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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 Coordinator, 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.
Originally from Mexico, Natalia is currently completing her Master’s degree in International Affairs with a focus on international development at The New School in NYC. She began studying International Affairs during her undergraduate program at Tecnólogico de Monterrey in Mexico City and developed a deep passion for social justice, women’s rights, and sustainable development.
During her undergraduate program, she had the opportunity to volunteer in Mexico and India at several non-profits that advocated for the protection and promotion of women’s rights. These experiences furthered her interest in working towards achieving gender equality and social justice in developing countries. At the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations in Mexico City, she worked as a project assistant, where she worked with several advocacy organizations in Mexico and Cuba, international organizations and multiple stakeholders from the public and private sector to develop an international cooperation project between Mexican and Cuban civil society. This particular experience helped her to understand the shared pressing issues in Latin America regarding sustainable development, social justice, and inequality.
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.
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.
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.
Kashmala Kakakhel has been working on resilience programming and policy analysis over the last six years as the Country Programme Manager for Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), in association with LEAD Pakistan. Her interest is in understanding the various climate finance windows available globally, and making them accessible and meaningful for countries and communities that are most impacted by disasters. She also has an in-depth understanding of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policy and the Loss and Damage discussion under the UNFCCC. Currently, working as an independent expert, she carries out research on these issues, linking to national and local level implementation.
Maria Alejandra (Majandra) Rodriguez Acha is an anthropologist, educator and activist from Peru. As a climate justice activist, she was part of the Peruvian delegation at Global Power Shift in Turkey (2013); the International Gathering of Youth for the Climate and Sustainability of Latin America and the Caribbean in Colombia (2014); the Social Pre-COP in Venezuela (November, 2014); was a member of the Youth Committee of the People’s Summit (Cumbre de los Pueblos) parallel to COP20; was a participant at the Bellagio Climate Futures Symposium (Italy, 2015) and a speaker on climate justice and intersectionality at the YFoEE Climate Camp and Power Shift Sweden (2015). She is co-founder and co-coordinator of TierrActiva Perú, an activist collective and national network that works towards “system change, not climate change,” thus seeking to highlight the linkages between all forms of oppression and the climate crisis.
As the Science & Data, Program Assistant, Vera supported WEDO’s Advocacy efforts by conducting researches on gender mandates in environmental and international processes (MEAs) for analysis and visualization. She also supported strengthening WEDO’s web presence by managing website and WEDO’s social media, monitoring relevant news, and creating tools as well as content. Vera graduated from Colby College with a double major in Economics and Environmental Science, with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies. She hopes to make transformative changes for the underserved group, advance gender equality, pursue climate justice.
Regine graduated from the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science and recently received her LLM degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Regine was a Fellow at WEDO working on the SDGs and sustainable transport.
Based in Togo, West Africa, Sandra began her professional career in 1999 as a Research Assistant for a consultancy bureau in Togo before leaving to pursue an advanced degree in Economics in 2003 at the University of Lome. Upon completing her degree, Sandra joined the “Young Volunteers for the Environment, YVE”, a Togolese NGO which currently has 15 international representations worldwide. In January 2009, Sandra was appointed Executive Director of the “Actions en faveur de l’Homme et de la Nature, AFHON”, a new initiative with a deeper focus on the impacts of climate change and other environmental threats on vulnerable populations of both rural and urban areas of the country. Within one year, she had developed an action plan for capacity building on gender and climate change. In parallel, Sandra joined the advocacy team of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) to ensure a gender-responsive climate change agreement. She has been following UNFCCC negotiations since 2007 and is the principal Climate Policy Analyst for the LDC group of Parties in the UNFCCC negotiation. She has worked as as the principle climate policy analyst for Climate Analytics. She has additionally supported the Government of Togo in the preparation of key frameworks on climate change such as the national adaptation program of action and the second national communication and is very active at the regional level, supporting the preparation of the West African regional strategy on vulnerability assessment and adaptation to climate change
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.
Lourdes supports the management of WEDO’s annual budget reporting, including day-to-day financial and administrative operations.
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 is the Senior Advisor in Planetary Health at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Her work broadly examines the relationship between environmental degradation and human health. Latha’s research explores the linkages between tropical resources, 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. As a multidisciplinary technical and research advisor, Latha uses quantitative and qualitative methods to measure the impact of programs and policies that aim to tackle problems at the intersection of these topics.
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.
Leslie received a BA in International Relations and a Business minor from the University of Southern California. Leslie is a passionate advocate for women’s rights: As a Young Professional member of the NGO CSW, she recently sat on the planning committee for the side events of the UN’s 60th Commission on the Status of Women. Additionally, she is a member of The Women’s City Club of New York. Leslie also is a Junior Board Member of the Bubble Foundation where she supports the organization by volunteering as a Wellness Educator and fundraising for their mission to bring health and wellness programs to New York City’s most underserved schools. She also has served as an ambassador for the National Kidney Foundation in Los Angeles spreading awareness about kidney failure prevention and treatment.
Rachel Harris currently works at the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA). Prior to this, she worked for the New York City Council and environmental organizations including the World Resources Institute, the International Research Institute of Climate and Society and the Environmental Law Institute. Rachel holds a BA in Environmental Science from Barnard College and an MA in Climate and Society from Columbia University. She was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and has lived in New York, NY for over 15 years.
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.
Yuliana Shemetovets is a graduate student at Rutgers University specializing in human rights, gender equality, sustainability and democracy building. Yuliana obtained her bachelor degree in international economics with the concentration in political risk analysis and socially responsible investments. Originally coming from Belarus and spending two years in the Czech Republic studying there business and economics, Yuliana has become a passionate supporter of sustainable development, human rights and gender equality in Eastern Europe. She has experience in organizing conflict resolution seminars with Russian and Ukrainian women representatives from civil societies. She believes that only by strengthening civil societies, engaging with each other and sharing the experience we can create a sustainable world with equal rights for all of us!