This spring, women business leaders from around the world will gather in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to spur women’s leadership and economic advancement, with a focus on women from post-conflict and ongoing peacebuilding countries and their importance in peacebuilding. The Global Ambassadors Program in Belfast, Northern Ireland will begin on May 12 and run through May 16, where successful businesswomen will mentor emerging women leaders from countries like Rwanda, Somalia, Indonesia, Croatia, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, and Northern Ireland. This meeting will also commemorate the 16th anniversary of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accords, highlighting the important role women can play in peace agreements.
During the program, participants will engage in one-on-one mentoring sessions and share strategies for overcoming obstacles in order to empower emerging women leaders to contribute to the economies of post-conflict and ongoing peacebuilding countries. Global Ambassadors and mentees will also participate in the International Business Women’s Conference (IBWC), organized by Women in Business Northern Ireland (WIBNI), where business and social leaders will discuss the role that women can play in security and peace, as well as their impact on economic development. Finally, the women will participate in a Networking Walk with IBWC participants. During the walk, they will discuss professional challenges and successes.
To learn more about the event, read updates on our blog or read more about the participants in their featured bios below.
Northern Ireland Global Ambassadors
Eleanor ‘Tabi’ Haller-Jorden
President and CEO, The Paradigm Forum GmbH
Mentoring Najah Jaroush Abdouni
Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden is the President and CEO of The Paradigm Forum GmbH (TPF), a global consultancy and think tank operating at the intersection of social justice and workplace innovation. TPF works with forward-thinking corporate, governmental and academic partners to translate strategy, communication and experience-based learning into positive organizational change.
Previously, Ms. Haller-Jorden held the position of Senior Vice President, Global Learning Strategies, at Catalyst, where she designed cutting-edge initiatives to promote organizational inclusion and innovation in diverse cultural contexts. As General Manager of Catalyst Europe (CE) upon its founding in 2006, she worked with distinguished European corporate and academic members, as well as governments, to establish its reputation as an effective and agile strategic partner. Under her direction, CE launched a series of high-level events, including CE Regional Learning Hubs, CE Regional Symposia and the European roll-out of the Catalyst CEO Summit.
Najah Jaroush Abdouni
Owner and Director, Tassamim
Najah Abdouni is the Owner and Director of Tassamim. Najah graduated as an Agricultural Engineer from the American University of Beirut (AUB). Najah established Tassamim in 1992. Tassamim is an enterprise for landscaping and irrigation, which is currently completing more than 200 residential garden projects. Najah started diversifying in 1998 by joining projects with a friend to establish a sod farm for ready carpet lawns, which, for financial/mismanagement reasons failed to continue. C-Green was another joint venture with another friend in the same business. C-Green has grown 25% annually since it was established in 2003.
By joining The Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB), in 2007, and attending intensive trainings and workshops with MEET & MEPI, Najah was inspired to expand more. In 2009, motivated by the women's campaign for empowerment, a new joint venture, she and a close friend opened a gift shop. Najah tries her best to pass along all that she has learned to the people around her: tolerance, good communication, transparency, planning, decisiveness and problem solving.
Chief Executive Officer, West Belfast Partnership Board
Mentoring Nisreen S. Musleh
Geraldine McAteer is CEO of West Belfast Partnership Board which works toward the economic, social and physical regeneration of West Belfast. She is a non-executive Director of the Strategic Investment Board, tasked by OFMDFM (the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister) with implementing the Investment Strategy for N Ireland; is a Director of West Belfast Festival; was Vice Chair of the Belfast District Policing Partnership; and a former Chair of North & West Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
Geraldine has been actively working on community development and cross-community development for 27 years. She worked closely with the Clinton Administration post 1994, in particular with the US Commerce Department, to encourage investment in disadvantaged areas such as West Belfast which had suffered from the conflict; established ASPIRE (a micro finance organisation) with Jim Lyons, President Clinton’s Economic envoy to Ireland; and has participated in women’s empowerment training through Vital Voices.
Nisreen S. Musleh
Managing Director, Ritaj for Managerial Solutions
Founder and Managing Director of Ritaj for Managerial Solutions, Nisreen has over twelve years of experience in organizational capacity-building, training and facilitation. Nisreen’s work is dedicated to equipping staff as well as cohorts with the vision, confidence and skills to advance their career paths. Under her leadership, Ritaj has been recognized as a world-class enterprise known for finding practical, yet innovative, solutions to build capacities needed in highly-demanding work environments, and for working closely and respectfully with clients to make sure that set objectives are met. Ritaj has also emerged as a leader in adopting a participatory approach in professional capacity-building by working in a highly collaborative manner with others to create unique opportunities and networks that support professionals.
Nisreen also established and now heads the Translation Division at Ritaj, where she promotes and manages the translation/interpreting services. Her role involves strategic planning, capacity-building and driving opportunities for the translation service in both local and international markets. In 2011, Nisreen also launched an internship program at her company, building the skills of fresh graduates to prepare them for the rigorous work environment.
Founder and CEO, The Chair Centre Group
Mentoring Nurlan Silitonga
Ibukun Awosika is the founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group. The companies in the group include The Chair Centre Limited, Sokoa Chair Centre Limited, Furniture Manufacturers Mart Limited, and TCC Systems and Services Limited. The companies are involved in furniture manufacturing, retail, and bankway security systems services. Due to her interest in social issues including women’s issues, Ibukun is a co-founder and past chairperson of Women in Business and Management (WIMBIZ).
A multiple award-winning entrepreneur, she is the first Nigerian recipient of the prestigious
International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Award (IWEC) as a nominee of the US Department of State in 2008.
Director, Angsamerah Institution
Nurlan SiIitonga is the Director of the Angsamerah Institution. She is an outstanding physician with unique skills that enable her to generate significant outcomes related to the healthcare system, strengthening its focus on primary healthcare. She has technical work experience of over twenty years in HIV, sexual and reproductive health, infectious diseases and recreational drugs harm reduction programs.
Nurlan’s work has been successful in managing complex situations in various settings: public health vs. clinical; private vs. public; for profit vs. nonprofit; urban vs. rural; mining areas and prison settings. In addition to that, Nurlan has developed skills in the practical mentoring methodology for helping other professionals to be successful and become great mentors themselves.
Managing Director, Head of Business Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Mentoring Carol Fitzsimons
Katy Knox is the Retail Banking & Distribution executive for Bank of America. She leads a team providing a full range of financial products and services to nearly 40 million customers through an unmatched coast-to-coast retail and ATM network, including the nation’s leading and award-winning digital banking platforms. Her team is responsible for the Retail business, deposit and card products, and the distribution channels for the bank’s Consumer Banking business. She is also a member of the executive management operating committee.
Knox has more than 25 years of leadership experience in financial services, including senior positions in commercial banking, corporate strategy, global treasury management, consumer banking, and marketing. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Elmira College and a Master’s degree in business administration from Boston College.
Chief Executive Officer, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland
Carol Fitzsimons has been Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland since 2009. Young Enterprise is Northern Ireland’s foremost business and enterprise education charity, and a member of the world’s largest and fastest growing business and economic education organization Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise. Its mission is ‘to inspire and equip young people to learn and succeed through enterprise. Each academic year, Young Enterprise delivers programs to over 100,000 students in schools & colleges across Northern Ireland.
Prior to joining Young Enterprise, Carol was Director of Learning and Development in the private sector, and was responsible for the strategic growth of the business. She has considerable experience in and commitment to the field of employee and organizational development, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Sharon K.G. Dunbar, Major General, U.S. Air Force
Commander, Air Force District of Washington
Mentoring Omnia Eteyari
Major General Sharon K. G. Dunbar is the Commander of the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW) and serves in a dual capacity as Commander, 320th Air Expeditionary Wing, both headquartered at Joint Base Andrews, MD. In this capacity, General Dunbar is responsible for organizing, training and equipping combat forces for aerospace expeditionary operations, homeland security, civil support, national special security, and ceremonial events. Her 5,700-person command supports 60,000 military and civilian personnel in over 100 countries, and the General serves as the military justice authority for 40,000 Airmen worldwide.
General Dunbar earned her commission in 1982 upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from California State University, Long Beach. Prior to her current assignment, she served as Director of Force Management Policy, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
Co-Founder and CEO, Mazadah for Training and Development
Ms. Eteyari is a highly dedicated and enthusiastic entrepreneur and Railway Engineer, who has gained a wealth of knowledge through five years’ working experience with one of the world's leading companies in Railway Business “The German Railways.” Two of those years were spent as an expat in the Gulf countries and Germany. She has lately entered the entrepreneurial field by starting her own enterprise, Mazadah, striving to make an impact in capacity-building by providing cutting edge training and consultancy services for the local market and bringing quality and customer service in Libya to a higher level. In its first year of operation, Mazadah managed to gain multiple valuable partnerships with leading companies in their fields; such as being the Exclusive Partner in Libya for two of the internationally recognized companies in IT Security and Virtualization training, and the first and only partner in Libya for RedHat (the worldwide leaders in open source solutions).
Founding Partner, KMH Associates
Mentoring Gaella Alexandra Gottwald
Kathleen Holland, Founding Partner KMH Associates, is a global strategic planning consultant providing both North American and emerging country SME’s with the guidance and training to sustainably build their organization based on a triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) platform. Kathleen’s career has spanned executive roles with major Canadian corporations to consulting roles with small craft companies. She was the lead consultant on a multi country African initiative; Design Africa which garnered worldwide recognition as an innovative global brand showcasing Africa’s best talent in the craft, textile & furniture sectors. www.designafrica.ca Kathleen is currently working on a number of innovative global training initiatives in Afghanistan, Swaziland and a Pan African program. In addition, Kathleen is currently engaged in the Vital Voices Lead Fellowship program providing training and support specifically related to goal setting and strategic planning.
Kathleen has received the Johanna Townsend Export Champion Award from OWIT (Organization for Women in International Trade) and the CME (Canadian and Manufacturers and Exporters) Award for Excellence in Promoting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Developing Countries (with CARE Enterprise Partners).
Gaella Alexandra Gottwald
Director, Croatian Association of Artists
Gaella Gottwald is the Director of the Croatian Association of Artists. Gaella graduated from Brown University with a degree in Art History and Architecture. She pursued courses at the Film Academy and Applied Arts Academy of Prague, and graduate studies at the European Institute of Design in Milan. In the years that followed, she worked for a number of prestigious institutions from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to Cinecitta Film Studios in Rome, where she used her creative skills and drive to challenge the status quo and make an impact in a variety of fields from curating to documentary filmmaking, gallery work, and art dealing. These experiences gave her exposure to and training in cultural management—as well as a wanderlust and desire to travel beyond these established cultural hubs and reach more disenfranchised populations.
For several years Gaella traveled the world working and collaborating with local communities from Mozambique to Italy to Indonesia doing projects that worked on traditional crafts, sustainable design, and using art as a means of empowerment. As part of these initiatives, she created a line of ecological jewelry and batik textiles based on these collaborations.
Samar Haj Hasan
Founder & Manager, Mahara, “Professional consultancies in human and social development”
Mentoring Rosette Chantal Rugamba
Samar Haj Hasan is the founder and manager of Mahara, "Professional consultancies in development,“ which is the first consultancy firm in Jordan that provides comprehensive services in the field of social and human development. As a social entrepreneur and activist, Samar established Mahara to contribute to social sustainability in Jordan by providing professional services to the sector of social development and human development. These services include research and surveys; database development; monitoring and evaluation; training; project management; and services related to Corporate Social Responsibility, where Mahara aims to provide companies with well-researched and strategic advice to identify and solve CSR challenges through socially responsible business policies and practices.
Rosette Chantal Rugamba
Managing Director, Songa Africa the Tourism Company
Rosette Chantal Rugamba is the Founder and Managing Director of Songa Africa the Tourism Company, a tourism consultancy firm and luxury tour company in Rwanda. She has been actively involved in travel and tourism for the past 20 years, beginning with Euro Star in the UK, and then as Head of Sales and Marketing for British Airways in Uganda and Central Africa, before returning to her native Rwanda to spearhead a revitalization of the tourism industry as Director General of Rwanda Tourism (ORTPN) and later as Deputy CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). During her 8 years at ORTPN and RDB, she oversaw the transformation of Rwanda’s tourism industry.
Rosette is President of the Women in Tourism Chamber. She is also a board member of the Women’s Chamber in Private Sector Federation and a board member of African Parks Network. She serves as a special advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and sits on various boards in Africa.
Former Senior Vice President, Bank of America
Mentored Dr. Deqo Aden Mohamed
Prior to leaving Bank of America, Susan Thrasher was the Client Fulfillment & Service Executive on the Global Wholesale Banking Technology & Operations team at Bank of America. She was responsible for the alignment of Fulfillment and Service processes globally, and also for Treasury Operations in EMEA, Canada, and Latin America. Under Thrasher’s leadership, the Bank’s U.S. Commercial and Corporate call centers were awarded the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates certification for “delivering an outstanding client experience” four years in a row.
Previously, Susan was the Global Client Services Executive for Global Client Service & Operations, providing client service for Treasury and Credit products for the Americas. Prior to her role in Global Client Services Susan led Consumer Real Estate Fulfillment Direct First Mortgage, responsible for the underwriting and processing of $65 billion in first mortgage loans.
Dr. Deqo Aden Mohamed
CEO, Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation
Dr. Deqo Aden Mohamed is the daughter of Dr. Hawa Abdi. She was born in Mogadishu, grew up feeding the refugees her mother was harboring, and earned an MD in Moscow in 2000. She was an OBGYN resident in Russia until 2003. She continued to go back to the internally displaced camp, which hosted more than 90,000 people at one point, to work during her holidays. She came to America as a refugee in 2003 and gained extensive experience working in healthcare. She became a naturalized American in 2008.
Today, she works full time on the ground in Somalia. She leads all operations in the Hawa Abdi Village in Lower Shabelle, while ensuring the safety of the 300 families who have found permanent shelter in the community. She leads the 400-bed Dr. Hawa Abdi General Hospital, the Waqaf-Diblawe Primary School, a women’s education center, and a smart farming agriculture project. She simultaneously manages the administrative aspects of DHAF as CEO of the organization in the United States.