joining Vital Voices, Shea was Adjunct Lecturer in the International Development Studies Program at Tulane University, teaching best practices for sustainable development. A former small business owner, Shea has also acted as a women’s business development consultant in the Middle East and has over 17 years experience in private sector and program development. Shea earned her PhD in International Development from Tulane University in 2015, and her M.S. in 2012. In 2014, Shea was Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Gulf Studies at the American University of Kuwait, where she conducted research on the relationship between Kuwait’s development sustainability and the freedom, agency, and participation of women in the labor market.
Senior Program Coordinator, Global Programs
Shereen manages the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. The program pairs international women at the crossroads of their leadership paths with top American female executives—Fortune's Most Powerful Women– and their teams who serve as mentors. Over the course of a month-long program, the participants are engaged in on-site learning with a community of mentors, trainings and networking events designed to equip them with critical business and leadership skills and the inspiration to pay it forward, accelerating positive change in their home communities. The program also includes the International Alumnae Component, a three-day program that serves as a follow-up to the mentorship by taking U.S. mentors to regions around the world to engage with previous program participants in-country. Shereen has served in this role since 2014. Shereen’s passion for designing and implementing capacity development programs for women leaders began at Franklin & Marshall College where she received her B.A. in Sociology and Women & Gender Studies. During her time at F&M, she served 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 from her Peace Corps service, 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.
Executive Office Coordinator
Sophia is the Coordinator for the Executive Office. She is responsible for assisting the CEO with scheduling, drafting and editing correspondence, coordinating travel, carrying out research, and serving as the Liaison to the Board of Directors. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Sophia spent two years in the Republic of the Marshall Islands teaching English, Math, Science, and Health at a public elementary school. She holds a B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in Economics from Boston College.
Development and Engagement Coordinator
Torey is a development and engagement coordinator at Vital Voices Global Partnership. In this role, she provides support for the planning and execution of all fundraising, cultivation, and public-education events. Torey is also responsible for building a grassroots network of event supporters domestically and managing the event-related budget. Additionally, she coordinates logistics for the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. Prior to this position, Torey began as a Global Programs intern for Vital Voices. Torey received her Master’s of Science in Global Governance and Ethics from University College London and her Bachelor of Art degree in English Literature with a double minor in Political Science and Sociology from Wake Forest University.
Senior Director of Engagement
Uma M. Iyer joined Vital Voices in 2013 as the Director of Engagement, responsible for overseeing the strategy and growth of Vital Voices' events, grassroots and online engagement. In this role she manages the organization's multi-channel marketing efforts - including communications, brand management and execution of signature events - and often dreams in Excel spreadsheets. She began her career in event marketing, conceptualizing and managing regional campaigns for global brands such as Unilever, Starbucks and Visa. She has previously worked for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and mobilize.org, consulted for organizations like WETA, and studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Houston. Uma resides in the Adams Morgan area of Washington, DC with her husband, son and dog.
Senior Director of Global Programs
With 35 years of experience in the for-profit, non-profit, corporate and social enterprise sectors, Zoe heads up Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Programs, providing vision and leadership; day-to-day program and financial management; program design and execution for the Global Ambassadors Program, the Fortune / U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership and the Ponds Fellowship Program.
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, leading and developing the program to improve the economic status of women entrepreneurs and their employees/community, develop these leaders into better business women and strengthen their leadership skills. The program evolved from working with incubator-level organizations, through export-ready businesses to a Train the Trainer model, partnering with businesswomen’s’ associations in a number of countries, reaching women leaders across multiple sectors and from varying cultural backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances. 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 business development in the handcraft sector.
In 2011/2012, Zoë worked with The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, 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 Pan African Business Woman Award for Capacity Building. She has been active in public speaking internationally as a social entrepreneur as well as addressing issues concerning Swaziland such as HIV/AIDS, women’s rights and basic community needs.
She serves on the Boards of the Good Shepherd International Foundation (Italy) and the Grassroots Business Fund in Washington DC. Between 2007 and 2013, she served as a Jury member for sub-Saharan Africa for 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 Swaziland. Since 2012, she has been a Mentor in the Cherie Blair Mentoring Women in Business program. She also serves as a Mentor in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program for Young African Leaders.