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When women advance, the world succeeds. Whether you are an entrepreneur, activist, non-profit leader or someone who has 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, was created 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. 

Three 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 all three 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 185 countries, each of whom are daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all.

SELECTION PROCESS

The Visionaries program will have three cohorts in 2024:

Program Dates
Cohort 6: June – July

Cohort 7: August – September

Cohort 8: October – November

Applications for the 2024 Visionaries program are closed. Finalists will be notified 3-4 weeks before the start of each cohort.
Please refer to the cohort dates above.

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.   

Tanya Smith

2024 Fellow,

Tanya Smith is the founder and CEO of RegenX (formerly Nitrolytics), an early-stage startup, and its sister non-profit, The Forgotten Farmer Foundation™. The for-profit is creating solutions at the intersection of artificial intelligence, hardware, and biotechnology to help make regenerative farming mainstream. The non-profit aims to maximize profitability in small farming through regenerative practices.

Inspired by her own experiences, Smith is also on a mission to protect the brilliance of underrepresented innovators from exploitation and theft. Though formally educated in Chemistry—holding B.S., M.S., and M.Phil. degrees with numerous awards—she is far from one-dimensional. Having had to turn her obstacles into opportunities and her struggles into her superpowers, she has skills and insights no Ivy League education could ever provide.

“As a visionary leader, I want to trailblaze location-agnostic and planet-positive possibilities for economic empowerment of the disenfranchised.”

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
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Jamaica

Sonal Shah

2024 Fellow,

Sonal Shah is the founder of two organizations: The Urban Catalysts (www.theurbancatalysts.org) and Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable and Equitable Cities (www.c-sec.org). Her mission is to transform cities and transport to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to enable gender equity and universal access.

Shah has advised on incorporating a gender perspective in urban transport projects and programs, influencing investments of $9 billion and directly impacting 500,000 women and girls by 2027. She was responsible for introducing gender-responsive guidelines in India’s URDPFI guidelines—a first for the country—and was a key contributor to the urban street design guidelines for the Indian Roads Congress (2016-18).

Shah has led projects funded by FCDO, ADB, AfD, Bloomberg Philanthropies, GIZ, UN-Habitat, World Bank and worked across 10 states in India, South and Central Asia, East Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. She has been privileged to advise action-oriented research by feminist organizations, such as Jagori and Azad Foundation, been a Fulbright Scholarship juror, mentored Asia Foundation LeadNext Fellows, and be a member of the Main Bhi Dilli Campaign.

Shah was featured in the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative’s network of Remarkable Women in Transport 2020 and Remarkable Feminist Voices in Transport 2023 to recognize women change-makers in the sector. The Urban Catalysts was featured as a Remarkable Feminist Organization in Transport in 2023. She serves on the alumni board of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.

Climate Action
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India

Sharon Milner

2024 Fellow,

Sharon Milner, a Zambian citizen, plans to create and launch METANOIA, a Christian harm prevention initiative focused on raising awareness of risky behaviors, linking individuals with support services, and advocating for stricter regulations to promote healthier communities.

Milner spent 27 years in Zimbabwe honing her administrative skills, notably in the banking sector with African Banking Corporation (now Access Bank). She ventured into entrepreneurship alongside her husband, establishing ProSat (Pvt) Ltd. before relocating back to Zambia in 2010.

Milner’s commitment to community development extended to promoting Conservation Agriculture in Zambia through “Look & Learn” Agriculture Tours for Welthunger Hilfe (WHH) in collaboration with various agricultural stakeholders.

As a training facilitator and psycho-social counselor, Milner has utilized her expertise to design and lead workshops in the education, health, and business sectors. She has set up and managed the secretariat of the Independent Schools Association of Zambia (ISAZ), worked as Acting Head and Business Manager of a private school, and has been serving on the Board of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award in Zambia (DofE) since 2015.

“As a visionary leader, I am passionate about supporting and guiding young people to discover their God-given talents and purpose and living fulfilling lives.”

Advocacy
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Zambia

Rebecca Bakare

2024 Fellow,

Rebecca Bakare is the founder and director of Mama’s Creation Foods, a social enterprise that connects African women farmers to lucrative markets for indigenous medicinal herbs and nutrient-dense ingredients. The venture also partners with grassroots organizations to empower rural women farmers to adopt climate-resilient agricultural practices, enabling them to attain resilient livelihoods.

Before her entrepreneurial journey, Ms. Bakare worked in the non-profit sector, where she honed her interest in using business as a force for good. At Ashoka, she led the development of a youth change-making program and mobilized resources to establish women’s economic empowerment initiatives in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Washington and Lee University and will pursue an MBA as a Forte Fellow at Duke University in July 2024.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to advance evidence-based innovations that deliver better health and socioeconomic outcomes for underserved populations.”

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
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Nigeria

Raïnatou Coulibaly

2024 Fellow,

Raïnatou Coulibaly is the Associate Energy Officer, deployed by the NGO Norwegian Capacity (NORCAP) at UNHCR in Niger, an international organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting the rights of refugees, and building a better future for refugees, displaced communities, and stateless people. She is dedicated to sustainable and inclusive approaches to solving the problem of access to clean and modern energy for forcibly displaced people and their host communities.

Coulibaly is an electrical power engineer with expertise in design and implementation of electrification projects in difficult contexts–previously in rural areas, and now in regions affected by forced displacement. She advocates for access to clean and affordable energy as a tool to improve living conditions and the well-being of vulnerable communities, while also increasing their incomes–particularly those of women and youth.

“As a visionary leader, I’m dedicated to improve people’s lives through the deployment of clean energy solutions and capacity building.”

Climate Action
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Benin

Meron Gebrewahid

2024 Fellow,

Meron Gebrewahid is co-founder of ARMADA Agriculture, a social enterprise that provides affordable mechanization solutions tailored to various farming needs, spanning from land preparation to harvesting. Through flexible financing and comprehensive training programs, ARMADA empowers farmers to overcome high equipment cost barriers and significantly improve their productivity and livelihoods.

As a co-founder, her role includes making strategic decisions that guide the business’s direction. This includes setting goals, overseeing operations, and building relationships with investors, partners, and customers.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to enhance productivity in the agriculture sector by promoting affordable and accessible agricultural mechanization and inputs, integrating digital solutions to drive modern and sustainable agricultural practices.”

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
+ 1 More
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Ethiopia

Mary Mutua

2024 Fellow,

Mary Mutua, founder of Twajali Empowerment Network, addresses the challenges marginalized youth face in Kenyan slums and semi-urban areas. These vulnerable young people are at risk of crime, drug abuse, and prostitution due to limited livelihood opportunities. Twajali’s mission is to empower youth through holistic training and experiential learning, using hospitality management as a tool.

Mutuas’s life journey from the slums led her to pursue a university course in hospitality management and, later, a master’s degree in strategic management. She served as a food and beverage manager throughout her career, gaining industry insights. Additionally, she trained at a conventional hospitality training school. Over the past two years, Mutua has trained more than 120 beneficiaries through her pilot project,

“As a visionary leader I aspire to create a world where marginalized youths are potential contributors to a more dynamic and resilient community.”

Economic Empowerment
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Kenya

Marília Moreira

2024 Fellow,

Marília Moreira is director of operations and technology at the AzMina Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting gender equality in Brazil since 2015 through a fusion of communication, technology, and education. Marília firmly believes in the transformative power of quality information, viewing it as a tool that can save lives. She advocates for communication as a fundamental right, enabling access to full citizenship.

For two years, she served as the project manager for “PenhaS“, an application developed by the AzMina Institute to address gender-based violence. The app has already assisted over 15,000 Brazilian women across the country. With a decade of experience in journalism in Brazil, Marília has contributed to several prestigious newspapers in her hometown, Salvador. She holds a master’s degree in contemporary communication and culture from the Federal University of Bahia.

“As a visionary leader, I dream of a world where gender and race are not barriers to people’s access to rights and opportunities.”

Advocacy
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Brazil

Luisa Castro Becerril

2024 Fellow,

Luisa Castro Becerril serves as the director of programs and operations at Girl Up México, a youth-led movement that trains, inspires, and connects girls to be leaders and activists for gender equality. Girl Up Mexico supports more than 70 Clubs of youth leaders in 23 out of 32 Mexican states, equipping them to be changemakers advancing gender equality. Girl Up Mexico members advocate for sexual and reproductive rights, climate action, mental health, and STEAM participation.

Castro’s leadership journey began when she co-founded the first Girl Up campus club in Mexico, Girl Up Políticas UANL, during her studies in International Relations at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. As director of Girl Up México, Castro ensures the organization delivers impactful programs to its community members and strengthens the regional network of change makers. Additionally, Castro is a member of Auna México, a platform that promotes women’s leadership in politics to achieve greater well-being, justice, and environmental protection.

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Mexico

Jackie Whitehead

2024 Fellow,

As the Founder of Alabama Kids Code, Jackie Whitehead is committed to introducing students to STEAM using instructional methods and hands-on activities to expose them to future possibilities. She partners with schools, businesses, and community organizations to deliver award-winning programming to its students.

Jackie holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science with a minor in math. She serves as a board member and leader for several tech, social, and finance organizations.

“As a visionary leader I am committed to showing students in Alabama that an education in STEM is a path to a better future and opportunities.”

Economic Empowerment
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United States

Isobel Acquah

2024 Fellow,

Isobel Acquah is the Director of the Center for Law and Innovation (CLI) at Certa Foundation, Rwanda. CLI achieves its mission of sustainable development and shaping resilient legal frameworks by nurturing the upcoming generation of Pan-African legal professionals, pioneering empirical legal research, and conducting policy analysis on pressing global issues. It also fosters an ecosystem that thrives on dynamic entrepreneurship and the efficient administration of justice.

Ms. Acquah is a dual-qualified transaction and corporate advisory lawyer with a background in investment banking and a focus on technology and financial services. She is a multilingual professional with over 20 years of legal and business experience across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. She has previously worked at Bank of America (UK), the Whitaker Group (Ghana/US), and AB & David (Ghana). She works with Tech Startups to provide legal and operational oversight, corporate and board governance, and transactional management support. As a corporate advisor with significant experience across global businesses, Isobel delivers comprehensive support to senior management teams to develop and document robust frameworks that address the unique challenges of Environment, Social, and Governance principles in the Sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, she provides leadership on corporate governance and board capacity, gender equity, and developing metrics to track the responsible stewardship of business and impact objectives in line with global principles and goals.

“As a visionary leader, I am passionate about the potential of young professionals and startup founders to contribute to the socio-economic development of Africa through strategic investment, mentoring, and upskilling.”

Access to Justice
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Ghana

Hilda Joanna Terán Romero

2024 Fellow,

Hilda Joanna Terán Romero is the executive president of Kuska Collective, an organization dedicated to defending human rights and promoting social justice in Puno, Peru. Kuska Collective focuses on providing psychological support to victims of state violence and repression while also advocating for gender equality and the rights of indigenous communities. It’s mission is to create a resilient and empowered community through interdisciplinary approaches and grassroots activism.

Terán has extensive experience in leadership roles within social and human rights organizations; she has led social and educational projects at public institutions and social organizations. With a master’s degree in Community Psychology at PUCP and specializations in rural women’s empowerment in Egypt and gender inequalities, she has been at the forefront of community mobilization and the implementation of essential services in response to social crises.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to create inclusive spaces where every voice is heard and valued.”

Access to Justice
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Peru

Hayasa Tahmazyan

2024 Fellow,

Hayasa Tahmazyan is the Founding President of the Armenia Corps Development Initiative. ArmeniaCorps is a dynamic platform acknowledging and mobilizing local capacities through knowledge, collective action, and local service to deliver data-driven, sustainable, and cutting-edge development tailored to the needs of Armenia.

Tahmazyan is also a Board Member at Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization, devoted to supporting and advocating for thousands of refugees in Armenia.

She is recognized for her expertise in designing systemized and knowledge-to-action strategies fostering local development through education, socio-economic inclusion, youth development, women empowerment, and poverty reduction among rural, displaced, conflict-affected, and vulnerable populations.

Tahmazyan is a Fulbright awardee, IVLP alumna, and co-founder of an award-recipient COVID-19 International Student Task Force, which assisted 300+ students facing financial and food insecurity during the pandemic. She holds an M.A. in International Development Studies from Ohio University.

“As a visionary leader, I foster local resilience for sustainable global development.”

Advocacy
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Armenia

Harshanisha Parejan

2024 Fellow,

Harshanisha Parejan is the founder of Tuqqin, a social enterprise dedicated to promoting sustainable menstrual hygiene solutions in marginalized communities. Her mission is to empower women with knowledge and access to eco-friendly menstrual products, while fostering health, dignity, and environmental sustainability. Tuqqin aims to break cultural stigmas surrounding menstruation and provide long-lasting, affordable solutions like menstrual cups to women across India.

Parejan has previously worked supporting top CEOs and Executives across the world. Her experience includes securing grant funding, developing educational programs, and implementing large-scale community outreach initiatives. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is deeply involved in women empowerment activities. She continues to collaborate with global partners to expand Tuqqin’s impact and reach.

“As a visionary leader, I am committed to creating inclusive and sustainable solutions that address critical health challenges while empowering women to take control of their reproductive health and well-being.”

Advocacy
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India

Fatima Kabir

2024 Fellow,

Fatima Kabir is founder of Greenium Eco, a social venture established to transition rural and urban households in Northern Nigeria from using polluting and harmful fuelwood for cooking. Greenium Eco aims to preserve nature and prevent deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion by providing eco-friendly energy solutions such as clean cookstoves and efficient briquettes made from agricultural waste.

Prior to founding Greenium Eco, Kabir gained extensive experience in environmental advocacy and social entrepreneurship. She has actively participated in various climate action initiatives and community development projects, focusing on sustainable energy solutions and women’s empowerment. Her leadership in these roles has equipped her with the skills and vision to drive impactful change in underserved communities.

“As a visionary leader, I am committed to driving sustainable change and empowering low-income women through innovative energy solutions.”

Climate Action
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Nigeria

Desirée Viteri

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

As Undersecretary of Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women, Girls, Boys, and Adolescents, Desirée Viteri leads efforts to prevent and eradicate violence through policy development, monitoring, and evaluation. In her role, she articulates comprehensive protection systems and implements prevention programs while providing services for victims of gender-based violence.

With extensive experience in human rights advocacy and gender equality, Viteri has previously served as Human Rights, Gender, and Inclusion National Director and as Care, Special Protection, and Reparation for Victims of Violence, Exploitation, Trafficking, Smuggling, and other Priority Care Groups Director. She spearheaded initiatives to empower women and promote gender-sensitive policies. Viteri’s commitment to social justice drives her leadership to build a better world.

“As a visionary leader, I envision a world where every individual lives free from violence and discrimination. I strive to empower women and promote gender equality through innovative solutions and collaborative partnerships.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Ecuador

Cynthia Kemunto

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Cynthia Kemunto plans to establish learning centers that empower local communities in Kenya to combat climate change. These centers will teach sustainable farming techniques, such as organic manure usage, crop rotation, and tree conservation, to mitigate the environmental impact of agriculture in Kenya. She aims to foster a culture of environmental stewardship, sustainability, and resilience against natural disasters by empowering locals with knowledge and skills for eco-friendly living and farming.

Kemunto holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree and has worked with many environmental organizations, such as the Break Free From Plastic movement and Greenpeace Africa. She has organized local clean-up drives, led educational workshops on waste management, and collaborated with grassroots organizations to promote sustainable practices.

“As a visionary leader, I aim to inspire sustainable change, foster community collaboration, and drive impactful solutions towards a greener, more resilient future.”

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
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Kenya

Victoria Oladosu

2024 Fellow,

Victoria Oladosu is founder of Product Hub Africa, an ed-tech organization empowering individuals transitioning into technology with skills and resources. Product Hub Africa’s vision is to create a world where Africans are equally recognized and represented in the tech space. The organization’s mission is to build a community for growth, mentorship, meaningful connections, opportunity, visibility, and fun! We offer tech boot camp training, accelerator programs, mentorship programs, and job placements and implement the STEM-A-SCHOOL initiative for secondary school students in Africa.

Victoria is a data product manager at a tech company. She has also volunteered in several non-profit organizations, including Product School and NigerianYouthSDGs.

Victoria has completed her BSc from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria and is currently working on her master’s in Data Science at the University Of East London.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to build a strong network of educated African individuals leading the world of STEM.”

Education
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Nigeria

Christine Muriuki

2024 Fellow,

Christine Muriuki is the founder and CEO of Zuphifarm, a training and demonstration farm that empowers and works with farmers to promote sustainable agriculture. The enterprise’s core objective is to inspire a healthy generation that promotes a healthy and sustainable community, environment, and finances.

She works with farming communities, particularly women and marginalized communities, to achieve climate-smart and resilient agriculture solutions. Muriuki is also involved in various programs that empower and advocate for climate awareness and action, equality and inclusivity, and economic empowerment. Through such programs, her community has seen a rise in female champions fighting against injustice and biases across all working environments. She embodies inclusive and servitude leadership that amplifies quality service to humanity.

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
+ 2 More
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Kenya

Cherrelle Druppers

2024 Fellow,

With over eight years of experience in international development, education, and the arts, Cherrelle Druppers co-founded and led ChezaCheza, a pioneering community-based arts and health intervention. At ChezaCheza, Druppers utilized the power of dance as a medium to instill confidence, foster well-being, and alleviate stress among young minds.

As the Director of ChezaCheza, Druppers is responsible for strategic leadership, program development, and partnership building. She oversees the implementation of the dance therapy curriculum, which is spread by identifying and training local youths to become community-based dance coaches who facilitate weekly sessions that foster coping skills, self-confidence, and joy among participants.

“As a visionary leader, I imagine a world where every child can realize their full potential in a safe place with joy, creativity, and arts.”

Education
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Netherlands

Nandini Tanya Lallmon

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Lallmon lobbies for the reform of discriminatory laws, emphasizing inclusive and resilient strategies to tackle climate change’s impacts on LGBTQIA+ communities in Small Island Developing States. She has orchestrated impactful programs, from grassroots advocacy campaigns to high-level policy dialogues, to amplify the voices of those who have long been silenced.

Her impact extends beyond boardrooms and academic corridors. She is an accomplished author whose publications span articles, book chapters, toolkits, and guidebooks, all advocating for the empowerment of sexual and gender minorities in Africa and beyond. Her work is underpinned by a profound belief in the transcendent power of research, advocacy, and community engagement to effect positive change and create a more just and equitable world for all.

“As a visionary leader, I harness the power of collaboration, empathy, and intersectional approaches to create diverse, inclusive, and transformative spaces for learning, dialogue, and development.”

Advocacy
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Mauritius

Kavita Rai

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Kavita Rai is a women’s health advocate and co-founder of Ethos, a digital health company dedicated to destigmatizing treatment for substance misuse, leading to improved outcomes for current and future generations. Ethos facilitates early detection and continuous monitoring to enable targeted, accessible care that meets individuals where they are. Rai hopes Ethos improves individuals’ health and the health of their communities. Rai’s drive for health equity and solving public health challenges comes from her experience as a cancer survivor.

Before Ethos, Rai led and founded Justice in the Classroom, an education nonprofit expanding racial equity resources to school districts during COVID-19. In college, Rai spearheaded Title IX reform with USC Health and EEO-TIX. Her advocacy work has been honored by partners, including the Mayo Clinic, the World Economic Forum, and Instagram.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to transform our healthcare system to work for everyone.”

Healthcare
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USA

Oreoluwa Ojo

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Oreoluwa Ojo is the founder and executive director of Her Story, an organization that creates awareness about women’s rights by initiating important conversations in African communities. Through Her Story, Ojo has built a membership of more than 1,000 people over the last five years and aims to expand to 10,000 members by 2030. Ojo’s leadership has led to the successful execution of more than 50 virtual community dialogues and six women’s rights campaigns in five states of Nigeria, creating lasting impact and advocacy for women’s rights.

Oreoluwa also works as programs manager at Kabara Tech School, where she leads the development and implementation of STEM education programs for underprivileged populations in Northern Nigeria. Oreoluwa is an award-winning activist and has been named a TransformNorms Fellow and United Nations Foundation Girl Up Project Awardee, recognizing her outstanding contributions to gender equality and social impact.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to build a community of gender equality changemakers across Africa one community at a time.”

Advocacy
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Nigeria

Irina Sthapit

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Irina Sthapit is an engineer and an innovator from Nepal who graduated from Stanford University’s Learning, Design, and Technology program. Passionate about empowering girls in STEM and working with tools, she is actively bridging the gender gap through the organization Nepali Women+ in Computing and her DIY content on the Instagram page @girlytoolz.

Sthapit has represented Nepal in the International Visitors Leadership Program titled ‘Hidden No More: Empowering Women Leaders in STEM‘, a U.S. State Department Initiative. She was also an SDG youth representative from Nepal for the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Doha and the United Nations Youth Summit in New York. Additionally, she was the 2022 Asia Foundation Development Fellow from Nepal.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to ignite inspiration and empowerment among girls and women in STEM, bridging the gender gap and fostering an equitable world.”

Education
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Nepal

Gail Motloung

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Gail Motloung is founder of Girl with a Purpose Foundation, a registered South African non-profit organization that aims to empower, equip, and inspire young women. The organization amplifies the voices of women and youth in policy and decision-making, increasing their participation in leadership and policy change. The organization advocates for inclusion and gender balance in access to social and economic opportunities for women and youth in Gauteng.

Motloung is an international speaker, social entrepreneur, youth leader, community builder, and managing director at House of Yadah Publications. She has skills and experience in project management, community engagement, and stakeholder engagement. In 2023 she was selected to sit as a board member for theSouth African Heroine Awards.Motloung is also a TV show host, producer, and a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellow.

“As a visionary leader, I am committed to creating lasting, positive change and empowering communities.”

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
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South Africa

Ifeoluwa Oyebisi

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Ifeoluwa Oyebisi is founder of Daffodils Africa, a social enterprise dedicated to implementing social impact projects and executing CSR goals. The social enterprise aims to enhance a more equitable society in Africa and make social impact easy for people across borders. Oyebisi leads the operations of a youth-empowerment-focused NGO that crafts and implements social impact projects to transform the minds of young Nigerians and help them unlock their potential. Following her impact-driven ambition, she has served in nonprofit organizations over the last seven years, tailoring many of her corporate experiences to sectors requiring digital communications and project management.

Oyebisi completed her Bachelor of Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, and she’s completing a master’s Degree in Mass Communications from Liverpool John Moores University, UK.

“As a visionary leader, I genuinely serve to improve people’s lives and empower them to contribute positively to society.”

Economic Empowerment
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Nigeria

Yasmina Benslimane

2024 Fellow,

Yasmina Benslimane is founder of Politics4Her, a non-profit dedicated to increasing political participation and representation for young women and girls from global majority countries. Her focus areas include climate justice, forced migration, gender-based violence, and peacebuilding.

Benslimane is an award-winning feminist activist, consultant, and women’s empowerment coach with a decade of experience collaborating with diverse stakeholders. She has been recognized internationally for her impactful work, including being featured on media platforms like HuffPost, Al Jazeera, and BBC. She has also been recognized as one of the BBC’s 100 Most Influential and Inspiring Women of 2023, Forbes 30 Under 30, and Top 100 Under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent 2024.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to uplift young women and girls from Global Majority countries to become agents of change in their communities, advocating for gender equality and social justice.”

Women's Political Participation
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Morocco

Heidi Baskfield

2024 Fellow,

Heidi Baskfield is a distinguished organizational leader who drives social change through her expertise in law, politics, policy, and healthcare. She currently leads Speak Our Minds, an organization focused on improving youth mental health systems. With more than two decades of experience, Heidi is a passionate advocate for youth with mental and behavioral health needs. She has held various key roles, such as Vice President of Population Health and Advocacy at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and also worked as a legislative liaison to former Governor Bill Ritter. Additionally, she served as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Colorado Protection Agency for People with Disabilities. Heidi also founded Rebel With A Cause, a nonprofit film company producing award-winning films featured on PBS and in the U.S. Capitol, further amplifying her advocacy efforts and impact.

Advocacy
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United States

Awele Okigbo

2024 Fellow,

Awele Okigbo is the CEO and Founder of Credo Advisory, a leading strategic communications firm based in Abuja, Nigeria and Washington, DC. She is also host of Credo Voices, a podcast highlighting extraordinary individuals advancing social impact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Okigbo is growing a global community of change agents by highlighting their journeys, achievements, and impact in their communities and beyond.

For more than 25 years, Okigbo has led communication teams for institutions like the World Bank, the United Nations, and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, among others. In 2022, she was recognized for advancing SDG No. 3 (good health and well-being) and was inducted into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers Community. Okigbo is co-chair of the Global Communications Alliance, a member of the Communications Board Committee of the Society for International Development, and the Board of Trustees at the Thacher School, USA.

“As a global development leader, I utilize communications as a catalyst for people, planet and prosperity.”

Advocacy
+ 2 More
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Nigeria

Bethelhem Abegaz

2024 Fellow,

As a visionary leader, Bethelhem Abegaz is dedicated to improving maternal, sexual, and reproductive health in her community. Her organization focuses on strengthening primary care and preventive interventions to shift value from tertiary facilities to primary care centers. Through collaborative efforts with stakeholders, she strives to enhance the quality and accessibility of healthcare services.

She has a diverse professional background, having worked as a general medical practitioner in a rural hospital before advancing to roles such as hospital quality focal person and medical director. She has also served in leadership positions on committees focusing on sexual and reproductive health, showcasing her commitment to driving positive change in healthcare delivery.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to inspire innovation and collaboration, driving meaningful change in healthcare delivery for the betterment of our community.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Ethiopia

Betty Nairuba

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Betty Nairuba is the CEO of Concern for Neighbours and Community Empowerment (CONECE), which addresses the economic needs of women and teenage mothers with disabilities by providing vocational and entrepreneurship skills, start-up equipment for self-employment and income generation, and assistive devices for those with mobility disabilities.

Nairuba has worked for several non-government organizations, both in Uganda and the United Kingdom. She completed her bachelor’s degree from Makerere University Kampala in Uganda and a master’s degree in International Development Management from the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom.

“As a visionary leader, I want to have the opportunity to steer my career along a path of significance while making an impact in the lives of marginalized people in communities, with an emphasis on women and girls.”

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
+ 2 More
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Uganda

Faith Siele

2024 Fellow,

Faith Siele is planning to launch Sifa to Birika Women (SBW), an initiative dedicated to empowering women in the Maa community of Namanga in Southern Kenya. The organization’s mission is to provide these women with dragon fruit, aloe vera seedlings, and the essential tools and knowledge to sustainably cultivate these valuable crops.

Siele is an African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative alumna and has successfully managed an award-winning cake studio for the past five years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants affiliate with more than five years of experience in finance and auditing. Siele is a Moth Storyteller and Tea Vale Imara School board member.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to empower women in the marginalized Maa community of Namanga to achieve financial independence and self-reliance through entrepreneurship.”

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
+ 2 More
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Kenya

Kamila Ahmadi

2024 Fellow,

Kamila Ahmadi is the co-founder of Women Empowerment Organization, a project developed to empower and educate girls and women who have been deprived of education by their families, financial challenges, and traditional cultural beliefs of society. The program offered offline English, literacy, and science courses before the Taliban but transitioned to online classes after the political disruption. In addition, the organization provides leadership and communication skills training.

Before establishing this organization, Ahmadi worked as an English instructor. After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, she succeeded in getting a fully funded scholarship at the Asian University for Women (AUW) and is pursuing her education in economics. Besides her university studies, Ahmadi has been working as a Peer Leader of the AUW’s Study Skill Courses and as a volunteer student assistant at the AUW admission office for two years. She also has participated in several fellowships, including the Global Admission of Millennium Fellowship.

“As a visionary leader I, am trying to train them how to break the barriers to have a bright future.”

Education
+ 2 More
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Afghanistan

Margarida Vasconcelos

2024 Fellow,

Seeds & Stories is a social enterprise founded by Margarida Vasconcelos to empower women artisans in rural Uganda through circular fashion and capacity-building programs. This work is done by creating unique, stylish, and timeless handbags and shoes in harmony with nature for women who want to make a difference.

Margarida Vasconcelos is a women’s rights advocate. She has a background in law and more than 20 years of professional experience in civic, social, and international organizations. Determined to live a purposeful life and to make the world a better place, Margarida left her work as a political researcher in Westminster to follow her passions. Seeds & Stories combines her passion for women’s empowerment, craft making, and regenerative fashion. It allows her to make a real difference for women in rural Uganda, contributing to gender equality, social justice, climate justice, and environmental regeneration.

“As a visionary leader, I empower the Seeds & Stories artisans to apply their traditional craft skills to modern designs and express their creativity to make beautiful, unique products with local natural fibers and dyes and repurposed materials.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 2 More
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Portugal

Maureen Hitipeuw

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Maureen Hitipeuw founded Single Moms Indonesia in 2014, a support group and community empowering Indonesian single mothers. The community offers a safe space and provides various programs to help its members rebuild their lives. Single Moms Indonesia envisions a society where single mothers thrive through solidarity and opportunity.

Maureen works professionally as a community manager while running Single Moms Indonesia.

Through her leadership and dedication, Maureen has been recognized for her work by creating a supportive network of single mothers who share their experiences and support each other through difficult times.

“As a visionary leader, I empower single mothers to rebuild their lives and pursue their dreams, even while raising children alone.”

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
+ 2 More
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Indonesia

Mor Shenderov

2024 Fellow,

Mor Shenderov is the founder and executive director of Tomchot Be’Ahava, an Israeli nonprofit organization that supports at-risk teenage women and girls ages 14 and up during pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting. The organization provides critical information and raises awareness among other relevant institutions to help transform these processes in these women’s lives into growing and empowering opportunities. Such support is life-changing not only for the mother but also for her children.

Mor is a doula certified in Birth-Oriented Thinking (BOT) and a lactation consultant supporting victims of sexual abuse like herself.

“As a visionary leader, I believe that we, as women, should help each other, and then we will be able to break through any barrier.”

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
+ 2 More
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Israel

Olga Caballero

2024 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Olga Caballero is a social psychologist with a profound passion for social transformation. She co-founded Alma Cívica, where she proudly serves as Executive Director. Alma Cívica is a movement aimed at weaving a network of ethical, proactive, and committed citizens. Their mission goes beyond local development and strives to solidify a robust democracy and cultivate a political culture oriented towards the common good.

With over 15 years in the field, Caballero has embraced and adapted participatory methodologies, leading projects that strengthen the social fabric, promote community development, and enhance work teams. She co-founded En Común Paraguay, an interdisciplinary initiative to revitalize urban spaces and boost citizen participation. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors of Sendas Paraguay, promoting sustainable mobility at a national level.

“As a visionary leader, I believe in empowering communities to become agents of change, nurturing the political and democratic ecosystem of our societies.”

Governance & Policy Reform
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Paraguay

Syeda Parwan Fatima

2024 Fellow,

Syeda Parwan Fatima aims to improve telehealth infrastructure in Pakistan through an initiative she founded called Medifem. Fatima works to enhance access to healthcare services for underserved communities by leveraging technology to provide efficient, reliable, and accessible healthcare solutions for women and children in remote areas.

In her previous role as an intern at HP Tech Ventures, Fatima gained valuable experience in the venture capital space, focusing on identifying and nurturing high-potential startups. Her leadership experience includes supporting strategic projects, conducting market analysis, and contributing to investment decisions that drive innovation and growth.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to inspire and empower others, drive innovative solutions to complex challenges, and foster a culture of collaboration and inclusivity to create meaningful and sustainable impact.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 3 More
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Pakistan

Justine Nkengbeza Taku

2024 Fellow,

Justine Nkengbeza Taku is the founder and executive director of All4Women, a women and young girls-led non-profit organization created in Limbe-Cameroon. Justine founded the organization to shine a light on and address the disparities in gender inequality through education and economic empowerment. The organization strives to create opportunities for women and girls in rural areas through entrepreneurship and inclusive financing opportunities.

Justine believes that those two pillars bring change to the living conditions of the women she serves while also positively impacting their communities and upscaling the economic growth of her entire country.

Justine is a claims specialist for Swiss Insurance Company and holds a bachelor’s of Business Administration from the Basel School of Business. She also earned an Advanced Studies in Management certificate from the HSG-University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

“As a visionary leader, I strive for every woman to have the power of decision-making and financial independence. Building a strong and the biggest networking platform of ‘Women in Business’ in Africa.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 2 More
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Cameroon

Asia Kamukama

2024 Fellow,

Passionate about catalyzing change and fostering inclusive education, Kamukama is driven by a vision to make a tangible difference in the world. Her mission is to empower communities through education and digital inclusion, focusing on promoting basic literacy, digital skills, job readiness, and entrepreneurship in low-income schools across Uganda.

For the past 17 years, Kamukama has dedicated herself to the education sector in Uganda, spearheading initiatives that have established libraries, introduced technology, enhanced literacy rates, and improved education outcomes. She has empowered educators, librarians, community members, leaders, and government officials with essential skills, igniting a passion for quality education and lifelong learning.

“As a visionary leader, I am committed to devising solutions that democratize access to digital tools, skills, and platforms, particularly in underserved schools and communities throughout Africa.”

Education
+ 2 More
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Uganda

Sarah Lindeire

2024 Fellow,

Sarah Lindeire is co-owner of Fisi Farm, and co-founder of Tingathe, an NGO that partners with peri-urban communities to build wealth by helping young people, community leaders, and women-led small businesses build wealth-generating skills.

Fisi Farm cultivates a sustainable future by promoting regenerative agriculture, community empowerment, and environmental stewardship through innovative farming practices, such as permaculture and agroecology. Fisi Farm nurtures the land to produce nutritious crops, raise healthy livestock, and restore ecosystem balance. Our mission is to foster resilient communities, preserve biodiversity, and inspire positive change in how we interact with our environment.

Lindeire is a passionate homesteader who promotes self-reliance, survival skills, mindset shifts, and wellness. She enjoys crafting and reading and has written and published poetry. She also practices the African dance and martial art of Capoeira.
At the age of 21, Women Deliver recognized Lindeire as one of the world’s top 100 most influential women. She has worked with UN Women in gender and governance and with a number of grassroots and non-profit organizations. She is also the co-founder of a local non-profit organization that provides skills training for youth from urban slums and women’s and life-skills training for children. Sarah has a Bachelor of Education from Mzuzu University. She is currently completing her MBA with UNICAF.

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
+ 2 More
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Malawi

Vidya Subramanian

2024 Fellow,

Vidya Subramanian is founder of Vidya Subramanian Academy(VSA), a women-led social enterprise imparting online training in traditional Indian arts and languages while empowering artists and teachers through work-from-home opportunities. Team VSA trains students worldwide in Carnatic and Hindustani music, Bharatanatyam dance, Indian languages, chants, Yoga, and Konnakkol in a customized format. Subramanian’s mission is to promote India’s arts and culture to a global platform.

An accomplished Carnatic vocalist, Subramanian is a Chartered accountant with an MBA from Boston College, USA. She has made available several free self-study music lessons, and launched VSA Exams, VSA Sabha concerts, and VSA Workshops. Subramanian was conferred the Women Transforming India award by NITI Aayog and United Nations – India.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to share India’s rich arts, culture, and heritage with the world while empowering more women to participate in the work force by harnessing the power of the internet.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 2 More
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India

Mahak Agrawal

2024 Fellow,

Mahak Agrawal is an urban planner, climate science and sustainability expert, global thought leader, and LinkedIn Top (Green) Voice. She is also a former United Nations fellow. Mahak earned her second master’s in public administration with a specialization in environmental science and policy as a Shardashish Scholar and Environmental Fellow at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. While there, Mahak led the research project examining the future of food systems through its demand-supply chains.

She earned her first master’s degree in urban planning from the School of Planning and Architecture Delhi, India. She is a recognized expert in the fields of climate policy, ESG reporting and corporate carbon management, urban sustainability, and social impact.

Recognized for her achievements in accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals in India through public health initiatives, Mahak was nominated for the Gates Foundation’s 2021 Goalkeepers Global Goals Award. In various capacities, she has worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Government of India, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank Group, European Climate Foundation, and the Institute of Transport Economics, Oslo.

Mahak has served twice as an expert reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), authored numerous scientific publications, and presented her works globally, including at the United Nations. She is a Steering Board Member of the ITA Committee on Underground Spaces (ITACUS) and a TEDx fellow. In 2023, ITACUS nominated Mahak to represent the organization at the World Food Forum.

She also experiments with her mum to create sustainable art advocating for climate action and a sustainable future.

“As a visionary leader, Mahak advocates for sustainable solutions that transcend borders and sectors, catalyzing change for a resilient and equitable future.”

Advocacy
+ 3 More
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India

Vishakha Choudhary

2024 Fellow,

Vishakha Choudhary advocates for gender equality and regularly volunteers at local charities in Singapore for causes related to women and children. She hopes to use her expertise in PR and communications to advocate for better socially sustainable practices.

A public speaker and skilled writer, Choudhary is a PR professional with experience in the creative industry. An admirer of art and culture, she pursues a multidisciplinary approach while volunteering for social causes, supporting local NGOs with marketing and event organization, penning articles for publications, and actively engaging in fieldwork.

“As a visionary leader, I wish to help make the world a better place for women to grow and find success.”

Communications & PR
+ 2 More
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India

Kamaleswary Letchumanan

2024 Fellow,

Letchumanan Kamaleswary is a Project Manager at the Centre for Equality and Justice (CEJ), a women’s rights organization based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. CEJ’s mission is to achieve gender justice so that men, women, and persons with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) live in a society that is free, just, and equal.

Kamaleswary has conducted research studies on Malaiyaha Tamil women, a minority group in Sri Lanka. The findings have been presented at different forums to advocate for the rights of minority women. In 2015, the Office for the United Nations High Commissioners for Human Rights (OHCHR) selected her for a Minority Rights fellowship program.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to mobilize relevant stakeholders to advocate for minority women’s rights in Sri Lanka.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Sri Lanka

Aditi Joshi

2024 Fellow,

Aditi Joshi is co-founder of SuperNova, a health-tech startup designed to manage chronic conditions smartly with an assistive AI caregiver and smart plush toys. SuperNova bridges gaps in traditional healthcare by integrating Eastern and Western therapeutic modalities, offering personalized care plans and community support.

Aditi is also the founder of Speaking Grey, a non-profit that creates awareness and resources for student mental health. She holds an MBA from the University of Colorado Boulder and a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from India. With extensive experience in analytics, stakeholder engagement, and corporate social responsibility, she has been recognized with The Diana Award, the most prestigious award given to a young changemaker. She is also certified in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Strategy and Social Entrepreneurship.

Living with fibromyalgia and as a global speaker on mental health, Aditi combines personal experience with professional expertise.

“As a visionary leader, I am committed to transforming healthcare by fostering innovation and building a compassionate community of support.”

Advocacy
+ 1 More
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India

Saule Agatayeva

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Saule Agatayeva is a communications specialist with ten years of experience. She has worked with international organizations on development programs and project management on topics such as the rule of law, children’s rights, gender, and inclusivity. She holds a masters in political science and served as a country member of the OrgCommittee of The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia and a country Consultant for the Central Eurasian Leadership Academy.

Communications & PR
+ 2 More
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Kazakhstan

Tolulope Makinwa

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Tolulope Makinwa is the founder and chief operating officer at Muazu Africa, a platform designed to connect African social enterprises to market opportunities, shared networks, and exposure. With close to a decade of experience in creating impact across Anglophone and Francophone countries, Makinwa believes that in Africa, where millions of young people are excluded from basic amenities, social entrepreneurship charts a path to self-sufficiency by strengthening all the elements that help improve access to work and economic growth. Therefore, her commitment to developing Africa’s social economy by creating market and impact opportunities, inclusive of the base of the pyramid population, remains unwavering.

“As a visionary leader, I will continually work in uncharted territory so others don’t have to waste ample time clearing the path.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 2 More
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Nigeria

Victoria Orozco

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Victoria Orozco is the founder of Punto Labs, a consulting practice that supports changemakers to promote inclusive growth. Punto Labs brings data, frameworks, and community knowledge to unlock opportunities for people of color.

Ozoco is also the co-founder of Hacedoras, an organization that champions the influential role of Latin American women in public policies. Hacedoras provides women with cutting-edge training and networks to reach leadership positions in the public policy arena. She has worked for the Argentinean Government and think tanks like the Nowak Lab and CIPPEC, where she led projects at the intersection of economic development, equity, and sustainability. Orozco holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Buenos Aires, a master’s degree in economics, and a master’s degree in public administration in international development from the Harvard Kennedy School.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to see a world where we all, no matter where we come from, have opportunities to reach our full potential.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
+ 2 More
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Argentina

Veronica Clements

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Veronica Clements is the president of the Young Women’s Caucus for Art, a Chicago-based chapter of the National Women’s Caucus for Art. The Young Women’s Caucus for Art is dedicated to helping emerging women and non-binary artists find opportunities and foster a sense of community in the Chicago area and beyond. The Young Women’s Caucus is made up of a strong group of women who are passionate about creating, curating, and sharing art with their community.

Clements holds a bachelor’s degree in painting and art history from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in leadership for creative enterprises from Northwestern University. Clements is also a board member, curator, and social media manager for the Chicago Women’s Caucus for Art and volunteers her time at Woman Made Gallery.

“As a visionary leader, I want to impact change in representation for women’s art.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
+ 2 More
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United States

Titilope Adedokun

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Titilope Adedokun is the founder of Sisterly HQ, a digital community that is empowering Nigerian women with the tools to tell their stories and connecting them with opportunities and resources to succeed. Sisterly HQ has shared the inspiring stories of 42 Nigerian women and has distributed over 1000 transformative opportunities and resources. Through its work, Sisterly HQ is increasing representation, and bridging the opportunity gap for the economic empowerment of Nigerian women.

Adedokun is a lawyer, social impact professional, and content creator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Lagos and a qualifying degree from the Nigerian Law School. She has worked with many student-led and nonprofit organizations such as Lagos Model United Nations and the Lex Lata Center for International Law and Comparative Constitutionalism in Africa.

“As a visionary leader, I am creating a world where women are empowered, included and represented in every space.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 2 More
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Nigeria

Tara Dickman

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Tara Dickman is the founder of Le Next Level, a France-based nonprofit organization that supports those fighting for inclusive societies in their collective power-building process and those in positions of power in their inclusive leadership development. Since 2013, it has offered conferences, workshops, and trainings to NGOs, corporations, foundations, non-profit grassroots organizations, and the public sector, in France and across Europe.

Before founding Le Next Level, Dickman was the director of the French branch of Humanity in Action, an NGO that educates, connects, and inspires young people interested in human and minority rights in a historical, comparative, and action-oriented approach. Dickman is a seasoned community organizer, originally trained in Chicago in 2010 and a 2023 graduate from the Harvard Kennedy School Leadership, Organizing, and Action course.

“As a visionary leader, I believe kindness is a strength, not a weakness.”

Grassroots & Social Reform
+ 2 More
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France

Surayya Walters

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Surayya Walters is a social entrepreneur, speaker, journalist, and leader who is passionate about tackling social issues through her work. She is the founder of iDEIntity, a nonprofit that is dedicated to bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion to the startup ecosystem. She is also the founder and community manager of B25, a social initiative designed to help young women of color launch entrepreneurial careers and ventures. She is an entrepreneur who is dedicated to uplifting the marginalized and finding creative ways to live her purpose and make an impact.

Walters graduated from The Wharton School in 2022, receiving her bachelor’s degree in economics, with concentrations in management and marketing as well as a minor in urban education policy. She has received various fellowships and awards, including Humanity in Action’s Racial Equity Fellowship, the LeadNext Fellowship, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award For Outstanding Leadership and Service. Additionally, Walters is a 2023 Watson Institute Social Entrepreneurial Fellow and an entrepreneur in residence for Bubble Immerse, their premier accelerator for founders of color seeking to build technical skills.

“As a visionary leader, I am committed to blazing a trail that others can follow; to empower others to succeed and craft a life and career they are proud of.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 2 More
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United States

Sphesihle Bhengu

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Sphesihle Bhengu is the founder of the Amazwami Advocacy Project, a non-profit club which seeks to raise awareness and foster the roots of transformative education, gender equality, climate action and various socio-political thematics through advocacy work, storytelling and digital advancements. She is currently running a pilot project on developing climate curriculum for schools in South Africa. She holds a strong belief that young people should be able to make a connection between global climate crisis and their day-to-day local climate issues.

Bhengu studied biology and genetics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and also trained as an aircraft structures worker at South African Airways Technical. She is currently enrolled in a Cybersecurity course with Cybersafe Foundation where she specializes in governance, risk, and compliance. She serves as a Young African Leaders Initiative alumna, GCED alumna, a Woman Deliver Youth ambassador and a YOUNGO member.

”As a visionary leader, I believe that youth and women should never be forced to negotiate and beg for a sit at a table. Youth inclusivity and gender equality shouldn’t be negotiable.”

Advocacy
+ 2 More
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South Africa

Sohila Bibi

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Sohila Bibi is the founder of Elevate Her Coaching, an initiative to support girls and women to become confident, authentic leaders in their careers. It specifically focuses on the career advancement of South Asian women working in corporate, and supports them to achieve their career goals, despite the stereotypes and biases faced by them both at work and at home.

Bibi is currently putting together a programme that will take participants on a journey from which they can evolve as future leaders, be confident and know how to position themselves for their dream job or career. Bibi holds a bachelor’s degree in computing information systems for business as well as a law degree and extensive experience working in the public sector in the UK.

“As a visionary leader, I want to help that little girl who has now become a woman to believe she can achieve her dreams, despite the naysayers, and break the glass ceiling in her career as a South Asian professional.”

Mentoring & Leadership
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United Kingdom

Sintia Lisboa

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Sintia Lisboa is the CEO and founder of 3 Elementus, a company dedicated to developing sustainable solutions for the environment. Leading an industrial plant that produces a highly effective chemical agent to reduce pollution in the automotive sector, Lisboa understands the power of collaboration in addressing environmental challenges and creating a better world. She builds an industrialization hub that fosters innovation and drives the development of cutting-edge sustainable products using Amazonian resources and technologies.

With 14 years of experience in Brazil’s industrial and environmental sectors, including renowned companies like Petrobras and Coca-Cola, Lisboa brings a diverse background to her leadership role. She holds a master’s degree in chemical process engineering, specializing in credit carbon projects and environmental management.

“As a visionary leader, I am dedicated to achieving a harmonious balance between human action and nature, ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.”

Climate Action
+ 2 More
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Brazil

Shatoyia Davenport

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Shatoyia Davenport is the national event manager of ChickTech, an organization dedicated to empowering marginalized genders in the technology industry and aspiring technologists. Through technical workshops, mentoring programs, and community networking, ChickTech creates an inclusive technology culture. Davenport is a strong advocate for marginalized communities, prioritizing diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in all ChickTech events. She believes in the transformative power of technology education, empowering participants to become influential leaders in their communities.

Davenport earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Everest University and holds distinctions as a Digital Event Strategist (PCMA) and an Accredited Event Designer (IWED). Throughout her career, she has showcased exceptional leadership in hospitality management, volunteer engagement, and community advocacy.

“As a visionary leader, I am dedicated to connecting individuals with essential resources, education, and community support. I believe that these connections can profoundly impact people’s lives and circumstances, making a positive difference in marginalized communities.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
+ 2 More
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United States

Ratidzo Mutizwa Njagu

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Ratidzo Mutizwa Njagu is the founding director of the Kunashe Foundation, a social impact organization that seeks to empower and equip young people and women across the African continent sustainably. As of June 2023, she has equipped over 6000 young people with essential life skills primarily financial literacy, and menstrual health. She is a development practitioner with over 8 years of experience in women’s development and adolescent & youth programming.

Njagu has worked for Deloitte, the Clinton Foundation, and BRAC. She also co-founded the Blossom Company, a women’s wellness organization. She has also been recognized by JCI as one of Zimbabwe’s Top 10 Young People. Njagu holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from Sussex University.

“As a visionary leader, I endeavor to ensure young people become an active part of social and economic development across Southern Africa.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
+ 2 More
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Zimbabwe

Rachel Labi

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Rachel Labi is the co-founder of Building Financial Freedom (BFF), her organization dedicated to financial literacy. At 17, she founded BFF to support economic stability and financial achievement in youth and young adults. Her organization has conducted events with organizations such as Northwestern Mutual and a Berkshire Hathaway conference speaker. BFF has educated 200+ people globally, and Labi wants to expand its impact through partnerships.

Labi is a finance major at Purdue University with a passion for social impact and business. At age 12, she began anti-trafficking advocacy and has since worked for organizations that fight trafficking globally. Labi’s extensive business accomplishments include involvement with companies such as D.E. Shaw, Bridgewater Associates, igniteXL Ventures, and IDEX Corporation. She has additional interests in media, social entrepreneurship, and ethical fashion.

“As a visionary leader, I want to empower youth and young adults to economically thrive in their communities.”

Economic Empowerment
+ 2 More
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United States

Prashikshya Bhattarai

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Prashikshya Bhattarai, a visionary leader from Kathmandu, Nepal, is a driving force in disability rights, gender equality, and mental health activism. With eight years of transformative experience as a psycho-social counselor and holding a master’s degree in gender studies, Bhattarai passionately advocates for the rights of young women with disabilities.

Bhattarai’s dedication and personal journey as a visually impaired individual fuel her remarkable impact. With eloquence and empathy, she challenges societal norms, fostering dialogue and shaping a more inclusive world. As a program coordinator at Access Planet, an organization empowering women with disabilities in Nepal through accessible technology, Bhattarai exemplifies resilience and unwavering commitment. Her trailblazing efforts prove that disabilities are not limitations but catalysts for extraordinary achievements.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to create a society where every individual, regardless of ability, can thrive and contribute to the overall development and betterment of their communities.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
+ 2 More
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Nepal

Prachi Kharb

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Prachi Kharb is the director & COO at Life and Limb Private Limited, a MedTech company building user-specific bionic solutions that empower people to live to the fullest. The company innovates accessible, aspirational, and affordable Bionic solutions. Their first product is BIONICLI, a prosthetic hand that can achieve 6 degrees of freedom, weighs less than 450 g and costs 80% less than the market. She believes that this sector is fragmented and needs standardization to make a more inclusive society for people with amputations.

Kharb graduated as an information technology engineer. She worked in analytics in the Fintech sector for a total of 5 years before shifting to the health-tech sector. Recently, she was listed amongst 100 Women in Tech in South Asia for the WEScale program organized by USAID SARDI.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to make the world a more equitable and inclusive society.”

Healthcare
+ 2 More
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India

Bunmi Omeke

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Bunmi Jasmine Omeke is the co-founder of GETWORK Nigeria, which stands for the Graduate Employability Training Workshop. The initiative is aimed at helping young graduates transition into the work environment effectively through periodic mentorship programmes, training, career fairs, and recruitment services. The programme now offers a mentorship programme for fresh graduates, which includes training on employability skills, CV review and preparation for interviews, and sessions on workplace ethics and culture.

Omeke is a multiskilled and certified HR professional with background training and experience as a business lawyer in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Igbinedion University as well as a master’s degree in law from the University of Aberdeen. Omeke has successfully planned, implemented, and managed various social projects, including directing the affairs of the Legal Aid Unit of the Occupational Health Safety and Empowerment Centre, which was established to handle cases of occupational accidents with the aim of helping victims get redressed. In her current role at GETWORK Nigeria, Omeke has connected over 300 job applicants to the right employers in the last 4 years.

Communications & PR
+ 2 More
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Nigeria

Olasumbo Adeleke

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Olasumbo Adeleke is the founder of the Initiative for Gender Empowerment and Creativity. The initiative trains and upskill people, particularly smallholder farmers, with a focus on women in grassroots communities, to improve their native vocations and produce good quality products of global standards. She believes in a bottom-up approach to tackle poverty, so she strives to make the products attractive to buyers in order to earn more income, improving overall livelihood.

Adeleke is an experienced agricultural value chain and community development practitioner, with extensive skills in cluster development and capacity building. She has volunteered as an active member of some organizations such as the International Visitors Leadership Program Association, and the Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Olabisi Onabanjo University and a certificate in entrepreneurial management from Pan Atlantic University.

“As a visionary leader, I endeavor to impact others with my work.”

Climate Action
+ 2 More
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Nigeria

Naomi Walston

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

A firm believer that the future of the world rests in the hands of the young, Naomi Walston has set her sights on supporting the next generation of climate activists. With more than two decades behind her in the human rights, humanitarian, and health sectors, as a manager, fundraiser, and philanthropist, Walston is ready to take on the most daunting challenge of all, climate change and environmental activism.

But nothing equips her better for this role than her experience as a mother. What more important legacy can there be than helping the world become a healthier, more sustainable place for your children?

“As a visionary leader, I will make the most of this tremendous opportunity and this network of powerful women to stand up, speak up, and rise up!”

Climate Action
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United Kingdom

Mushimyimana Gaudence

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Mushimyimana Gaudence is the Founding Managing Director of DisAbility Link, a social enterprise launched in 2013, and co-founding executive director of the Rwandan Organisation of Women with Disabilities. The enterprise aims at creating opportunities for people with disabilities to realize their ability, achieve their highest potential, and benefit from their independent living by availing on the local market of a wide range of affordable and accessible skills, knowledge, assistive products, and services they need. They provide advisory services for inclusion, create jobs for persons with disabilities, and organize on-job training skills for youth boys and girls with disabilities including leadership skills development, graduate placement and advocacy. She believes that behind every person with disabilities, there are untapped potentials.

Gaudence has played many roles in building the disability movement. She has been the national coordinator of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2007-2009), deputy legal representative of the Umbrella of Persons with Disabilities in Fighting HIV/AIDS (2006-2008), secretary general of the National Union of Disabilities Organizations (2010-2016) and board member in charge of gender within Association General des Handicapees du Rwanda. She is serving on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Forum as the regional representative of women with disabilities since 2019, and women representative officer today. She was recently recognized in 2020 as a Woman of Courage by the U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda for promoting social Economic Inclusion of persons with disabilities in Rwanda. Gaudence is a bachelor’s degree holder in the social sciences.

Economic Empowerment
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Rwanda

Mary Blackford

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Mary Blackford is the Founder of Market 7, a community marketplace that features Black-owned businesses for the purpose of alleviating food and retail deserts in Washington, DC. Mary graduated from Babson College with a bachelor’s degree in business management. In the summer of 2017, she launched her most recent venture, Market 7. Market 7 has worked with over 80 Black-owned businesses in the DC area to create alternative community pop-up markets that include fresh food, lifestyle products, and home essentials in Ward 7 (DC). Market 7 is currently building the first Black-owned food hall in Washington, DC; a new 7,000 sq ft food space slated to open within the next year.

In 2019, Blackford also worked with Whole Foods Market (Mid-Atlantic) to bring new Black-owned brands to their stores in DC. Blackford has also developed partnerships with Google and the Greater Washington Urban League to provide entrepreneurial training in underserved communities.

Agriculture, Food & Hunger
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United States

Mariama Khai Fornah

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Mariama Khai Fornah is a visionary leader and the CEO of Hands of Hope Radio 100.5 FM, the first woman-owned radio station in Sierra Leone. With a mission to provide hope and resilience, the radio addresses crucial issues such as livelihood, gender, environment, governance, legal matters, civic engagement, culture, arts, and education.

Fornah, an award-winning journalist with 18 years of experience, has worked with renowned organizations including World Bank and the BBC World Service Trust. She reported on the trials of former President Charles Taylor in The Hague. She has also managed projects such as the EU-funded Cocoa Livelihoods Project, which impacted over 5000 cocoa farmers. Beyond her journalism career, she excels as a blogger, entrepreneur, and preacher. Fornah’s expertise, combined with a strong background in journalism training and media advocacy, positions her as a media expert.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to illuminate the path of hope, inspire change, and uplift communities.”

Climate Action
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Sierra Leone

Maria Eugenia Millan

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Maria Eugenia Millan is the CFO of Galicia Seguros, an insurance company with a mission to encourage millions of clients to take bold steps forward. In her role, she passionately advocates for financial education as the primary driver of economic independence, especially for women. As a member of the diversity committee, Millan actively works to establish inclusive practices and initiatives that create equal opportunities for everyone, addressing current disparities.

Millan is a woman leader with 20 years of experience in the insurance sector. She is an actuary and MBA holder from the University of San Andrés, along with a postgraduate degree in finance specializing in capital markets.

“As a visionary leader, I firmly believe that our leadership roles should be a catalyst for breaking the cycle of past inequalities and empowering people to uncover their true purpose in life.”

Economic Empowerment
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Argentina

Maria Ana Espinosa

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Maria Ana E. Espinosa is a human rights lawyer and feminist activist from the Philippines. As Program Officer of The Asia Foundation – Law and Human Rights Unit, she heads multisectoral projects for the promotion and protection of human rights. She is also the founder of Urgent Reforms for Development, Unity, Justice, and Advancement (URDUJA) Inc, n organization that provides mentoring to women to become transformative feminist leaders in their communities.

Espinosa is currently a fellow of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Academy of Political Management, which aims to train young progressive leaders to become advocates of social democracy. She previously worked at the Supreme Court of the Philippines and was appointed as the Assistant Committee Secretary of the Supreme Court Committee on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. She graduated with a bachelor’s in economics from the University of the Philippines, a Juris Doctor from Arellano University, and is finishing her master’s degree in Women and Development from the University of the Philippines. Her international education and trainings consist of being a recipient of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Study (YES) Scholarship by the U.S. Department of State in 2005; an AIESEC Development Intern in Hangzhou, China in 2011; Philippine representative on the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) Regional Workshop in Advancing Gender Equality held in Brunei in 2019; and a mentor in U.S. Department of State’s Civic Education Week held in Washington D.C. in 2020.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to empower more women to take up leadership roles and change the oppressive patriarchal system into an equitable and compassionate feminist form of leadership.”

Access to Justice
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Philippines

Malavika Nambiar

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Malavika Nambiar is the co-founder of Humane Warriors (HW), a global platform dedicated to creating, protecting, and maintaining equity with vulnerable and underrepresented communities. With a focus on socio-environmental issues, HW empowers individuals and addresses the root causes of social problems through various initiatives. Nambiar’s personal passion lies in education, recognizing its pivotal role in driving positive change. She has been involved in teaching from a young age and now channels her efforts into mentorship programs and improving access to digital education infrastructure. Through HW, she envisions a world where every individual has equal opportunities and a voice to shape their future.

Nambiar holds a bachelor’s degree from Manipal University, a master’s degree from TU Delft, and a PhD from the University of Bern. Her multidisciplinary scientific expertise allows her to approach social issues with a translational mindset, making a real-life impact.

Education
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India

Madison Webb

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Madison Webb is a junior at Harvard College studying Psychology. As a current Content Design Intern at Meta, she is interested in careers in UX/UI/Human-Centered Design and Product Marketing, which will allow her to solve 21st-century user-centric problems that impact underrepresented populations. In pursuit of a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon, her goal is also to build a university pipeline/partnership program for Black youth to get exposed to the field of UX/HCI.

Outside of school, Webb is a college prep mentor for Black high school students through the Ron Brown Guided Pathway Support Program. Additionally, after spearheading DEI initiatives for Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum (Harvard’s mixed-voice choir, also a 501(c)(3)), she was elected to serve as president for the 2023-24 school year.

“As a visionary leader, I lead with authenticity, firmness, and a passion for advancing equity in traditionally inequitable spaces.”

Education
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United States

Limbi Blessing Tata

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Limbi Blessing is the founder and executive director of Ecological Balance Cameroon (Eco Balance), an organization that provides nature-based solutions to climate change and poverty. Inspired by the African proverb, ‘a goat eats from where it is tied,’ Eco Balance believes that communities that live adjacent to natural ecosystems should be able to generate livelihoods from, and in turn take care of, such ecosystems. They accompany local communities in Cameroon in protecting, repairing and sustainably managing natural resources and ecosystems.

“As a visionary leader, I raise sustainable leaders.”

Climate Action
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Cameroon

Karishma Ali

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Karishma Ali is a footballer and social entrepreneur from Chitral, Pakistan. Ali is driven by her passion to break down gender barriers through the power of sports. In 2016, she represented Pakistan at the International Jubilee Games, and the following year, she joined the first Pakistani female team to participate in the AFL International Club in Melbourne. In 2018, Ali founded the Chitral Women’s Sports Club, which is now known as the Karishma Ali Foundation. The foundation aims to provide a secure and nurturing environment for young girls in remote regions of Pakistan to engage in various sports activities, opening up more opportunities for them to play sports.

Ali’s exceptional work in empowering women in sports has garnered her numerous accolades. In 2019, she was recognized in the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list. The same year, she was appointed as a member of Pakistan’s first national youth council. In 2022, Karishma was honored as part of the Pride of Pakistan initiative, which celebrates individuals who have achieved excellence in their respective fields. Currently, she serves as a member of UN Women 30for2030, contributing to the global mission of advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Pakistan

Karen Laing

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Karen Laing is the co-founder of Okkanti, a B-Corp with a mission to increase access to doula care and other support systems that lead to better outcomes. The Okkanti CareFinder, an all-in-one matching, booking and practice management solution, links every pregnant person to the care they need while preserving the community-led models that emerge at a local level.

Over a 30-year career in maternal health, Laing trained as a Midwife, Doula, and Lactation Consultant, and founded one of the early doula programs in North America. Her interest in improving care quality while preventing burnout has led her to develop the Compass of Mindful Caregiving™,  6 Qualities of Embodied Mindfulness™, and a mindfulness-based Postpartum Doula Certification.

“As a visionary leader, I believe that we are stronger together in our efforts to build maternal health equity.”

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
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United States

Juliana Sun

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Juliana Sun is planning to launch a platform for women in low-income and low-education communities. Her vision is to economically empower these minority women, with a particular focus on middle-aged women. Through social media outreach, mentorship, skill development programs, and financial education, she aims to create a supportive environment where women can learn, network, and access job opportunities. The skill development programs will be tailored to women’s interests and needs, while financial education will equip them with the tools they need to effectively manage their finances and avoid financial fraud. Her goal is to provide women with the resources and support they need to improve their lives and thrive.

Sun is an undergraduate student at NYU Stern School of Business majoring in finance. She works as a site ambassador at NYU’s Student Government Assembly. She also worked in consulting and investment banking firms, including IQVIA. She also served as a research assistant at the Institute of Green Investment in China.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to build a supportive community to empower minority women and foster a thriving community where they can enhance their lives and reach new heights.”

Economic Empowerment
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Brazil

Joana Bacallo

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Joana Bacallo is the founder of Schools for Environment Education, Development and Sustainability (SEEDS), an international non-profit organization based in Bruxelles, Belgium that commits to strengthening partnerships with remote, low-income schools by integrating tailor-made curriculums on environmental stewardship and advancement of climate resilience through water awareness and education.

She completed a bachelor’s degree in international business and entrepreneurial management at San Beda University and earned her MBA in aviation management from Coventry University. She attributed her unique community water work to her previous career as an international flight attendant, where her illuminating travels immersed her into diverse cultures and life realities. Bacallo received acknowledgment from Women Deliver Conference 2019. She also represented SEEDS at the historical United Nations Water Conference 2023.

“As a visionary leader, I champion young learners, regardless of background, to have access to environment education and inspire them to be stewards of our waters and natural resources.”

Advocacy
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Philippines

Jigyasa Labroo

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Jigyasa Labroo is the Co-Founder and CEO of Slam Out Loud (SOL). SOL collaborates with state governments and teaching-artists, working with children across five states to foster Creative Confidence through visual and performing arts. They focus on building Socio-Emotional Learning skills in children from underserved backgrounds. Their online open-source curriculum has reached 10 million children in 19 countries.

Labroo studied Learning Design as a KC Mahindra scholar at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a winner of Falling Walls, Berlin, and is on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list. She was awarded Innovator of the Year 2023 by HundrED, Finland. Labroo has been a fellow at Salzburg Global Seminar, WISE- Qatar, Arts for Good- Singapore, and Teach For India.

“As a visionary leader, I am excited to find a community of women supporting each other to find and raise our voices, inspire collaborative work and learn from each other.”

Climate Action
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India

Jai Bharathi Addepalli

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Jai Bharathi Addepalli is the founder of Mowo Social Initiatives, a not for profit that empowers women to be independent by offering them 2/3/4 wheeler motor trainings and employment. The mission is to create a generation of confident women equipped with mobility and at the same time making Indian streets safer by increasing the number of women accessing public spaces.

Addepalli is an avid motorcyclist and serial entrepreneur. She led several national and cross-country motorcycling expeditions covering more than 1,00,000 kms across South East Asia and the United States to promote women’s safety and empowerment. She was pivotal in establishing India’s first Motor Training Centre exclusively for women in collaboration with the government organisations.

“As a visionary leader, my goal is to enable a million women in mobility and build an eco-system for women in mobility.”

Advocacy
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India

Hargun Kaur

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Hargun Kaur is the founder of Bundles of Hope, an organization that provides vulnerable pregnant individuals with care kits that promote self-care, mental well-being, and access to community resources. Funded by the government of Canada, these kits aim to alleviate the burden of mental illness during pregnancy, connect individuals with supports, and enhance birth outcomes and child development.

Kaur brings experience in advocacy, entrepreneurship, and health promotion. Kaur serves on the boards of a large mental health organization and national research advisory council, leads organizations making healthcare more accessible for marginalized communities, and represented Canadian youth at the international G7 youth summit. She has been recognized by the YWCA, Scotiabank, McMaster University, and the Government of Canada.

“As a visionary leader, I empower marginalized communities, amplify diverse voices, create equitable spaces for all, and believe that true leadership lies in supporting others and ensuring no one is left behind.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Canada

Haja Isatu Bah

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Haja Isatu Bah is the founder of Uman4Uman, a social enterprise that focuses on addressing the issue of period poverty and menstrual product waste among young girls and women with reusable menstrual pads and menstrual health education. Uman4Uman has worked with over 5500 girls and women in Bah’s home country, Sierra Leone, teaching them about menstrual hygiene. Bah is currently working on a comprehensive menstrual health management guide.

Bah has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Skidmore College. She is a two-time TEDx speaker on the topics of education for climate action as well as on merging a love for learning and an entrepreneurial spirit. Bah is strongly passionate about issues affecting women and the environment.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to use my environmental education as a tool to empower more women and develop solutions to address issues affecting girls and women globally­­.”

Climate Action
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Sierra Leone

Hadijah Nankanja

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Hadijah Nankanja is the founder of Community Women Enterprise Network Uganda Limited, a business resource space for women entrepreneurs across all sectors that provides business information, technical support for members to reach greater markets, create growing revenues and promote their businesses with more focus and clarity. She believes in reinforcing the capacity of high-potential, low-income entrepreneurs to become more productive and gain larger market shares in leading local and regional markets.

With over a decade of experience working on development initiatives, Nankanja is a volunteer board member at Trade and Impact for Women-led Enterprises and board secretary of Tusome Children’s resource centre. She holds a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and small business management from Makerere University Business School. She is a co-owner of different business ventures, including Nakoha Natural Products Limited, Books & More, and Interest for Change. She is a rotarian of RC Kampala Naalya in Uganda.

Economic Empowerment
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Uganda

Felicia Funke Obafemi

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Felicia Obafemi is the founder and lead trainer of Esther’s Generation Relief Initiative (TEGRI), an initiative poised at contributing to ending child marriage and reducing GBV among women & girls. TEGRI helps support the journey of recovery for survivors of abuse and maximize potential through training and empowerment. TEGRI empowers with age-appropriate sexuality education in schools and embarks on community engagements and awareness, ensuring that the sexual & reproductive health and rights of women are protected.

Obafemi has worked in hard-to-reach communities. She worked with a faith-based NGO, CYN International, in 2008. In 2013, Obafemi founded her initiative and since then has been touching lives. She collaborated with NGOs and INGOs: Spotlight Initiative, USAID, MMWAT Foundation, CYPF, CLAPAI and COCHIN. Obafemi has an HND in Administration, PGDE, and currently her MPA. Obafemi is PMD Pro Level 1 & 2 certified by APMG.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to know, go and show others the way.”

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
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Nigeria

Fariba Parsa

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Dr. Fariba Parsa is the founder and president of Women’s E-Learning in Leadership, WELL, a non-profit organization in Virginia. The mission of WELL is to empower women and contribute to democracy through online leadership education, and global networking. The organization provided 10 weeks of leadership training for potential leaders, developed a digital library focused on women’s rights, and video interviews.  

Dr. Parsa specializes in democracy and women’s rights in Iran. She worked as an assistant professor at George Mason University and has conducted research at Harvard University and the University of Maryland. Dr. Parsa was born and raised in Iran and lived in Denmark for several years and has worked with Danish organizations on human rights. She was elected as a board member of a number of organizations, such as the Danish National Women’s Council.

“As a visionary leader, I imagine the WELL organization has a significant role to empower women in their efforts for democracy, freedom, and gender equality.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Iran

Entle Mmipi

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Entle Mmipi is the founder of Finpowerment Botswana, which aims to impart the youth with financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills through age-appropriate and interactive methods, as a way to assist in alleviating poverty and unemployment in Botswana.

Mmipi currently works as a digital associate at Letshego Holdings Limited, a retail financial services organization. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Botswana and is an MBA candidate at the University of East London. Mmipi is currently serving as the Engagement Lead for Southern Africa at One Young World. Mmipi also served a term as an advocate under the SDSN Youth Global Schools Program, where she was tasked with bringing more attention to the SDGs in her community. She is also a member of the Economy of Francesco network, with which she is currently working to develop and pilot financial education programmes in 3 countries.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to make the world more inclusive by empowering people to become self-sustaining.”

Economic Empowerment
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Botswana

Destiny Daniel

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Destiny Daniel is a founder of R.E.A.C.H. (Residents Engaged in Achieving Community Harmony), an on-campus service organization bridging the gap between activism and academia through the implementation of education, mentorship, and political initiatives piloted in her local community. Her vision is to create strong minority communities through equitable and excellent education.

Currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in strategic, legal, and management communications, Daniel is driven by her desire to be the change she wishes to see in the world. Daniel is proud to serve on the National Leadership Training Team for the Family, Career, and Community Leader of America, an organization with a youth membership of 250,000 students. With experience working at 16 nonprofits, she hopes to lead a global education-based organization in the future.

“As a visionary leader, I dream of leaving a mark on the world that can’t be erased.”

Advocacy
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United States

Ciji Wagner

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Ciji Wagner is the founder of Louder Than Silence (LTS), a nonprofit that gives long-term care for survivors of sexual violence by providing the community and resources needed to experience hope and healing. Through EMDR (trauma) therapy, workshops, retreats, mentorships, self-care kits, and community support, all offered at no cost to participants, LTS helps empower survivors to rebuild themselves and their lives.

Wagner earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and worked a number of jobs in the restaurant industry before entering the nonprofit sector as an executive chef. Since that pivot, Wagner has utilized her expertise learned from managing for-profit businesses to benefit several nonprofits in a variety of volunteer and consulting roles, as well as launching LTS.

“As a visionary leader, I believe in creating a world where all survivors of sexual violence have access to the comprehensive resources they need to truly thrive.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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United States

Chioma Nnanna

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Chioma Nnanna is the co-founder and CEO of OMZN Apparel. Her company is building solutions to make the fashion industry more inclusive and decentralized. OMZN Apparel’s production management software is designed to connect businesses with independent garment workers and small-shop tailors, creating distributed production hubs and functioning as an alternative to large, often exploitative garment factories.

Nnanna has over six years of experience in marketing communications, having held roles in both small startups and large corporations.

”As a visionary leader, I thrive to implement new ideas and contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable ecosystem.”

Economic Empowerment
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Nigeria

Chidinma Ihemedu

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Chidinma Ihemedu is the company secretary and head of legal at Layer3 Limited, an indigenous Nigerian information technology company that provides broadband internet and technology solutions. As part of its social impact projects, Layer3 intends to expand its fiber optic network to areas identified in underserved communities, creating affordable broadband coverage and ensuring delivery of quality internet services in schools and markets. This will provide access to enhanced economic and social opportunities such as financial inclusion and improved digital literacy.

Ihemedu has worked in several telecommunications and technology companies as Legal Counsel and holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the University Of Lagos and a master’s degree in law from Cornell University, where she was also a fellow of the Institute for African Development.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to create solutions that will spur economic and social development in the communities around me.”

Education
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Nigeria

Carla Reed

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Carla Reed is planning to launch a consultancy to advise executives, managers, and HR practitioners on organizational change through the implementation of equitable systems, processes, and policies. The needs of today’s workforce are shifting, and organizations must be willing to shift to retain top talent, especially Black women.

With over a decade of HR experience in the nonprofit and for-profit sector, Reed received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish from Sewanee: The University of the South. She served on the National Board of Directors for the Women’s Campaign Fund (WCF) and is a graduate of WeLEAD, a bipartisan leadership-training program run by the Women & Politics Institute at American University. She was elected as the first African American Chair of the Women’s Information Network (WIN).

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to reimagine a future of work that allows us all to thrive.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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United States

Betty Mbithi

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Betty Mbithi is the founder and CEO of Abetec Business Solutions, a social enterprise with programs dedicated to empowering young people in peri-urban and rural communities. The programs are designed to equip them with essential skills for a seamless transition from the classroom to the real world. The courses include digital, vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

Mbithi has a background in business development and enjoys creating social impact. In her previous life, she worked in the corporate world both in the health sector and banking sector. Additionally, she also co-founded VunaTec, an Agritech start-up minimizing post-harvest losses and maximizing economic value for farmers.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to pave a trail that others can confidently tread upon.”

Economic Empowerment
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Kenya

Anxhela Bruci

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Anxhela Bruci is a social justice mission-driven professional, committed to the fight against crime by empowering survivors in their reintegration path. She focuses on economic empowerment practices, working with survivors of modern slavery and abuse as well as developing and delivering economic empowerment-focused training curricula. Alongside this work, she has founded a socio-economic empowerment model named EmpowerFULL, which aims to help survivors of human trafficking in their economic empowerment and personal development journey.

Bruci holds a master’s degree in global crime and justice and a master’s degree in administration of social services. Apart from her grassroots work, she is involved in research on social protection and human trafficking, with a focus on economic empowerment approaches to prevent human trafficking and support the reintegration process of survivors. In January 2023, Bruci was awarded the Gender & Human Rights Global Ambassador honour from The Federation of International Gender and Human Rights in the United States.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to bring light where there is darkness, and hope where the gateways seem to have run out.”

Economic Empowerment
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Albania

Andrea Remes

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Andrea Remes is the co-founder of Erandi Aprende, a social venture focused on bridging the gender gap in STEM by nurturing and guiding girls to develop their ideas. This digital platform, designed for Spanish speakers, offers engaging STEAM learning through open-ended projects and exciting adventures led by their avatar, Erandi.

Remes is a member of the Generation Unlimited Young People’s Action Team. With a bachelor’s degree in South and Southeast Asian studies and a master’s degree in political science from Leiden University, she has dedicated her career to working in the international development and non-profit sector supporting causes related to children with special abilities, gender equality, education, and climate change.

“As a visionary leader, I aim to help anyone become a better version of themselves.”

Education
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Mexico

Amisa Rashid

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Amisa Rashid is the Founder and Executive Director of Nivishe Foundation, an organization dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of marginalized communities in Kenya. Through innovative and community-based approaches, Nivishe Foundation aims to create safe spaces and provide psychosocial support for victims of violence, with a particular focus on urban Muslim women and girls in informal settlements.

Rashid has extensive experience in counseling psychology and trauma healing, and she has successfully integrated technology and inclusive practices such as sign language into mental health services. Prior to founding Nivishe Foundation, Rashid held various leadership roles in the field of mental health and community resilience. She has worked as a counselor, providing support to individuals and communities affected by violence and trauma, and has been involved in developing and implementing programs that address the mental health needs of vulnerable populations. Rashid’s commitment to empowering marginalized communities and her expertise in trauma-informed approaches make her a valuable leader in the field of mental health.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to challenge the status quo, inspire change, and create a lasting impact in the communities I serve.”

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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Kenya

Amina Mohamed

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Amina Mohamed is the founder and executive director of Cameras For Girls, a project that empowers young Ugandan women through photography and business skills. With the gift of a camera and a 4-phase year-long program, women elevate their talents and seize opportunities in male-dominated fields of journalism and photography. Since 2018, the initiative has trained 47 young women in Uganda, with over 70% securing full-time paid work in journalism, communications, and photography.

Mohamed’s career in Canada’s film and television industry spans over 20 years, starting from wardrobe to producing films and documentaries, refining her storytelling skills. Transitioning into freelance photography, she found the inspiration for her initiative to support women in her homeland, Uganda. Mohamed expands Cameras For Girls to Tanzania this year and South Africa in 2024. Her outstanding contributions have earned nominations for the RBC Women of Influence Award in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Recently, her photos were exhibited nationwide in Canada, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Asian Expulsion from Uganda in 1972.

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to empower and uplift the voices of African women.”

Economic Empowerment
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Canada

Agustina Perez

2023 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Agustina Perez is the child rights campaign manager for Bank Information Center (BIC). BIC is a Washington, DC-based independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization that advocates for transparency, accountability, sustainability, and inclusion in development finance. In partnership with international, regional, and local CSOs, BIC conducts research and advocacy to reform and improve International financial institutions’ policies and practices.

Perez has over a decade of human rights experience working for the United Nations, the Argentinian government, and academia in her country and abroad. She has significant experience with multi-stakeholder engagement and building capacity across different actors, from states to businesses. Perez is passionate about promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment and is committed to protecting children from violence.

“As a visionary leader, I strive to make development finance work toward ending child sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment worldwide.”

Children's Rights, Motherhood & Families
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Argentina

María Eugenia Martinez Karam

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Maru Martínez is the Founder and CEO of Our Skin Our Story, a social media initiative and “intimate” Community. Her vision is to create and promote skin cancer awareness through her own life story sharing her knowledge about this disease and what has helped her be in a better place emotionally and physically after her 3 Basal Cell carcinoma tumors on her left cheek. Our skin our story is the first Instagram account in Mexico and Latin America committed to providing valuable and scientific information in Spanish and English about skin cancer and sun damage. Patients can listen to interviews with experts across different fields and share their own stories in order to feel supported when going through their diagnosis. 

Martínez has experience in public and business relations. She is the founder of Connecting Dots, a company with a solid network around the world helping people and companies grow their businesses within the Mexican territory. Martínez’s work and projects have been featured by well know Mexican magazines, newspapers, and on social media. 

She has a certificate from the skin cancer charity in the UK for melanoma and skin cancer early detection. Additionally, she is also the only Latin American warrior in the NOTA mole tracker program. 

“As a visionary leader, I aspire to create a universal understanding and awareness about the importance of taking care of our skin, as it is the largest organ we have.”  

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Mexico

Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović

2022 Fellow, VV Visionaries

Adrijana Hanušić Becirovic is the Senior Legal Adviser at TRIAL International, a non-governmental organization which fights impunity for international crimes and represents victims of conflict-related sexual violence in their quest for justice and reparation. From 2019to 2021, she was serving at the UN Secretary-General’s Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. She is also occasionally serving as a human rights consultant to international organizations like the EU,UNDP and OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a consultant or board member to various NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad. The focus of her work is gender equality and GBV, transitional justice, international human rights standards, and anti-discrimination law. Before joining TRIAL, she worked in a law office, and provided legal expertise to the B&H Parliamentary Assembly as well as to the National Human Rights Ombudsmen Institution. She also participated in traineeship/scholarship programs at the Council of Europe and the German Parliament. Hanušić Bećirovićholds a Law degree from the University of Sarajevo, where she was awarded for excellence, and has received, as a French Government scholarship holder, from the University of Strasbourga master’s degree in Public International Law. Adrijana was a fellow of the Vital Voices Peace Fellowship: Intergenerational Fellowship on Women, Peace and Security in South Central Europe (2021) and a fellow of the Open Society Fund BiH Policy Development Fellowship Program.

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Bosnia & Herzegovina

Kryss Shane

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

With over 25 years of experience guiding the world’s top leaders in business, education and community via individual, small group and full-staff trainings, Dr. Kryss Shane LSW, LMSW has been featured and named “America’s go-to Leading LGBT+ Expert” in The New York Times, ABC News, Yahoo!, and CNN.

Dr. Kryss is known for helping businesses address their unique Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion needs in an approachable, manageable, and actionable way. This includes alterations to physical spaces, updating hiring practices, re-drafting policies and procedures and more. In addition to her doctorate, she holds two master’s degrees, two licenses to practice mental healthcare, and she is currently serving as a Lecturer at Columbia University and an Adjunct Professor at University of Massachusetts Global, Fordham University, Northern Louis University, and Metropolitan State University Denver.

Dr. Kryss is the author of Creating an LGBT+ Inclusive University: A Practical Resource Guide for Faculty and Administrators, which provides guidance for faculty and administrators of universities and colleges to become knowledgeable, capable, and able to make their campuses more LGBT+ inclusive. She is also the author of Creating an LGBT+ Inclusive Workplace: The Practical Resource Guide for Business Leaders, which provides best practices and professional guidance for creating LGBT+ inclusive workplaces, including creating safer working environments, updating company policies, enhancing continuing education and training, and other tangible ways to support LGBT+ people in the workplace.

 

 

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United States

Anne Nduku

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Anne Nduku is a Business Development Manager and social impact lead at Ed Partners Africa–Kenya, acompany that lends to affordable private school owners. She has successfully run a social impactprogram that equips school owners withskills to run and manage their institution to a competitivestandard. The skills include, leadership, financial management, School management system amongothers. Anne holds a bachelor of degree in Arts (Economics) from Kenyatta University and is an AcumenFellow 2021.

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Kenya

Isabella Mukankusi

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Isabella Mukankusi is the co-founder of Wak Mental HealthDefenders (WMHD), a nonprofit organization that promotes and protects women and children’s rights giving them skills and an opportunity to thrive through legal empowerment, capacity building, formation of strategic partnerships, community groups, and social enterprise innovations, where no one is left behind.So far, WHMD has created one strong community outreach program for persons living with mental illness in Uganda and is committed to providing opportunities to change life paths.Prior to this, Mukankusi worked at Justice Defenders, where she taught incarcerated individuals and prison officers studying a University of London distance learning law degree to help facilitate legal processes. Mukankusi led the Legal Services team to build prison-based legal aid clinics, where trained paralegals and law students provided legal services for themselves and others and implemented gender mainstreaming policies in all the programs. Mukankusi holds a Bachelor of Laws Honors Degree from London Metropolitan University, UK. She recently completed the 2021/2022 Human Rights Advocates Program fellowship at Institute for Study ofHuman Rights, Columbia University in the City of New York. She serves as a Board Member for My StoryInitiative, a disability rights nonprofit and is involved in advocating for sexual and reproductive rights of girls with psychosocial disabilities in Uganda.

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Uganda

Claudia Thomas Riché

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Claudia Thomas Riché is the Executive Director and co-founder of NECH-CIEH, a collaborative education network for nurses. Created in 2014, the network brings together nurses from Canada, the United States and Haiti with the mission to position nurses as health change makers within and beyond the clinical context, into the community, to promote better health habits and disease prevention.Previously,Thomas Riché was the Program Director of theNECH-CIEH. She is also a nurse consultant at the GHESKIO Centers Training Unit in Port au Prince since 2004.Thomas Riché holds a master’s degree in nursing science from University of Montreal,Canada. She received a certification degree in 2013 from Institute of HealthcareImprovement (IHI) in Boston as Improvement Advisor (IA).In 2019, she was named anAshoka Fellow, a lifetime award, establishing her as part of a community of social innovators and as an actor for change and the resolution of major societal issues.

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Haiti

Faith Zumazuma

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Zumazuma is planning to launch an initiative that will focus on supporting young women to deal with various forms of gender-based violence (GBV) in their work places and support survivors to build back their self-esteem and speak out against such violence. Zumazuma envisions a GBV-free environment. Her organization will further focus on empowering women and girls to realize their socioeconomic rights and welfare through the creation of safe spaces for them to interact and share knowledge and skills. The organization will also contribute towards preventing and supporting education for the girl child through prevention and response toSexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in primary schools. Zumazuma is a passionate public health professional with 8 years of experience in human rights advocacy as well as working with survivors of GBV, marginalized women, and adolescent girls.She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Skyway University and has served as aYouth Advisory Council Member for Child Helpline International (CHI).

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Malawi

Ariane Turner

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Ariane Turner, CEO/Founder of Look Good Live Well, is a serial entrepreneur and 20 year beauty industry veteran. After spending over a decade working as a makeup artist for film and television she experienced the impacts of burnout, and committed to learning about the damaging effects of stress on the body. This journey exposed the inequitable marketing of toxic ingredients to Black and Brown communities, the toxic messaging used within the beauty industry to describe melanin rich skin, and the explicit need to amplify the voices of Black andBrown practitioners within the wellness community. Look Good Live Well provides topical skincare solutions for common concerns amongst melanin rich humans and reintroduces the community to the healing power of adaptogens-ingredients used by ancestors for centuries.Turner also prioritizes educating humans on the multiple manifestations of stress on the body and helps guide individuals towards the resources that will help them make the connection between health, wellness and beauty.Turner holds a Bachelor of Arts from Florida A&M University. Her passion for amplifying melanin rich humans in the wellness and beauty space has garnered the attention of Beyonce, EssenceMagazine, Atlanta Magazine, Upscale Magazine, and countless other media outlets. Her knack for impactful storytelling, and commitment to collaboration, have put her in position to excel in various accelerator programs, and to secure over $150k in grants and mentorship from TargetForward Founders, Credo for Change, Brown Girl Jane, SheaMoisture, Essence, Aveeno, Johnson & Johnson, Tower28, BASF and StitchCrew.

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USA

Hleziphi Siyothula-Mtshizana

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Siyothula-Mtshizana is an Energy professional with 16 years of experience delivering small to utility scale infrastructure projects with a focus on Renewable Energy. She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of In Pursuit Africa Group, a pan-African Energy Services company that delivers energy efficiency and Renewables projects for public and private sectors. She is also aTechnical Advisor and director at KPCares NPC (PBO), a non-profit organization focused on delivering meaningful socio-economic development programs in energy sector for the empowerment of youth and small-micro-medium enterprises (SMMEs). Siyothula-Mtshizana is a former Senior Project Manager within Arup’s Renewables team where she oversaw a Lender’s Technical Advisory (LTA) team working on renewables projects. She has developed and delivered over 2000MW of Renewables projects (Solar, Hydro, Wind Battery EnergyStorage) in South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana and UK. Siyothula-Mtshizana has also held leadership roles such as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Bonang Power & Energy, Principal forMatt&Co Advisory, Arup Education Trust Trustee, and recently the COO for the SunElex Group. She isa member of the Black Energy Professionals Association (BEPA) in South Africa and the South AfricanNational Energy Association (SANEA).

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South Africa

Hellen Lunkuse Waiswa

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Hellen Lunkuse Waiswa is the founder and executive director of Rape Hurts Foundation (RHF), aUgandan NGO working extensively with women and at-risk children, child victims of sexual abuse, and survivors of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. With their mission to empower women to take charge of their lives through human right awareness and protection, affordable health and care services, and entrepreneurship, Lunkuse Waiswa and her team connect survivors to emergency medical and psychosocial services and help relocate those in imminent danger to safety. Lunkuse Waiswa is also the founder & CEO of Hellen Lex Beauty and Cocoa Delight. She holds a masters in human rights, a masters in gender studies, a bachelor’s in environmental management, a diploma in law, and several post graduate certificates.In 2019, Lunkuse Waiswa was nominated to be part of Vital Voices VV100 program. She is a member of National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, a member of the Global ThinkersForum, the World Federation Against Drugs, and TrustLaw under the Thomson ReutersFoundation. She received the Trust law Impact Award in 2018 from the Thomson ReutersFoundation for her project Protecting Children in Uganda. The project aimed to ensure that staff and volunteers were fully protecting the rights of children within their network. Lunkuse Waiswa was also a nominee of the Global Thinkers Forum in the category of ‘African FemaleLeaders’ which recognizes the best female philanthropists in Africa.

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Uganda

Duru Rose Amaka

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Amaka is the founder of Nwanyi Imo Reliance Resources, a food processing company with a focus on milling and packaging complex African foods. She is also the convener of Umunwanyi Imo, a platform through which she celebrates women who are doing exceptional work to make the world a better place. She empowers women and celebrates their efforts to make more positive change. Amaka is an Alumni of Fate foundation and also a graduate ofUniversity of Ilorin, Ilorin Nigeria.

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Nigeria

Hailey Michelson

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Hailey Michelson is the creator of Fat Fits, a small business and community driven organization that provides access to thrifted, vintage and new one-of-a-kind plus size clothing. Fat Fits hosts pop-up shops at local community organizations and small businesses where fat folks can come together and feel supported. Fat Fits hopes to provide some respite and community while Fat folks persevere through anti-fatness and discrimination in our culture. Michelson will expand the scope of Fat Fits by creating a podcast and documentary film depicting the anti-fatness and fatphobia that permeates all aspects of American culture.  

Michelson holds a Bachelor of Communication Studies and Entertainment Management degree from the University of Montana. After graduation, Michelson served as the program manager for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) center at the University of Montana. In this role, Michelson was an ally and advocate for marginalized communities, planned campus wide events and served on an advisory board to the university president. While at the university, Michelson realized that there was an important group missing from the conversations around DEI, Fat folks.  

As a visionary leader, I aspire to expose and dismantle anti-fatness in our culture while uplifting and providing community for Fat folks.  

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United States

Gabriela Ada Ben David

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Ben David is a professional security and crisis management consultant helping organizations, schools, communities, and businesses to become more resilient and ready to face any unexpected situations. With her innovative and integrative approach, she brings to her clients the necessary mindset as well as the tools to become stronger, safer, and ready to face what life brings. Training and coaching leaders is a central part of her work. 

Ben David holds a master’s degree from Reichman University, Israel. In the past years, she led various projects that assisted communities on a global scale, including communities after terror attacks in Brussels and Copenhagen. 

Ben David’s methodology for crisis management was published in 2019 by the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic and serves as a golden standard for Czech organizations to prepare themselves for unexpected situations. 

 

As a visionary leader I want crisis management to become a skill of every leader. 

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Israel

Florence Sesay

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Leone is the Executive Director of Media Matters for Women (MMW), an NGO with the vision to bridge the information gap of last mile communities and provide critical information on sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) to rural women and girls. MMW work closely with community activists, leaders, and groups— especially those directly impacted by SGBV, FGM, inequality and cultural fundamentalism—with information to enable them to build communities and networks that create change.  

As Project Coordinator for the Women’s Initiative for Safer Health (WISH), Florence worked closely with UNFPA on its advocacy campaign on women and girls’ reproductive health and rights. She took the lead in two major international campaigns: Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) and engaged traditional and religious leaders countrywide on maternal and child health issues, teenage pregnancy, and end child marriage campaigns. 

Leone earned a degree in mass communications. She is the proud winner of the 2020 Women Forward Mentor of Distinction Bronze Award by BPeace- the US Women’s Business Council for Peace. She is also a member of the Civil Society Regional Reference Group (CSRRG) Spotlight Initiative Program representing Sierra Leone among 15 member countries.

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Sierra Leone

Fatma Said Kauga

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Fatma Said Kauga is the Founder and the Executive Director of Doyenne Organization whose mission is to expose young girls to the possibilities, opportunities, and alternatives available to them to become leaders. The aim is to develop the next generation of female leaders through programs that coach, mentor, and inspire high school and university students in Tanzania while pursuing their academic courses.  

Kauga holds a Master’s of Science in Finance and Investment and a Bachelor’s of Science in Taxation both from the Institute of Finance Management of Tanzania. She has more than six years of working experience in developing financial models, business planning, budgeting, and managing financial and human resources. Fatma served as a board member and treasurer of the Policy Forum in Tanzania, and is an advisory board member of Asante Africa Foundation and SAWA initiative both from Tanzania.   

Kauga was awarded Honorary citizenship in Boone, North Carolina in 2021. She was also listed among the 100 Tanzanian Sheroes Award in 2020 for her work with women and youth. She is a Gratitude Network Fellow and a Perennial Leadership Fellow. 

I want to be a visionary leader that enhances youth and women’s potential to bring positive, sustainable change. 

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Tanzania

Donna Childs

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Donna Childs is the founder and chief executive officer of Prisere LLC which develops technology to help the re/insurance sector address climate risks. Prisere’s clients include the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.  

Childs was previously based in Zurich, where she was a senior executive of the Swiss Reinsurance Group, the world’s largest reinsurer of property-casualty and life-health risks. She was also a senior columnist for Dow Jones where her analysis and commentary on corporate insurance and risk management issues appeared in the Wall Street Journal. She provides technical advice on issues of climate resilience, to organizations such as NASA and the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Coast Resilience program. Childs is certified in the NIST cybersecurity framework and was a 2018 Climate Resilience practitioner-in-residence of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. 

Childs holds a bachelor’s from Yale University, a master’s in International Economics & Finance from Brandeis University, an MBA with a concentration in Information Technology from Columbia Business School and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s three-year Owner President Management Program for entrepreneurial founders leading high-growth ventures. Donna is a 2018 Vital Voices Global Ambassadors Program mentee and a graduate of the Vital Voices Grow Fellowship.  

I want to be a visionary leader who opens pathways for women entrepreneurial founders in the technology sector and in the boardrooms. 

  

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United States

Diana Vicezar

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Diana Vicezar is a Paraguayan entrepreneur, advocate, and community organizer. She is the founder of Mapis, a career platform for international undergraduate and graduate students in the United States. Currently in closed beta, Mapis helps international students from colleges and universities in 30+ states land their dream jobs and internships in the US, and has been featured by Business Insider and Forbes. 

Vicezar is an experienced technologist with a passion for building projects and products that solve some of the most pressing problems in underprivileged communities. She began her journey as a community organizer and advocate at the age of 16 after founding Mymba Rayhu, an international youth-led initiative focused on raising awareness of the plight of stray dogs and the importance of accessible environmental education. Vicensar is studying Cognitive Science and Computer Science with a minor in Data Science Pitzer College.

For her work as an entrepreneur and community organizer, she was recognized with the 2018 Asuncion Youth Excellence Award, named one of the 30 Most Influential Young Social Entrepreneurs in the world by the We Are Family Foundation in 2019 and Youth Ambassador of Paraguay by the US Department of State, and received the 2020 Diana Award in memory of Princess Diana. In 2022, Diana became the first Paraguayan to work as a Product Design Intern at Meta in Menlo Park, CA. 

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United States

Catalina Chacón

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Catalina Chacón is the co-founder of Sirenitas de Popoyo, a project developed to empower young local Nicaraguan girls through surf, education, and life planning. The program offers bi-weekly surf lessons and life planning workshops that allow girls to discover their full potential and how to harness their power. Surfing allows the girls to overcome fears and boundaries established by society and a culture that expects young women to be subservient. In the water, they become radiant, powerful and fearless. Outside of the water and in our workshops, they discover the many paths they can choose to embark on, as explorers of their own destiny.  

Chacón works for a start-up focused on helping women move into the C-Suite and into the Boardroom. She has also worked in many grassroots and non-profit organizations from the age of 15 including Boy with a Ball and Foundation for Medical Relief of Children in Nicaragua. Chacón has completed her Bachelor of Psychology from the Universidad Centro Americana de Ciencias Sociales in Costa Rica and her Masters in Gender and Peacebuilding from the UN Mandated University of Peace. She is also certified by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Art Therapy.  

”I want to be a visionary leader that can lay the seeds for future generations to reap the fruits of my efforts. As a visionary leader, I strive to uplift the light that our world needs to thrive on.”   

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Nicaragua

Carolina Soihet Cohen

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Colabore com o Futuro is the first social advocacy business in Latin America that mobilizes society to participate in health decisions with the government, creating more democratic, fair and effective public policies in a transparent and sustainable manner. Colabore is one of the 1,200 companies in Brazil that collaborate with the UN’s SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals, and since its foundation in 2017 has changed the lives of more than 12 million Brazilians, expanding access to health and quality of life for patients in the country. 

Cohen has a deep knowledge of the third sector and in creating strategies for social and political engagement of civil society in health decision-making processes in Brazil. She worked for 8 years as director of one of the most reputable cancer NGOs in Latin America, and also worked in large companies such as Ambev and Peugeot, where she acquired important knowledge in management and processes. 

Cohen was elected as one of the six most admired entrepreneurs and innovators in health through a popular vote promoted by the Health Innova Hub. She has a Social Communication degree, a graduate degree in Graphic Design, and an MBA in Marketing at FGV. 

I want to be a visionary leader that promotes positive transformations in democracy and public policies, guaranteeing wider participation of society in government decisions so that my baby girl and other children can live in a fairer, safer, and more welcoming world. 

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Brazil

Besmire Aliu

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Aliu is the executive director of In Time, an organization that provides educational activities, research and analysis to increase the socio-economic well-being of marginalized groups. The organization also provides training and education in areas where these groups can succeed, with a special emphasis in the field of ICT. 

Aliu credits her leadership skills to her work with In Time. She completed her master’s degree in economics and is certified as an Intuit QuickBooks Certified User by Intuit Inc. Aliu is also a French language graduate with the DELF A1 diploma. 

”As a visionary leader, I will provide others with good practices for becoming wonderful leaders and being strong on the road to success. ”

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Kosovo

Awah Francisca Mbul

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Awah Francisca Mbuli is the founder of Survivors’ Network (SN), CameroonIAfrica, a female-led NGO leading in the fight against all forms of human trafficking in Cameroon and Sub-Saharan African countries.

Mbul is a survivor of sex and labor trafficking and is passionate about her fight to prevent anyone from experiencing what she went through. She has helped rescue and reintegrate 65 female victims of human trafficking from the Gulf Corporation States to their respective Sub-Saharan African home countries and her work has touched over 5000 women and girls directly. 

Mbuli has a master’s degree in Human Rights and Multiculturalism from the Buskerud International University, Norway. She received two International Visitors Leadership Program awards by the U.S Department of State in 2018 and 2020 for combatting trafficking in persons. She is an Ashoka Fellow 2022 from Anglophone West Africa and was awarded the Elkes Impact Award by the Global Freedom Forum organized by Free the Slaves where she has served as an ambassador for two years. Mbul is also aMo Ibrahim Foundation Now Generation Fellow and Obama Africa Leader.  

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Cameroon

Alicia White

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Alicia White is a social innovator, and change maker. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Project Petals, a groundbreaking environmental, community development, and climate justice organization working in under-resourced and BIPOC communities. Project Petals provides the tools, resources, partnerships, and education needed to create healthier environments and shift power to communities that the climate crisis has disproportionately impacted.  

For over a decade, White has worked in the social impact sector in development creating environmental initiatives, equitable solutions, strategies, media partnerships, and programs to improve the environment in BIPOC and under-resourced communities. She has partnered with communities, local governments, and companies to improve the environment and create healthier outcomes. White is creating a company to help cities, BIPOC innovators, and businesses gain the tools and strategy needed to help improve environmental outcomes. She credits her passion for social innovation and the environment to her hometown of Queens, New York.  

People Magazine highlighted White ‘s work in their Resiliency Rising Series which focused on people making an impact throughout the pandemic and beyond. She has received awards from the Discovery Channel, NYC Mayor’s Office, and the Sweetwater Clifton award from the New York Knicks. White appeared on ABC, NBC, and was featured in Women’s Health Magazine. She has also spoken at Princeton’s Keller Center of Innovation and PRSA Government Affairs and Policy organization about making social innovation accessible and environmental justice.

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United States

Agata Bloswick

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Agata Bloswick founded aDaSie (“giv’Adam”) a grassroots organization that empowers the citizens of Krakow to improve public spaces in their local neighborhoods, eventually deepening the dialogue between citizens and local government and driving sustainability changes in the city. Past projects have included the creation of new parks, solar energy sources on school buildings, and urban regeneration projects like Adopt a Flowerpot, or social housing graffiti removal. 

Bloswick is the Global Head of the Site Readiness operations department in Labcorp Drug Development, and is responsible for a team of over 600 individuals in 60 countries delivering clinical trials and new therapies to patients in need. In past years, her operational leadership roles included managing a global portfolio of clinical trials. In 2020, she spearheaded the companys fast-track drug development program for COVID-19 clinical trials in the early stages of the global health crisis, for which she was awarded the Hero Award 

Bloswick holds a PhD in Pharmacology and Pharmacy from Jagiellonian University, and was a fellow at the Center for Leadership Program in partnership with the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. She has contributed to the field of bioethics, speaking at the conferences of UNESCO and the Yale University Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics.  

”As a visionary leader, I strive to elevate diverse voices, empower local changemakers, break down barriers to communication and cooperation, and build in all organizations a commitment to achieving results while upholding good values.”

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Poland

Isabelle Delfosse

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Isabelle Delfosse is the co-founder, director and head surf coach of the Sirenitas de Popoyo. In a male-dominant sport and male community, the Sirenitas de Popoyo aims to empower local girls from the Tola area in Nicaragua through weekly surfing and swimming lessons, education and other group activities such as sexual education, yoga, art and leadership workshops.  

Delfosse is an enthusiastic and active entrepreneur with a passion for the ocean, surf, empowering women and hospitality. In 2016 she solely built and founded Sirena Surf house, which she runs as a beach front guest house in Popoyo, Nicaragua. In 2021 she also founded Sirena Social Club, a yoga and surf retreat business that aims to empower women through unique experiences in nature, connection with the ocean, and the power of self-love. Sirena Social Club creates a culturally inclusive community where compassionate women support each other. She holds a professional bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from the Hogeschool Sint-Lucas in Ghent and a master’s in Design, Communication Strategies & Publicity from the Elisava, Escola superior de Disseny in Barcelona. She is an International Surfing Association certified lifeguard and level 2 surf coach and a certified 200hr Yoga teacher. In 2020, Delfosse took part in Voz Vital Nicaragua’s mentoring program.  

”I want to be a visionary leader that inspires and empowers girls and women to dream big and help them make those dreams come true.”

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Nicaragua

Joanna Sozańska

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Joanna Sozańska has the mission of increasing the visibility of women in international relations and global politics. As a young professional specializing in the Arab region, relations between the European Union and WANA (West Asia and North Africa) countries, Sozańska is planning to create an initiative for a reliable analysis of the WANA region and its relations with the European Union, with the goal of including women experts in the public debate. 

Sozańska gained international experience working with the European Academy of Diplomacy. Sozańska also cooperates with the Institute for Security and International Development operating under the auspices of the DEEP NATO Programme as an Advisor and WANA Expert. She also works at European Border and Coast Guard Agency European Union agency.  

Sozańska graduated from Jagiellonian University, faculties of Middle East Studies with a degree in Arabic language and International Relations. She is pursuing a PhD at the Warsaw School of Economics where she studies news public diplomacy and migration policies in the North Africa region. Sozańska participated in the NATO2030 Global Fellowship, Young Leadership Political Academy by National Democratic Institute, and the Academy of Advocates of Changes. Sozanska also served on juries of international programs such as NATO Youth Delegate of Poland and the Innovation in Politics Awards. 

As a visionary leader I believe there is no place for discrimination and double standards in international relations. 

 

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Poland

Julie Hamaïde

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Julie Hamaïde is an entrepreneur and journalist. In 2017, she launched Koï, a new print publication that explores the complexity of Asian cultures, communities, and life in France. Koï has carved out a place in the French media landscape as the voice of a new generation. She has assembled a network of young French-Asian women from all walks of life around her, called Femmes Koï, who are able to share experiences, memories, challenges and solidarity. This group is a tight-knit community who help each other when needed and can find support and solace like nowhere else. 

In 2017, Koï won the Print Innovation Award by Presstalis and received the political and general newspress qualification by the ministry of Culture of France in 2018. The same year, Koï won the second Prize for Information Abroad by the ministry of Foreign Affair of Vietnam. Hamaïde has given keynote speeches at the international convention of journalism about media creation and talked about Asian diasporas in France on international media, including France 24, France TV, and The Initium Hong Kong. Hamaïde is also a Marshall Memorial Fellow and a Raisina Young Fellow, and is a mentee with the SISTA x Bold program.  

As a visionary leader I aspire to gather the French-Asian communities and give a definition to their identity.  

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France

Kaneeka Kapur

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Kapur is the founder of Pardesi, a digital platform and community which celebrates, empowers and amplifies the voices of South Asian women around the world. Over the last two years, the Pardesi Team has built a collaborative multimedia space rooted in powerful storytelling and community building. Through their content, events and development programmes, Pardesi hopes to present a new kind of digital community for South Asian women – a supportive, positive sisterhood where collaboration is valued over competition.

Kapur holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Warwick and is currently reading for her Master of Laws at Cornell Law School. In 2021, Kapur presented at TEDxWarwickSalon and was named a GROW and Travers Smith Changemaker of the Year. She is also the recipient of the leading international award for young social activists, The Diana Award.

 

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United Kingdom

Kayla Hicks

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Kayla Hicks is the founder and CEO of Sustain Equity Group (SEG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering professional equity for black women in community-based violence intervention and prevention initiatives and other fields. SEG’s flagship program, The Urban Training Research Advocacy Institute and Network (U-TRAIN), provides trauma-informed leadership development cohorts, training, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

Hicks, as a former leader in the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, was an innovative change-maker within the movement. In 2013 Hicks was the first person in the Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) movement to put a lens on the daily gun violence experienced by black and brown communities. A sustained commitment to these communities led to a profound change in policy and programs in Virginia and across the country in neighborhoods impacted by daily gun violence and within organizations serving marginalized communities that are now saving lives.

Hicks is recognized nationally for having worked as African American and Faith Outreach state director for the 2008 Obama campaign, strategic planning coordinator for labor giant SEIU, political consultant, leadership transformation mentor, bail enforcement agent, a private detective, and outreach director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. She earned her AA and BS in interdisciplinary studies and studied for her MA in human services counseling, crisis response, and trauma care from Liberty University. She is a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) member of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, an American Express Social Justice Leadership Academy Alumni and member of the Association of Christian Counselors.

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United States

Laura Robert-Rivera

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Laura Robert-Rivera is utilizing tools in the kitchen to flip tough conversations and whip up better self-care habits by working on creating a baking experience focused on addressing mental health.

Robert-Rivera is the youngest Director on the Board of the World Foundation for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. She has over half a decade of experience working with non-profits, foundations, and philanthropic initiatives. The Governor, State Legislature, the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, and several news outlets have recognized Robert-Rivera for her national child abuse awareness campaign, Stand Up Say No to Child Abuse. She is a Vital Voices Initiative HERlead Fellow, Ambassador, and Grantee, and a 2014 Girl Scouts National Women of Distinction. Robert-Rivera continues to be an active member of Girl Scouts and represented the organization internationally in Curacao and at the United Nations. In 2021, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and human rights from Barnard College, Columbia University.

”As a visionary leader, I hope to leave this world a little sweeter than I found it. ”

Laura Robert Rivera Headshot
United States

Leebashni Reddy

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Reddy is a proud single mother, daughter and a successful career woman. Reddy worked her way up from working at Estée Lauder beauty counters to traveling Africa and the world with Estee Lauder Companies. She has a strong foundation in the prestige beauty industry and a career spanning 22 years at the Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). She shares ELC’s beautiful brands with the sales force around South Africa through high-touch education programs and helps empower employees around the country to achieve their personal and professional goals.  

Reddy also leads Corporate Social Responsibility for ELC South Africa, which includes the Breast Cancer Campaign and has initiated many community impact projects which have not only touched thousands of lives in South Africa but have also been shared as global best practices. Reddy has been instrumental in leading Inclusion and Diversity programs for ELC and has led the development and launch of the ELC Good Works employee volunteerism and giving platform in South Africa.  Reddy is well known as a great motivator, a powerful storyteller, and an influencer of people and she has through hard work and determination, earned incredible accolades and achievements during her career including Winner of the Global Leonard A Lauder Volunteer Award in 2013. 

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South Africa

Linda García Arenas

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Linda García Arenas is the Chief of Party of the Come Play with Me project in ChildFund Guatemala, an innovative project designed to strengthen playful parenting practices and promote growth and learning through play in children from 0 to 4 years old in predominantly indigenous communities across Guatemala. Come Play with Me is implemented remotely through radio, text messages and calls, reaching more than 15,000 primary caregivers who are mostly women.

García Arenas is co-founder of the Paco Piñas Library, which facilitates access to knowledge in a community in western Guatemala. She is also co-founder of CiberfemLab, a space to create, discover, appropriate, reappropriate and share the knowledge of women for autonomy and technological sovereignty. She is also part of the radio program “Voces de Mujeres”. From 2018 to 2022 she was president of the board of directors of ATD Fourth World in Guatemala.

García Arenas has a degree in communication sciences and research from San Carlos University. She has published academic articles on communication, technology, gender, and early childhood. In 2018 she was a fellow at the YouthLACIGF.

”As a visionary leader, I aspire to bring women closer to technology so that they can have a positive impact in their community, including the development of children.”

Linda Garcia Arenas Headshot
Guatemala

María Sofía Muratore

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Muratore investigates the lack of financial education and knowledge of entrepreneurship, and STEM development in women. Her objective is to establish concrete actions to end economic gaps and promote a more inclusive and resilient economic system. Muratore has established a business model of a decentralized incubator with which she seeks to promote the development of MiddleMist women’s enterprises through education, and the use of Blockchain technology. She has established that same idea for the Sahel and was a finalist in a Spanish cooperation contest that sought to facilitate social innovation solutions in Africa.

Muratore has been participating in social impact projects for the private, public and third sectors for more than 5 years. In addition, she works as a University Professor and freelance writer. She has a master’s degree in International Cooperation and Development, where she specialized in social economies from the University of Comillas, Spain. She also has a degree in Social Communication from the Universidad Austral and completed an Executive Program in impact investing at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina. Her commitment to gender inequality allowed her to be selected as a Youth Ambassador – G7 for the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society.

 

 

 

 

 

María Sofía Muratore Headshot
Argentina

Natália Chaves

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Natália Chaves is the energy and sustainability coordinator for the Brazil-Germany Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK-RIO) and a co-founder of the Brazilian Women in Solar Energy Network (MESol). The AHK RIO is a non-profit association that promotes partnerships and business opportunities between Brazilian and German companies by structuring leveraging projects and proposing recommendations for localized energy transition. The Brazilian Network of Women in Solar Energy (MESol) is a socio-political, non-partisan movement that aims to create visibility, and promote, inspire, and connect women who work in the solar energy sector.

Chaves has collaborated with the Brazilian Panel on Climate Change (PBMC) as a junior researcher compiling and reviewing scientific reports to support the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil. During the period of 2012 – 2017, she volunteered for Greenpeace’s National Climate and Energy Campaign and had the opportunity to home her leadership skills on several projects. Since 2019, Chaves has taken part in the Global Women Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET).

As an environmental scientist, Chaves has spoken in the TEDxMorroDaUrca (2022) on renewable energy management. She is passionate about learning, and has publications, articles, and lectures on several topics for platforms such as the Friedrich Ebert-Brazil Foundation and UN Women.

”As a visionary leader I want to make business more sustainable from the diversity of realities and within network experiences. ” 

 

Natalia Chaves Headshot_Natália Chaves_Jun 2022
Brazil

Sarah Koski

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Sarah Koski is an advocate for the equitable treatment of homeless individuals seeking rehabilitation, housing, employment, and care. She works as an active case manager for unhoused communities in the state of Oregon, specializing in de-escalation and a trauma-informed response. Koski is integral in developing case plans, training content, and job coaching for one of the lowest barrier shelters in the state, while also working with teams and organizations coordinating outreach and support of street-based communities.

Koski received her bachelors in political science from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon and found her passion for humanitarian activism through her work with the American Red Cross. She displayed true leadership as chair of the Lane County COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) during one of Oregon’s most devastating wildfires that dislocated thousands. Her experience as a disaster relief strategist paved the way for her to be appointed to two separate gubernatorial task forces on economic reform, reigniting her interest in legislative action.

Her notable work on non-profit philanthropy was highlighted by the UN University of Peace. She is a member of her local Human Rights Commission Poverty and Homeless Task Force, as well as the National Coalition for the Homeless’ Congressional & Legislative Action team.

”I want to be a visionary leader who shifts the perspectives of homelessness and the unhoused for good. I aim to develop new means of storytelling and to redirect narrative structures to advocate for vulnerable populations at home and abroad.”

 

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United States

Rudayna Abdo

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Rudayna Abdo is the Founder and CEO of Thaki, a nonprofit organization that advances digital inclusion by providing gently used laptops with preloaded educational content for underserved communities in the Middle East. Thaki’s educational features include a bilingual, content-rich app that enables offline learning, and a Digital Toolkit for teachers, acting as an educational bridge between ed-tech solutions and vulnerable communities, enabling children and teachers to interact with the digital world that would otherwise not be available to them. Its circular economy model is based on collaboration and low-effort contributions from the private sector, leading to huge social impact.

Abdo has a bachelor’s of science degree in Architectural Studies from MIT, a master’s degree in Urban Planning from McGill University, and is a graduate of Amsterdam’s THNK School of Creative Leadership executive program. Her original career in urban planning involved envisioning, managing, and tailoring solutions to challenging housing, land use, and urban transportation issues across diverse urban geographies including the Arabian Gulf region where she held leadership positions in the private and non-profit sectors.

Abdo received the 2017 TEDxAmsterdamED Award and has been featured in several publications and podcasts. Under her leadership Thaki won numerous recognitions and awards including MIT Solve and selected among HundrED’s Global Collection of 100 of the brightest innovations in K12 education from around the world.

Rudayna Abdo Headshot
Canada

Sherry Soon

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Sherry Soon is the founder and director of Be Kind SG Limited, a non-profit organization that aims to create and inspire a kind and inclusive society for persons with invisible disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities and autism. Some of the programs run by Be Kind SG Limited include a befriending program for people living in adult disability and destitute homes, a play and toy library for children with special needs and their caregivers, and a pilot training program for youths with special needs to explore and nurture their interests.

Soon has extensive teaching experience in literacy and oral skills for children with dyslexia and speech and language difficulties. She was diagnosed with vasculitis, an autoimmune disease, at 19 years old and currently runs an informal support group in Singapore for persons diagnosed with such conditions.

Soon was selected for the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific Program in 2019. She was awarded ‘Leader of Good’ at the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards – the pinnacle award and platform to recognize individuals and groups that have achieved excellence in giving, in 2020, and was a finalist at the American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Award in 2021. Soon is also a Starling Collective Fellow with GivingTuesday.
 

”I want to be a visionary leader that creates opportunities for individuals to participate fully in society.” 

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Singapore

Sawsan Shaikh Saleh

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Sawsan Shaikh Saleh is the Education Manager at the Jordan Olympic Committee and leads the project of establishing a National Olympic Academy. As the Education Manager, she heads multiple functions within the JOC, like Olympic Education, Gender Equality, Prevention of Competition Manipulation, and Sport for All. She has also organized and facilitated several training workshops and projects related to Olympic Values Education, and Safeguarding in sport across different community groups including coaches, Physical Education teachers as well as school and university students and national team athletes.

Shaikh Saleh has initiated the establishment of multiple partnerships with international sport professional institutions such as the Coaching Association of Canada, and the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) in the United States, and has launched the first ever “Sporting School” project for public school students in partnership with GIZ in Amman, Jordan. Shaikh Saleh also handles the file of Sport for Social Development funded by the IOC, such as the Olympic Day and the Asian Games fun run events for multiple years and has engaged various youth initiatives and civil society organizations across Jordan making those nationally recognized events.

Shaikh Saleh comes from an athletic background as she is a former National Boxing Team athlete and Board Member of the Jordan Kickboxing Federation. She is an active board member in the Jordan School Sport Federation. She has a bachelor’s in Pharmacy, a master’s in Business Administration and an executive master’s in Sport Organization Management.

 

 

Sawsan Shaikh Saleh Sawsan Photo
Jordan

Sheila Michaels 

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Sheila Michaels is planning to create a program to address period poverty in her region.  Because period products can be cost prohibitive for many families, girls sometimes miss school and other important events during their cycle. Michaels would like to bring awareness to the issue by connecting with community organizations and sharing information through a social media campaign. Grant writing and fundraising will be an integral part of the program, allowing free period product vending machines to be installed in community schools.

Michaels has a background in education, including 15 years in the classroom and five years as a librarian. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in Education, and a Master of Library and Information Science. Along with serving as the English department chair and leadership team member in her school, Michaels also served on state committees for the Missouri Association of School Librarians. She had the honor of being named an American Library Association Emerging Leader for 2022.

”I want to be a visionary leader that destigmatizes periods by removing obstacles like period poverty and empowering girls to make the most of their education.”

 

Sheila Michaels Headshot1 (1)
United States

Stuti Jalan

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Stuti Jalan is an award-winning entrepreneur, internationally recognized as an emerging woman leader. She is the founder of the Women Inspiring Network (WIN), a storytelling platform that connects aspiring women leaders across countries and backgrounds. It is a first-of-its-kind digital network, democratizing knowledge and highlighting women’s stories of struggle, perseverance, and success. Through webinars, Instagram live sessions, and online panel series, WIN has built a community of over 7,000 remarkable women changemakers from different sectors. As a women-founded and women-led organization, WIN is driven by a comprehensive vision to pay it forward and uplift women along the way.

Jalan also founded Crosshairs Communication, a public relations, strategic communications, and social media company in India. As a first-generation woman entrepreneur who holds experience working with more than 500 brands, she hopes to be a transformational force in the PR and Communications industry by breaking barriers of traditional leadership. Jalan has spoken for a wide range of forums including The Global Indian Business Meet in New York, Pecha Kucha on Entrepreneurship & Sustainable Development, TEDx Tokyo, and at the United Nations.

In 2020, she was awarded the 100 Most Influential Changemakers award as well as an award for the Best Young Women Entrepreneur. She also holds a Woman of Excellence award, and a 2021 Gold award for the most innovative storytelling in PR in the digital age. She serves as an advisor on the board for the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network.

 

Stuti Jalan Sureka Stuti Jalan 1
India

Florence Guzha

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

N Florence Guzha is the founder and director of the Ebenezer Women Social Entrepreneurship Trust(EWSET), a grassroots women and girls’ social movement that aims at strengthening socio-economic opportunities. EWSET aims to enhance the quality of life of the marginalized through capacity development projects, including shoe making and pad making. At EWSET, we believe that inside every woman lies a unique being, which is concealed by bad cultural practices and beliefs in our society but with the correct empowerment and exposure, regardless of where life places a woman, a confident, self-assertive, hardworking woman will emerge. Guzha is a strong woman’s rights activist. She completed the Insider Mediation training with the Begorf Foundation where she learned mediation, negotiation, and facilitation skills which have been of great help to the women and the community she serves. She also completed a training on GenderSupport Programming, Capacity Development Tools and Technics in Gender Mainstreaming. She sits on various boards representing gender, like the National Association of Non-GovernmentalOrganization in Zimbabwe. Guzha was a 2014 VV Lead fellow with Vital Voices.

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Zimbabwe

Claudia Rosales

2022 Fellow, VV VISIONARIES

Rosales founded Women E Work, a regional company based in Perú focused on helping women to return to the labor market and grow their careers.Women E Work is a gender equality company that provides HR Services, gender equality headhunting, leadership training, career coaching and outplacement across Latin America and is currently operating in 8 countries.Rosales has an extensive career as a corporate HR Executive for more than 22 years where she has worked for multinational and global companies such as tech industries, airlines, retail, and global consultancy firms. She has lived in 6 different countries holding regional responsibilities in North, Central, and South America.Rosales has a master’s degree in HRAdministration and is doing a PhD in Psychology where she is conducting research on leadership with a gender equality focus. Rosales is a certified international trainer and a certified coach with extensive HR experience, including leadership development, talent advisory, mentoring, and coaching. She has also served as a speaker at a variety of companies, universities, international associations, NGOs, and humanitarian organizations.

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El Salvador

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.”

 

 

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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

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.”

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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.”

 

 

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United Kingdom

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.”

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Peru

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

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.  

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India

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.”  

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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

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 Ishfaq hopes to start a new organization focused on the empowerment of marginalized communities in Pakistan. 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.   

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 a singer, songwriter, and performer from Camden, London. She weaves confessional lyricism and heart-strung melodies to create a timeless fusion of R&B, Soul, and Pop. Named ‘London’s latest musical maverick’ by Wonderland Magazine, her 2023 summer record ‘Body Takeover’ claimed CLASH Magazine’s ‘Track of the Day. 2024 is a breakthrough season for Vicky Pasion, with her upcoming project promising noteworthy collaborations, distributed by AWAL+, supported by Spotify Notable, and co-signed by Sony Music.

Pasion is also the Co-Founder of Gifted, by Nature – a Media Company comprising a Creative Agency, Record Label, and Literary Publisher. Incorporated in 2019, GIFTED intentionally invests, amplifies, and supports the creation of art by BAME and female voices to increase representation and aspiration within creative industries. GIFTED’s mission is to nurture a more diverse and inclusive industry by providing opportunities, community, and aligned partnerships to help unlock the power of sharing underrepresented stories. Gifted, by Nature 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.

As an official UN Women UK Delegate, Pasion champions safer spaces for women and marginalized 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 the West End and international stages. The campaign for her socially conscious record “HEAVY” was supported by Autograph ABP, with a campaign Shortlisted for a Fair Education Alliance Innovation Award in 2021.

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

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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.” 

 

 

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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.

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Cambodia