An international colloquium hosted by Bryn Mawr College
McPherson Auditorium, Goodhart Hall
4 December 2012
President and CEO, Women's World Banking
Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women’s World Banking (WWB), the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks. Iskenderian leads the WWB global team, based in New York, in providing hands-on technical services and strategic support to 39 top-performing microfinance institutions and banks in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. WWB network members are diverse in geography, size and structure but are united in the firm belief that microfinance must remain committed to helping poor women access innovative financial products and services and information. WWB’s network members consistently rate among the top three microfinance institutions in their countries serving more than 26 million clients, 80 percent of whom are women.
Iskenderian joined WWB in 2006 and has continued to strengthen the organization’s position as the pre-eminent voice for women’s leadership and participation in microfinance. WWB, under Iskenderian’s leadership, works to ensure that women continue to be represented in this evolving industry as both clients and leaders.
Iskenderian has more than 20 years of experience in building global financial systems throughout the developing world. She is a strong advocate for moving microfinance beyond credit by providing low-income women with a full suite of financial products and services and a proponent for the role of responsible investment in the microfinance sector. Iskenderian has spoken widely on microfinance at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Wharton and at numerous industry and banking forums including the annual conference of Le Cercle des Economistes, the Council on Foreign Relations, the IDB Foromic and the Microcredit Summit. She has been published in Forbes magazine and the Wall Street Journal; is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review blog; and is frequently quoted in the media, including the Financial Times, Newsweek, Time, BBC News and The Atlantic.
Iskenderian serves on the Board of Directors of Kashf Microfinance Bank in Pakistan and is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves as an Advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative and is a judge for the annual Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards. She was also recently invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a member of the US delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) 2011 Women and the Economy Summit.
Iskenderian is a past recipient of NYU Stern’s Distinguished Citi Fellowship in Leadership and Ethics, the Isabel Benham Award from the Women’s Bond Club, and the companion Women’s Finance Award given by the Institute of Financial Services at Lucerne University, Switzerland.
In her corporate career, Laura Bode was Chief Financial Officer of a publicly traded company, V.P. of Strategic Planning, and Director of International Business Development. During her international work she noted the paucity of women in leadership roles and founded an NGO, iLIVE2LEAD, to create a global "pipeline" of young women prepared to lead. In 2011, she conducted international leadership training for a Clinton Global Initiative in Africa and with Harvard's Women's Leadership Board in India, as well as leading the "International Summit of Young Women Leaders" in Washington, DC. She also heads the "Women Ambassadors' Roundtable" for women ambassadors to the U.S.
iLIVE2LEAD's proprietary curriculum is specially designed to intensively train young women for international leadership. Women ambassadors, congresswomen, CEOs, heads of NGOs and other experts teach project and financial planning, public speaking, social media, networking, global social issues, multi-cultural leadership, etc. Participants meet other young women leaders from around the world to engage in peer-to-peer diplomacy and create the next generation's "old girl's network." iL2L graduates return home to lead social initiatives as well as inspire and teach their peers. iL2L partners with in-country organizations to transfer knowledge in mentoring and leadership training.
Advisory Committee, The Young Feminist Fund
Elizabeth (Betsy) Hoody grew up in northern Minnesota and earned a BA at the University of Chicago, where she studied political science and Russian language. Since graduating in 2006, Hoody has spent the last five years trying to blend her dual interests in Russian language and feminist activism. In 2006-2007, she studied on a Fulbright grant in Russia, where she volunteered with a women’s rights organization that addresses domestic violence and trafficking. Upon returning to the US, Hoody worked at Global Fund for Women from 2007-2011, where she helped make grants to women’s rights groups in Europe and Central Asia. Hoody is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration at the Woodrow Wilson School in Princeton University. In her free time, she likes to visit farmers’ markets, play ice hockey, read and write poetry, and talk about feminist movements to anyone who will listen. Hoody is passionate about resource mobilization for feminist movements and about multi-generational social movements; as such, she is excited to be serving on the Advisory Committee for FRIDA.
Director of Organizing, Women’s Rights, Change.org
Shelby Knox is nationally known as the subject of the Sundance award-winning film, The Education of Shelby Knox, a 2005 documentary chronicling her teenage activism for comprehensive sex education and gay rights in her Southern Baptist community. She has appeared on Today, the Daily Show, Hardball, and sat down with both Dr. Phil and Al Franken to discuss sex education and youth activism. Knox travels across the country as an itinerant feminist organizer, doing trainings, workshops and civil disobedience in the name of reproductive justice and sexual health. She is currently the Director of Women’s Rights Organizing at change.org. Knox lives in New York City, where she is working on a book about the next generation of feminist activism and plotting the revolution via Twitter.
Founder, World Pulse
Jensine (Yen-See Nah) Larsen is a social media expert, international journalist, and recognized leader in the movement for global women's empowerment. At age 28 she founded World Pulse – an action media network bringing women a global voice – after working as a freelance journalist covering indigenous movements and ethnic cleansing in South America and Southeast Asia.
After successfully launching a print magazine, in 2007, Larsen turned her eyes to the future of communications technology in the developing world. She pioneered an interactive global women’s newswire where women worldwide – including those using internet cafes and cell phones from rural villages and conflict zones – can speak for themselves to the world and solve global problems. Most recently, Larsen has launched a new program that is training women in web 2.0 citizen journalism and empowerment and fostering a network of women citizen journalists from some of the most forgotten regions of the world.
Larsen has been recognized with several leadership awards and Morgan Stanley-Smith Barney has selected her as one of six "Next Generation Changemakers" under 40 in 2011. Larsen holds a degree in Comparative International Studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison (1999) and is on the board of numerous organizations.
Changemaker Campus Director, Ashoka U.
Michèle Leaman works with faculty, administrators, and students to change complex college and university systems to become more supportive environments for social entrepreneurship and changemaking. From 2006 to 2009, she worked at the Association of American Colleges and Universities managing Core Commitments, a national initiative promoting students’ development of personal and social responsibility through campus innovations. As a member of the Elon University Research Seminar on Teaching Democratic Thinking (2009-2011), Leaman created “What moves you?,” a travel curriculum for South and Southeast Asia based on her own journeys; it explores ethical questions related to global interdependence, and develops empathy skills. Leaman has worked for several European corporations in Paris and Munich. She holds a B.A. in philosophy and economics from Messiah College, and an M.A. in philosophy from the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Canada.
Managing Director and Founder, CXCatalysts
Tess Mateo recently launched CXCatalysts after seven years of managing the external relationships of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ global CEO. CXCatalysts and its networks spark innovative partnerships that help companies to profitably reach underserved markets, and help governments and multilateral institutions to achieve their development goals. Mateo is able to draw on her two decades of restructuring, turnaround and start-up experience advising senior executives of Fortune 500 and emerging companies. In addition, Mateo successfully launched Gralni Group, a real estate venture; IncentOne, a technology company delivering online incentive programs; and Colorworx, an innovator in novelty underwear. She is also a strategic advisor to the Joint US China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), the World Bank’s Private Sector Leaders Forum, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the Global Summit of Women. Mateo has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Economics from the University of Michigan, and a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia Business School. Other activities include serving on the boards of the American Composers Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, and the Inner City Scholarship Fund.
Executive Director, Institute of International Education, San Francisco
Trish Tierney oversees the Institute of International Education's strategy, operations, business development and program teams managing initiatives including the International Visitor Leadership Program, Fulbright Foreign Student Program, and several global corporate and foundation scholarship and development programs. She also directs IIE’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives, which includes innovative programs linking the power of women and the power of technology, and leverages public-private partnerships with the U.S. Department of State and technology companies in Silicon Valley. Prior to joining IIE, Tierney was Program Manager at Cisco Systems, Inc., part of a dynamic team that established the Cisco Networking Academy Program in 50 of the world’s Least Developed Countries, working in partnership with universities, NGOs, UNDP and USAID, and with particular emphasis on gender inclusion. Before her work at Cisco, Tierney was Program Manager at the World Bank in Washington, DC, at the Bank’s Economic Development Institute and then designing and managing multi-million dollar loans targeting education reform in Sub-Saharan Africa, with particular focus on girls’ education. Tierney began her career as a volunteer teacher in Namibia with WorldTeach, and holds a B.A. in English Literature and Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and an M.A. from Johns’ Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Kelsey Bilek, Haverford College
Kelsey Bilek, a senior at Haverford College, is interested in women’s and community health issues. In 2012, she worked in rural communities in northern and coastal Kenya on women’s health and girls’ and women’s empowerment projects. In summer 2012, she conducted research in Nicaragua at the Acahualinca Women’s Center.
Molly Fessler, Bryn Mawr College
Molly Fessler is a junior at Bryn Mawr College. A pre-med student, Fessler is majoring in sociology. In 2012, she was awarded a Davis Projects for Peace fellowship to work with a community health center in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where she developed a wellness (nutrition/fitness) program for youth (including young mothers). This fall she worked extensively for Organizing for America as the data director for the Bryn Mawr/Rosemont team.
Rachel Gillette, Open Society Foundations
Rachel Gillette is currently working in the Office of International Operations at the Open Society Foundations. As a student at Brandeis, Gillette studied post-conflict transformation in Rwanda and Uganda, and worked to develop a community dialogue program to target issues of gender-based violence and social equity in refugee camps in northern Uganda. She has also worked as a legal assistant for the American prosecutor in the War Crimes Chamber of the National Court of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Vanessa M. Gonzalez, Bryn Mawr College
Vanessa M. Gonzalez, from Brazil, is a junior at Bryn Mawr pursuing an economics and international studies double-major, and an Italian minor. Last summer she was awarded an Alumnae Regional Scholarship that supported an internship in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Mujeres 2000, a local non-profit organization. She worked directly with low-income women entrepreneurs, offering small business guidance to those interested in starting their own enterprises and applying for microloans.
Karisa Klemm, Smith College
Karisa Klemm is a recent graduate of Smith College. At Smith, she majored in Spanish, concentrated in pre-med, and minored in chemistry. The summer after graduation, Klemm co-implemented a Davis Foundation Projects for Peace in Puebla, Mexico. This project focused on improving support that women receive during labor and delivery at a public maternity hospital. Klemm’s aim is to continue this project’s work through a summer internship for Smith students.
Aarti Rao, Swarthmore College
Aarti Rao is a junior pre-med student at Swarthmore College with a biology and anthropology double major. Last year, Rao was awarded the Swarthmore Lang Opportunity Scholarship, and she spent the winter of 2011 and the summer of 2012 conducting preliminary project research with her Indian partner NGO, the Bhoruka Charitable Trust, studying programs ranging from education and women’s empowerment to rural health management and maternal care.