Global Changemakers: Celebration of International Women’s Day is a collaboration between the World Affairs Council of Connecticut and the University of Saint Joseph Women’s Leadership Center. The evening convenes powerful women leaders in a specific global industry – from innovation to diplomacy to global leadership – to share their work and explore how the global advancement of women is shaping our future.
Meet a few of the incredible global changemakers who have joined us over the years.
H.E. Oksana Markarova
H.E. Oksana Markarova
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the United States
Oksana Markarova was appointed the Ukraine’s Ambassador to the USA and arrived in DC on Apr 20, 2021. She served in Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance in 2015-2020 as First deputy Minister and Government commissioner on investments and then since 2018 as a Minister of Finance. During her time at the Ministry she was a co-author of Ukraine’s macroeconomic revival program, has conducted unprecedented fiscal consolidation leading to deficit to GDP of 2% and debt to GDP reduction to below 50%, introduced midterm budgeting, gender oriented budgeting as well as negotiated, structured and coordinated successfully two IMF programs and other IFI cooperation programs.
During her tenure she and her team has also created UkraineInvest government promotion agency, Ukrainian Startup fund and an eData ecosystem of government public finance portals including spending.gov.ua, openbudget.gov.ua and analytical instrument BOOST, which opened the majority of the public finance data to the public and increased Ukraine in all major international data transparency ratings.
Prior to career in public service Mrs. Markarova spent 17 years working in private equity and financial advisory having leadership roles in ITT investment group, Western NIS Enterprise Fund, Chemonics and and World bank, as well as founded Archidata startup electronic archive company in between service positions in 2020.
Oksana Markarova serves at the Boards of UkraineHouse DC foundation in Washington DC, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukrainian Development Foundation and supports Ukrainian Catholic University and Ukrainian Press Museum-Archive.
She holds BS and MS degrees in Environmental Science from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine and MPA in public finance from Indiana University with academic excellency and best international student awards.
Markarova is married with four children and grandson.
H.E. Adela Raz
H.E. Adela Raz
Former Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations; former Ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.S.
Ambassador Adela Raz served as the last Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States. Prior to that Amb. Raz served as the first female Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations. At the U.N., Amb. Raz was the Vice President of the 75th session of the General Assembly, and was also appointed by the President of U.N’s General Assembly to serve as the co-coordinator on COVID-19-related initiatives.
Before her arrival at the U.N. Amb. Raz was the Deputy Foreign Minister in Afghanistan. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA,) she managed the regional and economic cooperation portfolios and led the two major platforms: the Regional Economic Cooperation Conferences on Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process. On behalf of MFA, she helped to manage and coordinate the Brussels (2016) and Geneva (2018) Donor Conferences on Afghanistan and led the negotiations on the outcome documents.
In 2013, she served as the first female Deputy Spokesperson and Director of Communications for President Hamid Karzai.
She began her career with the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and continued to work in a variety of positions at various international development organizations in the U.S. and Afghanistan.
Amb. Raz holds a Master of Arts degree in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, with triple majors on International Relations, Political Science, and Economics from Simmons University in Boston. She also earned a certificate in International Development from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Ambassador Dina Kawar
Ambassador Dina Kawar was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States of America in June 2016. Ambassador Kawar also served as the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations from August 2014 to June 2016. She has led the Jordanian delegation during Jordan’s non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council from 2014 to 2015 and became the first Arab woman to ever preside over the Council.
In February 2016, she was appointed by the President of the General Assembly as a cofacilitator for the high-level meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly on the large movement of refugees and migrants to take place in September 2016. Prior to her position in New York, Her Excellency Dina Kawar served as the Ambassador of Jordan to France from 2001 to 2013, with concurrent accreditation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and to the Holy See, since 2002. She also served as non-resident ambassador to Portugal from 2005 to 2013.
Ambassador Kawar was awarded the Medal of Independence of the first degree by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and holds a number of decorations including the “Commandeur De La Legion d’ Honneur” from France, the “Medalha de D. Afonso Henriques” from Portugal and the “Insignes de Dame de Grand-Croix de l’Ordre de Saint Grégoire le Grand” from the Holy See.
Ambassador Kawar holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Mills College, both in the United States. She attended Harvard’s Center for
Roya Hakakian is an Iranian American Jewish journalist, lecturer, and writer. Born in Iran, she came to the United States as a refugee and is now a naturalized citizen. She is the author of several books, including an acclaimed memoir in English called Journey From the Land of No, Assassins of The Turqoise Palace, and A Beginner’s Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious.
Her opinion columns, essays and book reviews appear in English language publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR’s All Things Considered, among many others. She has collaborated on over a dozen hours of programming for leading journalism units in network television, including CBS 60 Minutes. She currently serves as an editorial board member of World Affairs. An active thinker of foreign relations, Roya is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. She has been featured in the Washington Post and the US News and World Report, among other publications. In the book, Political Awakenings by University of California at Berkeley’s Professor Harry Kreisler, she has been highlighted “among the most important activists, academics, and journalists of her generation.” Roya is the author of two collections of poetry in Persian, and is listed among the leading new voices in Persian poetry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies around the world, including La Regle Du Jeu, Strange Times My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature.
Josepha M. N. Musabyemariya
Josepha M. N. Musabyemariya is the United States Rwandan Community Abroad (USRCA) Commissioner for Gender and Social Affairs. She also is President of Rwandan Community Abroad (RCA) in Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia (DMV). She has more than 25 years of experience in handling special projects and initiatives designed to positively impact lives of people in her home country of Rwanda, the communities in and outside DMV and around the globe. She works for the African Union in the U.S. In this office, she was among the handful of individuals charged with setting up the African Union office in Washington DC which was just prior to the arrival and assumption of duties of the first Permanent Representative in 2006. Josepha’s passion lies in dealing with all issues concerning gender and women empowerment.
Bayartsetseg Jigmiddash has held senior government positions in the justice sector and has been at the forefront of Mongolia’s far-reaching reform initiatives. Currently, she is CEO and Founding Director of Veritas Consulting. From 2012 to 2016, Jigmiddash served as Secretary of State of the Ministry of Justice of Mongolia, becoming the first woman appointed in this position. Under her leadership, the legal policy on gender-based violence has been significantly improved, including criminalization of domestic violence. Prior to this top civil service post, she served as legal advisor to the president of Mongolia, and has been involved in the judicial reform as well as abolishment of death penalty in Mongolia. She has extensive civil society experience and pioneered an array of initiatives to promote human rights and access to justice.
Stephenie Foster is a Partner in Smash Strategies and a former Senior Advisor and Counselor to the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S Department of State. As a member of the leadership team, she coordinated, managed and implemented a wide range of policies and programs, including the women, peace and security initiative, women’s political participation and women’s economic empowerment. At the State Department, Ms. Foster represented the United States in various multilateral and bilateral forums. She served at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, focusing on women and civil society, travelling extensively throughout the country to work with individuals and organizations advancing the role of women in Afghan society. Ms. Foster served as Chief of Staff to two United States Senators, Barbara Mikulski and Christopher Dodd.
Priyamvada Natarajan is an astrophysicist and Professor at Yale. She has made seminal contributions to our current understanding of the formation and growth of black holes and of the nature of dark matter by mapping it using gravitational lensing. Recipient of many awards and honors, Priya is also the current chair of the Division of Astrophysics of The American Physical Society. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed book Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas that Reveal the Cosmos. Deeply invested in the public dissemination of science, Priya serves on the Board of NOVA ScienceNow and is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.
Riva Levinson is the President and CEO of KRL International LLC, a Washington, DC-based consultancy providing comprehensive services to bridge the divide between the United States and the world’s emerging markets. Ms. Levinson is also the author of Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President, which describes her adventures working in some of the world’s most dangerous places, highlighting her decades of work on behalf of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected to lead an African nation, and recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Choosing the Hero has received the Silver Medal for best memoir/autobiography 2017 by the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Ms. Levinson has also worked extensively with Peter G. Kelly, Esq., Chair of the World Affairs Council of CT board of directors and founder and senior principal of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, among numerous distinctions.
In honor of International Women’s Day 2023, we hosted three remarkable women leaders from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Iran to talk about the global fight for freedom, democracy, and human rights.
Check out some photos from the 2019 IWD celebration below or view the entire album here.
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