Women’s Empowerment Roundtable Summit 2021
Achieving Global Goals, Best Practices and Lessons Leaned
Distinguished Guest Speakers:
Ms. Gail Greezakwah Farngalo Senior Advisor and Lead on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and Focal Point for UN Women and the Commission on the Status of Women in the Office of the President of the United Nations.
Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams, FMC, DCL, MSc., Dip. M, MCIM, BA. Governor General’s Goodwill Ambassador and President of the Antigua and Barbuda China Friendship Association; President and Founder of The Halo Foundation.
In commemoration of Women’s History Month, the International Women’s Think Tank (IWTT), United Nations Association of USA, Atlanta Chapter (UNA-Atlanta), and Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE Greater Atlanta) is hosting the virtual Women’s Empowerment Roundtable Summit: Achieving Global Goals, Best Practices and Lessons Learned. The Summit is scheduled for Friday, March 19, 2021, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm EST. IWTT’s mission is to nurture research, critical thinking and innovative solutions on issues related to women and girls, which aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality. The partnership with UNA-Atlanta serves to promote the Global Goals in our home communities.
Gail Greezakwah Farngalo Senior Advisor and Lead on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and Focal Point for UN Women and the Commision on the Status of Women in the Office of the President of the United Nations General Assembly Ms. Farngalo is a Minister Counsellor in the Liberian Foreign Service and brings to OPGA ten years of experience covering the Third Committee (Social Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs) in the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations. She also served as Election Officer and Liaison for Military, Police and Corrections Affairs (supporting Liberia’s peacekeeping efforts in UN Peacekeeping Missions), as well as focal point for all gender and Third Committee related matters. With the responsibility of covering health issues in the Liberian Mission, Gail served as focal point and coordinator for the Mission’s engagements during the Ebola epidemic, participating in the United Nations preliminary response coordination meetings as well as meetings of the Ebola Multi-partner Trust Fund and successive meetings of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Panel on Health Systems Strengthening in the wake of the Ebola Health Crisis. For the complete bio, please visit Ms. Farngalo's UNGA webpage
H.E. Lady Sandra Williams, FMC, DCL, MSc., Dip. M, MCIM, BA. Governor General’s Goodwill Ambassador and President of the Antigua and Barbuda China Friendship Association; President and Founder of The Halo Foundation Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams was born Sandra Louise Scotland in St. John’s, Antigua on July 15, 1963 to parents Jasper (Bobby) Scotland and Mary Scotland (née Royer-Dublin). She attended nursery school in Antigua before moving to Ottawa, Canada at the age of 3 with her family -- and later on, to Toronto. After returning to Antigua for two years, she then moved to North Wales, United Kingdom and later to Guyana, South America where she completed high school. Lady Williams enrolled at Saint Mary’s University in 1981, where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Department of Modern Languages and English, attaining distinction (cum laude) in her selected double major and minor. She was later awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Tourism Management at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom and earned her Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, also in the United Kingdom. She is a full member of the Institute, and over the years has pursued various career-related courses in Japan, Austria, Spain, Germany, France and Barbados. Lady Williams has held significant senior managerial positions, including Director of Marketing for a regional Caribbean airline and Antigua and Barbuda’s Director of Tourism to the United Kingdom and Europe. She operated from Frankfurt, Germany for two years as a Project Tourism Executive for the Eastern Caribbean, under an Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) initiative. Additionally, she provided consultancy services to both small boutique hotels and large resort operations for a number of years. She is currently the Governor General’s Goodwill Ambassador and President of the Antigua and Barbuda China Friendship Association. She is also the President and Founder of The Halo Foundation, an umbrella charity established in December 2014 that addresses the needs of 32 charities under the patronage of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda. Some of the initiatives of the Halo Foundation include: ~ “Colours of Charity”, an event for the various local charities headlined by HRH Prince Harry (Duke of Sussex) on his visit to Antigua in 2017 – and later organizing a function in London at which Prince Harry was introduced to a cellist of Antiguan descent, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who was eventually invited by the Duchess of Sussex to perform at their wedding ceremony in Windsor; ~ a 2-year antibullying campaign currently being executed in 6 pilot schools; ~ full 4-year university scholarships for students from Antigua and Barbuda who have exhibited acts of kindness of bravery to St. Mary’s University; ~ scholarships to local institutions for children with special needs; ~ the provision of musical instruments to a local youth orchestra; ~ part sponsorship of Team Antigua Island Girls’ row across the Atlantic ocean; ~ partnership with the Prince’s Foundation, the Calvin Ayre Foundation and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to build and furnish homes for those families left without shelter following the ravages of Hurricane Irma. ~ the creation of a youth arm of the Halo Foundation, known as Generation Y, which focuses on sensitizing young people to the importance of helping others; ~ and much more.
In 2018, Lady Williams was awarded the Faithful and Meritorious Cross for outstanding voluntary service to the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. She received a Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) honorary degree from Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2019, and accepted a Vigor Unsung Hero Award in Toronto in that same year. She is the spouse of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams and has one son, Brent.
Monica Delores Hooks Executive Director at the City of Atlanta Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative Monica Delores Hooks built her career at Sony Music Entertainment with front line P&L experience in Product Management, International Marketing and Business Affairs roles; then in entrepreneurship with business development roles in new media, entertainment and technology startups. She has over 20 years of expertise in content marketing and brand management focusing on projects and brands driven by youth culture and social influencers. As Executive Director of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, Ms. Hooks is responsible for innovation policy, entrepreneur workforce programs, financial capacity building, as well as entrepreneur retention and development as it pertains to women’s entrepreneurship throughout the City of Atlanta. Ms. Hooks is also Founder and CEO of m-oracle LLC d/b/a The Marketing Oracle, a marketing innovation agency offering strategy and market research. m-oracle LLC is a graduate of the City of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) inaugural class and winner of the 2017 Microsoft Innovation Bots and Cognitive Services Award. The Marketing Oracle’s mission is to connect business, media, technology and culture. Ms. Hooks is a graduate of Georgia Public Schools and received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in Government where she earned the Dean’s Award. She has an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. She is currently co-lead for the Atlanta Chapter of Black Women Talk Tech, a member of the public service organization, Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and Radcliffe Presbyterian Church located in Atlanta, GA.
Honorary Guest Speaker
Consul General Michel Gerebtzoff Consulate General of Belgium in Atlanta, Georgia, USA Michel Gerebtzoff was born in Geneva on March 3, 1972, into a family with Russian and French roots. He graduated as a Water and Forestry Engineer from the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences in Gembloux, Belgium. He first started a career in the private sector, as a specialist in geographic databases and earth observation systems. At the age of 30, he passed the diplomatic competition and joined Foreign Affairs, becoming Embassy Secretary in Geneva (WTO and WIPO, from 2005 to 2008) and then in Beijing (2008-2012). After a year at the Directorate General of European Affairs (trade policy department), he returned to China, to Guangzhou , to head the office for the promotion of exports and investments of the Walloon Region (2013-2016). During that time he was also appointed to the Governing Board of the American International School of Guangzhou. Upon his return to Brussels, he became an advisor at the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the European Union, in charge of trade, research and space (2016-2017), after which he became Chief of Staff to the Deputy Permanent Representative of Belgium to the European Union (2017-2019). In 2019 he joined the cabinet of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders before becoming Deputy Chief of Staff to Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Goffin (2019-2020). In that capacity, he sat on one of the main pandemic management bodies. Michel Gerebtzoff took office as Consul General of Belgium in Atlanta on August 1, 2020. He is married and the father of two daughters.
Roundtable Discussion #1 The Wellbeing of Women and Children: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Children, and Our Future
Dr. Angela Maria Wakhweya Senior Director, Health, Equity and Rights (HER), CARE, Atlanta, GA
Dr. Wakhweya recently joined CARE after more than two decades of work across the development and public health sector in the United States and internationally, most recently as Founder and Executive Director of Global Public Health Linkages, a US based non-profit tackling extreme poverty among families affected by HIV/AIDS, with a special focus on children, girls and women. Throughout her career, Dr. Wakhweya has sought out leadership positions that have allowed her to utilize her extensive knowledge in health planning, financing and policy in order to solve complex global issues. Dr. Wakhweya has been working domestically at the forefront of organizations such as the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where she served as Deputy Director of the Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration, Deputy Director of the AIDS Administration and Health Officer of Anne Arundel County, the fifth largest district in Maryland. In Maryland, she also served as Chief School Health Officer for Health Services, Policy and Innovation for Prince George’s County Public Schools, the second largest school district in Maryland, where she led efforts to transform the paper based system to an online electronic school health electronic record system in nine months. Prior to joining the State government, she served internationally as Senior Technical Officer for Family Health International and as HIV/AIDS Advisor for Save the Children Federation. While there, she provided technical assistance for HIV/AIDS and OVC (orphans and other vulnerable children) programs funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and TB. Earlier, Dr. Wakhweya served as Assistant Professor of International Health at Boston University School of Public Health; Research Associate/Project Scientist for Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID); and Africa Regional Program Manager for Oxfam America. She first joined the United States public health scene as a Senior Health Policy Analyst with the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy. Dr. Wakhweya has a Doctor of Medicine degree (MBChB) from Makerere University Medical School in Kampala, Uganda; and, a Master of Science in Health Planning and Financing, jointly awarded by the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, in the United Kingdom.
Michelle White Principal, Western High School, Baltimore, MD Michelle White, a Baltimore native and proud graduate of Baltimore City Public Schools, has been an educator for 20 years. After eight years of teaching Chemistry and Biology in Baltimore County Public Schools, Ms. White joined the City Schools team to serve as Science Academic Content Liaison for secondary schools. Following her passion to directly support students, Ms. White became an Assistant Principal at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C., and later returned to Baltimore City to serve as Principal of her alma mater, Western High School. She is also a graduate of Villa Julie College and Towson University, where she earned her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees, respectively.
Ms. White has worked to enrich the educational opportunities of Baltimore City students by teaching masters level STEM courses to teachers seeking STEM certifications at Notre Dame University and Johns Hopkins University. She is a board member of the Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL) where she helps to ensure that Baltimore students have adequate opportunity to discover their passions and find their voice and agency through high quality educational experiences.
A passionate educator committed to improving students’ life outcomes, Ms. White is the recipient of several awards, including the College Bound Administrator of the Year Award.
Colette Cottman Community development Specialist, Engagement & Training Lead, Microsoft in Metro Atlanta Position: Colette Cottman is a Community Development Specialist, Engagement &Training Lead for Microsoft in Metro Atlanta. She represents Microsoft locally. She and her team are dedicated to supporting educators, young minds and educational institutions that develop the ingenuity, innovation and intellectual curiosity of our young adults. Education: She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management, a Bachelor of Arts degree with concentrations in Organizational Psychology/ Business Administration, and a Master of Arts degree in Human Resources Management. Experience: Colette is an experienced Human resource Professional, Corporate Trainer and a decorated Veteran. She served in the US Army from 2001-2015 holding 6 progressive ranks in her tenure ranging from Private to Captain. Colette finished top 10 in her class at Initial Military Training; top 3 in her Signal (IT) Officer Basic course and was selected to Command a unit immediately following her HR Advanced Course. She held 2 Commands (generating force and headquarters), was a Network Support Manager and a Central Hub Signal Officer in Iraq, and served as HR Manager, Training & Development Manager, Family/Career Readiness Officer and Army Community Service (ACS) liaison. Activities: Colette has pioneered leading-edge campaigns for transitioning military members and female warriors with her Life-Skills Expo, Female Mentor Network and Women’s Warrior Challenge Course. She volunteers in the community with many organizations supporting youth, education and wellness and currently provides support with digital transformation and remote learning by facilitating and directing training in M365 Applications, 21st Century Career Readiness, Coding and sought-after next generation digital skills.
Cheri-Ann Taylor Director of Student Behavioral Health and Well-Being, Clayton County Publics School System, Georgia Cheri-Ann Taylor, Ed.S is a certified School Psychologist who has worked with children and adolescents for 18 years in several capacities. Her journey as a mental health provider to youth began at Community Education Partners in Orlando, FL. There she served a Behavior Aide and Discipline paraprofessional from 2001-2003 while earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. Her graduate studies began at Georgia Southern University where she worked at the Regents Center for Learning Disorders as a testing assistant from 2003-2005. Through this work she began to realize the need for quality mental health services to minority youth in the K-12 setting and became drawn to the calling of creating access for students. Upon graduation in 2006 with an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology she relocated to the Metro-Atlanta area (Fulton and Troup County) and has served the youth of Clayton County Public Schools since 2007. She has also worked with private agencies in order to gain valuable experience with the provision of mental health services to varied populations. The 9 years served in Clayton County Public Schools as a School Psychologist have been in all settings from the Pre-school diagnostic center to the Alternative School, Mrs. Taylor has strived to be versed in each setting. She served as the Lead School Psychologist for 4 years before being appointed Director of Student Behavioral Health and Well-Being in 2020. Cheri-Ann has a desire for each student in Clayton County Public Schools to have the resources they need to take charge of their own Well-Being. A specific area of interest for Mrs. Taylor is Mindfulness. She feels that especially at this time it is important to empower our students with tools needed for them to feel in control of their environments. Cheri-Ann is a dedicated mother and wife. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and believes in the value of philanthropy, respect, and perseverance.
Chinita Allen Founder and Education and Advocacy Consultant, Chinita Allen Education and Advocacy Consulting, LLC, Georgia Chinita Allen is the Immediate Past President of the United Nations Association of Atlanta, Alumnae Director at Large Barnard College, Columbia University and President of Cobb Democratic Women. Ms. Allen is a dynamic speaker, leader, award winning educator, consultant and political strategist. Her expertise includes leadership and organizational development, education policy, innovative pedagogical practices, advocacy and campaign strategic planning, and community engagement and collaboration. In addition to her expertise, Allen’s most recent accomplishments include: 2021 Senior Campaign Advisor to current Cobb County Sheriff and Cobb County District Attorney, 2021 Higher Heights for America Civic Senior Executive Leadership Fellowship, 2021 Cobb County Board of Commissioners District 2 Community Outreach Advisor, 2020 National PTA position statement regarding institutional racism and schools, 2017 Atlanta Families Award of Education Excellence, 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching and Georgia Department of Education STEM Laureate. Ms. Allen resides in Marietta, Georgia with her husband and three children. In her free time, she enjoys reading and learning to garden.
Madinah S. Ali President & Co-Founder, Safe PC Cloud Atlanta Co-Lead for The Women in Technology (WIT) Network, Microsoft Business Partner Channel, Atlanta, Georgia Madinah S. Ali is the President & Co-Founder of SafePC Cloud. The company primarily focuses on data backup and recovery for midsize, enterprise, and government IT environments with an emphasis on cybersecurity. Ms. Ali formerly served as The Women in Technology (WIT) Chair/Board member for the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) Atlanta Chapter and currently serves as the Atlanta Co-Lead for The WIT Network. Safe PC Cloud, was recently selected to participate in the Women in Cloud Accelerator for 2019. Safe PC Cloud is a Managed Service Provider that focuses on data backup, IT security, and cloud-based applications. Ms. Ali received her Master of Applied Economics degree from Cornell University. She is a Magna Cum Laude Graduate of Florida A&M University. She is currently completing her Microsoft Certified Trainer designation as a part of the Microsoft Learning Partner Program, which is comprised of the premier technical and instructional experts in Microsoft technologies, including Azure Data Backup and Recovery. Ms. Ali is currently a member of the Cybersecurity Tech Accord which promotes a safer online world by fostering collaboration among global technology companies that are committed to protecting customers and users against malicious threats. Over two years ago, she created the EdTech (Education Technology) Division with the focus of bridging the digital divide among women, African Americans, and Hispanics. To learn more about Safe PC Cloud’s Ed Tech division, you can go to their website, and her recent initiative with Microsoft Reskilling and upskilling initiative.
Carolyne Akinyi Opinde, Dr. h.c. (Roundtable Moderator) Founder and CEO, The NGO Whisperer™, United Kingdom
Dr. Carolyne Akinyi Opinde is an award-winning global consultant and social entrepreneur providing technical support to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean so they can successfully impact people's lives. Dr. Opinde believes that socio-economic development within low-income communities can be achieved by “Connecting People, Raising Funds, and Impacting Lives™”.
Dr. Opinde is a seasoned Resource Mobilization and Business Development Specialist with over 15 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector. Her knowledge and expertise in international development has impacted communities across the globe. She has raised over US$ 100 million and managed various projects worth US$ 20+ million. Dr. Opinde’s commitment to making a difference in people’s lives, especially among women, girls and children in underserved communities led her to establish The NGO Whisperer™ in 2018, as a consulting business with a global reach that provides technical support to nonprofits and social enterprises, so they can successfully impact people’s lives. As the Founder and CEO of The NGO Whisperer™ Global Consulting, she leads a team of consultants to provide technical support to nonprofits in Resource Mobilization, Project Management, Governance and Organisational Management, Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management, and Executive Coaching and Masterclasses for leaders. As the Editor-In-Chief of The NGO Whisperer™ Magazine, she works with a team of highly respected subject-matter experts to provide high-quality content, industry best practices, and share stories of women and men who are impacting lives within their communities and across the globe. As the Host and Producer of The NGO Whisperer™ Show, she interviews women and men who are impacting lives within their communities and across the globe. Notable personalities featured in The NGO Whisperer™ Magazine and The NGO Whisperer™ Show include H.E Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first Female President of the Republic of Mauritius, H.E Lady Sandra Williams, Governor General ‘s Goodwill Emissary, President and Founder, The Halo Foundation, Inc., Antigua and Barbuda and Lillian Barnard, Managing, Director of Microsoft South Africa, among others. International Speaker and Evangelist for social entrepreneurship: Dr. Opinde is an international speaker and evangelist for social entrepreneurship. She has spoken to audiences of over 5 000, sharing the stage with Former President Bill Clinton, Bishop T. D. Jakes, Deepak Chopra, and Founders and CEOs of leading fortune 500 companies such as PayPal, Nike, Walmart, Yahoo and Hollywood celebrities to name a few. She has interviewed among others, Former President H.E. Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, and Hollywood actor, Charlie Sheen, among others. She is also a certified Project Management Professional® (UK) and Certified Scrum Product Owner®, among other accreditations. Dr. Opinde currently lives with her husband Jose, in Manchester, United Kingdom. She enjoys cooking African and Portuguese delicacies and running.
Roundtable Discussion #2 Women and Entrepreneurship: Re-visioning Your Business Through Partnerships and Co-Branding
Mary Ehrsam President, Operation HOPE Partnerships, New York As President of Operation HOPE Partnerships, Mary Ehrsam drives the cultivation of revenue streams and avenues for growth and sustainability while furthering the overall mission of HOPE. Mary is responsible for structuring development opportunities, oversight of partnership relations, and the execution of the scalability and sustainability strategy. Prior to joining HOPE, Mary began her career in strategic economic development and poverty alleviation by launching the Los Angeles affiliate of Habitat for Humanity - growing the organization from a $35,000 budget to $3.2 million and constructing 64 homes in partnership with recipient homeowners. Mary expanded her focus to comprehensive revitalization of underserved communities as Vice President, Chief of Operations for Operation HOPE. In her role Mary oversaw the development of the HOPE Financial Dignity Centers and was responsible for operations, legal, fiscal management, compliance, community and political affairs, and financial development. Mary is a 22-year member of the HOPE legacy team. She developed and launched the HOPE youth programs, expanded the HOPE Inside model nationwide, and led the global expansion in South Africa and the Middle East. Working with the Global Dignity Co-Founders, Mary developed the base “A Course in Dignity” curriculum that has since been delivered, in partnership with the World Economic Forum of Young Global Leaders, in 100 countries on four continents. She received a degree in economics from Gettysburg College, and currently serves on the boards of directors of Gettysburg College, Art & Soul, and the Gettysburg ESii. Mary is an advisor for the SaveThe Arts Foundation and a member of the ODE National Economics Society.
Farhana Hasan Founder and CEO, HerWILL, Atlanta, Georgia Farhana Hasan is the Founder and CEO of HerWILL, a US based social enterprise for women’s empowerment that focuses on breaking social barriers to success through education, advocacy, discussion, and innovative technology. HerWILL is committed to helping to achieve gender equality, the UN SDG goal #5, by 2030. Farhana was a senior leader in global aviation for almost 20 years, with experience in data science applications, , business intelligence, aviation technology, and leadership development. She led the technology implementation for partnership development at Delta Air Lines, in collaboration with Delta’s strategic partners around the world. She has also served in SkyTeam IT Executive Board for five years. Farhana was in charge of multi-million-dollar technology investments for partnership integration for joint ventures and equity investment. Farhana’s team has built the first on-time performance forecasting model for Delta Air Lines, which was endorsed by the US Department of Transportation. Farhana has consulted for multiple for-profit and non-profit organizations in the US, Asia, Europe, and South America. She also taught Business Intelligence for Executive MBA at Georgia State University. Her recent endeavor has been launching an international consulting firm that is dedicated to Data Science and Leadership Development. Farhana is trained by Leadership Management International in Total Leadership in addition to earning her Six Sigma Master Blackbelt. With HerWILL, Farhana has married her passion for women’s empowerment, innovative technology, and data insight. Her cross-cultural and multiple industry leadership experiences have made her well-suited for founding the social enterprise she is now leading. https://www.linkedin.com/in/farhanahasan1/
Professor Thuli Madonsela Founder, The Thuli Madonsela Foundation (Thuma), South Africa Professor Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, is the law trust chair in social justice and a law professor at the University of Stellenbosch, where she conducts and coordinates social justice research and teaches constitutional and administrative law. She is the founder of the Thuma Foundation, an independent democracy leadership and literacy public benefit organization and convener of the Social Justice M-Plan, a Marshall Plan-like initiative aimed at catalyzing progress towards ending poverty and reducing inequality by 2030, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and Sustainable Development Goals (SGGs). She is a monthly columnist for the Financial Mail and City Press/Rapport, and occasionally writes for other newspapers. A multiple award-winning legal professional, with over 50 national and global awards, Thuli Madonsela has eight honorary doctor of laws degrees, one of which was awarded by the Law Society of Canada. She holds a BA Law from Uniswa, a Bachelor of Laws from Wits University and a Harvard Advanced Leadership Certificate, and has been trained in legal drafting, leadership, strategic planning, scenario planning, gender mainstreaming, mediation and arbitration, and training facilitation, among other things. Thuli Madonsela was the Public Protector of South Africa from 2009 to 2016. She is credited with transforming the institution by enhancing its effectiveness in promoting good governance and integrity – including ethical governance and anticorruption in state affairs – through her reports, jurisprudence on the powers of the Public Protector and introduction of ADR. She is the architect of the OR Tambo Declaration on the minimum standards for an effective ombudsman institution and cooperation with the African Union on strengthening good governance and co-founder of the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and served as AORC’s founding chairperson. As a full-time commissioner of the South African Law Commission, she supervised several investigations – among them Project 25 – on aligning all laws with the Constitution and participated in the drafting of several laws. She chaired and later project-managed the Equality Legal Education Training Unit (ELETU), which provided foundational training for Equality Court judicial officers. She is the co-founder and one of the inaugural leaders of the South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA). Thuli Madonsela is one of the drafters of South Africa’s Constitution and co-architect of several laws that have sought to anchor South Africa’s democracy. She also contributed to the conceptualization and quality assurance of laws such as the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Repeal of the Black Administration Act. Her policy contributions have focused on the transformation of the judicial system, the promotion of equality – particularly gender equality – and the Victims Charter. She has also participated in the drafting of several international instruments, mainly on human rights, gender, race, disability, development, and gender-based violence, in addition to participating in the preparation of country reports and representing the country.
Robbin Jorgensen (Roundtable Moderator) Founder and CEO, Women Igniting Change® Robbin Jorgensen is the Founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change® - a global, purpose driven organization that unleashes the contribution of women around the world. She is a status quo disruptor, human rights activist, and global citizen. She is a sought-after global speaker and social impact strategist with 25+ years of experience in sales and marketing, training and business development. Robbin's expertise has been delivered in 14 countries on 6 continents. Her company is trusted by major brands including General Electric, Bank of America, Deloitte, Oracle and many more. Robbin was honored as a Human Rights Champion by the United Nations Association of the USA, is the U.S. Ambassador for AVEGA Agahozo in Rwanda and has been featured by the Cartier Women's Initiative, Voyage ATL, the Dana Barret Show, OWN IT Magazine and the Atlanta Small Business Network (to name a few). She delivered the keynote address for the 170th Anniversary of the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY joining the ranks of previous speakers who included Hillary Clinton. Robbin is also the Founder of the CORA Women’s Center, an economic empowerment initiative in Rwanda that leverages a gender transformative approach to address women’s inequality.
Mistress of Ceremonies
Ramona Houston, Ph.D., PMP Host of The Empowerment Zone Ramona Houston, Ph.D., PMP, is on a mission to inspire social impact. A scholar, social impact strategist, speaker, and host of The Empowerment Zone podcast, Ramona combines her interests and talents to advance Black and Brown relations, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), and racial and social justice. A US historian, Ramona specializes in American race relations, specifically its African American and Mexican American dimensions. Through her publications and presentations, Ramona seeks to dismantle systemic racism and reduce racial disparities primarily affecting the Black and Brown communities. A social entrepreneur, Ramona truly believes in the power of social responsibility—the business practice of contributing to the well-being of society. That is why businesses and public figures hire Ramona to help them to design and execute their social impact visions. Through collaborating with Ramona, businesses positively impact lives, strengthen their community, advance the social causes they believe in, enhance their brand, and, ultimately, grow their businesses through social impact. A passionate educator, Ramona also speaks often, enlightening audiences through her podcast, lectures and trainings, and serving as a subject matter expert on various types of programs. Whether Ramona is producing scholarship, coordinating community engagement projects or speaking, one theme remains constant: social impact. Devoted to social impact, Ramona is persistently working to fulfill her professional mission of “Inspiring minds, connecting communities, making social impact and transforming the world.” A graduate of The University of Texas (PhD in History) and Clark Atlanta University (BA in Spanish and History), Ramona is a native of Brownwood, Texas, and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. To contact or learn more about Ramona, visit www.ramonahouston.com.