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When women advance, the world succeeds. Whether you are an entrepreneur, activist, non-profit leader or someone with a bold vision for change, you can have profound impact. 

ABOUT THE PROGRAM 

The VV Visionaries program in partnership with the Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund (ELELF), the charitable fund of Estée Lauder, to support the next generation of emerging leaders who are redefining leadership in their everyday lives.   

The VV Visionaries program invests in trailblazing women by increasing their access to leadership training and the networks that sustain them. Together with the Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund, this signature program will champion women leaders across diverse sectors, industries, and experiences who want to create positive social impact in their communities and beyond. 

Two cohorts of 50 women visionaries over the age of 18 will participate in a 7-week immersive virtual experience built on the proven leadership model of Vital Voices, incorporating lessons in leadership from Estée Lauder executives and Vital Voices Global Network leaders.  

Participants from both cohorts will have the chance to be selected for one annual in-person experience that provides deeper training and investment in their personal leadership journeys. 

Following completion of the cohort, participants will join the Vital Voices community of over 20,000 changemakers across 184 countries, each of whom are daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all. 

THE ESTEE LAUDER EMERGING LEADERS FUND 

The mission of the Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund is to redefine leadership by supporting a new generation of emerging leaders and challenging the gender stereotypes present in current expectations of leadership.  

We need leaders across every industry and every community who are authentic to who they are and use their power, influence and passion to make positive change. We know that women’s leadership will accelerate progress in our communities, offices and boardrooms.   

 

Caroline Beidler

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

The Women’s Global Recovery Network is an initiative focused on bringing together women leaders and organizations across the globe who serve women in co-occurring mental health, trauma and/or addiction recovery. The goals of the network are to bring awareness to issues specific to women’s addiction and mental health recovery, highlight organizations supporting women’s recovery, provide opportunity for networking and leadership development for women in or seeking recovery, and identify action steps for increasing women’s recovery support globally.  

Caroline Beidler, MSW has a masters in social work from the University of Wisconsin Madison with an emphasis on social policy and administration. She is the founder of the annual Women’s Global Recovery Roundtable held on International Women’s Day in partnership with the She Recovers Foundation. She is a 2015 fellow of the Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and a consultant for state and federal recovery initiatives in the U.S. Caroline has held leadership positions within academic settings, overseeing large-scale grant funded programs and works to build capacity of Recovery Community Organizations.  

Caroline was awarded the Texas Research Society on Alcoholism, John T. and Patricia A. O’Neill Addiction Science Education Award, numerous scholarships and was appointed to state councils addressing the addiction crisis. She is also an author, a team writer for This Grit and Grace Life, and is published on numerous online magazines like Recovery Today 

”I want to be a visionary leader that empowers women in or seeking recovery to connect in community and connect with their purpose.”

 

 

Author Headshot
United States

Adriana Senior Mojica

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

As CEO of Corporación Colombia Internacional, Senior Mojica has generated impact indicators in comprehensive rural development and export enterprises. Currently, her goal is to transform 500,000 rural women into agribusiness entrepreneurs, changing their situation of living in extreme poverty and informal work in the countryside.  

Senior Mojica is a woman leader of the agroindustry and solidarity sector of Colombia. She is an expert in agribusiness, foreign trade and entrepreneurship, with 30 years of experience in the agro sector. She is an international economist, specializing in Marketing, MBA and Global MBA. Prior to CCI she was vice president and union president of the Association of Aquaculturists of Colombia. 

Senior Mojica was named one of the 30 best civil servants in the country by the Congress of the Republic and one of the best 30 leaders in the country by Revista Semana and Telefónica.  She received the medal for Agricultural Merit from the Ministry of Agriculture, a Guinness World Record, recognition for her innovative community model by IDB, and an award as one of the 25 companies that contributed most to the country by Semana Magazine. She is a member of the Women on Boards leadership community, a member of Women in Connection, and a captain of the WIC Rural Women’s Committee.

  “I want to be a visionary leader who changes the huge inequality gaps for the Colombian rural women, empowering them with profitable and sustainable productive projects, changing their lives.”

 

 

 

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
Adriana Senior Mojica_Headshot
Colombia

Liz Kaplan

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Liz Kaplan, CFRE, is the Senior Director of Development for the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix, which is a 15-year-old medical school located in downtown Phoenix.  She is the lead fundraiser for the College, focusing on raising money for scholarships, research, faculty, and academic programs. She was instrumental in securing the first endowed Chair of Surgery for the College with a gift of $2 million.  

Kaplan grew up in Phoenix, has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona, and has worked in the Valley for over 25 years in non-profit development, professional sports, advertising, and sales and marketing. She has held fundraising leadership positions with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona, and was the Executive Director of the Arizona Coyotes Foundation. 

She has been very involved in the Phoenix community and is a proud graduate (Class 27) and former board member of Scottsdale Leadership. She served three years on the Scottsdale Airport Advisory Commission. She has held many community board positions, including ones on the Junior League of Phoenix and Keep Scottsdale Beautiful, and is a past President of the Greater Arizona Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). 

 

 

 

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United States

Angelina Spicer

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Angelina Spicer is a stand-up comedian, actress, and accidental activist. Spicer became an outspoken advocate for maternal mental health after her diagnosis and hospitalization of postpartum depression (PPD). The Postpartum Revolution’s mission is to educate women about the emotional and physical changes that motherhood brings. It’s an advocacy mission that utilizes comedy to reduce stigma and shame.  

Not only is Spicer using her voice in comedy clubs across the country, she is also working with lawmakers in California and on Capitol Hill to implement laws to support early motherhood. In 2019 Angelina was honored by then Senator Kamala Harris for her work in CA with Black Maternal Health week. Spicer has worked with some of the world’s most trusted healthcare institutions like Cedars Sinai Hospital, Mental Health America, the World Health Organization and has been featured in USA Today, NPR, and was part of Essence magazine’s Woke 100. 

A cum-laude graduate of Howard University, Spicer has smartly delved deep for comedy that’s authentic. With more than 650,000 followers on social media, Spicer’s original content has garnered a staggering 100 million views in more than 45 countries, and been tweeted by Taraji P. Henson, Shonda Rhimes, and Taylor Swift. Her viral success catapulted her career from phone screens to the silver screen when she became a regular performer on both Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Conan O’brien show.  

Angelina is a health equity fellow of the USA Families, The Schusterman Family Foundation, and serves on the board of directors for March for Moms.  

 

 

 

 

 

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
Angelina Spicer_ Headshot Joseph Trigilio
United States

Ally Zlatar

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Ally Zlatar is the founder of The Starving Artist, an artist initiative that helps broaden perspectives on Eating Disorders and Mental Illness through the artistic voice. She also founded The Starving Artist Scholarship Fund which helps people access inpatient treatment for eating disorders. Her “This Body of Mine” campaign explores the migrant experiences through creative voices and has helped support individuals and artists from refugee-seeking backgrounds globally. Zlatar has received high accolades for her humanitarian work, including The Princess Diana Legacy Award 2021, Y20 Award Finalist for Diversity and Inclusion (Youth 20 by G20 Summit), and special recognition from The British Citizen Award 2022.  

Zlatar examines, instigates and provokes notions of the individual experience by focusing on the themes of illness, vulnerability, and authenticity of one’s lived-in experience. Zlatar explores her personal narratives and life experiences to guide her exploration of self-identity and self-perception in our modern discourse. She utilizes auto-ethnographic experiences and art as a catalyst for change-making.  

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Art & Art History from Queen’s University and an MLitt Curatorial Practice and Contemporary Art from the Glasgow School of Art. Her doctorate in Creative Arts is with the University of Southern Queensland focusing on embodied experiences of eating disorders in contemporary art. Zlatar is also a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, KICL London, and the University of Essex. 

Ally Zlatar_Headshot
United Kingdom

Anisha Kapri

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Anisha Kapri hopes to inspire and equip young girls and women to become entrepreneurs through her online platform What Makes me a Boss. The platform provides online content as well as curated events to help young women take actions towards becoming financially independent. She also organizes leadership workshops in rural schools in Nepal. Kapris previous work focused on girl education, providing sanitary pads and promoting social awareness to help end menstrual stigma in Nepal. 

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
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Anishakapri_Headshot ANISHA KAPRI
United States

Ash Ahmad

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Ash Ahmad is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant and creator of Changing Mindsets. Ahmad works with organisations across all contexts to build a workplace that is not only diverse but fosters a culture of inclusion allowing all employees and particularly those from underrepresented groups to thrive. Through her professional experience, lived experiences and ability to inspire others, Ahmad organically stepped into the role of a coach for several women of color and particularly Muslim women to thrive in their careers. 

Ahmad is a versatile and accomplished professional with nearly 12 years of experience in a breadth of functions including Diversity & Inclusion, Training & Development and HR. She has featured in “The Metro” and “The Telegraph” as an expert within her field and has was invited to speak on “The Islam Channel” about how employers can better support Muslim employees in the workplace. 

Ahmad has a BA Honours in Marketing and has completed Level 5 CIPD in Learning and Development. She is a trained mental health first aider and is often someone individuals feel comfortable reaching out to, particularly those from a diverse background similar to her.  

”I want to be a visionary leader thatcontinues to challenge and change the narrative around inclusionfor all within the workplaces and I aspire to help ensurethere isbetter representation of women ofcolour, particularly Muslim womeninsenior leadership roles.”

 

Ash Ahmad_Headshot Arshia Ahmad
United Kingdom

Aqilla Izzi

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Izzi wants to start an initiative focused on the triple nexus of peace, humanitarianism, and development, focusing on gender inequality in the context of the climate crisis, which necessitates diversity and inclusion mechanisms.  

Izzi works on engaging youth on topics of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) among rural-based youth, which fall under the global youth-led organization of Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR). Previously she worked as a Community Organizer at a local NGO focusing on Gender-based Violence (GBV) prevention, specifically men’s involvement in violence elimination where she facilitated community activism to improve knowledge and behaviour in gender justice for both men and women.

Aqilla was appointed as a Country Facilitator for the Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) Youth Forum and the Asia and Pacific regional ECOSOC Youth Forum 2022. She was in charge of putting together and presenting the Youth Call to Action for higher-level representatives in the context of gender mainstreaming and youth meaningful participation in climate action and policy processes.  

“I want to be a visionary leader that commits to accomplishing the meaningful participation and leadership of women and youth in inclusive and sustainable initiatives.”

Aqilla Izzi_Headshot
Indonesia

Candace D. Queen

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Candace D. Queen is the Founder and Creator-In-Chief of Tabernacle, a creative studio that guides brands and individuals in discovering how they can tackle inequities through the lens of branding, design, art, and strategy. Under the Tabernacle mantle, she’s developing a platform that will support women candidates through the process of defining their brands and communicating their platforms to constituents, with the goal of getting more women elected in office and in turn leading to better representation of women in government decisions, from workplace policies to quality of life. 

With over 15 years of experience, Queen has held the title of culturalist, interdisciplinary designer, creative director, and educator, remaining consistent in each role with a commitment to advancing racial equity through design and revitalizing forgotten spaces and communities. She brings a sharp eye for new trends and an affinity for creating data-driven work that pushes our society forward by addressing cross-cultural disparities head-on. 

Queen has served on the Snapchat U.S. Creative Council and is a 2020 fellow of the NAACP’s NEXTGEN program. She’s been recognized as one of the Association of American Advertising Agencies (4A’s) “100 People Who Make Advertising Great”, a 4A’s MAIPer to Watch, a Bill Sharp Award Honoree, an ADCOLOR FUTURE and recipient of ADCOLOR’s Unsung Hero Award. Queen is a part of the 3% Movement’s Accelerator’s inaugural class and a 2020 winner of Create & Cultivate’s Small Business Pitch Competition.  

”As a visionary leader, I want to lead with empathy and elevate those around me to their next level.” 

Candace Queen_Headshot
United States

​​​Arifah Suparni

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Arifah Suparni is the Founder and Chairperson of ZAKKI, a socio-civic tech non-profit dedicated to developing inclusive, integrated communities with a focus on empowering and improving the lives of the elderly and people with disabilities. ZAKKI aspires to foster a culture of retirement readiness and healthy aging.

ZAKKI’s milestone projects aim to improve mental, social, educational, and financial well-being. ZAKKI operates in Indonesia under the auspices of the Integrity Syariah Foundation. ZAKKI’s field programs include elderly care and disaster relief for survivors of disasters such as the Nganjuk landslide and the Malang earthquake. In a further development, ZAKKI aims to spread its impact to other countries, particularly underdeveloped and developing countries like Indonesia. 

Suparni holds a Bachelor of Food and Agricultural Product Technology from the University of Semarang. She has over eight years of profit business experience, including procurement, inventory control, logistics, and shipment management. Her previous involvement in the student science club, student executive body, student cooperation, and the Indonesian Red Cross volunteers’ corps inspired her to become a serial entrepreneur who has dedicated her life to science, technology, social equity, social justice, and ethical business. 

 

”I aspire to be a visionary leader who contributes to the creation of a more equitable society in which everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, has access to knowledge and opportunities that can improve their lives.”

Arifah Suparni_Headshot arifah su
Indonesia

Denia B. Smith 

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Denia B. Smith is the CEO of She Shall Speak, a podcast and empowerment community dedicated to empowering Black girls to pursue civic service, entrepreneurship, and social justice. Since its creation in February 2022, She Shall Speak has garnered a global audience spanning 22 US States and 15 countries. Denia aspires to turn She Shall Speak into a nonprofit organization providing leadership development workshops, networking opportunities, and scholarships to further cultivate Black girls’ leadership skills.  

Smith is a freshman at American University double majoring in Political Science and Justice & Law with a certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies. She is also a nationally recognized activist passionate about racial and gender equity. Her leadership roles include serving as a Teen Advisor to the United Nation Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign, a Youth Advisor on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common Youth Advisory Board, co-founder of the POC Advocacy, and researcher at the African American Policy Forum.  

Smith is a three-year alumna of Black Girls Lead! hosted by BLACK GIRLS ROCK!®, Conversationalist Disruptor, Disney Dreamer, New Jersey Rising Scholar, recipient of the Princeton Prize in Race Relation’s Certificate of Accomplishment, member of the Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) Global Cohort and a GLOW Global Fellow with Women Empowering Nations and Cantu Beauty. In 2022, Smith was named a Write Her Future Scholar and presented a $10,000 scholarship from the NAACP and Lancôme. 

”As a visionary leader, I seek to empower generations of girls to build a better world. ” 

Deniab.smith_Headshot Denia Smith
United States

Domenica Escatel

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Chicana Inc is a social enterprise focused on elevating, educating, and equipping women in underserved communities. The organization is rooted in building community and helping women overcome the gender pay gap. Through entrepreneurship initiatives, women gain the opportunity to learn, grow, and be inspired by women community leaders and to access workshops, and signature events, including the “Boss Brunches and Leadership” speaker series.  During the pandemic, Chicana Inc launched La Tiendita, which gives local entrepreneurs virtual opportunities to build their social media presence by showcasing their business and telling their stories.  

Escatel holds a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University and a bachelor’s in Studio Art from San Jose State University.  She is an alumna of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality’s Hope Leadership Institute and Leadership Modesto. Escatel has been a guest speaker at Harvard University, UC Merced, and UC Davis Entrepreneur Academy, and The Positive People Speaker Series hosted by Modesto Junior College. 

Escatel is a past nominee for USA Today’s 2021 Humankind Award. Escatel was recognized by Brainz Magazine as the 2020 global Influencer of the year. She is also the awardee of the 2019 Latina of Influence by Hispanic Lifestyle, the 2018 Women of the year by Stanislaus Commission for Women, and 2016 20 under 40 Modesto Bee. 

”As a visionary leader, I create opportunities for women to grow personally, and professionally while doing social good. ”

 

Domenica Escatel_Headshot Domenica Anna Escatel
United States

Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri (aka Dr May) is the Medical Director and Psychiatrist-In-Chief at Pinnacle Medical Services (PMS). PMS is a leading psychology and mental health facility in Nigeria that is prominent in the application of innovative clinical approaches in the management of psychological, emotional, and behavioral related disorders. Dr. Yusuf Kadiri is also the founder of Pinnacle Medicals SPEAKOUT Initiative, which is geared towards creating Mental Health literacy in Africa. The project “How Bodi Mobile Counselling Booth” aims to provide improved access to mental healthcare services and hope for people in rural, remote, and urban slum communities across Nigeria using the How Bodi telemedicine platform.  

Dr. Yusuf Kadiri is a dynamic Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist and a Fellow of the National Post- Graduate Medical College of Nigeria (FMCPsych) with almost 20 years of experience as a practicing physician. She completed training and certification as a Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral therapist from Albert Ellis Institute in New York. She is a Goldman Sachs scholar, Vital Voices Fellow, an Ashoka change maker, an alumna of the US      State Department International Visitors Leadership program (IVLP), 2021 Aspen Fellow, and 2022 AWEC Fellow. 

In 2022 she was given the “Outstanding achievement in Healthcare” award at the Top50 Global Professional & Career Women Awards in Dubai by Women in Management. 

”I want to be a visionary leader that contributes to the normalization of mental health conversations by building a culture of compassion in Africa.”    

Drmaymunahyusufkadiri_Headshot Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri
Nigeria

Edna Chepkurui Laboso 

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Chepkurui Laboso is starting Missing Third Project, an organization that will use research and advocacy to champion Kenyan women’s participation in political leadership. Her vision is to give a platform to women who are passionate about leadership but face barriers due to their cultural backgrounds, including women from rural communities who are often left out of mainstream media and civic spaces. She hopes her work helps support the passing of the 2/3 affirmative action rule which would ensure women’s participation as integral across national social, economic and political leadership roles. 

Chepkurui Laboso earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the United States International University (USIU-Africa), in Nairobi, Kenya.  In 2022, she participated in the party primaries for the United Democratic Alliance of Kenya party as a candidate for the Member of County Assembly (MCA).  She was the only woman candidate among six men and ranked 6th place in a political context that did not believe in women’s leadership. Chepkurui Laboso is actively involved in a grassroots women’s movement and hopes to continue educating women and her community on the importance of including women in leadership roles and supporting girls through education to set them up for success and inclusion in the future. 

 

Edna Laboso_Headshot
Kenya

Ethel Mwedziwendira

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Ethel Mwedziwendira plans to launch a digital media initiative that focuses on BIPOC women who have been impacted by the prison system in hopes of amplifying their voices. Through her work, she seeks to raise awareness about the realities of mass incarceration in the United States and its draconian court systems by bringing to light the people whose voices are often silenced by the criminal legal system. 

 A lifelong storyteller and human rights advocate, Mwedziwendira graduated from the University of Mississippi where she majored in journalism and political science. While in undergrad, Mwedziwendira served as the Opinion and Design Editor for the Daily Mississippian. In addition, she held numerous leadership positions and internships, including interning at the Yemen Peace Project where she monitored human rights violations and political developments in the region.

Currently, Mwedziwendira develops and implements communications strategies for capital litigators across the United States. She also serves on the Communications Committee for the Black Professionals in International Affairs, is involved in ColorComm Inc., and is a mentor at Hope Multiplied.  

”As a visionary leader, I want to make sure that all voices are heard and that everyone has a seat at the table.” 

 

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United States

Fernanda Sartori

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Fernanda Sartori is putting into action her goal of ​​improving the educational system for children and adolescents living in socio-educational homes after committing an infraction. Sartori aims to build real opportunities for this future generation of youth who must also be included within the roles of society in order to break the vicious cycle of marginalization and give way to new visions and voices. 

Sartori has a degree in public management and has worked in private banks in the areas of compliance, accounting, and external auditing during her 8-year career in the private sector. After making a career transition, Sartori joined the Film School and volunteered with Engajamundo for more than three years where she was the screenwriter and producer of “Pimenta pra Jovem é Refresco”, a podcast where the voices and plurality of Brazilian youth echoes. She was part of the Youth Climate Leaders Program (YCL) where she received training in socio-environmental areas. Sartori was also the winner of the Action4SDG Zovu with the Plante Histórias (Plant Stories) Project, bringing stories of Brazilian socio-environmental emergencies to the rest of the world. 

”As a visionary leader, I intend to build bridges to bring education and opportunities to children and adolescents through socio-educational measures in Brazil.”

Fernandasartori_Headshot Fernanda Mendes Sartori
Brazil

Gabi Del Rosario

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Gabi Del Rosario is the founder of Alon and Araw Club, a community-based organization for disadvantaged children from a small fishing village in the Philippines. She envisions a world where children of vulnerable coastal communities are free to dream and pursue a purposeful life. “Alon” and “Araw” mean waves and sun respectively, embodying the mission of the organization to create waves of opportunities through the four pillars of sports accessibility, education support, environmental protection, and personal development.  

Del Rosario obtained a bachelor’s degree from Ateneo de Manila University where she majored in communications. She has a background working in corporate retail. Although she has always active as a volunteer and involved in charity work, she never foresaw moving to a coastal town to start a non-profit. Alon and Araw Club is still in its startup phase yet Del Rosario considers it her greatest achievement to date. 

”I want to be a visionary leader that inspires young Filipinas to break barriers and go above and beyond their own self-imposed limitations.  As a visionary leader I will always uphold patience, love, and empathy regardless of who I’m with or where I am.’

Gabi Del Rosario_Headshot (1)
Philippines

Hope Farayi Marere

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Hope Farayi Marere is the Country Head of Retail & Business Banking for BancABC Zimbabwe and is passionate about the financial literacy and inclusion of women. She has mentored women who have been challenged to grow and succeed in their chosen careers and aspires to continue supporting women to become the best version of who then can be professionally. 

Marere has over 20 years of experience in the retail landscape and in retail Banking including retail sales, card operations, digital banking, private banking, marketing and public relations, agency banking, microfinance, and banking operations. Marere is also interested in digital transformation and innovation in banking and leveraging these to improve product design and to enhance customer experience. 

Marere has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Finance from the National University of Science and Technology and an MBA from Management College of Southern Africa. She has attended the Authentic Women in Leadership Programme from Alchemy by the Deloitte School of Leadership and completed the Executive Leadership training program. In 2021, Marere received the Most Outstanding Financial leader of Repute from the Zimbabwe CEOS network. 

”I want to be the visionary leader that recognizes and celebrates diversity and inspires excellence in financial services.” 

Hope Farayi Marere Headshot HOPE MARERE
Zimbabwe

Jenna Smith

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

 

Jenna Smith is planning to re-launch The LGBT History Project. Her vision is to create an organization dedicated to creating access to queer history education through virtual media. Its purpose is to share the rich and diverse history of the LGBTQ+ community in a widely accessible format. It also aims to bring attention to the BIPOC who have contributed to the queer liberation movement but had their stories erased. 

Smith is a Robertson Scholar at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Duke, she is pursuing impact work as the Programming Director of Kidz Vote, the Head of the Advocacy Team on the Duke Justice Project, and a Research Assistant at the Wilson Center for Science and Justice. She has pursued her passion for historical preservation as an intern at the Delta Center for Culture and Learning and Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. In this role, she was tasked with designing and launching a Civil Rights Heritage Archive to preserve the stories of the Mississippi Delta. She will continue to engage in historical preservation as an independent student researcher, focusing on rectifying methods of erasure levied against Black women in history.  

Smith is also a 2019 HERLead Fellow, a Rising Voices Club Mentor, a Point Foundation Scholar, an Eva Clayton Fellow, and is ranked among the Top 20 Best Speakers in the nation as a first-year competitor at the AMCA Undergraduate Moot Court Competition.

”As a visionary leader, I hope to dismantle systems of ignorance through education and storytelling.”  

Jenna Smith_Headshot
United States

Jennifer Barrera Wandrey

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Jennifer Barrera Wandrey is a cofounder of Beyond Great. The mission of Beyond Great is to enrich the lives of young women by providing mentoring, educational workshops, and personal and professional development opportunities to aid in their success of becoming great leaders. Beyond Great helps to provide activities and experiences for personal growth, social responsibility, and education. In addition, Beyond Great works to provide opportunities for participants to foster positive relationships amongst other young women. 

Barrera Wandrey is a dedicated public servant with over 8 years of experience serving the Houston community through Marketing and Outreach management roles for the City of Houston. She also serves as a Spanish speaking media liaison for the municipal animal shelter.  

Barrera Wandrey received her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston-Downtown with a leadership focus. The Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation recognized her as Emerging Leader in 2015. She is an alumnus of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc a Latina-based sorority devoted to serving the community while fostering a sense of pride and respect for the Latin heritage.

”I want to be a visionary leader who empowers young women to reach their full leadership potential. As a visionary leader I hope to offer guidance and support to my community who has also nurtured my own vision.”

Jennifer Barrera Garcia_Headshot
United States

Jo Bell

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Bell works with women who are at a point where they need change in their lives. This can be a change in mindset, career, life choices and everything in between! Through her 1-2-1 coaching and mentoring business she aspires to create an environment for women to re-balance, reassess, and reboot, enabling them to be the true version of themselves. 

Bell had an accomplished 15-year career as a teacher and manager in education before working in the corporate sector for five years where she worked in partnership with public, private, and volunteer organizations.  

”As a visionary leader I will inspire other women to be their awesome, authentic selves, despite the environment they find themselves in.”

 

 

Jo Bell_Headshot
United Kingdom

Jodeen Olguín-Tayler

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Olguín-Tayler is a nationally recognized leader in racial justice and gender equity movements, and has served in executive roles across the non-profit and philanthropic sectors. A sought-after social change strategist, she is known for driving large-scale advocacy and civic engagement programs, as well as designing winning public policy campaigns. After two decades of leading frontline work to advance climate justice as well as racial and gender equity, Olguín-Tayler is on a mission to shift power and practices in the philanthropic sector to democratize access to capital and resources as a means of scaling social change infrastructure. As a philanthropic leader Olguín-Tayler draws on over 20 years of frontline organizing, cross-sector movement-building, DEI and change management expertise.  

Olguín-Tayler has served as Campaign Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Field Director for MoveOn.org, advisor to the Movement for Black Lives policy table, and is the president of the board of trustees for the Chicana Climate Justice Fund and the Movement Voter Fund. She was a recipient of the Movement Makers fellowship and a Senior Fellow for Racial Justice and Inclusive Democracy at the Amalgamated Foundation. 

As a community leader and Chicana mother from the ancestral homelands of the Pueblo (Tewa) and Ute people, her work as a social movement strategist is part of her journey as a future ancestor. Advancing social and climate justice is both an expression of love and responsibility to steward resources, traditions and cultural inheritance for generations to come.  

 

Jodeen Olguín Tayler_Headshot
United States

Karina Diaz Fuyimoto

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

The mission of Operacion Nanas is to generate well-being for families while providing formal jobs and training for domestic workers in Peru. Operacion Nanas combines technology, distance education, and psychological assistance to support Peruvian and immigrant women with and promote well-paid jobs, backed by labor laws for domestic workers in Peru. 

From a very young age, Diaz had a vocation for helping others.  She was a volunteer that helped develop her local Rotary Club, through which she supported vulnerable areas of her hometown, Huaral.  Diaz has also worked in nutrition clubs, helping to improve the nutrition and wellbeing of families in her community, which has allowed her to develop the leadership skills necessary to start current venture. 

Operacion Nanas received the Women for Tomorrow Award (Mujeres para el Mañana) by Soft Bank & We Work and the Strategic Business Management Award (Programa de Gestión Estratégica Comercial) by the Japanese Peruvian Association. 

”I want to be a visionary leader who helps women to be able to achieve all their dreams, goals and aspirations through formal work and constant training.”

Karina Diaz Fuyimoto_Headshot
Peru

Kathryn Kosmides  

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Kathryn Kosmides is the Founder and CEO of Garbo, a new kind of online background check on a mission to proactively prevent harm in the digital age. Through technology, tools, and education Garbo empowers individuals with access to potentially life-saving information while providing access to personalized resources. Since our founding in 2018, Garbo has reached millions of individuals, developed partnerships with other nonprofits like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and solidified a partnership with Match Group — the largest online dating company.  

Kosmides is a longtime entrepreneur and activist who has worked with dozens of early stage venture-backed companies to launch and scale their sales and marketing. She has been published in every major news outlet including op-eds in Fortune and TechCrunch. In 2021, she was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business.  

I want to be a visionary leader that holds systems and individuals accountable while protecting the most vulnerable communities both online and in-person.” 

Kathrynkosmides_Headshot Kathryn Kosmides
United States

Kirthi Jayakumar

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Jayakumar founded and runs The Gender Security Project, one of the few WPS centres in the global south, working at the cusp of gender, security, peace, and conflict through research, reportage, and documentation.  

Jayakumar serves as an advisor to the Women7 (W7) under the German Presidency of the G7 and as the Head of Training at World Pulse. She formerly founded and ran the Red Elephant Foundation, a civilian peacebuilding initiative that works for gender equality through storytelling, advocacy and digital interventions. She has trained over 7,000 individuals in bystander intervention, over 20,000 children in safe and unsafe touch awareness, and over 1,000 teachers on child sexual abuse prevention and timely response. Jayakumar also created an app called Saahas that supports survivors of gender-based violence and assists in bystander intervention in 196 countries.  

Jayakumar received her bachelor’s degree in Law from SOEL, Chennai. She has a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from Coventry University where she was a Commonwealth Scholarship Awardee, and another in Sustainable Peace in a Contemporary World from UPEACE, Costa Rica. Jayakumar is a Vital Voices Engage Fellow, and a former Vital Voices Lead Fellow.  

 

Kirthi Jayakumar_Headshot (1)
India

Liya Safina

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Liya is a digital design director and web3 strategist living in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her academic background lies in architecture and educational methodology. Through her work in blockchain innovation, Liya is building an educational platform with a mission to help people get educated, connected, and empowered in web3. 

With a focus on strategy and user experience, she collaborates with clients to achieve a creative vision and bring innovative technologies to life. Liya has established creative for Fortune 500 companies and startups, including Alibaba, Nike, Google, Sotheby’s, Reuters, StreetEasy, Brandless, and CoinBase to name a few. She has experienced a variety of leadership scenarios, from bootstrapping a startup to designing for future citizens of a city built by Toyota in Japan (2025). Liya is also the advisor of an accelerator program tailored specifically to the needs of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Asian women and mothers. 

Previously, Liya co-founded an accelerator-backed startup in the Silicon Valley and a digital educational platform in Moscow. She was selected for her work as a fellow at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design 2012 and awarded as Innovator of the Year by Falling Walls Labs in 2014.  

”Liya’s vision is to build a future where technology serves human needs, instead of humans serving revenue models.”

 

Liya Safina_Headshot3 (1)
United States

Ioanna Gallo Jimenez 

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Growing Together (GT) is a non-profit organization founded in May 2020 in Peru to promote gender equality with and for adolescents. GT works with public schools, on the north coast of Peru, by providing workshops and educational programs with a gender equality framework that challenges gender stereotypes. We support youth as gender equality champions and empower them to end gender-based violence. 

I am an international development professional with more than nine years of working experience in diverse development issues in Peru and the United States. I am a social entrepreneur that promotes the conversation about gender gaps in Peru, especially those related to education, data analysis, and public policy. I am a co-founder of Growing Together (GT). 

Ioanna Gallo Jimenez is a candidate for a master’s in Public Administration at Maxell School of Syracuse University. She was a recipient of the De Sardon-Glass Fellowship. Since April 2022 she is member of Meaningful Business community.  

”I want to be a visionary leader representing the voices of Latin-American local women who work to eliminate social norms that reproduce inequalities. As a visionary leader, I will lead a transformative change in the gender norms that relegate women’s futures.”

Loanna Gallo Jimenez_Headshot
Peru

Luiza Brunelli Bührer

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Luiza Brunelli Bührer is the Founder and President of MC², short for “Meninas na Ciência” (Girls in STEM in Portuguese), an organization that aims to bridge the gender gap in the STEM field through educational programs focused on inspiring and empowering girls from a young age. Powered by more than 150 volunteers, MC² has impacted more than 1,100 middle school girls from the Brazilian public education system since 2020. 

Luiza is also a Leader in Girl Up, a UN Foundation initiative for gender equality. Through her Girl Up club, Brunelli Bührer has donated more than 45,000 menstrual products, advocated for bills regarding period poverty, and worked on a campaign to encourage young voters in Brazil. Moreover, she currently serves as a Chapter Coordinator for Youth for Women in Technology (WiTech), a youth-led nonprofit organization based in the Philippines that aims to encourage youth to break gender stereotypes and make a difference using technology, overseeing activities in Europe and South America. 

Luiza received the 2021 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards (currently named Prudential Emerging Visionaries) in Brazil for her work with MC², out of 2,125 other young changemakers. Through this award, she participated in the Prudential Emerging Visionaries Summit in Newark and was featured on a billboard in Times Square. Her work was also featured in online magazines, printed newspapers, radio stations, and national television networks.
 

”As a visionary leader, I hope to create meaningful connections that will help me bring to life a world where STEM is an inclusive field for everyone.”

 

Luiza Brunelli Bührer_Headshot
Brazil

Meghan Chayka

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Meghan Chayka is a multifaceted entrepreneur, data scientist and sports industry speaker. An influential voice in the intersectional worlds of sports, media, and tech, Chayka is the co-founder of Stathletes, a hockey data and analytics company launched in 2010 that provides decision-making insights to more than 22 leagues worldwide, with some of the most elite clients in the sports industry. 

Named to The Hockey News’ 100 People of Power and Influence in 2019, Chayka was featured in the insert cover alongside industry heavyweights Gary Bettman (NHL Commissioner), René Fasel (International Ice Hockey Federation President), and Donald Fehr Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association). In another industry role, Meghan is a Data Scientist in Residence at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Chayka and Stathletes have also been awarded Top Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2018/2019 by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Top 40 under 40 in hockey for the Athletic in 2019 & 2020. She is on the board of advisors of US Integrity in the sports betting space. Chayka was awarded Women of the Year 2022 by the DMZ Ryerson tech incubator in Toronto.  

 

 

Meghan Chayka_Headshot
Canada

Melisa Bustamante

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Melisa Bustamante is the executive director of a platform called RESILISER, created by an NGO (FIDUS) located in Córdoba, Argentina. She has been working since 2020 to create alliances with different institutions that are doing social impact work and are involved with gender inequality. SALTO project is available in the platform RESILISER, where women find not only the training related to SALTO, but also other courses and workshops to enhance different areas of their lives. The project aims at giving women the necessary tools to achieve that shift in their mindset, providing high quality information, training and coaching delivered by experts in their fields of study. By getting to know themselves, what their dreams are, what prevents them from manifesting those dreams, women will be able to take a giant leap, defy their own mental boundaries, and change their lives, spot opportunities where they used to see obstacles. 

Bustamante holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Strayer University and is enrolled in an MBA program at Universidad de Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Melisa is also a language instructor. She has been teaching since she was 16 years old. She has experience in class planning and curriculum design, and education technology. Teaching has always been her vocation, and she feels that teaching has enhanced her leadership skills.  

”As a visionary leader I aspire to become the voice of those who come from underdeveloped regions to show Latinas and the rest of the world that our lives can be better, and that we do not need to settle for what our patriarchal society has to offer. ”

Melisa Bustamante_Headshot
Argentina

Neivia Justa

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Neivia Justa is a journalist, executive, influencer, activist, change maker, mother, entrepreneur, speaker, mentor, teacher and founder of #JustaCausa. 

With 30 years of experience as a leader in Communication, Culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, in companies such as Timex, Natura, Schincariol, GE, Goodyear, J&J and UHG, she is the creator of the #lídercomneivia live streaming program and the social media movements #ondeestãoasmulheres (where are the women?) and #aquiestãoasmulheres (here the women are). 

She won the Women’s Press Trophy and the Aberje Award in 2017 and since 2018 she is one of LinkedIn Brazil’s Top Voices

Neivia Justa_Headshot
Brazil

Rebecca Tendai Chirenga

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Women in Communities is a women-led organization whose mandate is to uphold women’s rights, health and livelihoods and it is a registered Trust that was established in 2009. It seeks to create safe spaces for women to participate in governance processes and exercise their constitutional rights. The vision of Wico is to create a world in which women play decisive roles in agriculture; health; governance; and natural resources management for sustainable livelihoods and development.

Chirenga is a lecturer and trainer by profession with over 20 years of experience working with tertiary institutions and is an avid community developer and advocacy champion. She has held various leadership positions including Head of Commerce faculty, senior lecturer, and has sat on a number of Boards of Directors. She has been the Executive Director of Wico for the past 12 years and is responsible for planning and implementing programs, training and capacity building, supporting organizational networks and mobilizing resources.

Chirenga was awarded the 2019 Netherlands Embassy Gender Champion Award and The Best Community Developer for 2019for Wico awarded by the National Association of NGOs in Zimbabwe.  She currently sits on the World Patients Alliance Africa Committee. 

”I want to be a visionary leader that will champion the cause of women and girls in all facets of their health, rights and education.  As a visionary leader I want to leave a legacy of empowered and informed women that are in a safe space to demand their human rights.”

 

 

Rebecca Chirenga_Headshot
Zimbabwe

Renata Koch Alvarenga

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

 Renata Koch Alvarenga (she/her) is the Founder and Director of EmpoderaClima, which is a Brazil-based, youth-led initiative created to raise awareness of the disproportionate impacts of climate change that girls and women face in the Global South, as well as the need for women’s leadership in climate action.  

Koch Alvarenga is working as a Climate and Sustainable Development Fellow at the UN Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth this summer in New York City. She has been engaged in international initiatives for gender and climate justice for the past 7 years. Koch Alvarenga is a G(irls)20/Fora Ambassador of Brazil, National Gender Youth Activist of UN Women, Transform Education Leader, Voices That Inspire Fellow and Gender Co-lead for Youth at UN Climate. She has also worked as a Political Analyst for the British Mission in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   

Koch Alvarenga holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Unisinos (Brazil), having studied for two years at the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations (United States). Currently, she is a Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School, as a Belfer Young Leader Fellow and Claudio Haddad Brazil Fellow.  

Koch Alvarenga has spoken about her work and the need for youth leadership in climate action at conferences across Europe, Latin America, and Asia, including UN conferences COP25 and COP26, and was the first Brazilian to speak at the opening of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), alongside the UN Secretary-General. 

“I want to be a visionary leader that centers young women and girls from Latin America in climate decision-making spaces”

Renata_Kochalvarenga_Headshot Renata Koch Alvarenga (1)
Brazil

Ridhi Aggarwal

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Ridhi Aggarwal is the co-founder of Swatantra Talim, a non-profit working in the field of alternative education in the interior villages of Uttar Pradesh, India since July 2013. The organization’s vision is to co-create every village as a ”centre of innovation” and every child as an “innovator” facilitating social change. The students are in the age group of 6 to 18 years with whom efforts are made to nurture their socio-scientific temper through hands-on curriculum and contextual pedagogy.  

Aggarwal’s focus points in the organization is towards strategy, curriculum, and building competencies of grass-root teachers through capacity building workshops. Before Swatantra Talim, she worked in corporates, NGOs, and schools like Times of India, Edelweiss Capital, Nalanda (Lucknow), and Sahyadri School (Krishnamurthi Foundation India).  

 

A graduate from Lady Shri Ram College (Delhi University), Aggarwal is a post-graduate in education and commerce from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and Delhi School of Economics. She has been a Wipro Seeding Fellow since 2017 and a FabLearn Fellow 2020-22 from Columbia University, USA.   

Aggarwal is also an avid storyteller and an origami lover. She has been instrumental in co-creating maker-spaces in public, private schools and non-formal learning centers. She has presented a paper in FabLearn, Italy on “Culturally responsive maker-space learning model towards meaningful education for marginalized communities”. She has initiated a children’s newspaper — Baal-Kranti (the revolutionary voices of children) in the year 2021.  

Ridhi Aggarwal_Headshot (1)
India

Rosario del Pilar Diaz Garavito

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Rosario del Pilar Diaz Garavito is a young activist and the Founder and Executive Director of The Millennials Movement, a youth lead organization, that delivers actions in 16 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region. The organization aims to engage young citizens and stakeholders in the sustainable development process of their communities, promoting active citizenship and supporting their transition from public policies beneficiaries to change makers. Through our innovative “molecular” and “GloCal” approaches, we deliver capacity building initiatives, interventions in the territories, participatory processes and provide networking opportunities that open spaces for young citizens and social actors. 

Pilar Diaz Garavito is a member of the Youth Advisory Board Member for the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Silatech for the initiative Education About All. Currently she serves as Elected Focal Point for the Children, Adolescent and Youth Group of the Latin American and the Caribbean Civil Society Participation Mechanism MesCLAC / MGCY, for the formal review of the 2030 Agenda at the United Nations. Pilar Diaz Garavito is an Alumni for the LAC Women Empower Program 2022- 2023 of the Ban Ki Moon Center.  

In 2019, Pilar Diaz Garavito was awarded as Obama Foundation Scholar 2019-2020, graduating from the Master´s Program on International Development and Policy at the University of Chicago. Her work has been recognized by the Vice Presidency of Peru, the Regional Coordinator of the UN System in Peru, The United Nations Millennium Campaign, AIESEC International with the Leader for Peace Award. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosario del Pilar Diaz Garavito_Headshot
Peru

Rukmini Iyer

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Rukmini Iyer is a core team member of Disom Foundation, an organization that works in development of ethical political leadership in India through a fellowship program that nurtures future political and social ‘servant leaders’. The school encourages leadership that shares responsibilities and decision-making with communities and constituencies with humility, compassion, and grace. It fosters leaders who are driven by a spirit of service and see power as a means to achieve shared wellbeing. 

Over the last 21 years, Iyer has worked across the globe with corporate organizations, the development sector, communities and individuals through the modalities of consulting, facilitation, coaching and dialogue. In 2008, she founded Exult! Solutions, which bridges the spaces of conscious leadership and organizational development and peacebuilding.

Iyer has been a Global Peace Index Ambassador of the Institute for Peace and Economics, Australia since 2017 and has been recognized as a leader in constructive dialogue through achievements such as the Rotary Peace Fellowship in Peace and Conflict Resolution at Chulalongkorn University in 2013, representation as the delegation leader from India for the Seeds of Peace International Peace Dialogue in 2018, and the Emerging Leaders Fellowship by the Inner Climate Academy in 2022.

”As a visionary leader, Ayer aspires to sense into the nature of leadership needed to evolve us into our identity as planetary citizens.”

Rukmini Iyer_Headshot
India

Ruth Okoirhon

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Ruth Okoirhon is planning to launch an education initiative for young women to curb their vulnerability to human trafficking and gender-based violence. Her initiative would include education on staying safe online, vetting online job offers, identifying trafficking, and also provide skills formation to ensure self-sufficiency. Her vision is to raise a generation of smart, confident and self-sustaining women who will be less vulnerable to false job offers abroad and instead, pay it forward and build a network of independent African women.  

Okoirhon is experienced in psycho-social counselling, facilitation, digital publishing, livelihood training, project coordination, and curriculum design. She holds a bachelor’s in Mass Communication and certifications in international development. She also volunteers for a couple of gender-focused organizations.

 I want to be a visionary leader that equips women and girls with the right tools to achieve their full potential.”  

Ruth Okoirhon_Headshot
Nigeria

Seth Forbes

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Seth Forbes is the founder and executive director of Together Estranged (TE), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports and empowers those estranged from family members while enhancing social understanding for the de-stigmatization of estrangement. TE offers support groups, virtual holiday programming, mental health-related workshops, scholarships, and collaborative community events, all which foster safe spaces for those who’ve struggled with abuse, disownment, or childhood trauma within their family ecosystem. With an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, TE primarily serves female-identifying individuals, LGBTQ+ folx, and the BIPOC community, between ages 18 and 45. 

Forbes holds a master’s degree in organizational communication from Ball State University, where she was a Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry Scholar in 2014 and student leader in a program titled “Breaking the Prejudice Habit.” She is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science degree in Digital Technology from Boston University. Forbes is a Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Fellow as well as a Dean’s List Scholarship recipient and served as the Market Research Director for her university’s American Advertising Federation (AAF) chapter in 2015.  

She was invited to speak at the Moving Beyond Family Struggles Summit 2022 by the Center for Family Understanding and was recently selected to be a session director for entrepreneurship at the Look Back, Act Forward LGBTQ+ ROMBA Conference 2022. 

”I want to be a visionary leader that illuminates pathways for healing and encourages others to live their lives authentically and boldly, regardless of what others have told them.”

 

Seth Forbes_Headshot
United States

Shailaja Kayastha (Kasaju)

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Tekka is a social business hub for handcrafted products that empowers women through skill development, decision making and financial stability. Tekka has carried out several activities in relation to women empowerment, student support, and school reconstruction since its establishment

Kayastha was a Teach for Nepal fellow and worked as a volunteer teacher at Shree Jana Jagriti Higher Secondary School in  Sanagachowk, Sindupalchowk. During the first month of her fellowship in 2015, Nepal was hit by the earthquake with Sindupalchowk at the epicenter. In the aftermath, Kayastha led multiple relief services, including health camps, student support campaigns, the Women Empowerment Project.

For her work, she was named one of Nepal’s 75 Women Leaders in 2016 by the Santosh Sha Foundation and an EntrepreneuHER in 2021. She is also the winner of multiple awards and recognitions, including the Change Maker Award in 2017, Connect IN awarded by Clock B innovation and Indian Embassy, and the Private Sector Innovation Challenge awarded by USAid. Kayastha has been a grantee of the Road to COP26 Innovation Grant Programme and the CHRA Award Grants by Open Society University Network. 

”I want to be a visionary leader that uplifts the life of local women and children.”  

Shailaja Kayastha Kasaju_Headshot shailaja Kayastha Kasaju (1)
Nepal

Shweta Kochatta

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

At the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar, Shweta Kochatta is strengthening a center of learning to guide and mentor indigenous students and alumni to become leaders and changemakers. In this role, Kochatta aims to increase the representation and participation of indigenous communities in society and to inspire and uplift future generations. Through dynamic industry-academia collaborations, the KISS initiative strives to facilitate, design, and execute structured and intensive employability and skill development programs to enable the learners to access various opportunities in public, private, and social sectors as well as at the grassroots level. 

Kochatta is also an Odisha Development Fellow (O-Dev) with PHDMA (Poverty and Human Development Monitoring Agency), Govt. of Odisha. She is conducting an impact evaluation of women collectives & self-help groups to develop support systems focused on women’s economic empowerment, business development, and financial and digital literacy. A Finance enthusiast, she started her professional journey at one of the leading investment banks, Credit Suisse, working with the European Delta-one Desk and is a CFA Level III candidate. She has also tried her hand at entrepreneurship while running her family business Vipul Nirman, a supply-chain construction materials business based in Central India. 

Kochatta graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, with a Master of Science (Int.) in Chemistry. She was awarded the Academic Excellence award for three consecutive years, as well as the Best Incoming Sportsperson and the Best Outgoing Sportsperson awards. 

”As a visionary leader I aspire to work towards developing sustainable solutions for equitable education and economic empowerment.” 

 

Shweta Kochatta_Headshot
India

Sofia Scarlat

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Sofia Scarlat is a 19-year-old advocate from Romania, working on women and children’s rights, gender-based violence and human trafficking prevention, sexual health and reproductive rights, and youth empowerment. She is the founder of the country’s first and currently only youth-led, gender equality organization, Girl Up Romania, where she has coordinated advocacy, research, and education initiatives that have reached thousands of young Romanians, supported survivors, and led to successful, country-wide policy change. Scarlat also has experience organizing, consulting, and researching for UN structures such as UN Women, where she served as one of the youngest members of the Generation Equality Youth Task Force, and for organizations such as Innovations for Poverty Action and the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. 

Scarlat’s work was recognized internationally, receiving nominations for awards such as the International Children’s Peace Prize and the Princess of Girona International Award. She has also presented her work at conferences such as Women in Development (London) and TEDxBucharest, and as a Global Young Leader for Women Deliver. 

Sofia is a student at Stanford University, majoring in Sociology. There, she serves as the university’s Co-Director for Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, organizing to prevent campus sexual violence through advocacy and policy-change efforts. She is currently conducting research on the lives of women in rural Romania, with the support of a Chappell Lougee Grant.  

 

Sofia Scarlat_Headshot
Romania

Sophie Otiende

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Sophie Otiende is the founder of a survivor-led initiative in Kenya called Azadi that focuses on supporting survivors of trafficking with long-term care and leadership skills to engage in the human rights space. Otiende is passionate about ethical engagement of survivors of trafficking and ethical storytelling. Sophie firmly believes in a future where empathy, harmony and trust can seamlessly be articulated in processes and systems within institutions. 

Otiende is a feminist, teacher, and survivor-advocate for survivors of trafficking. For the past eight years she has focused on creating ethical standards for the protection of survivors of trafficking, developing systems for organizations, training, and developing curriculum on both protection and awareness of human trafficking. She also speaks internationally on her standards of care and survivor engagement.  

Otiende studied education. She is a 2015 Vital Voices Fellow and the recipient of the US Trafficking in Persons Report Hero 2020. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. Previously, she worked as the Regional Operations Manager, Africa for Liberty Shared and later as the Director of Consulting for Survivor Alliance. She has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS).   

 ”I want to be a visionary leader that employs an intersectional approach in re-imagining solutions that centers survivors of trafficking in the world.”

 

 

Sophie Otiende_Headshot
Kenya

Sumaira Ishfaq 

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Sumaira Chepkurui Ishfaq hopes to start a new organization focused on the empowerment of marginalized communities in Pakistan. Chepkurui Ishfaq holds a Master of Science degree in Agriculture and works for Winrock International. Her thematic area of work is agriculture, rural development, and gender equity. She travels extensively in the remote areas of Pakistan because of her work with rural women farmers. She mobilizes women and rural communities at the grassroots level and connects them with different stakeholders at village, district, provincial and national levels. She also collaborates with government institutions to advance gender equality in agriculture.   

Chepkurui Ishfaq is a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow and studied International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University. She received the “Women of Courage” recognition certificate from Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC) for her work on rural women’s rights. She is member of the Intersectional Feminist Collective (IFC) and Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). She also worked as an Ambassador for Thought for Food (TFF) in Pakistan from 2019-2020.     

”I want to be a visionary leader that creates more space for feminist solidarity and sisterhood in local communities at the grassroot level.  As a visionary leader, I want to show the world that women’s leadership is critically important for sustainability.”

Sumaira Ishfaq_Headshot
Pakistan

Tabitha Willis

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Tabitha Willis is a part of ServUS, a startup seeking to revolutionize how students engage in volunteering and how nonprofits connect to students. ServUS is a platform that fosters community networking and organizing while creating a sustainable force of volunteers by breaking down barriers to service, linking students to opportunities that unlock their passions, and building career skills through professional development opportunities

Outside of ServUS, Willis has mentored youth with Essence Magazine’s Disney Dreamers Academy, tackled barriers to movement with Nike as one of ten selected for their Project Move Cohort, connected underserved communities with mental health resources as a member of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps, and advocated for women of color in STEM through writing for the Malala Fund. 

Willis holds a Bachelor of Science in Medical Anthropology and Biology from The Ohio State University where she was a Morrill, Jesse Owens, LSAMP, and George M. Pullman Scholar. While an undergraduate, she was one of 20 students awarded the Outstanding Senior Award from a class of over 10,000 graduates for being in the top 1% of students in scholarship and endeavor. In addition, Willis was the only undergraduate recipient of the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award from the University Senate. She is currently taking a gap year at Northwestern Medicine in their NU-MHRT Program as she applies to medical school.

”I want to be a visionary that honors those who have come before me while paving new paths for those who will come after.”

Tabitha Willis_Headshot (1)
United States

Tsehaitu “Tubi” Retta

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Tubi Retta is a lawyer, social impact strategist, and gender equality advocate passionate about building a powerful movement of multisectoral actors to support and invest in young women around the world. She is currently the deputy director of the Girls Opportunity Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation founded by Michelle Obama that focuses on empowering adolescent girls globally. In this role, she helps drive the strategy around funding, supporting, and amplifying community-based organizations serving girls. 

Previously she served as associate policy director to First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House, where she helped lead Let Girls Learn, a whole-of-government initiative with more than $1 billion dollars in investments to increase access to education for adolescent girls around the world. Retta believes deeply in the power of local solutions and collective action and that educating and empowering girls is among the most strategic and effective investments to solve global challenges and achieve sustainable development goals. She has also worked at the U.S. Department of State on gender equity and initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion of the U.S. diplomatic corps. 

Retta serves on the editorial board of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society and the advisory board for Girl Rising, a nonprofit media organization that uses storytelling to change the way the world values girls and their education. 

 

 

Tubi Retta_Headshot Tsehaitu []Tubi[] Retta
United States

Vicky Pasion

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Vicky Pasion is the Co-Founder of Gifted, by Nature, a Media House championing artists and brands through management, production and publishing. Founded in 2019, GIFTED intentionally invests, amplifies and supports the creation of art by BAME and female voices, to increase representation and aspiration within the creative industry. GIFTED’s mission is to nurture a more diverse and inclusive industry by providing opportunities, safe spaces and community to help to unlock the power of sharing underrepresented stories. 

As an official UN Women UK Delegate, Pasion champions safer spaces for women and marginalised people in live music spaces. Pasion has also been hailed as ‘an artist on the rise’ by several cultural taste-makers, including Wonderland, BBC Radio, and Notion Magazine. As one of the UK’s emerging talents, she’s captivated audiences across international stages. The campaign of her socially conscious record “HEAVY” was supported by Autograph ABP, with a campaign Shortlisted for a Fair Education Alliance Innovation Award in 2021. 

Pasion is based in Somerset House, as part of the Black Business Incubator, and supported by the Mayor of London through the London & Partners Impact Cohort. Alongside her artistry, Pasion continues to raise awareness of the importance of safer spaces and mental health support for women and marginalised groups in the creative industries. 

”As a visionary leader, I aspire to create a globally recognised Media House that nurtures exceptional talent, amplifies underrepresented stories and moves towards a more diverse and inclusive creative industry.”

 

Vicky Pasion_Headshot3 (1)
United Kingdom

Watcharapon (Sia) Kukaewkasem

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Watcharapon (aka Sia) is the founder and CEO of Freedom Restoration Project (FRP). FRP is a non-profit organization that aims to eliminate gender-based violence and empower survivors to turn fear into safety, helplessness into strength, and isolation into hope. Kukaewkasem works predominantly with a migrant population of women and children who live-in high-risk situations, many who are victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence.   

Kukaewkasem comes from the Akha ethnic group in Thailand. She is a survivor of domestic violence and as a result, is passionate about helping families and communities end all gender-based violence issues. Kukaewkasem’s life goal is for people to experience healing and to recognize the power of their story and their voice.  

Kukaewkasem completed her masters degree in Clinical Social Work at Azusa Pacific University in the U.S. In 2017, she was a Community Solutions Program Fellow. Kukaewkasem has also been a storyteller and speaker at different international events including the UN Commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism #HearMeToo, UN E.Quality Talks, HeForShe University Tour, Human Library, and Dragonfly Summit 

”As a visionary leader I commit to empower other women and children so they can empower others.”

 

 

 

Watcharapon Kukaewkasem_Headshot Watcharapon (Sia)
Thailand

Zeinorin Angkang

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Zeinorin Angkang is the founder of Hill Wild, an organization that works with indigenous farmers of Northeast India to eradicate poverty by elevating the incomes of farmers through entrepreneurship. Hill Wild is committed to championing the cause of indigenous people and amplifying their voices through its tested, proven model. It offers a complete solution-based model starting from seed provision through the organization’s seed bank, financial assistance through its credit linkage scheme, pest intervention through its indigenous and natural method experts, as well as marketing and packaging support for farmers.  

Angkang believes in leadership through compassion. She dreams of spreading indigenous flavor to the world, elevating livelihoods, and sharing indigenous stories with a mission to ensure food security among indigenous communities, engage with farming to generate better income, protect indigenous seeds, and amplify indigenous voices. 

Zeinorin holds a management degree and was a Kofi Annan Changemaker in 2021. 

”I want to be a visionary leader that uplifts and improves the lives of indigenous people.” 

 

 

Zeinorin Angkang_Headshot
India

Kimhun Thit

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Kimhun Thit currently serves as chairwoman of Cambodia National Rescue Party Americas & Overseas Women’s Affairs. She has been integral in advocating for bill HR 4686 Cambodia Democracy Act of 2021, S 3052 Cambodia Democracy Act and Human Rights Act of 2021, and S Resolution 427.

After graduating with a bachelors in public health from Walden University, Kimhun was a Pharmacy Assistant for 14 years and a professor of Pharmacy Technology for 11 years. In addition to her medical expertise, she is a Khmer cultural ambassador, helping to preserve Khmer culture within the US diaspora. Through her work at the Cambodian
Cultural Center of North Carolina, Kimhun taught Khmer language and led a youth dance troupe. Understanding the value of diversity and inclusion, Kimhun collaborates with other minorities to showcase the strength of community.

Kimhun’s passion to serve her community in culturally responsive ways led her to found the nonprofit Lexington Cambodia Community Center of NC. Kimhun is the bridge between elected officials and community members. Her driving force is focusing on the promotion of human rights, women’s rights, and democracy. Kimhun continues to work
with women outside Cambodia to promote women’s voices and women’s choices. For women inside who raised their voices against the dictatorship’s regime is very tough and tough. As an advocate for democracy, she partners with local and national stakeholders to fundraise and provide support for women in Cambodia. She is also a founder of Khmer Democratic Rescue Foundation (KDRF) is classified as a 501 (c) (3) to provide aid to victims of democracy seekers.

Kimhun s picture (1)
Cambodia