Shan is the former Global Chief Adminstration Officer and General Counsel at Edelman, where she served for 16+ years. Shan received her undergraduate degree in English Literature, with honors, from the University
of Chicago and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Shan is a member of the
Economic Club of Chicago, the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the
Illinois State Bar Association and the State Bar of California.
Regine currently serves as WGEP’s board president. She is a retired managing partner of Baker McKenzie’s Chicago office and was a member of the Firm’s global Financial Committee and North American Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Laurie currently serves as WGEP’s Board Treasurer. She previously served as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance and Administration for Entertainment Cruises, a hospitality company that grew from 4 vessels in 3 cities to 100 vessels in 18 cities. Laurie is a strategic and analytical financial executive with a strong background in growth, operational and financial planning, financial and key metric reporting, tax and entity planning, legal and contract review, insurance and risk management.
She holds a degree in accounting from Elmhurst College and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Laurie received a silver medal and the Elijah Watt Sells Award at the Illinois CPA exam. She is a registered CPA.
Baran lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Mark, and their two children. Outside of WGEP, she is an active volunteer with Westchester Food Pantry, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Ladder Up, and Wolf Road Prairie restoration.
Regine currently serves as WGEP’s board president. She is a retired managing partner of Baker McKenzie’s Chicago office and was a member of the Firm’s global Financial Committee and North American Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Zahira (Zai) is a Change Management leader at Red Hat with almost 20 years experience combined in organizational change, marketing & communications
with roles in the IT industry at Nortel, Avaya, and Cisco. In 2016, her work for Change Management Digital
Transformation as a new Business to Business Service earned her a Bronze Stevie Award. Zai completed degrees in Music and Business Management. And in her pursuit of ongoing learning, in 2019 she completed a Leadership Executive Development program at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s School. She is a member of the Association for Change Management Practitioners. She has served on nonprofit boards for the last five years: ATHENA of the Triangle Board as Co-Chair of the Emerging Leaders program and Communications Chair, and as President of Connected Women of NC.
She is a native of Puerto Rico, has lived in Germany and currently resides in Raleigh, NC. She speaks English, Spanish, and German.
John is Chief Information Security Officer at Spencer Stuart, an international executive search and leadership advisory firm based in Chicago, IL, where he oversees global operations of the company’s information security program. Prior to his current role, John served as Senior Vice President of Information Security, Governance and Risk at Edelman, Inc. a global communications firm. John holds a master’s degree in IT management from Northwestern University, a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from DePaul University and has been a certified information security professional (CISSP) since 2008.
John developed his connection with Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. There he served as director and instructor of the Haile Selassie University Extension Center in Debre Zeit (Bishoftu), where the main Ethiopian Air Force base is located. Many of the students he taught were air force officers, including the commander of the base. He also taught history in the high school and English in the elementary school. After re-visiting Ethiopia in 2003, he and a fellow former PCV started a project with an Ethiopian NGO to support vocational training for street girls in Addis Ababa, but the project was forced to end after about 4 years. In 2014 he went back to Ethiopia where he visited projects of three international NGOs focused on girls’ education and hopes to bring what he has learned to his membership on the Board of WGEP.
Following his stint in the Peace Corps, John received a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is professor emeritus.
Damaris is a finance professional with a wealth of experience in finance in the humanitarian sector, where she has worked for 9 years. She is currently the Global Senior Management Accountant for Purposeful, an Africa-rooted global hub for girls’ organizing and activism. Prior to joining Purposeful, she was the Grants and Operations Manager at Akili Dada. She has also served in various Finance & Accounting roles at the Lutheran World Federation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce – Finance from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and is currently pursuing an MBA in Finance and Strategic Management from United States International University- Africa. She is passionate about promoting access to quality education, creating awareness for girls and women’s rights, and enabling them to identify and articulate issues that are important to them.
Aimee is the Risk Office Director at Protiviti. Aimee has over 20 years of experience in the information systems field with a background in information risk management and cyber security. Aimee enjoys spending time with family and friends, planning vacations, and having dinner parties at home. In addition to coaching and supporting women in the workplace, Aimee enjoys serving alongside WGEP to advocate and enable more women and girls globally to reach their full potential!
Tria is currently director of global development programs at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and oversees the Women, Equity, and Global Development Forum. Prior to joining the Council, she spent nearly a decade working for the United Nations in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, and for UNICEF. Tria holds a BA in political science and sociology from the University of Alberta. She is fluent in French and Italian.
Meredith is the Governance Chair of the Young Professionals Board. She is a committed relationship builder, nonprofit administrator, and wellness advocate. In 2018, Meredith spent a year in Soweto, South Africa where she assisted in facilitating educational, wellness, and social services programs for individuals impacted by HIV/AIDs and economic disparities. Meredith graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and French from Luther College. As part of her undergraduate studies she spent a semester in Senegal learning French, Wolaf and studying the intersection of mental health and spirituality in a Senegalese context. Meredith is deeply passionate about building relationships and investing in community-led solutions. For leisure, she enjoys running, hiking, yoga, and traveling.
Hannah Bonecutter is an accomplished, young woman with high aspirations and immense dedication. Hannah holds a Master’s of Public Health from University of Illinois at Chicago, a BS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a licensed professional educator in Illinois. Hannah is an avid volunteer as she serves as a Leadership Committee member, Associates Board Member, Young Professional board member, and Community Engagement Specialist of four separate nonprofit organizations, which include Women Employed (WE), Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.OM.E.), Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP), and Justice Journey Alliance (JJA) respectively. Further, Hannah is an actress, model, and filmmaker.
Driven by her deep fervor for international education, Jacqui has spent the last few years on-the-go as an expatriate, teaching in Thailand and volunteering her TESOL efforts across South East Asia. The most challenging and rewarding of these events, developing a literacy clinic for youth and adult refugees fleeing Myanmar. Repatriating in 2019, Jacqui now serves as the Academic Advisor at the American Institute for Foreign Study working with undergraduates to fulfill their academic goals abroad and promoting cultural exchange through the use of the J-1 visa. Advocate and scholar, she is a proud alumna of Duquesne University and connected with The Youth Education Series, Project Mexico and Give Kids the World Village. She looks forward to return to academia to acquire her master’s degree in International Education & Development in the upcoming year. At present she is enjoying her newfound freedom of working remote, touring as many of America’s National Parks as she can. Jacqui is excited to join the Women’s Global Education Project, because she believes with knowledge and empowerment, all things are possible.
Aliyah’s goal of empowering communities through mentorship, holistic wellness, and education have been the motivation behind her work. As a Chicago native with Caribbean roots, she has witnessed first-hand the beauty and struggle of diversity. Through her own experiences and desire to serve, she has been fortunate to engage with amazing organizations across the city. Aliyah is an alumni of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps, a member of the Giving Project 2021 Cohort, and the Chicagoland facilitator of Global United Diaspora, an organization centered on the empowerment of members of the African Diaspora. As a business owner and health coach, she aims to provide health and wellness products and services rooted in her West Indian heritage. Aliyah currently serves as a Program Associate at Arabella Advisors. She is an alumni of Loyola University of Chicago where she studied Political Science and African Studies.
Anna graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BBA in Accounting and minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. She then completed her Masters in Accounting and is now a CPA at a public accounting firm. Anna is actively involved in women’s leadership and empowerment initiatives. She loves yoga and trying new restaurants!
Alyssa is the Membership Chair of the Young Professionals Board. She graduated from Marquette University in 2019 with a double-major in Information Systems and Marketing. She is grateful to be a part of the Women’s Global Education Project to support the mission of empowering women and girls through education to build better lives. She strongly believes education is the most powerful tool to help us grow and develop as individuals and is a necessity to be able to explore our full potential. Inspired by the strong, motivated female leadership within the organization, Alyssa is excited to learn from their mentorship to empower women and create lasting-positive change in the world. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys running on the lakefront in Chicago, walking her dogs, and exploring new restaurants with family and friends.
Ayeesha holds a BBA from the University of Michigan – Stephen Ross School of Business. She currently works as an investment management associate, and enjoys supporting WGEP’s communications objectives in her free time.
Regina holds a BA from Tufts University and an MBA from the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. She currently works as an ESG & Climate Advisory Manager at KPMG, and has a passion for environmental social governance, and global gender equity.
Emily is a graduate of the College of William & Mary and received her Master’s degree in international development from Trinity College Dublin and University College of Dublin. She has spent over six years working abroad in development contexts with a focus on gender empowerment, ending gender-based violence, and education equity, including two years in the Peace Corps in eSwatini, Master’s research in Senegal, and working with UN Women in Turkey. She currently works as a researcher and writer for a media/marketing company based in DC, and in her free time also volunteers with a local domestic violence program. She’s deeply passionate about supporting women and girls both abroad and at home through investing in strong communities of care.
Abi Daré is the author of The Girl with the Louding Voice, which was a New York Times bestseller, a #ReadWithJenna Today Show book club pick, a BBC Radio 4 Bookclub Pick, and an Indie Next Pick. Translated into 16 languages (till date) and studied on curriculums across the world, The Girl With The Louding Voice tells the story of Adunni, a 14-year-old girl who is desperate for an education. The novel has received critical acclaim and has been shortlisted for several awards including The British Book Awards Best Book of The Year, The Nigeria Prize for Literature (Africa’s largest literary Prize), and in 2020 was named as The legendary Dolly Parton’s favorite of 2020 as well as selected as an Amazon Best Book of The Year for July 2020.
Abi grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and went on to study law at the University of Wolverhampton. She graduated as Best Performing Student in her MSc in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University, and acquired an MA (with distinction) in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. Abi has had over 15 years experience in corporate project management, working with several multinationals to deliver multimillion pound programmes and investments. She is passionate about education, particularly for the girl child. A well-sought after speaker, Abi has supported and attended various events advocating for, and highlighting areas of need including NGOs and Charities across the world such as The Malala Foundation, BookAid International, FAWCO and The International Rescue Committee. In 2022, Abi was appointed as Board Member for the BIC Corporate Foundation. Abi lives in Essex, UK with her family.
Elise is a Founding Board Member of Women’s Global Education Project. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Senegal (‘96-’99). Upon her return from West Africa and a training contract for the Peace Corps in Guinea, Elise worked at Chemonics International and managed multi-million dollar USAID contract projects in Mali, Senegal and Uganda. On behalf of WGEP, she traveled to Senegal in December 2004 and met with WGEP local partners and scholarship recipients. Elise received her master’s degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Policy from The George Washington University in 1995, and her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Mary Washington College in 1990. She is fluent in English and French and learned Wolof in Senegal.
Lucy Ascoli has been an enthusiastic supporter of Women’s Global Education Project since she first learned about it at our 2009 Ndajee benefit at North Pond in Lincoln Park. Lucy has worked in city planning and taught social work, and has worked as a fundraiser for low income housing organizations and refugee organizations in Chicago. She currently is on the Board of Directors of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) in Chicago, of GPAC, as well as serving on the Ambassadors’ Circle for WGEP.
Catherine received a BA in English Literature & Classics and a Master’s of Non-Profit Administration from the University of San Francisco and a JD from Loyola University, Chicago. Catherine has worked in the non-profit world in grant writing and program development for the Goodwill Industries in San Francisco. She has also worked as a freelance writer, and practiced employment law at the Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago. She also co-owned and managed Yoga Trek and now tutors Latin and works as a substitute teacher at Oak Park River Forest High School. She is originally from London and is married with three children.
Sue is a Director of a private family foundation that cares deeply about enhancing local and global communities through healthcare, education, and empowerment. Through her work, Sue has engaged with both small and large non-profit organizations in countries throughout the world and within her own local community. Sue is the Founder and Director of the One Earth Film Festival’s Young Filmmakers Contest, and a board member for Planned Parenthood of Illinois. She was born in Australia, attended Gymea College and spent 15 years in the travel industry before redirecting her career to philanthropy.
Farah Eck is a global citizen who was born of a Pakistani father, American mother, and has lived in 9+ countries, so she is from everywhere and nowhere! Farah’s background is in fundraising, organizational capacity building, communications, and stakeholder engagement. She has a B.A. in Advertising, a M.A. in Communications, a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management, and a M.A. in International Relations and Conflict Resolution. Farah currently serves as the Senior Director of Policies and Programs at the United Nations’ Foundation in Washington, DC.
Mariam is the Founder and Managing Director of Axxum Consulting, a Chicago-based Management Consulting firm providing advisory services to clients in Organizational Change Management, Communications, Training, Program Management and Process Improvement. With 17 years of experience in professional services working in business development, client relationship management and transformation projects, her personal & professional experiences have taken her to France, Ireland, Canada and the U.S. She holds an M.B.A. from Université Laval (Canada) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from IPAG Paris (France) and she speaks fluently in English and French.
Jennifer is a marketing leader with 20 years of brand-building and communications expertise in the commercial and nonprofit sectors. She is a management consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton. Jennifer received her B.A. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University and her M.A. in international studies with concentrations in Latin American studies and international economics from Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Foundation.
Soudary has spent her 22-year career in the nonprofits and philanthropy, helping organizations power their missions through community-centric strategies with equity at the core. Proud 1st generation Lao American, Soudary channels her passion for refugee and immigrant rights, children youth + families, and social justice into engaging supporters to address systemic issues that touch upon equity, education and public health. Soudary is Vice President, Development at Alliance for a Healthier Generation which is dedicated to building healthier communities, and driven by an impact goal of every mind, every body, every young person–healthy and ready to succeed. She most recently served as senior managing director of development at Teaching Trust and led strategic philanthropic initiatives at Heart House, an afterschool program in Vickery Meadow, Dallas. Soudary holds a Masters in Public Service from DePaul University, and a Bachelors in Asian American Studies and Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Soudary values connecting small, community-based organizations typically left out of funding and access–with funding partners who can amplify their work, and is also a member of the Orchid Giving Circle of the Texas Women’s Foundation.
Edith Njuguna is the Director of Programs and Policy Implementation at the Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University in Chicago.
Edith has extensive experience with nonprofits in Chicago and internationally in education, leadership development and community engagement. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Service Management from DePaul University, a Certificate in Hispanic Studies from Universidad Complutense in Madrid and a BA in Literature and Linguistics from the University of Nairobi. She is a native of Kenya and speaks four languages.
Born and raised in France, having lived in Colombia and, for the past 20 years, in the USA, multilingual, Florence served formerly served as WGEP Board Treasurer. Florence brought over 30 years’ experience in Finance and project management. Florence graduated from HEC Paris, one of the leading European business schools. Some of Florence’s passions include advocating for women, minorities, free education and healthcare, justice and the environment.
Howard’s involvement in international development began in the mid-60’s. when he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher trainer in the Philippines. After completing his tour of duty, Howard devoted the next phase of his career to training, initially preparing Volunteers for service in Micronesia and later, as director of training for Volunteers in Brazil.
In the mid-70’s, Howard incorporated CHP International, a training and consulting business, and became its president. For the next several decades was a major contractor for the Peace Corps, managing pre-service and in-service Volunteer training programs in numerous countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. Notably, CHP held the contracts for several years in both countries WGEP serves, Senegal and Kenya. Howard is proud to have served a term on the WGEP Board of Directors.
Jennifer enjoyed two years as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching environmental education in Senegal, where she became aware of the lack of opportunities for girls to attend school and improve their situation through education in Africa. Jennifer has been a fundraising professional for more than a decade, raising funds at many of San Francisco’s most prominent non-profits. She is currently the Director of Development for the LightHouse for the Blind. Her passions include running and painting.
Julie has a strong background in international development, beginning with Peace Corps service in Senegal and then as an executive and senior manager for NGOs and private sector companies in the US, Senegal and other West African countries for over a decade and also in Washington, DC. As President of Citizen Bridges International she designed hands-on programs for international participants to foster the exchange of best practices through the sharing of professional skills and knowledge. She has a BA in Sociology from D’Youville College and is fluent in French.
Bill taught political science and history at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois, for 32 years before retiring in 2004. He began volunteering in 1999 with Seeds of Peace, an organization that brings Israeli and Palestinian teens to a camp in Maine every summer for a 3-week experience in peaceful coexistence, where he served as facilitator of the camp’s daily dialogue sessions. In 2002 he assisted in the founding of Hands of Peace, an organization modeled after Seeds of Peace, but adapted to the urban setting of Chicago’s northwest suburbs. In 2008 he moved to Seattle to become a “manny” to his granddaughter Eloise, and later her brother Loic as well. Since 2009 he has been teaching courses to senior adults at the Lifetime Learning Center. He recently completed a four-course sequence with the overall title of “The Consequences of Being Black in White America.” He became involved with WGEP after hearing founder Amy Maglio interviewed on the Chicago Public Radio global affairs program Worldview.