Our Advisory Board
Dr. Priya Agrawal
Executive Director, Merck for Mothers
Dr. Priya Agrawal is Executive Director of Merck for Mothers. She is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist and global women’s health expert.
Dr. Agrawal previously served as Director of Research and Development for the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she led the implementation research agenda and supported the development and evaluation of healthcare innovations. She was Obstetric Lead on the World Health Organization’s Safe Childbirth Checklist Program in India, working closely with Dr. Atul Gawande and Medical Director of Jacaranda Health, Kenya – a social enterprise focused on delivering high quality, affordable maternal and child health services in the slums of Nairobi. She started her public health work in Nigeria with the introduction of nurse-led, one-stop shop cervical cancer screening programs and treatments. She has worked and traveled in more than 45 countries focusing on the introduction of simple and sustainable innovations to improve women’s health.
Priya received her degrees in medicine from the University of Cambridge and Oxford, graduated with a master’s from the Harvard School of Public Health, and is finishing her Ph.D. at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Senior Program Officer, Philanthropic Partnerships, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Jennifer Alcorn leads private donor engagement as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Philanthropic Partnerships team. Jennifer works with individuals and foundations to develop partnerships to co-fund programs that accelerate impact by scaling solutions to global health and development challenges. Since 2008, these partnerships have led to over $1.4 billion in new resources to a broad range of issues including polio eradication, malaria elimination, and the prevention and treatment of HIV, TB, neglected tropical diseases, among supporting other critical needs.
Jennifer joined the Foundation in 2008 and led its work in the Middle East, while incubating the private donor work. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jennifer served as a Director of Partnership Operations with the United Nations Foundation.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and Historic Preservation from Ursuline College.
Zainab Hawa Bangura*
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, United Nations
Zainab Hawa Bangura of Sierra Leone assumed her position as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the Under-Secretary-General level on 4 September 2012.
Mrs. Bangura has over 20 years of policy, diplomatic and practical experience in the field of governance, conflict resolution and reconciliation in Africa. She served for two years (2010 – 2012) as Minister of Health and Sanitation, and three years (2007 – 2010) as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the Government of Sierra Leone.
CEO United Nations Foundation
Kathy Calvin is President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. She is a passionate advocate for multi-sector problem-solving, U.S. leadership on global issues, and the inclusion of women at all levels and in all sectors. The UN Foundation, created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes, advocates for the UN and connects people, ideas and resources to help the UN solve global problems.
Kathy’s career has spanned the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Before joining the UN Foundation as Chief Operating Officer in 2003, she served as President of the AOL Time Warner Foundation. She previously served in senior positions at AOL, Hill and Knowlton, and U.S. News & World Report. From 1976 through 1984 she was Senator Gary Hart’s press secretary.
Kathy was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Rock the World” in 2011 and listed in Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women” in 2012. Her innovative work in the philanthropy and international development sectors has been featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and she has received numerous other awards for philanthropy and leadership.
She is a graduate of Purdue University.
Founder & Chair, Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media
Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks. Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief.”
In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the offbeat dog trainer Muriel Pritchett in Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Accidental Tourist.” She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Ridley Scott’s “Thelma & Louise,” in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of baseball phenomenon Dottie Hinson in “A League of Their Own.”
She is the Founder and Chair of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters — and reduce gender stereotyping — in media made for children 11 and under. Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women. Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.
Founder & CEO, EILEEN FISHER INC.
Eileen is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of EILEEN FISHER, INC., the clothing company known for its simple shapes and beautiful fabrics. Her original concept—pieces that work together to help women get dressed easily—still defines the company’s collections, which are sold at 65 EILEEN FISHER stores as well as department and specialty stores across the US, UK and Canada. Eileen ventured into clothing design in 1984. With $350 in the bank, she introduced four basic pieces at New York’s Boutique Show. Today, the company has sales of $450 million and 1,200 employees – all part owners of the company. Eileen attributes the company’s vision and success to an emphasis on collaboration, community and connection. The company recently launched VISION2020, a bold sustainability initiative that includes a pledge to use only organic cotton and organic linen by 2020. Supply chain transparency, water, carbon, responsible dyeing, fair wages and benefits, and conscious business practices are key components. Eileen’s commitment to empowering women and girls is embedded in the company’s mission and at the core of its philanthropy and community events. Since 2004, the company has given grants to women entrepreneurs and nonprofits that foster leadership among women and girls.
Liberia Peace Activist
2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker and women’s rights advocate. She is Founder and current President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa. She also founded the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative and Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A). She is also a founding member and former Liberia Coordinator of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP). Leymah currently serves as a member of the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development. She is a board member of the Federation of Liberian Youth. Leymah’s leadership of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace – which brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003 – is chronicled in her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, and in the documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. In addition, Gbowee is the Newsweek Daily Beast’s Africa columnist. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Gbowee Peace Foundation and the PeaceJam Foundation, and she is a member of the African Women Leaders Network for Reproductive Health and Family Planning. She holds a M.A. in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, VA), and a Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa from Rhodes University in South Africa and University of Alberta in Canada. Leymah was honored as a flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She is a mother of seven children.
Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post
Arianna Huffington is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and author of fourteen books.
In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.
She has been named to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union.
She serves on several boards, including The Center for Public Integrity; The Committee to Protect Journalists; HuffPost’s partner in Spain, the newspaper EL PAÍS; Payoff; and ONEX.
Her 14th book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder debuted at #1 on the New York TimesBestseller list and was released in paperback in March 2015. Her new book, Sleep Power, on the science, history and mystery of sleep, will be published in April 2016.
CEO, POW! Strategies
Pat Mitchell is a legendary glass-ceiling-breaker, being one of the first women to hold major roles in network and cable television as a news reporter, anchor, talk show host, White House correspondent, producer and executive.
Mitchell’s programs have been honored with 37 Emmy’s, five Peabody’s and two Academy Award nominations. In 1982, she produced Woman to Woman, the first Emmy-winning, nationally syndicated series focused entirely on women. In 1992, Ted Turner hired her to head CNN’s original production division, where she produced award-winning series including one on the History of Women in America.
In 2011, she was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and named by Variety as one of the Most Powerful Women in Hollywood. Recognized in 2012 by The Women’s Media Center with their first annual Lifetime Achievement Award, that award is now named the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ms. Mitchell is Chair of the Sundance Institute; Trustee Emeritus of the Mayo Foundation; founding member Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International; Acumen Fund Board Member; Jordan River Foundation U.S. Board Chair; Women’s Media Center Board Chair; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and serves on the board of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women. Congress recently appointed her to a commission for the establishment of a National Museum of the History of Women in America.
Mitchell currently curates and hosts the annual TEDWomen conference.
She and her husband, Scott Seydel, have six children, 12 grandchildren and live in Atlanta, Georgia.
Co-Founder, Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children
Demi is an actress and a long-standing advocate for women’s issues. She is the co-founder of Thorn (www.wearethorn.org), an organization dedicated to driving technology innovation to fight child sexual exploitation. Thorn works across industry, government and NGOs around the world to develop new technology-based interventions that speed victim identification, deter predatory behavior and disrupt platforms that enable abuse. She received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in If These Walls Could Talk and Director’s Guild nomination for Five, an anthology of short films that explore the impact of breast cancer. She partnered with CNN Freedom Project for the documentary Nepal’s Stolen Children to highlight the work of anti-trafficking advocate Anuradha Koirala.
Mabel van Oranje
Chair, Girls Not Brides
A global advocate for freedom, justice and development for over two decades, Mabel van Oranje is the initiator and chair of ‘Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage’. She is also co-founder and the executive chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations. She is a member of the (advisory) boards of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Crisis Action, Global Witness, the Malala Fund, the Open Society Foundations and The Elders.
In 1993, Mabel founded the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans and was its CEO until 1997. In 1997, she joined the Open Society Foundations in Brussels as Executive Director, becoming OSF’s London-based International Advocacy Director in 2003. From 2008 until 2012, she was the first CEO of The Elders.
Mabel helped found the Dutch foundation War Child (1995), the global NGO coalition ‘Publish What You Pay’ (2002) and the Independent Commission on Turkey (2004). She has been actively engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS and in global efforts that led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002.
Mabel holds masters degrees in Economics and Political Science (cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam. In 2005, the World Economic Forum named her one of its Young Global Leaders. In 2014, she received a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award for her work with Girls Not Brides. You can follow her tweets @MabelvanOranje
Journalist and Managing Editor, Chime for Change
Mariane Pearl is a versatile journalist and author who works in English, Spanish and French.
Her first book “A Mighty Heart” (Scribner) was first published in the United States in 2003. Mariane was five months pregnant when her husband, The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and brutally murdered by a militant Islamic fundamentalist group in Pakistan in 2002. Determined not to be broken, Mariane wrote a memoir celebrating the values of humanism and dignity while offering a detailed account of the investigation led in Pakistan to rescue her husband. The book won international praise and was translated into 15 languages. In 2007, it was released as a major feature movie starring Angelina Jolie in the role of Mariane Pearl. Her second book “In Search of Hope” (Powerhouse) is a collection of profiles of extraordinary women around the world. The collection first appeared over two years as a series of columns in Glamour magazine.
She is currently the Managing Editor of Chime for Change, a global campaign to raise funds and awareness for girls and women around the world.
Catherine St. Laurent
Director Of Communications, Executive Office of Melinda Gates
Catherine is currently working as the Director of Communications at Pivotal Ventures, Executive Office of Melinda Gates.
Until the end of 2014, she was a Senior Communications Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she acted as Strategy Lead for Melinda Gates’ profile and communications. In that capacity she was responsible for managing strategy development, communications planning, and implementation in partnership with Melinda’s chief of staff, program teams and advocacy colleagues.
Prior to joining the foundation in August 2011, Catherine was a Senior Manager, Global Projects at HSBC Holdings plc where she was responsible for developing and managing international communications efforts. Prior to this, she was a Director at Vero Communications, a strategic communications consultancy specialized in the business of sport. In this capacity, she worked on successful international campaigns including Rio de Janeiro’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Before joining Vero in 2008, Catherine was most recently employed as a Manager at Burson-Marsteller Brussels where she managed pan-European public affairs and communications campaigns for clients in the healthcare sector.
In August 2014, Catherine was named one of PR Week’s 40 Under 40. A native of Montreal, she is fluent in English and French.
Author and Activist
Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She now lives in New York City and has just finished a book detailing her more than thirty years on the road as a feminist organizer.
In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, and remained one of its editors for fifteen years. She continues to serve as a consulting editor for Ms., and was instrumental in the magazine’s move to join and be published by the Feminist Majority Foundation.
She was the founding president of the Ms. Foundation for Women, a national multi-racial, multi-issue fund that supports grassroots projects to empower women and girls, and also a founder of its Take Our Daughters to Work Day, a first national day devoted to girls that has now become an institution here and in other countries.
She is currently working with the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College on documenting the grassroots origins of the U.S. women’s movement, and on a Center for Organizers in tribute to Wilma Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As links to other countries, she helped found Equality Now, Donor Direct Action and Direct Impact Africa.
Ambassador Melanne Verveer
Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security
In 2009, President Obama nominated Melanne Verveer to be the first ever U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. Ambassador Verveer worked with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to coordinate foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic and social advancement of women, traveling to nearly sixty countries.
Today, she is the Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, which focuses on the crucial role women play in peace-building and security.
Ambassador Verveer is also the founding partner of Seneca Point Global, the global women strategy firm. She is the co-author of a forthcoming book, FAST FORWARD: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose.
Prior to serving as Ambassador, Verveer co-founded Vital Voices, the international NGO which invests in emerging women leaders. She served as its Chair and CEO. Earlier, she was the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady in the Clinton Administration.
*Serving in a personal capacity