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Women and girls around the world are demanding and creating systemic change and a sustainable future for all. We need collective power to attain a just future – we need you.
The WEDO team is a dedicated, diverse and dynamic group of activists and advocates committed to realizing the vision of the organization, supported by an extraordinary group of interns, Graduate Fellows as well as an international Board of Directors and an amazing network of former ‘WEDOers’.
A feminist, environmental activist & Director of WEDO, Bridget specializes in policy advocacy, research and movement building at the intersection of gender equality, women’s rights and environment/climate justice. For several years, she has been particularly focused on integrating gender equality into the decisions and outcomes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition, Bridget serves as the co-Focal Point of the Women and Gender Constituency, which supports the political participation of women’s rights advocates into the climate process. Prior to WEDO, Bridget worked at LEAD International coordinating a global network of environmental leaders and conducting leadership training. She obtained a Masters from the London School of Economics in Gender, Development and Globalization, where the focus of her research was on eco-feminism, strategic essentialism and its deployment in literature and policy, as well as a Bachelors in International Policy. Through this work and study, Bridget has also spent time completing on site practicum on a wide variety of development issues in several countries: renewable energy infrastructure in Beijing, global health issues in Tunisia, disaster risk and resilience in Bangkok, and women’s economic development in Costa Rica. She has been and is currently engaged in a number of local and international climate activist groups, as well as a feminist writing collective.
As Agenda 2030 & SDGs Program Associate, Lean supports the Women’s Major Group for Sustainable Development. Lean is a Philippine born, Bay-area raised, organizer committed to social movements. They graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies and South/Southeast Asian Studies. They have organized Thai fisherfolks response to climate change, two Asia Pacific regional feminist forums, and strong human rights input into the Post-2015 negotiations. Lean loves community building, poetry, and queer feminist socialist decolonial praxis; and is committed to the national democracy in the Philippines and liberation of all peoples.
As Program Manager, Tara supports WEDO through working with the Women Delegates Fund, the Women Demand ‘Gender Just’ Climate Finance program, and the Women and Gender Constituency. Tara‘s interdisciplinary background, including dual Master’s degrees in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology (M.S.) and Public Policy (M.P.P.) from the University of Maryland, reflects her passion for integrating social and ecological justice. While in D.C., she coordinated courses for international conservation practitioners with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. As a Global Health Corps fellow, building a movement for health equity based on the fundamental recognition of health as a human right, she worked on health policy and planning for the city of Newark, New Jersey, drawing from her experience leading Tennessee’s Medicaid implementation of the federal program promoting the meaningful use of electronic health records. With the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group, based in Nairobi, Tara worked with multiple stakeholders to improve systems to produce accurate and insightful data to inform conservation decision-making. She has also enjoyed working as a consultant with various nonprofit organizations to promote the strategic alignment of their activities and outcomes.
As a multimedia and communications expert with a passion for sustainability, environment, and climate justice, as well as human and women’s rights, Ashley specializes in purpose-driven storytelling, content creation, and strategic outreach. With a strong academic background, which includes a bachelor’s in Media Communications Studies (B.A.) from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a master’s in Journalism (M.A.) from Georgetown University, and more than seven years of diverse experience across media platforms, Ashley has successfully crafted and shared the narratives of inspiring women, sustainability leaders, and individuals in underrepresented communities.
Most recently, Ashley traveled and lived in more than 12 different cities spanning across 10 countries in South America, Europe, and Asia while working remotely for the San Francisco-based company Blue Practice – a communications agency focused on positive change, sustainability, and the environment. During her international journey, she also spent time volunteering on-the-ground for various nonprofits, which included tutoring refugees at the International Rescue Committee in Belgrade, Serbia, building an economic rehabilitation home for mothers and at-risk youth in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and creating a marketing outreach plan for Argentina’s animal welfare organization Proyecto Carayá. Additionally, she has worked with media and journalism teams for several outlets and nonprofits in Washington, D.C., including NPR, AARP, The Philanthropy Roundtable and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Currently, in New York, she continues to connect with communities who are passionate about the environment and positive change, and volunteers with Girls Write Now, a nonprofit that enables under-served young women to find their voices through the power of writing and community.
International Advisory Committee
International Advisory Committee Chair
International Advisory Committee
International Advisory Committee
Soon-Young Yoon’s Linked-in profile says “I work for the UN and sometimes I get paid”. She is the UN representative for the International Alliance of Women, Immediate Past Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women/NY and Immediate Past First-Vice-President of the Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with the UN. In those capacities, she helps to organize the world’s women in support of CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action. In 1995, she served as the UN Liaison for the NGO Forum held in parallel with the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, an event that hosted more than 30,000 NGO participants.
In addition to WEDO, Ms. Yoon is a board member of the Global Advisory Council at the Harvard AIDS Initiative and the International Foundation for Ewha Womans University. A former columnist for the EarthTimes newspaper, she works as a senior advisor/consultant for the World Health Organization and is co-editor with Dr. Jonathan Samet of the WHO monograph, “Women and the Tobacco Epidemic.”. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the U of Michigan and earned a certificate in computer graphics from Pratt Institute of Art. Soon-Young Yoon (United States) received her A.B. in French literature and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan. She was a Social Development officer for UNICEF in the Southeast Asia office as well as the Social Scientist at WHO/SEARO in New Delhi.
Carmen Chiong (United States) has a BS in Business from UC, Berkeley and an MBA in Finance from the University of San Francisco. Carmen and her family immigrated to San Francisco at an early age from Lima, Peru. She has over 25 years of experience working for NGOs and other nonprofit organizations in women’s human rights, youth, education, affordable housing, and economic development; both in the SF Bay Area and in New York which was home for 15 years. Carmen’s career in accounting, finance, and management includes: Controller and Administrative Director of Equality Now, Fiscal Officer for MADRE, Controller for Ms. Foundation, and five years as Director of Finance for WEDO. Her commitment to activism includes serving as Board Member and Treasurer of the Audre Lorde Project and several other organizations in New York. Based again in the SF Bay Area, Carmen is a Treasurer on the Board of Lavender Seniors. Currently, she is the Finance Director of The Mentoring Center.
Sayida Vanenburg (Netherlands) received her master’s degree in International Management from the Radboud University. During her studies she was the Dutch Youth Delegate to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. She started her career in the field of corporate social responsibility/ sustainability namely at Dutch multinationals. She contributed to the development and implementation of sustainability strategies and programs on all three P’s (planet, people and profit). She consciously expanded her horizon to Operational Excellence as these fields of expertise can strengthen each other. Sayida is active on the grassroots and strategic level. She is passionate about continuous learning and developing and therefore actively involved in capacity building from youngsters in the Netherlands to (young) men and women in South Africa. She is a member of the Worldconnectors, an international think tank whose aim is working towards a just, sustainable, inclusive and peaceful world.
Annette Tjon Sie Fat (Suriname) is the former Executive Director of Conservation International (CI) Suriname. Through her work with CI, as well as in her role as Programme Manager for UNIFEM’s Women and Sustainable Human Development programme, Annette has spent the last 20 years in villages in the interior of Suriname, helping to develop and advocate for sustainable development plans and programmes. She began her career as a teacher, focusing on English language and literature, and soon became a translator and interpreter in Suriname, working in government services for over fifteen years and starting her own translation company. However, her passion and long-time NGO work on behalf of women and children’s rights eventually led her down a different path—to pursue her Master’s degree in Development, Participation and Social Change at the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Sussex in Great Britain. In January 2013, she retired as Executive Director of CI Suriname and now works as an independent consultant and current president of the Projekta Foundation for gender equality, using her wealth of experience to help design and facilitate dialogue processes and programmes, while continuing to advocate for gender equality.
Katherine McDonald (Canada), LL.B., LL.M., is the first Executive Director of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), which was formed in 1997. She has a long history as a human rights activist, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights. She has substantial knowledge of international law as it relates to sexual and reproductive rights, and a deep understanding of the United Nations system and international human rights mechanisms. She actively participated at the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, its reviews, as well as the reviews of the International Conference on Population and Development, High Level Meetings on HIV/AIDS, and at the Human Rights Council and its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. Before joining ACPD, Katherine McDonald practiced law for ten years, and was the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Public Legal Education Society, and President of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. She is a Past President of Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada, and a former member of the regional and international governing bodies of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
Julian Walker (United Kingdom) is a Lecturer at the Development Planning Unit of University College London, where he directs the Gender Policy and Planning Programme, as well as the MSc in Social Development Practice. He works extensively on gender equality and social diversity both in academic research and teaching and through practice based work. This has included support to gender mainstreaming in organizations, and bringing a gender perspective to programmatic interventions in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He has worked with a range of development organizations, including the United Nations Secretariat (UNOV and UNESCAP), the International Labour Office, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Commission, and the Swiss Bilateral Development Agency (SDC-DEZA). His current research interests relate to how gender, and social diversity, affect the aspirations of different groups of women and men, their treatment by social and economic policy, and their ability to achieve well-being. This has included recent research into how to define and measure time-poverty as a way of measuring some of the gendered dimensions of ill-being.
Kristin Hetle has a lifelong commitment to the environment and women’s rights. This has guided her career in diverse ways – as a journalist in her native Norway, where for many years she co-hosted a top-rated weekly public radio program on the environment; and most recently as part of the founding management team of UN Women, the United Nations’ entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Here she served as Director of Strategic Partnerships, leading corporate communications and advocacy, resource mobilization and partnerships with civil society and other partners. Before joining UN Women, Kristin served as Director of Communications for the Ministry of Labor in Norway. Between 2002 and 2008 she was Chief of Communications in UNFPA, where she spearheaded public awareness campaigns on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Her journalist career spans 20 years, always with a strong focus on social and environmental justice. Kristin graduated in Human Geography and Romance languages at the University of Oslo, and in Journalism at the Oslo University College
Monique Essed Fernandes (Suriname) has been active in social development and politics for the past twenty years. She is the founder of the Women’s Parliament Forum, an organization to foster women’s political participation, as well as Projekta, an NGO focusing on women and development. Ms. Essed Fernandes is also the founder of a political party in Suriname and was the first woman to run for President of the country. She recently served as a policy advisor on planning and development cooperation and governance issues in Suriname, the region and worldwide. While continuing her international work, she is presently focusing on educational, environmental and governance priorities in her own country. Ms. Essed-Fernandes has been on the WEDO Board for several years, serving in the capacity of both Vice-Chair and Chair, prior to stepping back in late 2009 to act temporarily as Interim Executive Director during a transition period for the organization.
Irene Dankelman is director of IRDANA advice on gender and sustainable development, and lecturer at the University of Nijmegen (Netherlands). During her 35 years professional life, she has worked for, a.o. UNIFEM (presently: UN Women) and Oxfam-Novib, and she was actively involved in international, regional and national organizations, including WEDO (Women’s Environment and Development Organisation), WECF (Women in Europe for a Common Future) and Both ENDs (Environment and Development Servies for NGOs). She advices the United Nations, government agencies and non-governmental organizations on gender and environment issues and has lectured and written extensively on the issue, including the book ‘Gender and Climate Change: an introduction’(Earthscan, 2010).
Wanjira Mathai is the Co-Chair of WRI’s Global Restoration Council, Chairperson of the Green Belt Movement, and the Director, Partnerships for Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables (wPOWER), Wangari Maathai Institute (WMI).
Mathai grew up in Kenya, traveling to the United States to attend college. She is a graduate of Hobart William Smith College and graduate schools of Business and Public Health at Emory University. She then worked as Senior Program Officer for International Health at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta focusing on issues of disease eradication. Since 2002, Mathai has been directing International Affairs at the Green Belt Movement (GBM), which was founded by her mother, the late Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai. She is also a World Future Councilor, Advisory Council Member (Global Cookstoves Alliance), and Member of the Earth Charter International Council.
Besides serving on WEDO’s Advisory Committee, she currently serves on the Board of Directors of both Green Belt Movement and the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies.
Dr Catalina Ortiz is an architect and urbanist. She is interested in the negotiated co-production of space in the Global South. She holds a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago (Fulbright scholar) and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Studies from the National University of Colombia. She is a lecturer and co-director of the MSc programme in Building and Urban Design in Development at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London.
Former Co-Director and Head of Office at WEDO for almost nine years, Eleanor worked closely with program staff in strategic development, implementation and monitoring of WEDO programs and projects.
With a particular focus on sustainable development, climate change and urbanization, her work incorporated research, capacity building, and global-level advocacy at multiple UN fora, including the UNFCCC and related to the post-2015 development agenda.
Supporting WEDO’s long-standing role of facilitating space for women’s organizing and action, she represented WEDO as organizing partner of the Women’s Major Group for Sustainable Development. Prior to WEDO, Eleanor worked on climate change projects ranging from green roofs to waste management to adaptation with the Earth Institute, the Clinton Foundation and the World Bank.
She has community development experience in the areas of agriculture and women’s empowerment with organizations in Nicaragua and Nigeria. Her current work is informed by a professional background in bilingual elementary education with a focus on race and gender equity in public schools. Eleanor holds a Master of International Affairs in Urban and Environmental Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a Bachelors degree in Environmental Sciences.
Juliana, originally from Colombia, South America, holds an MS in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance with a Gender Studies specialization from New York University. Over the past eight years, she has worked nationally and internationally with a variety of non-governmental and multi-national organizations including UN Women Peace and Security, Concern Worldwide, Girls Leadership Institute, Smithsonian Institution, WorldTeach, and Global Greengrants Fund. Her fields of interest include international human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability, peacebuilding, and participatory education. She is currently the HerStory Senior Manager at Global Girls G.L.O.W.
Maria Alejandra (Majandra) Rodriguez Acha is a climate justice activist from Lima, Peru. She studied Sociology/Anthropology and Sustainable Development Studies, and has worked as an educator focusing on intersectionality, feminism, activism and the environment. In 2016, Majandra was Young Feminist Fellow for Climate Justice at WEDO and FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund, promoting the visibility and engagement of young women and young feminists in climate advocacy. She co-coordinates TierrActiva Perú, a collective and national network that works towards “system change, not climate change” and the building of alternatives to the climate crisis, and is currently on the Board of Directors of FRIDA. In her spare time, Majandra likes to play drums in a feminist percussion collective, ride her bike and do composting. She tweets as @majandrraa.
Laura Cooper Hall has worked on gender based violence program development and education in both Myanmar and Vietnam. While in Myanmar she also supported Women’s Peace Network Arakan, a women’s rights organization founded by former political prisoner, Wai Wai Nu. Laura coordinated sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs in Latin America for dance4life, an Amsterdam-based organization. She advocated for these same issues at the European Parliament as a Volunteer for YouAct, an online organization focused on SRHR for youth in Europe. She has a BA in Anthropology from McGill University and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Erasmus Mundus MAPP Program, with her thesis focused on gender in climate change negotiations within the UNFCCC and COP22. She speaks fluent Spanish and Taxi Burmese and founded feminist discussion groups in Yangon, The Hague and Barcelona.
Based in New York and having worked as an IT consultant with WEDO for a little over a decade, Mary has vast experience supporting the IT needs of small not-for-profit organizations. Asked to describe her role at WEDO, Mary stated (in typical Mary style), “when computer/network stuff breaks, I try to fix them, and then make suggestions on how not to break things in the future.” She also added, “WEDO’s role in my employment is more interesting – putting their money where their mouth is, in terms of supporting and hiring a female techie, in a male-dominated field…..I’m “living” it, and WEDO has been supporting and encouraging it for years.” Mary has been an anchor for WEDO for many years, and continues to be an incredible support.
Latha Swamy serves as the Senior Advisor to the Chair of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, Dr. Ernesto Zedillo (Former President of Mexico), at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Additionally, Latha advises on the Center’s Universal Health Coverage Steering Committee as it develops a Charter for Equitable and Sustainable Universal Health Coverage. In September 2018, Latha also joined the municipal government of the City of New Haven, Connecticut as Director of Food System Policy. Her work broadly examines the relationship between environmental degradation and human health. Her research explores the linkages between health systems strengthening and access, food justice and security, gender equity, and postcolonialism in the midst of global environmental change – particularly their effects on those living in poverty, and innovative solutions that challenge the resulting systems of oppression.
Internationally, she has worked in India and Nepal with the MIT Poverty Action Lab using randomized control trial (RCT) methods to evaluate the use of rural farmers’ social networks to promote new climate-smart agriculture technology uptake; in Haiti with Hôpital Albert Schweitzer developing interventions to transition smallholder farmers to agroforestry techniques to jointly address chronic malnutrition and deforestation; and in West Borneo, Indonesia conducting an independent mixed methods program evaluation at a rural clinic that aims to dis-incentivize illegal logging by providing reduced cost healthcare services in return for forest stewardship. Domestically (USA), she has worked conducting and managing clinical trials in anesthesiology and pain management at Hospital for Special Surgery, and as a Health Policy, Economics, and Advocacy Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program.
She currently serves as an Ally Council member for Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and chairs the Junior Board of EcoHealth Alliance (EHA). She also trained in urban farming and food justice practices at Just Food NYC’s Farm School. She holds a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University, prior to which she pursued an M.D. and a Ph.D. in systems neuroscience at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Malaika studied Environmental Anthropology and Psychology for her Undergraduate coursework. It was through her Anthropology program that she developed her passion for environmental justice after traveling to the Brazilian Amazon to learn from indigenous leaders and witness rainforest destruction provoked by profit hungry extractive industries. Malaika recently graduated from NYU’s International Affairs Master’s program with a concentration on Environmental Policy. Awarded with a Green Grant from NYU’s Office of Sustainability, Malaika collaborated with a research capstone group of three to create a solar powered atmospheric water condenser to provide a technological fix for water insecurity globally. With her spare time, Malaika enjoys utilizing her second degree black belt in Karate by teaching free self defense classes for the community.
Lou is a 21-year-old student, from France, passionate about the environment and the defense of women’s rights. She obtained a Bachelor Degree in Political Science and is currently working on a Master’s Degree, specialized in Environmental Risks and Issues, at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France. During her studies, she has been heavily involved in the student organization of her university that sets up debates on various topics (politics, society, and environment). She worked with friends to create a short film denouncing the harassment against women in the streets, an issue she is very passionate about.
Last summer she achieved an internship in the Permanent Mission of Haiti to the United Nations which gave her the opportunity to discover international relations from the inside. She witnessed firsthand how civil society defends its positions and beliefs in order to make sure that no one is left behind. This is why she applied to work with WEDO as an Advocacy Fellow. This 2018 Fellowship was an opportunity to meet women leaders from all around the world and to be part of a team of passionate feminists and environmental activists. Lou hopes to continue on this path for her professional career.
Elaine Colligan is reading for the MPhil in Political Theory at the University of Oxford, supervised by Dr. Cécile Laborde. Her research focuses on developing a theory of global justice that takes climate change and correlative “climate rights” as its central focus. Her research asks what democratic and legal procedures should be available at the global level to protect and promote civil and political liberties that are increasingly threatened by the climate crisis.
Before coming to Oxford, Elaine served as the Deputy Director of Clean Virginia, a 501c4 incorporated political action committee that fights corruption in Virginia politics. She worked on former Congressman Tom Perriello’s campaign for Virginia governor in 2017, and before that organized hundreds of students and youth to talk to presidential candidates about climate change during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. She recently attended the 2018 UNFCCC climate talks in Katowice, Poland as a representative of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, calling for gender-just and frontline-led solutions to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celcius. Elaine interned for WEDO during the summer of 2013, where she compiled a report on women’s experiences of climate change in Niue, Ghana, India, Mexico and Suriname, based on first-person accounts.
Cate Owren is Senior Gender Programme Manager with the Global Programme on Governance and Rights at IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), where she develops and manages gender projects, supervises gender team staff, supports implementation of IUCN’s gender-responsive programming policy, and provides technical support across a wide range of projects, partnerships and with IUCN members. Her current research and advocacy work is around gender-based violence and environment linkages. Focused primarily on climate change, sustainable development, and biodiversity themes, together with women’s rights and empowerment, women’s political participation, women’s organizing and networking, and gender equality advocacy, Cate has more than 15 years of experience working on policy processes and programme implementation at international, regional and national levels. Prior to joining IUCN, she was director of WEDO – and remains, as always, in solidarity.
Iliana was a WEDO Sustainable Development Fellow in 2014-2015. She currently works at the Institute for Policy Integrity, a nonpartisan think tank housed in NYU’s School of Law, and her work focuses on domestic climate change mitigation policy. Iliana received her Master of Public Administration with a specialization in International Development Policy from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and her Bachelor’s from Mount Holyoke College. Iliana has also worked for the Global Gender and Climate Alliance and the UN World Food Programme.
Fany is a 24 year old graduate student born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. After graduating High School, Fany moved to New York for five months to learn English, and fell in love with the city. Upon returning to Brussels, she started a Bachelors Degree in translation in French, English and Arabic at Université Saint-Louis. During those three years, she grew her linguistic skills and undertook a three month exchange program in Tunisia. She developed a strong interest in women’s rights at University, particularly from a Middle Eastern context. Fany is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Population and Development at Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, with her upcoming thesis exploring the evolution of women’s rights in Tunisia post Arab-spring. She has joined WEDO’s team as an intern for the next two months, specifically focused on an supporting engagement and advocacy for the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
Prachi currently works at Amnesty International. She holds a BA/LLB from Monash University, Australia and specialised in International Politics and Criminology. As a law student, she worked in a Pro Bono Community Legal Centre empowering disadvantaged members of the community to enforce their legal rights. During this period, she also volunteered for a number of organisations including: Amnesty International, UNICEF, The Starlight Foundation and Jeans for Genes. While still at university, Prachi worked as Schools’ Director for Oaktree, Australia’s largest youth-run movement fighting poverty.