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Vital Voices has partnered with POND’S in our new initiative to inspire and strengthen the women of the world who dare to apply innovative and value-driven approaches to tackle social, human rights and environmental challenges at all levels of society. Our organization is charting a new course for women’s leadership, and this groundbreaking fellowship will connect, provide training for and give visibility to over 50 extraordinary women who lead NGOs and companies around the world.

The Fellowship will draw its curriculum from the Vital Voices Leadership Model as well as a customized suite of training modules that focus on building skills, knowledge and capacity in leadership, management, and ultimately, on implementing a new vision for leadership that highlights the strength of leaders to engage others and shift culture through soft values. Through the 21-month fellowship cycle, we aim to help participants:

  • Have the vision, skills and tools to be more effective leaders
  • Understand and practice value-driven leadership in their day-to-day lives
  • Inspire and teach others about the importance and power of women’s leadership and “paying it forward”
  • Internalize and apply these values in their moments of choice
  • Have a framework through which to dissect situational moments of conflict, growth and leadership

The fellows will walk away having experienced:

  • Powerful professional relationships and collaborations with like-minded, visionary women
  • In-person summits and interactive online training courses
  • A deepened and refined vision for change
  • Investment in building of skills, knowledge and capacity in leadership, management, and more


June 25th – 30th

Throughout 2018, small groups of fellows will gather on Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Exchange Programs to deepen their fellowship experience. For four days, we will step outside of our day-to-day routines and indulge in knowledge exchange, peer coaching, community, capacity building and collaboration. Facilitated by staff and VVLead ambassadors, the goal of these small-scale, intensive programs is for participating fellows to ignite new creative partnerships, support one another as women leaders, cross-pollinate ideas, and become equipped with new knowledge, tools, connections, and strategies to tackle personal leadership and organization goals.

Meet The Fellows

Natalie Robi Tingo

2017 Fellow, Msichana Empowerment Kuria

Natalie Robi Tingo has more than three years’ experience in the non-profit sector and holds a B.A. in Economics from Moi University, Kenya. She is the Founder of Msichana Empowerment Kuria, an organization she founded at 19 years old. Her organization reaches more than 30,000 people from her community in Southern Kenya with End Female Genital Mutilation, education, human rights, youth and women empowerment programs. Her belief in ending all forms of violence against women and girls, through involving youth creative ideas in solving social problems, prompted her to develop youth-led programs that are ensuring the organization achieves its goals. Her passion has earned her recognition both in Kenya and internationally. She was awarded the Zuri Award 2017 International women’s day leadership award and has spoken at the Closing Plenary of the first ever Global Festival for Ideas on Sustainable Development Goals in Bonn, Germany. She is an alumna of 9th Ewha Global Empowerment Program 2016, a prestigious program that recognizes outstanding women across Asia and Africa in their contribution for women’s empowerment. Spark International recognizes her as a She by Spark* International 2016 Kenyan Change Maker. In 2016 she was named as one of the Emerging Innovators in East Africa by Ashoka Change Makers. Global Citizen has featured her work.


Varsha Thebo

2017 Fellow, Founder of SARTY

Varsha Thebo grew up in a small town in Pakistan and is a Public Health and English Literature graduate from Agnes Scott College. She is the one and only recipient of the Global Leadership Scholarship from Pakistan, and also the only Pakistani nominated by the UNAI/UNHATE Foundation to work for the promotion of interfaith harmony in rural Sindh. Varsha is the founder of SARTY, a small-scale organization based in the Umerkot district of Sindh, Pakistan. Varsha has worked with several local and international organizations, including the Center for Peace and Civil Society, Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, Global Village Project and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her work mostly revolves around female education and empowerment, youth political participation, health rights, LGBT rights and refugee education. She has worked as a mentor and motivational speaker at various women’s organizations, such as The Harpswell Foundation in Cambodia and Refugee Women’s Network in the United States. Varsha has previously been a fellow at World Innovation Summit for Education. Through that platform, Varsha advocated and worked towards trans-rights in Pakistan and Cambodia.


Mehwish Niaz

2017 Fellow, Laureate Foundation

If Abraham Lincoln got his start by splitting rails, who knows where Mehwish Niaz might end up? What drafts her constitution? The spirit of volunteering and work in the social development sector, empowering young girl’s communities and educating them in life skills-based was the stage which motivated her to think beyond borders and initiate a platform for sharing best practices in youth volunteering. Her passion for transition in conventional youth empowerment practices reached its peak while she was working as the founding Director at her brainchild initiative, the Laureate Foundation. The Laureate Foundation was founded in order to provide a platform to harness and nurture young people through informed, innovative, and value-driven approaches for personal, community, and national development. In its most recent initiative, “Economic and Social Integration of the Youth,” the Laureate Foundation is giving young underprivileged women a chance to raise their economic status. With a vision of “jointly building a world of committed youth,” the Laureate Foundation empowers communities, particularly young women, to become the catalysts for transforming their social and economic spheres while becoming participatory, dedicated, and honest leaders who are contributing members of their society.


Jessica Hubley

2017 Fellow, CEO of AnnieCannons, Inc

Jessica is an attorney and entrepreneur serving as CEO of AnnieCannons, Inc. and running her own legal practice in the Bay Area. After earning a BA and Master’s from Emory University and attending Stanford Law School, Jessica worked at Latham & Watkins LLP and Dickstein Shapiro LLP, advising internet, cloud, and digital media companies on general commercial matters, with a particular focus on privacy issues, IP management, and distribution strategies. She previously served as General Counsel at Stride Health, Inc., where she also worked as Interim Director of Operations. Her role as CEO entails the management of AnnieCannons’ impact outsourcing business and co-management of nonprofit operations. Her legal practice specializes in e-commerce and privacy law in the Bay Area, where she works to guide tech startups through their lifecycle with profitable responsibility. She also writes novels and was introduced to the global issues of human trafficking several years ago through her work as the President of Women of Stanford Law. She has been interviewing and gathering stories of human trafficking survivors around the world, and is currently represented by Trident Media Group for a narrative nonfiction piece that highlights the stories of trafficking survivors from around the globe and how existing technology could have helped them.

Jessica was one of the women who served as inspiration for the limited-time Target Collection, A New Day + Vital Voices.

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United States

Maral Dipodiputro

2017 Fellow, Co-Founder and CEO of TEMU

Maral Dipodiputro has been the Co-Founder and CEO of TEMU, a social enterprise that focuses on tackling issues on poverty and unemployment, specifically in urban slums, beginning in Jakarta, Indonesia, since late 2015. TEMU is a low-skills job marketplace, providing its service in the form of a mobile and web-based application that collects data from both ends: job providers and job seekers. TEMU then acts as the intermediary to coordinate the supply and demand between both parties. It then synthesizes these data to match individuals with job opportunities and produce better work outcomes. TEMU puts the right people in the right jobs, thereby increasing their productivity along with their job satisfaction, and raising overall labor productivity. Maral began her career as a corporate lawyer in a top-tier international law firm. Her time in the corporate scene allows her to develop strategies and analyze potential for commercial growth. She then decided to leave the corporate career and begin her social career by participating in the task force under the President of the Republic of Indonesia, in charge of overseeing development projects in the marginalized areas. These experiences equipped her with a strong network and the ability to work closely with the government, private sectors, and local communities. Following this, she established TEMU.


Umba Zalira

2017 Fellow,

Umba has over 5 years’ work experience in the nonprofit sector in Malawi and has a passion for youth participation, leadership, women’s health with a special focus on sexual reproductive health and rights, especially for girls and young women. As a Global Health Corp Fellow for the class of 2014-15, Umba was placed at the Ministry of Health-Reproductive Health Directorate, where she co-managed the programs and partnership for the directorate. She is the co-founder of Growing Ambitions, a non-profit organization that provides career guidance and mentorship to girls and young women in the peri-urban areas of Lilongwe city. She is currently working with Theatre for A Change as the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager, and was recently selected as a Women Deliver Young Leader. Umba is a member of Rotaract Club of Lilongwe, the Young African Feminist Network, and the EmGENDER Network.

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Tu Anh Hoang

2017 Fellow,

Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population Vietnam

Dr. Hoang Tu Anh (MD) is both founding member and Director of the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP). She works in a number of research, training and intervention programs on gender, sexuality and HIV. She has extensive experience working with disadvantaged groups such as adolescents, gender-based violence survivors and perpetrators, people living with HIV and sexual minorities using a participatory and rights-based approach in Vietnam and in the region. Much of her effort is in building research and dissemination capacity in Vietnam and transforming research into effective advocacy and interventions. She is the former chair of the Vietnam Sexual Rights Alliance, faculty member of the SouthEast Asia Consortium on Gender, Sexuality and Health and member of the Board of Directors of the Asia-Pacific Research and Resource Center for Women (ARROW). Her current interests are civil society movements and gender-based violence toward married women and LGBT people using symbolic violence, heteronormativity and panopticon framework.

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Tippi Fernandez

2017 Fellow,

BagoSphere PH Inc. • Philippines

As Director and Head of Operations and HR at BagoSphere, Tippi Fernandez plays an active role in strategy formulation and execution. She heads the operations team on the ground who work together to solve youth unemployment in the Philippines. It was when she joined BagoSphere in 2013 when she deeply realized that there truly are solutions out of poverty, having seen firsthand how BagoSphere’s training program dramatically transformed students’ lives. Tippi has 15 years’ working experience in the corporate world. She took on various management roles in both the banking and BPO industries. She was Head of HR of Bank Victorias in the Philippines that catered to SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs. She was responsible for HR strategy and operations in preparation for its scaling. As part of the bank’s management team, she was also highly exposed to sales and marketing, audit, credit and collections. In the BPO field, she briefly managed recruitment operations at Convergys. She streamlined recruitment operations as the team employed hundreds of agents per month. She was also an instructor at Berlitz-Japan and taught business communication and technical writing in the University of St. La Salle. In both educational institutions, she received awards for teaching excellence and customer service. Tippi graduated with distinction from La Salle’s Psychology program.

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Sylvia Guimaraes

2017 Fellow,

Vaga Lume Association Brazil

Born in Sao Paulo, Brasil, the historian and educator Sylvia Guimaraes, 39, has been head of Vaga Lume Association since the beginning in 2001. Upon graduating from the University of S√£o Paulo, Sylvia and two other friends founded Vaga Lume Association and set off with a lofty goal: to build 26 libraries in 26 different communities in the Amazon Rain Forrest. In a trip that took almost 2 years, Vaga Lume transferred knowledge by training literacy coaches and reading mediators as well as physically creating the space and bringing a curated selection of books and activities. In most of these initial communities contemplated, Vaga Lume brought the only libraries for miles.

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Supreet Singh

2017 Fellow,

Safecity India

A Writer/Director and a Yoga Acharya, Supreet Singh has transitioned from a corporation to making social films and running an NGO. Her first short film won the Best Director award at the Cine India Film Festival, and was selected to represent India in the Apchat French Film Festival and the Iraq International Film Festival in 2016. She is a partner at Safecity, where she specifically handles operations and works on creatively engaging women and men in solutions, and designing partnerships with media, corporations and other NGOs. Supreet is a certified counsellor and conducts workshops on raising awareness on sexual violence with children, communities and corporations. More recently, she was awarded the Social Innovator Leadership award by Biz Divas 2016 for her work at Safecity. She has been the COO & Director (Partner) of Safecity since 2015, and a Rozy Roti Films partner, writer and director since 2013. From 2010-2013, Supreet was the managing director of Safran Design, Mumbai (European couture), and was the Head of Business Development at Grovers Zampa Wines, Mumbai from 2008-10. She was the trade marketing manager for Kingfisher Airlines, India from 2005-07, and worked with United Breweries from 1998 – 2005.

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Sohila Hassan

2017 Fellow,

FemiHub Egypt

Sohila Hassan believes the personal is political. She was born in 1992 and raised in a very conservative community in Egypt where girls’ and women’s rights have been gradually taken away; this is where her character and interests have been formulated. Freshly after graduating from five years of medical study in the faculty of Clinical Pharmacy, Sohila decided to shift careers. She has engaged in many feminist and women-serving NGOs such as Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW) and the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt (BCFE), where she developed great strategic writing and M&E skills. Furthermore, she has worked on a research paper addressing Women’s Political Representation After the Arab Spring Revolutions, with Egypt as a Case Study, in collaboration with the University of Bucharest. In November 2015, she decided to start up FemiHub which is the first Egyptian platform that identifies and targets the Female Independence Seekers (FISs) who move from their governorates to Cairo for work and study purposes. The aim of FemiHub is mobilizing the FISs to help each other finding appropriate jobs and houses and combating domestic violence in general and the deprivation of liberty in particular.

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Siphelele Chirwa

2017 Fellow,

Educo Africa South Africa

Siphele Chirwa has been working in the youth development sector for the last 12 years, with an NGO called Educo Africa where she is currently part of the Executive Leadership and a Programme Lead Facilitator. She entered the organization as a participant or beneficiary 13 years ago, and took over the running of Educo Africa 2 years ago, to build a suitable organization. This has happened in the last 2 years. She is responsible for the fundraising and marketing portfolio of the organization, working along the board in that regard. Siphele designs and facilitates outdoor-based experiential programmes in leadership, life skills and rites of passage for young people from all backgrounds, as well as for adults. She is also currently studying Project Management and Youth Development, and is a leader of the Youth Development Forum in Langa, Cape Town.

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South Africa

Silvija Mitevska

2017 Fellow,

TAKT NGO Macedonia

Silvija Mitevska is the President and Program Director of TAKT NGO. She is an emerging leader for GSMP (Global Sports Mentoring Program) for 2016. Silvija is a professional paragliding pilot and paragliding instructor, and a writer who has published two books.

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Shirley Otube

2017 Fellow,

Secure Publications Kenya

Shirley Otube is an experienced and resourceful researcher as well as trainer offering outstanding skills within the human rights and migration fields in the humanitarian sector. She is interested in conflict transformation, security, diplomacy and defense. Apart from these formal obligations, Shirley also serves as a mentor for young women in Kenya and runs a digital publication on Conflict and Security in Africa known as Secure Publications.

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Shilla Adyero

2017 Fellow,

Lutino Adunu Uganda

Shilla Adyero is a human rights advocate born, raised, and educated in Gulu, Northern Uganda; a place characterized by a protracted two-decade conflict. Shilla holds a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont – USA, alongside other degrees from Makerere University and Western Washington University. She is also the founder and director of Lutino Adunu, a community-based organization established to promote learning through the provision of community libraries services, sponsorship for selected beneficiaries and the establishment of a school to re-build the lives of children in post war northern Uganda. Shilla holds over 7 years of experience in project planning and implementation with a focus on addressing the struggles of marginalized and vulnerable people, particularly children and women, through multi-level and diversely oriented advocacy, and research. The two-decade war shaped Shilla’s commitment to service above self. Her community was traumatized by the gross human rights violations of the Lord’s Resistance Army as many children were abducted on their way to schools, recruited as child soldiers or used as sex slaves by the rebel fighters. She counts herself lucky to have been able to pursue her studies despite the violence that surrounded her. Shilla has dedicated her life to rebuild the lives of people in Northern Uganda.

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Sheeba Sen

2017 Fellow,

Alaap People’s Foundation India

A lawyer by education and training, Sheeba studied International Relations at the London School of Economics, followed by the Legal Practice course at the University of Oxford. She practiced at an international law firm in London for three years before returning to India in 2011, driven by a strong need to devote her life in service of the underprivileged in her country. Pulled towards the Himalayas, she visited a remote mountain village in 2012. It took just one visit to Satoli, and Sheeba knew that this was where she wanted to set-up her life, living amongst and working for rural mountain communities. For the next 3.5 years she was associated with a local rural development organization called Aarohi. Later, as the CEO of the organization, she expanded Aarohi’s funder and volunteer base and helped develop their education outreach initiatives. She left Aarohi in December 2015 with a desire to work more closely with remote communities. ‘Alaap’ was borne out of this need. Founded in March 2016, Alaap is a grassroots organization based in rural Himalayas. Its mission is to regenerate and conserve the indigenous forests of the Himalayas through community mobilization, advocacy and scientific techniques. Weaved in are initiatives that create opportunities for context-based education and sustainable livelihoods. Sheeba is the Executive Head of Alaap.

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Rupal Ganesh

2017 Fellow,

Shram Sarathi India

Rupal Kulkarni is the CEO of Shram Sarathi – a pioneering financial services institution for seasonal labour migrants in India. Her work focuses on innovations that enable financial inclusion of highly excluded and vulnerable migrant communities. Rupal herself has lived and worked among tribal communities in rural parts of India. She currently oversees organisational strategy, product development, fundraising and research. She has over 8 years of development experience in India and Ghana. She has been an HSBC scholar at the London School of Economics, where she completed her Masters in Development Studies. She has an undergraduate degree in Commerce and is a university ranker from the University of Mumbai. She is also part of a distinguished cohort of social entrepreneurs at the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme. She was awarded the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars award in 2016, the ICICI fellowship in 2012 in India, and the Opportunity Collaboration fellowship in 2009 in Mexico for young social entrepreneurs. More recently, her company’s innovations in financial services also bagged the People’s Choice Award and placed third in the country at the MetLife Foundation Inclusion Plus competition in 2017. Rupal strongly believes in the transformative power of finance and the value of sustained community engagement in designing effective solutions. She is very passionate about her coffee and in her free time, she enjoys portrait photography.

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Prossy Kawala

2017 Fellow,

Centre for Media Literacy and Community Development (CEMCOD) Uganda

Prossy Kawala is a Media and Community Solutions expert with profound knowledge and skills in developing and promoting meaningful initiatives for community transformation and development. She co-founded the Center for Media Literacy and Community Development – CEMCOD, a Uganda-based non-profit organization transforming communities through the promotion of both media and community-led initiatives. As CEMCOD’s Director of Media Initiatives, Prossy’s specialties are media and information literacy, designing media & training packages that help young people, women, and communities at large in influencing their own development agendas through media and strengthening community voices in decision-making processes. Prossy has attended high-level capacity development trainings such as IREX’s Community Solutions Program, Wits University’s Radio Management Course, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Women Health and Opportunity Reporting, and DW’s MIL Train the Trainer, thereby advancing her leadership & management credentials and dedication to media & community work. She runs and curates TEDxNakaseroWomen events in Kampala, Uganda. She has 9 years’ experience working in the media as a news reporter, news anchor, news editor and now media trainer. Prossy holds a Diploma in Journalism from the Institute of Management, Science and Technology in Mbale, a Certificate in Public Administration from Makerere University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies.

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Ornella Nsoki

2017 Fellow,

NZOLANI Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ornella Nsoki runs a youth development non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting access to quality education for children and youth living in rural communities in the DRC. She is highly involved in topics related to curriculum development, ICT in education, youth civic education and girls’ empowerment. Ornella is passionate about participatory development, project-based learning, and the use of practical and innovative techniques in teaching, to boost student learning outcomes and thus empower communities. Through her projects, she promotes collaborative work aimed at finding solutions to problems related to the quality and relevance of the Congolese national education curriculum in the evolving 21st Century job market and challenges. She is also the country coordinator for a World Bank ICT pilot project aimed at creating effective channels for feedback, accountability, and redress among educational service providers, as well as between the service providers and population at large to improve public schools’ governance.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Olwethu Leshbane

2017 Fellow,

The Red Wings Project South Africa

Olwethu Leshabane is a 26-year-old who is wise beyond her years, has a bustling life in the entertainment and media industries and a need to develop and empower young women. She is a talented brand strategist, owns her own media company, Busara Media, and previously co-ran Stanford Media before returning to the corporate world as an Account Manager at Dentsu Aegis Network. Her strategic communications skills and an inquisitive and unique eye for strategic media communication have made her a sought-after asset in the brand building, communication and public relations industry. This has led her to work with, and build, celebrity and product brands. Leshabane has regular current affairs, lifestyle and entertainment features on a number of radio and TV platforms including e-tv, Power FM and UJFM. Her passion for female empowerment has led her to make a positive difference in the lives of others. At the end of 2014, she formed an organisation which collects sanitary pads and donates them to underprivileged young women. This organisation, The Red Wings Project, also speaks to the lack of adequate sanitary education and facilities available to underprivileged women and girls in Africa. Olwethu believes that being Mrs. South Africa 1st Princess 2017 has given her a platform to create further awareness surrounding the struggle that rural and township women face.

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South Africa

Nadya Okamoto

2017 Fellow,

I’m Nadya, a 19-year-old from Portland, Oregon, and the Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD (freshman at Harvard College). PERIOD is a global youth-run nonprofit that strives to provide and celebrate menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service – through the global distribution of menstrual hygiene products and engagement of youth leadership through a nationwide network of campus chapters. In the last two years, we have addressed over 78,000 periods through 43 nonprofit partners in 27 states and 14 countries, and we have 65 campus chapter at universities and high schools around the United States. I am also the co-founder and spokesperson of E Pluribus. I am also running for Cambridge City Council with a full-time youth-run campaign. Nadya is an alumna of the Vital Voices youth leadership program HERlead.

United States

Mona Tavassoli

2017 Fellow,

Mompreneurs Middle East United Arab Emirates

Mona Tavassoli is the CEO and founder of Mompreneurs Middle East, a B2B platform that caters to female entrepreneurs in the Middle East and enables them to promote and grow their business. The organization believes in women’s empowerment in the region through entrepreneurial education and mompreneurship. Mona strives to educate women to raise thriving families and build successful businesses through self-mastery and self-discipline. Mona has been featured across a number of different publications and media outlets including Sky News Arabia, Dubai Eye Radio, SME Advisor, TEDx UOWD, Arabian Business, The National and many others. Mona is a mother of two, an entrepreneur and adventurer. She takes part in challenging experiences on a regular basis to extend her horizon. Skydiving, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, under the banner of “World Peace Through Women’s Empowerment”, and even firewalking. Mona’s research has taken her right across the globe, and she has studied under numerous experts and mentors. She has taken part in programs led by all the greats, including Tony Robbins and Brian Tracy, and has been presented with the Young Alumni Award by the University of Wollongong in Dubai. Mona has completed Vital Voices VVGrow program and she is a part of VV100 women leaders.

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United Arab Emirates

Megumi Ishimoto

2017 Fellow,

NPO Women’s EyeJapan

Originally from Wakayama Prefecture, Ms. Ishimoto holds a Master’s Degree in Human Security from Tokyo University. Her own experience of combining work with correspondence education, night school, and graduate school has led to a strong interest in providing educational opportunities for women. Ms. Ishimoto worked in international finance for 10 years as an executive assistant to a director. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, she left her job and moved to Miyagi Prefecture as a volunteer, becoming involved in support activities for women along the Sanriku Coast. In June 2011, she set up the RQ Women’s Support Center, which in June 2013 was transformed into the NPO ‘Women’s Eye’. Since then, she has continued to work alongside local women in addressing the problems faced by women in the disaster areas. Megumi’s objective is to realize a society where a woman has opportunities to empower herself and fully utilize her capacity to participate in leading a community to secure everyone’s life, livelihood, and dignity.

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Maria Vertkin

2017 Fellow,

Found in Translation United States

Maria Vertkin is a social worker, immigrant, formerly homeless, and a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. In 2011, she founded the nonprofit Found in Translation, which provides medical interpreter training and job placement to low-income and homeless bilingual women, thereby enabling them to turn their most stigmatized characteristic‚Äîtheir linguistic and cultural backgrounds‚Äîinto their biggest asset in the workforce. This work has attracted recognition and awards, including the 2011 Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship, the 2013 Echoing Green Global Fellowship, the 2015 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize, the 2015 Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and the 2017 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Through her work with medical interpreters, Maria’s interest in health disparities deepened and drew her to study public health in order to understand, and ultimately change, the inequalities at the intersection of linguistic human rights, policy, and health economics. Prior to Found in Translation, Maria worked at the nonprofit Rediscovery, where she supported young men aging out of the state foster care system. Shelater led the innovative pilot program YouthHarbors, which nearly eliminated instances of dropout in homeless unaccompanied high school students, a population with an expected dropout rate of over seventy-five percent. Maria graduated from Regis College with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in 2011.

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United States

Marcela Guerrero Casas

2017 Fellow,

Open Streets Cape Town South Africa

Marcela Guerrero Casas is passionate about cities, public space and most importantly, people. Her personal and professional drive emanates from connecting with others and contributing to improve the place where she lives. Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, Marcela lived in the US for most of her adult life before moving to South Africa in 2006. Marcela holds a Master’s in Public Administration and International Affairs from Syracuse University. She has worked in policy and advocacy for almost ten years in organizations that include The Carter Center, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Fairtrade Africa. Marcela moved to Johannesburg in 2006 and worked in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Kenya before moving permanently to Cape Town in 2011. Marcela is also a co-founder of Otro SUR, a platform for cultural exchange between Latin American and Sub-Saharan African countries, and was a contributor to the African Centre for Cities’ Serious Fun project in 2014.

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South Africa

Lily Kudzro

2017 Fellow,

Devio Arts Centre Ghana

Lily Kudzro is an extraordinarily passionate social entrepreneur with over five years’ experience in advocacy and human rights law. As a young Executive Producer, Presenter, Writer and Founder of a leading non-profit organization in Ghana, Devio Arts Centre, she empowers children, young people and teachers through various creative programs she offers at both the community and national level in Ghana. In November 2016, she received a letter of endorsement from the Government of Ghana’s Ministry of Creative Arts, Culture and Tourism, as a recognition of her efforts to provide creative arts education in the nation. Her vision is to become not just a powerful voice, but a change agent in addressing major problems in global education, with a special focus on problems affecting the learning abilities of children and young people from marginalized communities. She has been a strong voice for children’s creative participation in Ghana. Lily believes in a world of creative children, who can achieve their full potential.

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Keren Jackson

2017 Fellow,

BlueFire Ireland

Keren Jackson is CEO and founder of BlueFire, a social enterprise empowering young people to create innovative solutions to fostering integration in their communities. Founded in 2013, BlueFire has since reached over 15,000 people. The organisation runs 4 programmes including an annual intercultural festival, youth empowerment programmes for 18 – 30 year olds and community integration workshops for 13 – 17 year olds. Keren was also a finalist in the Rising Star Programme, a global search to find one young person and send them to space. She has also spoken at One Young World, TEDx Dublin and is a Yunus&Youth fellow.

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Jessica Soto

2017 Fellow,

Mujeres Lideres Peru

Jessica Soto is a graphic designer and interior designer with 20 years’ experience, from creating her own design advertising agency in 2002 to working for international and local brands in design, corporate image and web development. Jessica was accepted into the 10,000 Women program in 2012 and that was the start of a journey. In 2013, she was selected for the Vital Voices GROW Fellowship, and in 2014 was selected by The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women into a mentoring program. After improving her business skills and, not only self-confidence, but the mission to pay it forward when she got back to her country, she started doing the Vital Voices Mentoring Walks in Peru, and noticed that one day alone was not enough for all the women that came to the walk needed. Merging her advertising experience, commitment to women’s development and the will to pay it forward, Jessica created, after listening to different stories of Peruvian women, a women’s network called Mujeres Lideres that provides counseling, coaching, capacity-building in weak areas for business women. The organization also provides networking and exhibition sales events for them to promote their brands and network, as well as empowering them by giving them tools and knowledge to make their businesses grow and plant in their hearts the pay it forward mission so they will become mentors one day.

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Greta Rios

2017 Fellow,

Ollín Jóvenes en Movimiento • Mexico

Greta Rios is a Mexican youth activist. She started a national NGO in 2011 (Ollin) and has been working to promote youth participation in Mexico since then. Greta has participated in several research projects dealing mostly with Human Rights topics. Before starting Ollin, she worked for the Mexican Ministry of the Interior, the Permanent Mexican Mission to the United Nations in Geneva and Reforestamos México, a national environmental NGO. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from Tec de Monterrey and an LL.M. in International Dispute Settlement from the Graduate Institute Geneva. She was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2016.

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Gemma Bulos

2017 Fellow,

Global Women’s Water Initiative United States

Gemma Bulos is a multi-award-winning serial social entrepreneur (SocEnt) having launched three organizations in three continents. As the Founding Director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative, she trains grassroots women in Sub-Saharan Africa to become water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) technicians, trainers and social entrepreneurs. GWWI was shortlisted for the Humanitarian Water and Food Award, and Gemma was named one of the Top 10 Water Solutions Trailblazers in the world by Reuters Foundation. Prior to stepping in to lead GWWI, Gemma co-founded A Single Drop for Safe Water, developing income-generating community-led water service organizations in disaster prone regions of the Philippines. For this innovation, Gemma received international accolades including Echoing Green as one of the Best Emerging SocEnts in the World; Best SocEnt in the Philippines by Ernst Young; Most Influential Thought Leader and Innovative Filipina in the United States by Filipina Women’s Network; and Best SocEnt in Asia by the Schwab Foundation with special recognition at the World Economic Forum. Her programs also won accolades from Silicon Valley Tech Museum Tech Award, sponsored by Applied Materials, and Warriors of the UN Millennium Goals, sponsored by Kodak Philippines. She has taught social entrepreneurship at Stanford University and is currently the Director of Social Innovation and Impact at Claremont McKenna College.

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United States

Gantuya Sainkhuu

2017 Fellow,

Sainkhuu Iveel San Mongolia

Promoting activism through women’s empowerment, Gantuya is the Executive Director and Co-founder of Saikhuu Iveel San, which is named after her father, who was one of the active initiators and promoters of democracy in Mongolia in 1990. Today, through her organisation, Gantuya is promoting activism and women’s leadership by providing leadership training to women at the grassroots level in Mongolia. She believes active and responsible citizens are the strong foundation for a healthy democracy in Mongolia. Before establishing Sainkhuu Iveel San, Gantuya worked mostly with international development organisations in Mongolia contributing her efforts, skills, knowledge and experience for the well-being of the people and the country. Based on her experience and activism since 2012, she wrote a book “IrGun” which became the best-selling book in 2014.Since then, it has become one of her passions to write a book to enlighten others, help women and girls to find themselves, their mission in life and become leaders in their arena. Gantuya has her M.B.A. in Business Administration from The Hague University in the Netherlands and Diploma of Public Administration from the Governance Academy of Management in Mongolia. Her interests are reading books on history, politics, philosophy and leadership.

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Gabriela Martinez Sainz

2017 Fellow,

Centre for Human Rights Studies CEDH Mexico

Gabriela Martinez Sainz is the Co-founder and Director of Centro de Estudios en Derechos Humanos, an independent and not-for-profit think tank that develops research-led and evidence-based projects to eradicate violence and discrimination, advance social justice and strengthen respect for human rights across Latin America. She holds a PhD in Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Research from the University of Cambridge where she conducted research on the implementation of human rights education and training programs in Mexico. As a researcher, Gabriela is a member of the National System of Researchers in Mexico, certified by the Council of Science and Technology. She has been affiliated with the Center for Governance and Human Rights of the University of Cambridge, and also the Center for Socio-legal Studies of the University of Oxford where she collaborated in the UNESCO-funded project “Countering Online Hate Speech.” As an educational consultant, she works alongside organisations to assess their educational and training needs in order to develop their programmes accordingly. She is the author of textbooks and educational materials on issues of citizenship, democracy and human rights that have sold more than 1,000,000 copies in Mexico over the last school years.

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Esther Passaris

2017 Fellow,

Adopt A Light Kenya

Esther Muthoni Passaris is a skilled marketing and public relations professional with over 20 years’ experience. As an entrepreneur, she has successfully conceptualized, started and nurtured two businesses, establishing them to growt and become trend setters in their respective segments, namely Adopt A Light and Shaper Images Ltd. In a bid to play a part in positively fashioning the politics of Kenya, Esther got involved in elective politics, contesting for Member of Parliament in 2008, and finishing in a close second. Later, she vied for the Nairobi Women Representative seat in 2013, and is contesting for the same seat again in the 2017 General Elections.

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Dissa Ahdanisa

2017 Fellow,

Fingertalk Enterprise Indonesia

A graduate of the University of New South Wales, Australia with a Master of Professional Accounting, Dissa is a language enthusiast and passionate volunteer, especially in the area of education for underprivileged children. She pursued her Bachelor of Business Administration in Ritsumeikan APU, Japan, and has travelled to volunteer with grassroots organizations in Australia, India and Latin America. She founded Fingertalk in 2015 after visiting the first deaf café in Nicaragua, Café de Las Sonrisas. She was inspired by the idea of providing equal opportunities for people with disabilities, especially the deaf who are often discriminated due to low awareness in society. She worked at Credit Suisse Singapore as an Equity Analyst while managing Fingertalk in the beginning year. Fingertalk is the first initiative in Indonesia that provides job opportunities through a café, car wash and workshop all together from and for the deaf. Currently, she works full-time at Fingertalk, managing her 20 deaf employees while learning more words in sign language for daily communication. She is passionate in learning how business can help social missions be achieved. She speaks Indonesian, English, Japanese, Spanish and Arabic. She signs Singapore Sign Language (SgSL), American Sign Language (ASL) and Bahasa Isyarat Indonesia (BISINDO).

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Daniela Pogliani

2017 Fellow,

Conservación Amazónica Peru

Daniela Pogliani, Italian by nationality, has lived and worked in the United Kingdom and Peru for over two decades. Executive director of Conservación Amazónica-ACCA, a Peruvian NGO working to protect biodiversity in the Amazon, using science and education, she has more than 17 years of professional experience in project administration, management, and finance in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors in Europe and Latin America. She holds a Master’s degree in business administration and works in an environment where biologists, engineers and field scientists have taught her a new way to look at and understand the world outside figures and balance sheets. Since university, she has devoted her professional career investigating options to develop sustainable business practices to foster conservation and human well-being. She believes sustainable, inclusive and circular businesses are the key to ensure a better future for everyone. As the mother of two young boys, she likes to keep her mind active and has learned to rely on multicultural approaches to strengthen her negotiation and learning skills.

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Courtney Lawrence

2017 Fellow,

DSIL Global Thailand

Based in Southeast Asia, Courtney Lawrence is the founding CEO of Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership (DSIL) Course — a global endeavor that unites international multi-stage leaders with a constellation of tools, networks and field immersions with local innovation communities to accelerate major impact in their own context. Today, she now co-runs DSIL Global, a social innovation company that includes consulting with an international development focus. Courtney is Faculty at Thammasat University, School of Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship, where she teaches leadership and Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation, and for the THNK School of Creative Leadership in Amsterdam for in-company programs. Her academic research focuses on the intersection of sustainable economic development, social enterprise and design thinking. From 2006-2014 she served on the Executive Committee of the Swiss-based NGO, World Alliance of YMCAs. Previous to co-founding a US social enterprise dedicated to building a hub for green sustainability entrepreneurs in 2011, she worked with Ashoka’s Full Economic Citizenship initiative in the Washington, D.C. area. She has facilitated multiple trainings across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North and South America. She holds a Master’s in Sustainable Economic Development and Responsible Management from UPEACE, the UN Mandated Graduate School of Peace and Conflict Studies and has lived, worked and traveled across more than 60 countries.

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Cici Battle

2017 Fellow,

Young People For • United States

Christin “Cici” Battle is the Director of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For, a national leadership development organization for college-aged folks. Hailing from Miami, Florida, by way of Denver, Colorado, Battle is a youth engagement expert and women and girls advocate that has developed and directed youth programs in local, state and international spaces. Battle is the first Director of Young People For who has also previously participated in the Young People For fellowship program. Most recently, Battle served as a professor of Leadership Development at SENA Cali, Colombia where she created and implemented the college’s first leadership development curriculum. She also created the Florida Youth Commission‚Äîthe youth-led body that advises the governor’s cabinet on all youth-related issues. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a certificate in leadership development and a master’s degree in higher education policy from Florida International University. In 2014, she was awarded the Florida Gubernatorial Program Public Service Award and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

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United States

Christy Fenton

2017 Fellow,

Fatty Legs Canada

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the author of four award-winning children’s books about Inuvialuk elder Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s time at Indian Residential School. Fatty Legs and A Stranger At Home have been added to numerous Canadian school curriculums, staged as musical productions, featured in a music video, and translated into French and Korean. Using her writings as a platform for social change, education, and awareness, Jordan-Fenton gives more than 100 presentations per year on residential school history and decolonizing, and has spoken from Inuvik to Havana. In addition, Jordan-Fenton is an indigenous rights advocate, and land and water defender, who is currently studying a diploma in Human Rights and Forced Displacement with UPEACE. She has been an infantry soldier, a survival instructor, a bronco rider, and wild pig farmer, among other things, and has lived in Australia, South Africa, and the U.S. She currently resides in northeastern British Columbia, Canada, with her three children, and is focusing on creating new storytelling collaborations for social change, advocacy, and peace.

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Cecille Montenegro

2017 Fellow,

Batis-AWARE (Association of Women in Action for Rights and Empowerment) • Philippines

Cecille Pauline Sanglap Montenegro is a self-taught Filipino artist, book illustrator and migrant women and children’s rights activist. Cecille was born in Iloilo City, Philippines. She studied two years of Fine Arts with a major in Interior Design at the University of the East Caloocan. From 2000 to 2010, she started to work as an OPA (Overseas Performing Artist) in Japan. Returning to the Philippines for good was the best decision of her life. In 2014, she started to paint again and started YLLANG artworks. She uses painting as her meditation and relaxation, to paint what’s on her mind and heart. She became interested in women and children’s empowerment concepts, as most of her works are about women and her inspiration are the women in the organization and her family. Since 2015, she has lead Batis AWARE (Association of Women in Action for Rights and Empowerment) as the President of the organization. In 2016, Cecille had her first exhibition in Motomachi, Kobe, Japan, a mural entitled “Empowerment of all People,” as an advocacy art for the migrants living in Japan. Today, some of her paintings are displayed at SALA Asian Shokudo in Kobe, Japan. She is a registered book illustrator, designer, and layout artist in the NBDB (National Book Development Board).

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Barbara Oliveira

2017 Fellow,

Ecosynergy • Brazil

Barbara Oliveira is a host of meaningful conversations and facilitator of social change processes, a conflict transformation mediator, strategic negotiator, and Master coach. Barbara is passionate about human connection and the potential that multi-stakeholder participatory approaches offer to create innovative, inclusive and durable solutions for sustainable development challenges. Throughout her career, she created the capacity for collaborative decision-making among over 2,000 leaders worldwide on issues of climate change, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and forestry, clean energy futures, sustainable mining and company-community relations. Barbara is a renowned expert in achieving results in complex environments, using systemic approaches such as Theory U, Appreciative Enquiry, Deep Democracy and the Thinking Environment, and Mutual Gains negotiations/mediation. Barbara dedicates her energy and skills in service to life, assisting others in their search of value-based living, deeper connections, and creative expression. She co-founded the Collaboration Laboratory to foster a culture of facilitation and participatory decision-making in Brazil, and founded Ecosynergy – Facilitation and Capacity Building for Sustainability to support NGOs, businesses, governments, international organizations and academia in their initiatives to become more integrated, collaborative and better engaged with their stakeholders in Brazil and abroad. Having trained as a lawyer, she has a BA, LLM and PhD in Law and an MBA in Responsible Leadership.

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Baiqu Gonkar

2017 Fellow,

Art Represent • United Kingdom

Baiqu Gonkar was born in Tibet and moved to London as an asylum seeker at the age of 10. She completed her secondary school education in the inner city before receiving a scholarship to attend the United World Colleges in Wales. She went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations at the University of Warwick. After graduating from university, Baiqu went on to study Chinese at Peking University and worked in the art industry in Beijing for several years before moving back to London to dive into the startup scene. Baiqu has had a cross-disciplinary career, moving from communications to business development, to tech startups, and finally starting her own social enterprise. Her early exposure to an international community and her experiences as a refugee have shaped her to believe that mutual understanding is the first step to resolving conflict and prejudice. She is therefore committed to finding innovative methods to foster social cohesion through representation and dialogue.

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United Kingdom

Artha Baptista

2017 Fellow,

NAMI • Brazil

With both a graduate and post graduate degree in business logistics, Artha Baptista has worked for ten years in transportation and commercial services in the private sector, but was not satisfied with this line of work. In search of personal fulfillment and a better world, Artha uses her administrative expertise today to conduct a nonprofit NGO in the realm of women’s rights in Brazil. Her biggest goal is to make the community a better place to live with respect for all. Her team has already conquered the challenge of enforcing human rights, and now continues to fight for better conditions.

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Anita Thapa

2017 Fellow,

Her Turn • Nepal

Anita Thapa is currently working as the Executive Director of Her Turn. Prior to joining Her Turn, she has worked with youth and adolescents in Nepal and South Asia. She has served as the President of a youth-led organization called Youth Initiative and co-founded a non-profit called Sambhawana. In 2011, she was awarded a Community Solutions Fellowship by the U.S. State Department and placed in Boston, Massachusetts where she worked in public and alternative schools. In 2013, Accountability Lab recognized her school initiative called “Civic Schools” as one of the best interventions in schools for civic education. Anita was also awarded an accountability incubator fellowship, known as “Accountaprenuer”. She is also a 2016 Asia Young Leaders for Democracy Fellow of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

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Andrea Garcia Lopez

2017 Fellow,

PROtrash Mexico

Andrea Garcia Lopez is a social entrepreneur and architect with a vision to change the world by enhancing the basic needs of people in the poorest neighborhoods through recycling waste. She completed her bachelor’s degree in architecture at Tecnológico de Monterrey Guadalajara in Mexico, and graduated in 2016. Andrea is a Hult Prize 2016 Alumna and the CEO of PROtrash.

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Achenyo Idachaba

2017 Fellow,

Ms. Achenyo Idachaba is a computer scientist-turned-social entrepreneur. She is the Founder and Creative Director of MitiMeth, an award-winning social enterprise based in Nigeria. MitiMeth’s unique handmade products have featured in several domestic and international exhibitions. Achenyo was nominated the 2015 Emerging Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the Creative Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (CEAN), and is a 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) awardee. She is the 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Laureate for Sub-Saharan Africa, and a 2013 YouWIN!Women Awardee. MitiMeth also received the 2013 Local Raw Materials Content Award from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) for its innovative use of water hyacinth. Achenyo has spoken at TED as well as Harvard University. She has been featured on Deutsche Welle TV, CNBC Africa, CNN’s African Start-Up, The Nation and BusinessDay Newspapers, Inc., BusinessLife Magazine and on BusinessAfrica TV. Her work has also been published in the Nigerian Field Journal. Prior to founding MitiMeth and Greennovative Chain Consulting, Achenyo spent 11 years with ExxonMobil in Fairfax, Virginia where she held a variety of regional and global positions. She has a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, an M.S. in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University and a M.B.A from Cornell University.

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