Advisors - New York and Afghanistan
WAW's Advisory Committees are made up of individuals who draw on their experience and expertise to guide and mentor WAW' work, particularly our advocacy for women's rights. WAW's advisors do not necessarily endorse WAW's position on all issues. Similarly WAW may not agree with positions or statements made by our advisors.
Afghanistan Advisory Committee
Rina Amiri currently serves as senior advisor on Afghanistan for the Office of the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Before joining SRAP, Rina served as the director of the Soros Foundation's Afghanistan and Regional Policy Initiative. Rina has been intricately involved in peace efforts in Afghanistan. From 2002 to 2006, she worked with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and served as a member of the Special Representative of the Secretary General's team responsible for the implementation of the Bonn Peace Accords. Prior to 2002, Rina worked closely with Afghan political leaders in Rome toward finding a political settlement to the Afghanistan war. She has provided analysis on Afghanistan and the region at major institutions, including the United Nations, Harvard University, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Council of Foreign Affairs as well as news publications, television, and radio programs, including, CNN, The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
Valerie Begley, a lifelong feminist and human rights advocate, currently works with the State Dept. She recently served at U.S. Embassy Kabul focusing on human rights, child protection, and labor issues. A former gender studies professor, she has lived and worked in Turkey, the Philippines, and Singapore teaching, writing, and editing on a range of subjects. She holds an Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.
Wazhma Frogh, the recipient of the 2009 International Woman of Courage is currently a human rights specialization post-graduate fellow at Warwick University, UK. For the past 13 years, Wazhma has been active in grassroots, national and international level efforts to promote women and children rights through civil society activism in Afghanistan. She is a board member of the Afghan Women's Network and has extensively worked on women's inclusions in security, peace processes, governance and legislative advocacy and reform including the first ever Afghanistan Eliminination of Violence against Women Law and the Shia Personal Status Law. Frogh started her career with community outreach in Pakistan at 17 and is a leading expert on Gender-based Violence against women and girls in Afghanistan. Wazhma writes on sociopolitical issues in Afghanistan and has been published globally.
Dr. Anarkali Honaryar is the only non-Muslim Member of Afghanistan’s Senate. She was raised in an open-minded family in Baghlan province. She studied at Balkh Engineering University and later Social and Educational University of Baghalan. She worked as a teacher at her own high school. Then, when the Taliban invaded Afghanistan, Anarkali took Vaccinations Courses at the ICRC and worked as a Vaccinator with the great People of Afghanistan. After the defeat of Taliban, Anarkali resumed her higher education at Stomatology Medical University and attained her medical degree with high honors. She then joined the Afghanistan Human Rights commission was Director of Development. Her focus was women’s rights. When Anarkali nominated herself for election to the National Assembly of Afghanistan, President Karzai himself gave her his vote, and she became the first Sikh member of Parliament. Anarkali currently serves in the National Economic Commission in the Senate of Afghanistan.
Fawzia Koofi is a veteran Afghan parliamentary lawmaker, accomplished author, and internationally known outspoken advocate for the rights of women and children, democracy, and moderate Islam. She is the first female in the Afghan parliament to be elected as Second Deputy Speaker, and she heads the parliament's Women Affairs Commission. Not only has Fawzia humanized the otherwise faceless international discussion of the struggles and abuse of Afghan women, she is on the forefront of educating the international community as to the consequences for her, and other advocates of reform should the international community and their security forces be withdrawn. Fawzia started her political career in 2001 when she began to promote a "Back To School" campaign targeted at the rights of women in Afghanistan to an education. By 2002 she took employment as a Child Protection Officer with UNICEF, and in 2005 she was elected as a parliamentary representative for Badakhshan province, her native region in the rural mountains of northern Afghanistan. While Fawzia was still young, her father and brothers were killed in political unrest throughout the country, and Fawziai herself has been the target of a direct assassination attempt. She was nearly killed in an incident between her soldiers and Taliban opponents, and receives regular credible death threats. Fawzia stands fast to her ideals of the rights of women and children, rule of law, moderate Islam, and no compromise to the Taliban for the sake of peace at the expense of the safety and security of all the citizens of Afghanistan. She is married and has two daughters. Fawzia is a contender in the upcoming presidential elections in 2014.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Fellow and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her first book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, tells the story of a young woman whose business created jobs and hope for 100 women in her neighborhood during the Taliban years. In 2004 Gayle left a career covering presidential politics at ABC News to earn her MBA at Harvard, where she began writing about women entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Rwanda. Her reporting on entrepreneurs in these countries has been published by the New York Times Global Edition, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, CNN.com, and the Daily Beast as well as The World Bank and Harvard Business School. She has served as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain and a Robert Bosch Fellow in Germany. She speaks German, Spanish, French and intermediate Dari and lives in Los Angeles, California, where she spent the last several years at the investment management firm PIMCO while writing The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. She is a member of the International Center for Research on Women’s New Leader’s Circle and the Vital Voices’ Los Angeles Leadership Council.
Kimberly Otis is a consultant in philanthropy and social change. She is currently Senior Advisor to the Center for Partnership Studies and Director of its Caring Economics Campaign. Kim has held various leadership positions with private foundations, non-profits, and associations primarily focused on the rights and empowerment of women and girls for over twenty-five years. From 2006 to the present, she is a consultant for philanthropy and social change through organizational, program, and fund development and strategic planning. Kim is the former Executive Director of the National Council of Women’s Organizations and President & CEO of Women & Philanthropy, a membership and advocacy organization of grantmakers. Kim was also Executive Director of the Rauch Foundation, and was the founding Executive Director for nearly ten years of The Sister Fund, both private family foundations. During the challenging aftermath of September 11, 2001, Kim was Chair of the Board of Directors of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers, where she served two terms as a Board member. She is a past Board member of the National Women's Hall of Fame and of the Women's Funding Network, and is a recipient of the “Changing the Face of Philanthropy” award.
Homira Nassery Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Homira Nassery has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Georgia, and a Master’s degree in International Development from the American University. Ms. Nassery won the Myra E. Barrer Award for Journalism in 1992 for “The Forgotten Population of Refugees: Afghan Women and Children” and was one of the authors of Afghanistan’s first National Human Development Report. For ten years, Homira Nassery worked on health and gender in post-conflict situations for the World Bank, specifically, Rwanda, Pakistan, Eritrea, Mozambique, and Sri Lanka. In 2003, she took a 4 year leave-of-absence from the World Bank to work in the provinces of Afghanistan for Save the Children/U.S., UNDP, NATO, the Government of Afghanistan, and Chemonics/USAID. Her last year in Afghanistan was spent living and working in Lashkargah for the Alternative Livelihoods Project South, covering the three provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, and Uruzgan. This role provided broad exposure in the constraints of developing women’s livelihoods in an active combat zone and the relationships between civilian and military reconstruction activities. Currently she is the Health, Nutrition, and Population Knowledge and Learning Coordinator, as well as the focal point for Fragile States at the World Bank. Her most recent work has been in Southern Sudan, Malawi, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan, and she is working on publishing “Health Systems Strengthening and Statebuilding in Mid-Conflict States”.
Asila Wardak is a human rights and women's rights leader from Afghanistan and a co-founder of Afghan Women's Network (AWN). She is Minister Counselor to the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to United Nation in New York. She was also elected Human Rights Commissioner at the Permanent Human Rights Commission of Organizational Islamic Cooperation (OIC) representing Afghanistan. She was formerly held positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Afghanistan, World Bank, UNDP, Asian Development Bank, UNAMA, CARE and Canada Fund. She has worked as a consultant with various UN agencies, York University and Fredric Ebert Steffting. Asila was a candidate from Wardak Province in the 2005 Parliamentary election.
Asila was a delegate and participated actively in the Bonn 1 and Bonn 2 conferences, the Emergency Loya Jirga, Constitutional Loya jirga, Afghan–Pak Peace Jirga and Peace Consultative Jirga. She raised women's voices in all these meetings. Asila lost her father in in the 2002 Jirga, but she never stopped her fight for human rights in Afghanistan.
Queens Advisory Committee
Palwasha Barakzai is a proud Afghan who grew up in Queens, NY and now lives in Long Island, NY. Palwasha currently works for Hewlett Packard in New York, NY and serves as the Global Business Development lead for HP Critical Facilities Services. She is responsible for the direction of the day-to-day sales support team, marketing initiatives, and business development activities at a worldwide level. Her current initiatives involve business growth plan to increase business results, development of new marketing collateral as well as working with the worldwide team to increase portfolio awareness. Palwasha earned her B.S. from Hofstra University in International Business. She is actively involved in various non-profit organizations. Her future plans include traveling to Afghanistan and hopes of being able to work directly with her native people.
Charlotte Dion is a development consultant and online researcher for nonprofit organizations. Trained as a librarian, for more than 10 years, she was director of the library at the Foundation Center's headquarters in New York. Her work at the Center included assisting library visitors in their search for foundation and corporate funding and teaching classes in grantsmanship and proposal writing. Charlotte has been working with WAW since the fall of 2010, focusing on fund development for New York.
Vanita Gowda has worked for more than a decade on global advocacy initiatives for issues including reproductive health, clean water, corporate responsibility, and access to medicines. She is currently Senior Director at Women Deliver, a global advocacy that calls for action to reduce maternal mortality and ensure universal access to reproductive health. She has focused on global health for the past decade, and previously focused on new health technologies, most recently working with GSK Bio to build global and local support for a late stage malaria vaccine trial spanning 11 sites in seven African countries. As a consultant with global public affairs firms, she has led strategy development, branding, media outreach, and alliance building activities for organizations including the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, GSK Bio, PhRMA, Qiagen, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, among others. She also worked with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative as an advocacy and communications specialist. Vanita started her career as a journalist in Washington DC covering federal legislation and national affairs for Congressional Quarterly and the St. Petersburg Times. She earned a master of public administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor degree from the College of William and Mary.
Alice Hunsberger is both a scholar of Persian literature and Islam and a professional non-profit fundraising manager. She has worked over 25 years as a fundraiser and program strategist for large international institutions, like Amnesty International and Asia Society, and small neighborhood organizations, including schools and rights groups. With a prize-winning PhD from Columbia, she teaches Sufism and Islamic subjects at Hunter College. She is the author of Nasir Khusraw, the Ruby of Badakhshan: A Portrait of the Persian Poet, Traveller and Philosopher (2000; 2003), which has been translated into Persian, Tajik, Arabic and Russian. Her second book, Pearls of Persia: The Philosophical Poetry of Nasir Khusraw, (2011), also concerns this 11th century poet whose shrine is in Afghanistan. She has lived with Afghan families in Tajikistan, and spoken to Afghan audiences in Montreal and Paris. Currently Assistant Director, Foundation and Government Relations at Asia Society, Alice increases programming on Asian and Asian-American society and culture. She helped develop its on-line Afghanistan curriculum, and Kabul-based young leaders program, and assists on programs of Afghan, Iranian, Central Asian, and Islamic culture. Alice lived in Iran in the 1970s, teaching History of Science at Aryamehr/Sharif University, Isfahan. She speaks Persian, French, Spanish and English.
Homaira Mamoor is a graduate of St. Joseph's college in New York with a degree in Business Administration. Homaira was the recipient of the St. Joseph's College prestigious "Esse Non Videri Award." Homaira is a member of the Islamic Center of long Island (ICLI), served as a Board of Directors for 6 years, currently she is a patron board member. In 2009 Homaira received ICLI's President's community Service Award. Homaira is a founding member and the current board chair of Domestic Harmony Foundation, a community-based organization serving Muslim women in Long Island experiencing domestic violence. Homaira is a member of the Multif-faith Forum, building bridges with other faiths in Long Island. She has spoken about Islam and women's rights in Islam at many synagogues, churches, temples and other houses of worship. Homaira's personal experiences as a woman and mother, and working with her native Afghan women's community here in the U.S and back home in Afghanistan, inspire her to work for women's rights. Homaira served for seven years as a Board Member of Women for Afghan Women (WAW) and in 2012 rejoined the WAW leadership as an Advisory Committee member. Homaira is happily married and is the mother of three beautiful daughters. She lives in Long Island, New York.
Ann Nasary was born and raised in Brooklyn New York, and studied communication arts and advertising in college. She is a businesswoman who owns several franchises of Dunkin Donuts, Popeye's and Baskin Robbins in Brooklyn and Queens, employing over 350 people. She is the landlord of many properties in NY. Active on social change within local communities, she is also active on humanitarian organizations called “Streams of Love”, and adviser to “Women for Afghan Women”. The only thing that supersedes her desire for improving the community she grew up in is her devout Christianity, and spreading the Christian message of faith, hope, and love, through "Ann Nasary’s Ministries". Ann is a partner of many Christian faith based ministries throughout the USA which include Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers among many others. She is also a member of World Changers Church in NYC, and Christ Tabernacle in Glendale, Queens. Ann is currently working on her book “Life Lessons of Lola,” a soon-to-be-published book inspired by her doggie and best friend Lola, who sadly passed away.
Stephan Shaw is the co-owner and President of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, a company which makes articles and gift items which draw on literature, philosophy and politics. Stephan has been a supporter of and an active volunteer in Women for Afghan Women for many years. Stephan programmed the contact database for WAW's work in New York and also our client database for our work in Afghanistan. He also designed our website. In 2012 he made a trip to Kabul to refine our client database and train staff from all eight provinces to use it effectively. Stephan lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Sunita (co-founder of WAW) and their three sons Gautama, Akash and Satya.
Suzanne Strickland, Chancellor’s Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Queens College