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.


An astrophysicist, personal advisor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a member of the team that made history by sequencing the first human genome, and more. Meet a few of the incredible global changemakers who have joined us over the years.

Ambassador Dina Kawar

Josepha M. N. Musabyemariya

Bayartsetseg Jigmiddash

Stephenie Foster

Priyamvada Natarajan

Riva Levinson

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

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

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

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

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

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.



Check out some photos from the IWD celebration above or view the entire album here.


General Casey at podium

The region's premier security forum featuring topic experts, military leaders and government officials

Three people standing on red carpet

Diplomats from 25+ countries gather in Hartford for the business networking event of the year

3 students smiling in front of United Nations

1,000+ high school students from Connecticut debate the world's most pressing issues

Man at podium

View and reserve tickets for our upcoming events including panel discussions, forums, and more

Henry Kissinger at Luminary Award

Join a diverse community of members from all sectors committed to global awareness

Student smiling

Donate now to ensure that critical global programming remains vibrant in our community

previous arrow
next arrow