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 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.

Program Coordinator, Human Rights

Aapta Garg is the Program Coordinator for the Human Rights team at Vital Voices. In this role, she supports the team on a domestic and international programs related to Gender-based Violence and Human Trafficking, with a special focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Aapta worked for four years as a the Community Liaison and Organizer for MFY Legal Services, running programs on community development, training, and advocacy on behalf of low income New Yorkers. She has also interned with a number of organizations dedicated to gender, poverty reduction and development including Women Thrive Worldwide, the Solidarity Center, and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth with the UNDP in Brazil. Aapta received her Master’s in International Development from American University’s School of International Service and her B.A. from Vassar College. 

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.

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.

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 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.

Program Coordinator Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship

Caryn Ellis is a Program Coordinator with the Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship team. In that role, she oversees all monitoring, evaluation, and learning activities and provides implementation and communications support for the VV Grow Fellowship and Mentoring programs. Prior to joining Vital Voices, she supported the consular unit at the US Embassy in Moscow. In the past, she has conducted research and analysis on migration issues at the Inter-American Dialogue, oversaw fund development for BPSOS, Inc., and supported M&E design for multiple national and international organizations focused on migrants and other vulnerable populations. She also served as a TEFL volunteer with the Peace Corps in Romania. She received her MS in International Development Management from the School of International Service at American University and her BA in English from California State University, Los Angeles.

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.

Digital Communications Coordinator

Coby is the Digital Communications Coordinator at Vital Voices. In this capacity, she supports the organization’s website in coordination with staff and technology vendors; supports online outreach and fundraising campaigns; performs content management tasks across a range of online properties; manages video and photo archives and related documentation; and amplifies Vital Voices engagement and messaging through a variety of social media outlets. Before joining Vital Voices, Coby interned at Women for Women International- UK where she managed and executed the organization’s social media accounts. Coby holds a MSc in International Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as a BAs in Political Science from Wheaton College, MA. 

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. 

Senior Program Coordinator, Global Programs

As Senior 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.

Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist, Global Programs

Elizabeth Andrews is the Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist on the Global Program team at Vital Voices, working specifically on the VVLead Fellowship Program. She received her Master’s in International Economic Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, where she focused on quantitative analysis, macroeconomics and monetary theory. Elizabeth has conducted qualitative research in Rwanda and Colombia on the impact of the artisanal sector on women’s economic empowerment and voice and agency, and has organized and spoken on panels related to women’s roles in security and development in post-conflict settings. Her prior researched focused on women’s rights in Islamic societies during the Cold War and rise of religious extremism. She has participated in various women’s leadership trainings, including her role as a Running Start Fellow on Capitol Hill and member on a U.S. women’s delegation to Cuba.

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.

Program Manager, 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 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 Legal Initiatives, 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.

Senior Program Coordinator, Global Programs

Jana Spacek is the Senior Program Coordinator with the Global Programs team. In this position, she coordinates the design, implementation and evaluation of the VVLead Fellowship Program, a partnership between Vital Voices and the UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID). VVLead is a one-year fellowship program that 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 worked, interned and volunteered on projects focusing on the intersection of gender, development and health for the past 14 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.

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.

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.


Program Coordinator, Global Programs

Laura Thompson is the Program Coordinator for the VVLead Fellowship Program. She received her Masters of Arts in International Education from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.  Laura is fluent in Spanish and worked in Ecuador for two years on community development endeavors.  Most recently, Laura piloted a project to build the capacity of community health promoters in the Amazon region of Ecuador by designing and implementing a leadership training program.  Prior, Laura taught English courses and developed new curricula for a community school in the Andes, established an association for the empowerment and professional development of Ecuadorean English teachers, and facilitated intercultural conversation classes with local youth.

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.


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 Program Manager, Global Programs

Lucina Di Meco is a gender expert with more than 10 years of experience in the design, management and implementation of international development programs addressing gender inequality worldwide. Lucina has a master's degree in International Relations (magna cum laude) from the University of Turin in Italy and a master's degree in Development Economics from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK. Before joining Vital Voices, Lucina worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Mexico, the International Women’s Health Coalition and Women’s World Banking in New York, and as an independent consultant for international NGOs and foundations on international gender and women’s empowerment issues. Lucina is a native Italian speaker. She’s also fluent in English and Spanish and has good working knowledge of Portuguese, German and French. In her free time, Lucina writes on women’s rights and gender for several Italian publications, including the Huffington Post Italy and InGenere. 

Vice President, Economic Empowerment

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 Vital Voices’ economic empowerment programs with women SME 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 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 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.

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, Economic Empowerment

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. 

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.

Program Manager, Economic Empowerment

Sadia Khawar is the Program Manager for Economic Empowerment. In her role, she provides technical and managerial support for the VV GROW Fellowship. With over nine years of international development experience working with USAID and other international donors, Sadia has extensive experience in implementing demand driven economic growth programs focused on business competitiveness and growth, boosting trade opportunities and enhancing performance of small and medium enterprises. Prior to joining Vital Voices, Sadia has worked with Chemonics International and led agriculture and agribusiness value chains development programs, supported export promotion initiatives, and effectively managed multi-million dollar programs in Pakistan. She has led industry delegations in Germany, the Philippines, Pakistan, and US. In her professional career, she has also worked with International Executive Services Corps, World Trade Organization Cell, Punjab Planning and Development Department, and Innovative Development Strategies. Sadia has a Masters degree in Economics.

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 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 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.

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 dreams in Excel spreadsheets and manages the organization's multi-channel marketing efforts and execution of signature branded events. She began her career in event marketing, conceptualizing and managing regional campaigns for global brands such as Unilever, Starbucks and Visa. Uma caught the "change the world" bug and transitioned to the nonprofit sector over ten years ago. She has previously worked for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and, 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, the latter two of whom appropriately have a healthy online footprint.

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. 

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