Chicago 2017 | Advancing leadership and empowerment of women from Chicago and around the world

Bank of America and Vital Voices Global Partnership brought together women entrepreneurs from around the world during its September 2017 Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) in Chicago, IL. The Chicago location marks the second time in the history of the Global Ambassadors Program that the mentoring initiative was held in the U.S. A previous program was held in Charlotte, North Carolina in May and a third U.S. based program will take place in Los Angeles, CA in November.

The highly competitive program, launched in 2012 by Vital Voices and Bank of America, connects women leaders of small and medium sized businesses and social enterprise for mentoring and workshops focused on building organizational management, financial acumen and leadership skills. Global Ambassadors, a group of high-profile, distinguished women executives from a range of organizations, including Bank of America, that serve as mentors, are each paired with a mentee to build critical business skills and strategies needed to grow and advance her organization.

“Women play a vital role in driving economic growth around the world,” said Paul Lambert, Chicago market president, Bank of America. “They’re leading local nonprofits to large businesses across the global. This program is just one of the ways we invest in women business owners in Chicago, and from other countries, providing an avenue to connect women and provide them support to take their company to the next phase.”

This program is part of Bank of America’s broader efforts to advance women’s leadership and economic empowerment both within the company and in communities around the world. In addition to global initiatives like its partnership with Vital Voices, the bank partners with many other national and local organizations that work to improve the lives of women and advance thriving economies. Working to reflect the communities where its employees live and work, Bank of America has strong representation of women at all levels of the organization and supports women through career development programs and industry-leading benefits including 16 weeks of paid parental leave, back-up child care and adult care services.

In the five years since inception, the program has reached more than 112 women mentees from more than 56 countries. Past locations have included Poland, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Qatar, Singapore, Brazil, India, South Africa, Haiti, Japan, England, Australia, most recently Charlotte, N.C. and now Chicago, IL.

“Hosting GAP in the U.S. this year presents an extraordinary opportunity to share locally what we’ve learned from women leaders globally,” said Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices. “From vastly different geographies come the most innovative solutions to universal challenges. I can’t wait to meet our next cohort of Global Ambassadors and mentees in Chicago, and see their visions for change realized in the months and years to come.”

Learn more about the Chicago program from Vital Voices, or visit the Global Ambassadors page. Follow @BofA_News and @VitalVoices for updates via #GlobalAmbassadors.

Chicago Global Ambassadors

Megan Bendis
Executive Vice President, Publicity, Universal Pictures
Los Angeles, California, USA

Megan Bendis was named as Executive Vice President of Publicity, Universal Pictures, in February 2017. In her new role, she directly oversees all theatrical publicity efforts of the broadcast, print, photography and field publicity teams in the Los Angeles and New York offices, as well as coordinates joint strategic efforts with the international publicity, digital marketing, special events, home entertainment and the creative services/promotions departments.  She has been with the studio since 1999, beginning as a publicity coordinator and serving as Vice President of Publicity before the promotion to her current role.

Over the course of Bendis’ career, she has worked on such notable campaigns as those in the American Pie, Meet the Parents, The Purge, Bridget Jones, Fifty Shades and Pitch Perfect series, as well as Jurassic Park, Billy Elliot, Erin Brockovich, A Beautiful Mind, Seabiscuit, Friday Night Lights, Ray, Love Actually, King Kong, United 93, Baby Mama, Children of Men, Wanted, Les Misérables, Contraband, Savages, Everest, Lucy, Sisters, Jason Bourne, The Girl on the Train and Split.

In her role as head of publicity for Universal, she has overseen the execution of the studio’s national publicity campaigns for such recent titles as Get Out, The Fate of the Furious, The Mummy, Despicable Me 3, Girls Trip and Atomic Blonde.  Additionally, she supervises the teams coordinating all publicity efforts for such upcoming Universal films as American Made, Fifty Shades Freed, Pitch Perfect 3, Pacific Rim Uprising, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and Wicked.

Bendis graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the University of Arizona.  Prior to joining the Universal team, she worked for Huvane Baum Halls, as well as Rubin Postaer & Associates.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three children.

Loredana Introini
Director Coordinator, Fondazione Falcone
Palermo, Italy

Maria Falcone founded the Falcone Foundation after her brother, Judge Giovanni Falcone, was killed by the mafia in 1992. Loredana met Maria in the early 1990s and began working at the foundation in 1998, where her original role was coordinating and implementing the foundation’s national and international activities.

As the director coordinator, Loredana now designs and coordinates initiatives to spread the culture of legality, active citizenship, and opposition to organized crime among young people in order to perpetuate the legacy of Judge Falcone, who firmly believed that in the fight against mafia, law enforcement activities should go side by side with all aspects of civil society.

Prior to her work with the foundation, Loredana worked as a financial and accounting manager for an export consulting company specializing in Far East markets. She also handled the coordination and design of new business projects and lectured in MBA and other training courses.

Loredana graduated from the University of Palermo with a degree in business economics in 1989 and subsequently earned her MBA and master’s degree in European contemporary law. She is a member of the Certified Public Accountants, Auditors and Advisors Association (ODCEC).

Loredana is also president of Parkrun Italia Scrl, a non-profit organization whose mission is to spread the culture of grassroot sports throughout Italy.

Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden
President & CEO, The Paradigm Forum GmbH
Zürich, Switzerland

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.

Prior to Catalyst, Ms. Haller-Jorden founded an international consultancy noted for its research capabilities and programs in workplace design and cross-cultural management. Additionally, an early publication she co-authored for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was hailed as “a definitive source for innovative public participation practices tied to environmental planning projects.”

Ms. Haller-Jorden is a frequent speaker and recognized voice in the international media. Apart from giving the keynote addresses at the most recent Diversity Best Practices European Summit and National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, she was invited to speak at the Women’s Forum (Deauville, 2014) and Zurich-based chapter of TED. She has been interviewed for the New York Times, Asahi Shinbun, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, CNN, a BBC Radio 4 live broadcast, and FNN. Ms. Haller-Jorden was featured in Profiles in Diversity Journal, “Careerpreneurs (Lessons from Leading Women Entrepreneurs on Building a Career Without Boundaries)” by Dorothy Perrin Moore, and “Capitalizing on the Global Workforce” by Michael S. Schell and Charlene Marmer Solomons.

Her board appointments and strategic advisory roles are numerous. Among other appointments, she is strategic advisor to EDGE Strategy AG, the 2017 Scholar-in-Residence at Emma Willard School, and Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, Babson College. Ms. Haller-Jorden has been appointed to two initiatives founded by Hillary Clinton: the Vital Voices Global Partnership as a Global Ambassador, and the Women in Public Service Project as a faculty member during the 2013 Summer Institute Peacebuilding and Development. She has been named a European Thought Leader by the IBM Global Innovation Outlook initiative. In addition, she has acted as a jury member for both the Cisco Networking Academy’s European & Emerging Market Awards and the Opportunity Now 2014 and 2015 Awards. In April 2013, she was appointed Visiting Scholar at IMD Business School.

Ms. Haller-Jorden attended Princeton University as an advanced standing scholar and Bryn Mawr College, where she earned a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in History and received the Helen Taft Manning Prize in History. She was named a Sage Fellow in Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell University and holds a M.Sc. in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Kelly Fair
Founder & Executive Director, Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Kelly Fair is founder and executive director of Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program. Starting in 2009, Polished Pebbles has helped over 1,500 girls ages seven to 17 become effective communicators at home, school and the workplace with the support of a network of over 500 volunteers and community partners. The program has grown nationally to Indiana and Texas, and to Duke University.

Prior to founding Polished Pebbles, Kelly managed research studies, national marketing for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company and a non-profit college preparatory program for high school students. Kelly is also the author of the new book, "They're All The Same Girl: Lessons Learned While Mentoring Our Girls & Building Polished Pebbles."

Kelly was recently recognized by ComEd as one of Chicagoland's "Neighborhood Heroes" for her outstanding work in the local community and Chicago neighborhood, Roseland. She was also honored by Walker's Legacy and Accelerate with Google in celebration of Women's History Month. Her service was recognized by Verizon Wireless in 2013 as part of their "Everyday Heroes" initiative, and in 2014, Kelly was a recipient of the Margaret Burroughs Award and the American Red Cross Heroes Award.

Kathy Pickus
Divisional Vice President for Sustainability, Abbott
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Kathy Pickus is divisional vice president for Sustainability Insights and Outreach at Abbott, a global healthcare company. In this role, Kathy oversees sustainability initiatives and reporting. Working together with Abbott business leaders, Kathy supervises efforts to maximize the positive impact of Abbott's business in helping people build better lives and stronger communities, while strengthening the business through shared value and reducing impact on the environment.

Prior to joining Abbott, Kathy served as the special assistant for National Security Affairs to the vice president of the United States, where she focused on advancing development and U.S. relations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kathy began her career at the U.S. Department of State, working with the private sector to advance democratic institution-building programs worldwide. In 1993, she was selected by the United Nations to serve as an election monitor for the first-ever democratic elections held in the Republic of South Africa.

Kathy is a member of the Southeast Asia Advisory Committee at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, where she also served as a member of the Executive Council on Development. In addition, she serves on the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, which focuses on advancing the status of women in Afghanistan. Kathy speaks extensively at conferences and events focused on sustainability, shared value, corporate responsibility, and global health and development.

Asha Bhat
CEO, Southern Aboriginal Corporation
Albany, Australia

Asha Bhat leads the award-winning regional Aboriginal Corporation (SAC), which provides services and programs that address the Noongar peoples' needs and aspirations in cooperation with other community and business organizations. SAC provides services and programs in areas such as structured indigenous training and employment, family violence prevention, and legal services. SAC also provides indigenous family support services including advocacy and referrals for intensive care support within a complex client base. Furthermore, SAC runs a health promotion program that focuses on stopping smoking. With an asset base of $29 million, SAC is also able to run an affordable housing program, which serves more than 500 Aboriginal people in the southwest region of Western Australia. SAC’s contribution to and impact on the people of the region through these programs and services is significant in terms of the development of Aboriginal enterprise and community. SAC recently won a number of awards demonstrating its impact in the community, including the Community Business Award of the Year 2016.

As the CEO of SAC, Asha has worked across all levels of the organization, from grassroots through senior management. She is currently working toward her MBA Kaplan Business School’s MBA Scholarship and holds a master’s and bachelor's degrees in mathematics and business and professional accounting.

As CEO, Asha oversees all aspects of the organization and is responsible for ensuring that sustainability and viability is built into operations on a daily basis. Asha’s responsibilities include meeting contractual and legal obligations to funding bodies, providing services that assist Noongars in self-determining the best ways to address their needs, providing financial oversight of SAC housing programs throughout Western Australia, and supervising risk management. In all of these roles, Asha directly influences SAC business and utilizes expert management practices. Her leadership style is built on principles of commitment, reasonable expectations, empathy, fairness and dedication to high level of performance. Asha believes in leading by example.

Asha has experience on not-for-profit boards, including in roles such as treasurer for Albany Worklink and as a board member for WA No Interest Loans. Currently she is a Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) regional committee member and vice president of the Albany Chamber of Commerce Industry (ACCI) Board.

In 2012, Australian Scholarship Foundation (ASF) awarded Asha a scholarship to undergo CPA training and is now an associate member of CPA and a member of the Australian Institute of Company directors. Asha has attended several national conferences and has completed the Integral Women in Leadership program as part of her advocacy for women leaders. Asha received the Albany Citizen of the Year award in 2017.

Sylvia Sánchez Alcántara
Founder, Retos Femeninos & Tu Reto Emprendedor
Mexico City, Mexico

Sylvia is a recognized publicist who launched the strategy of Integrated Communications, Retos Femeninos, in 2007. She focuses on the personal and professional growth of thousands of women through events in the National Auditorium of Mexico City, the social network, a monthly e-Journal called “The Best of Retos Femeninos,” her Facebook and Twitter channels, her book “Women's Challenges,” and through her role as a specialized TV advisor seeking to empower women. More than one million registered women follow Sylvia´s activities today.

In 2014, Sylvia launched as a tool endorsed by the Mexico-United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC) to support gender equality in high-impact entrepreneurship. She frequently creates and disseminates media campaigns aimed at reducing rates of violence against women.

Sylvia is a member of the International Women's Forum, one of the top global women's leadership fora, and has participated since 1998 and attended more than 20 international conferences. She is a recognized speaker and has participated in TED Talks in Mexico, fora with Vital Voices and WEConnect, and multiple TV and radio programs around impacting women lives. She is an advisor to the Communication Council, the voice of Mexican enterprises, representing the most recognized media and communication corporations in Mexico to promote the most relevant social causes.

Among her most recent recognitions, Sylvia made the list Women to Watch 2016 by Advertising Age NY, and was noted by AdLatina for her marketing to women strategy. She was one of the seven Mexican representatives to light the Olympic torch in the 2012 London games. She holds multiple advertising and marketing recognitions and is one of the two women in 98 years to chair the National Association of Advertising of Mexico.

Shafia Shama
Owner, M/S Shama
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Shafia is a former member of the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BWCCI) Board of Directors and the founding secretary general and Bangladesh country head of IamSMEofBangladesh. IamSME is an association by and for small and medium enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs to promote their businesses across Bangladesh.

Shafia also worked with Care Bangladesh on a jute value chain project that provided training on product development to rural workers with the aim of providing cross-generational income stability. To that end, Shafia is a founding director of Switch to Jute, a jute consortium. She is also the managing director of Vincent Global Privet Limited.

Currently, Shafia owns M/S Shama, a new-generation boutique specializing in jute diversified products and committed to building an environmentally friendly sustainable business model.

Over the past ten years, Shafia has been an active volunteer in the areas of policy development, advocacy, and training with the aim of providing Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs with access to finances and business service, as women in Bangladesh have traditionally been deprived of these services. Shafia has been proactively mentoring and supporting women and empowering them through motivation and business support, including help with ideas, engagement, institutional finance, risk management, and funding best practices.

Shafia has received numerous awards, including the “Best Young Designer” award from A1Tele Media; the “Star Client Green Award for Women Entrepreneur of the Year,” jointly awarded by Southeast Bank and The Financial Express in 2014; and the "Entrepreneur Award" from the Bangladesh Open Source Network. In 2015, she was nominated as a mentor by the World Islamic Economic Forum in partnership with the Business Network in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2016, Shafia was named "Most Influential Global Marketing Leader" by World Marketing Congress. She was also a session speaker at the Eleventh Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meeting, which focused on facilitating women’s business growth and was organized by the government of Apia, Samoa.

She is a brand ambassador for Union Capital Limited’s “Shakti” brand for women.

Shafia is determined to excel in her entrepreneur career. She understands that in this age of technology and sustainable development, there no alternative to personnel improvement. She strives to incorporate technology into the workflow and devise strong supply chain networks through empowerment and delegation in order to build a strong business foundation.

Ann Thorn
Operations Executive, Mortgage and Vehicle Servicing Operations
Flower Mound, Texas, USA

Ann Thorn is known as a top operations executive in the mortgage industry, where she’s spent more than 25 years.

Ann currently leads Mortgage and Vehicle Servicing Operations, an organization comprised of more than 4,100 mortgage and vehicle lending professionals in Post Closing, Document Oversight, Servicing Administration, Cash Operations, Investor Asset Management, External Servicing Oversight, Consumer Vehicle Services, Retention Operations and Liquidation Services. These teams provide a broad range of services including the servicing of vehicle loans and performing a wide array of functions for mortgage customers and investors encompassing all mortgage servicing and default functions through liquidation.

Ann serves as a leader on the Military Warriors Support Foundation Advisory Council, the Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development (LEAD) for Women Employee Network North Texas chapter, the Diverse Employee Sponsorship Program, the Women in Technology & Operations Steering Committee and the Executive Mentoring Program.

Ann holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Marquette University and currently resides in Flower Mound, Texas with her husband and two daughters.

Judie Caribeaux
Executive Director, Family Shelter Service
Wheaton, Illinois, USA

Judie Caribeaux is the executive director for Family Shelter Service, an organization providing crisis services and support to victims of domestic violence throughout DuPage County, the second-largest county in Illinois. An estimated 200,000 residents of DuPage County have experienced domestic violence, and Family Shelter Service assists 2,000 victims each year and receives over 10,000 calls to their 24/7 crisis hotline. At Family Shelter Service, victims can find support to obtain an order of protection and have access to counseling, case management, and emergency shelter. Partnering with local schools and universities, Family Shelter Service also provides education about healthy relationships and dating violence prevention to more than 8,000 students each year.

Judie has 30 years of experience working for non-profit and governmental organizations. Committed to helping those most at-risk, Judie served as the executive director of Sharing Connections, a non-profit agency dedicated to stabilizing those living below the poverty level by providing furniture and household items. Additionally, Judie is the co-founder and former executive director of the Community Career Center, which helps the unemployed and underemployed find meaningful jobs. During her tenure, the Community Career Center was recognized for its achievements in economic development and awarded the State of Illinois Governor’s Hometown Award. Judie also served as the acting executive director for the Naperville park district while the district’s former executive director was under investigation by the state attorney. She previously created the park district’s fundraising department, where she raised over $2 million in two years. Additionally, Judie has taught in the School of Social Work at Aurora University and in the departments of communications at Northern Illinois University, Elmhurst College and North Central College.

Judie is a licensed clinical social worker with a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University and both her Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degrees in communication from Northern Illinois University. Recently, Judie was awarded the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship for Community Service and was an invited speaker at the Conference of Women Legislators Leadership Summit in Chicago, Illinois.

Lourdes Melgar
President, Mexican Chapter, International Women’s Forum
Mexico City, Mexico

Lourdes Melgar is based in Mexico City but spent the past academic year (2016-17) as the Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Upon her return to Mexico City this year, she will continue her work as an energy scholar by launching a think tank to oversee the implementation of Mexico´s energy reform and produce policy briefs on energy policy and sustainable development.

Prior to her appointment at MIT, Lourdes served as Mexico’s deputy secretary of energy for Hydrocarbons from February 2014 until July 2016. She previously held the position of under-secretary for Electricity from December 2012-February 2014. Between December 2012 and July 2016, she was a member of several boards of directors, including those of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the Mexican Petroleum Fund, and the national utility company, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE).

Lourdes played a key role in the design and implementation of Mexico’s historic energy reform. Her vision and leadership resulted in the inclusion of key elements, from electricity reform and social component of sustainability principles in the new regulatory framework, to the design of the first oil contracts and bids. Her work has begun to transform Mexico’s energy sector into a modern and competitive environment aimed at enhancing energy security, developing regional value chains, and positioning Mexico as an energy hub.

As a career diplomat and graduate of Mexico’s diplomacy school, Lourdes has served in various positions in Mexico´s foreign service, including that of minister at the Mexican mission to the OECD from 2005 to 2007.

In the academic realm, Lourdes was the founding director of the Center for Sustainability and Business at EGADE Business School of the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. She has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy of the University of Texas. She has also authored articles on energy policy and on the transition to a low-carbon economy. She is a national researcher of the Mexican Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT). Lourdes graduated from Mount Holyoke College magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and holds an M.S. and a Ph.D in Political Science from MIT.

Lourdes is the current president of the Mexican Chapter of the International Women’s Forum, a member of the Trilateral Commission, the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI), an ambassador to the C3E Women in Clean Energies Initiative, and a member of MIT´s Corporation visiting committee for the department of political science.

In 2015, Lourdes received the Mujer de Retos Award. She has been included in the list of 100 most influential people in Mexico´s energy sector seven times in a row, and, in 2012, she was awarded the Logro Energético Award for her academic contributions. She was also the recipient of the Vasco de Quiroga Citizen´s Leadership Award.

Katrin Klingenberg
Executive Director & Co-Founder, Passive House Institute US | PHIUS
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Katrin Klingenberg is the executive director of the Passive House Institute US | PHIUS. PHIUS is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to making high-performance passive building the mainstream market standard. PHIUS is transforming the building sector by developing and promoting North American specific standards, practices and certifications for buildings, professionals and products to create structures that are durable, comfortable, healthy and super energy efficient.

After studying at the Technische Universitaet in Berlin, Germany, and graduating from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, with a master’s degree in architecture in 1996, Ms. Klingenberg began her professional career at the internationally renowned architecture firm Murphy/Jahn (today known as Jahn) in Chicago, Illinois. She then briefly worked for the architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz in Chicago. Since 2002, when she started her own firm, she has been a registered architect in Germany.

In 2003, Ms. Klingenberg designed and completed the first home to meet passive house standards in the United States and founded the Ecological Construction Laboratory, a non-profit housing development organization to build passive houses for low income home buyers in Urbana, Illinois. Since then, she has designed and consulted on numerous successful passive house and building projects across North America’s varied climate zones.

In 2007 Ms. Klingenberg co-founded the Passive House Institute US, shifting the focus of her work towards education. In addition to her executive role at PHIUS, she is the lead instructor for the PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) training, where she directs curriculum development. She also directs the technical and research programs at PHIUS, which, under her leadership, has trained over 2,000 architects, engineers, energy consultants, energy raters and builders in passive building standards. PHIUS has become the leading passive building research and information provider in North America and, in 2015, released the PHIUS+ 2015 climate-specific passive building standard, the only one of its kind in the world.

Ms. Klingenberg has written and co-authored numerous magazine articles and made several book contributions. She has also presented nationally and internationally on the topic of passive building science. Her most recent publications are Zero Energy & Carbon Buildings Based on Climate Specific Passive Building Standards for North America, published in the Journal of Building Physics in 2016; and the U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Office, Building America Program Report Climate-Specific Passive Building Standards, published in 2015.

In 2015 she won the Woman in Sustainability Leadership Award (WSLA2015).

Selin Beceni
Partner, BTS & Partners
Istanbul, Turkey

Selin Beceni is an attorney-at-law and a partner at BTS & Partners, the leading IT and technology law firm in Turkey. BTS & Partners began as a boutique law firm active in technology regulations; its original clients all high-tech companies. In order to further its long-term vision of helping clients whose businesses are disrupted by information technologies, BTS & Partners has expanded its clientele base to include companies from all sectors, including manufacturing, construction and energy.

Selin joined the firm in 2015. As a corporate practitioner, her role in the organization is to convert BTS & Partners from a boutique law firm into a general practice law firm, not only by means of bringing new service lines but also by introducing administrative and management capabilities that BTS & Partners did not previously have.

Selin is an active member of the Women Presidents Organization, Turkey Chapter; the International Bar Association; and the British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey. She is a strong supporter of increasing women’s employment and organizational leadership.

Kimberly Eberl
CEO & Founder, Motion PR
Chicago, IL, USA

Kimberly Eberl started Motion PR in 2006, after seeing the need for PR options in Chicago. Originally, she was a PR freelancer for brands like GlaxoSmithKline, Effen Vodka, Frigidaire, and more. Kimberly's strong reputation quickly snowballed into her building a healthy, independent business. In year one, she became so busy she could take one of two paths: 1) Turn down work, or, 2) Hire staff and grow. Kimberly picked the latter, and has since grown the agency from a single-person shop to a thriving business in the heart of downtown Chicago with over 20 employees. Kimberly’s resilience and drive, which catalyzed her company’s founding and growth, remain strong influences on the company she has built. Motion PR now represents consumer, healthcare, technology, and B-to-B brands such as Whirlpool, Hefty, Red Bull, Simon Premium Outlet Malls, Techweek, and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Before starting Motion PR, Kimberly worked at Ogilvy PR and Weber Shandwick Worldwide, which are two of the biggest PR firms in the world. At these agencies, she developed strategies and executed brand-building PR campaigns for got milk?, SC Johnson, SAM’S CLUB, Georgia-Pacific, Johnsonville Sausage, Lipton Tea and other consumer brands. Her additional experience includes serving as media relations manager for and as PR manager for Chicago’s premier fitness club, East Bank Club. Kimberly has a B.A. in public relations from Marquette University. While in college, she interned at Harley-Davidson Motor Company and at Edelman.

Kimberly is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the PR Council, and the Publicity Club of Chicago. Kimberly was recently named honorary chair of the MS Society’s 10th annual “Women on the Move” event, as she is actively involved in the Chicago chapter of the MS Society. She’s received industry awards and has been named a “Woman of Influence” by the Chicago Business Journal. She got married less than a year ago and lives in Chicago with her husband and two dogs, Nestle and Hershey. She is an avid runner and has completed over 100 races, including seven marathons.

Andrea Montalvo
News Anchor, Televisa Foro TV & Director/Producer, “Ausencias”
Mexico City, Mexico

Andrea started her career as a journalist with an internship at CNN after law school. She worked for almost one year at CNN Mexico and Atlanta and, after returning to Mexico, she started working as a reporter for Televisa. She traveled to England three years later, where she earned a master’s degree in TV journalism from London University. Andrea later returned to Mexico and joined Noticieros Televisa as an investigative reporter for primetime.

Two years later, Andrea was recruited by Telemundo/NBC as a local correspondent in Mexico, where she had the pleasure of covering many newsworthy stories and reporting in English and Spanish. During her time as a local correspondent, she freelanced for the BBC during Hurricane Dean, interviewed then-presidential candidate John McCain, and did investigative reporting on feminicides in Juarez and sexual exploitation in Mexico City, among other topics.

Andrea was later hired to lead the start-up of EFEKTO TV, a new TV station originally owned by “El Universal,” one of the most important newspapers in Mexico. She integrated the managing team, led the design of everything from the set to programming, and was the anchor for the late-night news show.

Andrea went back to Televisa in 2012 and designed the weekend morning news show, “Sabados de Foro,” where she is currently producing and directing. “Sabados de Foro” has become one of the most successful weekend news shows.

Andrea is currently producing and directing “Ausencias” (Absences), a documentary that follows the lives of families and friends of feminicide victims. In a series of stories and photographs, “Ausencias” seeks to give a face to the numbers by depicting the lives forever altered after a woman is violently killed.

Andrea has a personal blog and loves working, traveling and cooking. She admires environmentalists and believes in meditation, hard work and passion.

Arzu Tekir
Country Director, WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities
Istanbul, Turkey

Arzu Tekir is the director of the World Resources Institute Ross Center for Sustainable Cities in Turkey. The WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities works to ensure cities drive economic opportunity while sustaining natural resources. The institute uses technical expertise, cutting-edge research, and on-the-ground partnerships to design solutions that enable sustainable city growth. Arzu and her team have been working with national government and the fourteen cities in Turkey and two cities in Africa (Ethiopia and Ghana), respectively, to improve citizens’ quality of life and to create a positive impact on urban mobility, urban sprawl, and urban efficiency.

Restructuring and rebuilding are the key words to define Arzu’s career path. She joined the WRI’s urban transport initiative, EMBARQ, as the operations manager in Turkey in January 2011. She was appointed as the country director in December 2011. As the new director, she restructured the organization and established the Sustainable Transportation and Cities Association in Turkey.

Arzu joined EMBARQ with more than ten years of work experience in strategic planning, business development, and securing finance for large projects in both the public and private sectors. Before joining EMBARQ, Arzu worked as a consultant and conducted several market research projects in New York. Previously, she wrote business plans and reports for investors and telecom companies aiming to develop innovative IT projects in Istanbul. She has also worked as the European Union projects coordinator, and external relations director for IT companies directed the financing of research and development projects and initiated company participation in several key European Union (EU) organizations, in addition to raising EUR 7.5 million for the R&D projects. As the manager, she rebuilt a management consultancy company which had been inoperative for three and continued to run the rebuilt company for two years.

Arzu has also lectured at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, where she taught at the invitation of the director of the university’s social sciences institute. Arzu designed a semester-long course program for MBA students. As a lecturer, she gave lessons on Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, and risk management. Arzu earned her master’s degree in econometrics from Dokuz Eylul University and holds a bachelor's degree in statistics from Ege University.

Arzu is a speaker, climate leader, and change maker.

Laurel Bellows
Founding Principal, The Bellows Law Group, P.C.
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Laurel Bellows is managing principal of The Bellows Law Group, a general practice firm offering transactional, counseling and litigation services to entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses, and large corporations. Client matters range from complex commercial litigation to business strategy and startups.

Laurel is an internationally recognized business lawyer, counseling senior executives and corporations on executive employment and severance agreements, workplace disputes, business conduct standards, anti-trafficking, risk assessment, supply chain and recruiting policies and cybersecurity. She serves on former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Global Citizenship Commission to update the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Laurel is past president of the nearly 400,000-member American Bar Association and past president of The Chicago Bar Association. She is the past president of the International Women’s Forum Chicago and serves on the Global Board of the International Women’s Forum.

Laurel is licensed to practice law in Illinois, Florida and California. She is co-founder of the International Supply Chain Initiative to Combat Slavery.

Courtney White
President & Founder, Culinary Care
Chicago, Illinois, USA

In 2006, Courtney lost her father to lung cancer. This experience was the inspiration behind Culinary Care. During her family’s difficult time, there was always one thing that brought a sense of normalcy and joy to their lives: the meals friends delivered each night.

After graduating from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2011, Courtney moved back to her hometown of Chicago where she searched for ways to bring meals to those fighting cancer, especially patients who lack the community support she had. What she found was that no organization addressing such a need existed, and that void is what inspired Culinary Care.

In 2013, at the age of 23, Courtney founded Culinary Care with a mission to provide complimentary meals to cancer patients and their families; ensuring they never have to struggle to get the nourishment they need to fight.

The organization partners with local restaurants that prepare made-to-order meals for patients in their program. Together, they have provided over 5,000 complimentary meals. Culinary Care is now working to meet the demand they receive nationally.

Mollie Colavita
Regional Managing Director, Metropolitan Region, Private Banking & Investment Group, Merrill Lynch
New York, New York, USA

Mollie Colavita is the Regional Managing Director responsible for Metropolitan Region of the Private Banking and Investment Group, headquartered in New York encompassing Greenwich, Connecticut and New Jersey. Most recently, she served as head of Client Solutions and Sales with responsibility for initiatives designed to drive new business development and to enhance the ultra high net worth client (uhnw) experience, with a focus on promoting collaboration across the enterprise. Her team also led the accreditation and on-going professional development of Private Wealth Advisors and their teams.

Mollie joined Merrill Lynch in 1992 as a participant in the firm’s Global Wealth Management Analyst Program, during which she supported Employee Benefit Services sales and marketing efforts targeting institutional clients. In 1995, she transitioned to Private Advisory Services where she worked with Financial Advisors to address uhnw client needs with special emphasis on investment management, concentrated stock strategies and wealth transfer solutions. As a result of her contributions in building educational tools tailored to the uhnw segment, she was asked to lead the firm’s Financial Advisor Training Group in 2001. She went on to serve as co-head of Merrill Lynch’s GWIM Leadership Development Group with responsibility for developing and implementing leadership and talent development initiatives aligned with the firm’s wealth management strategy.

Mollie earned her B.S. in Communication from the Pennsylvania State University. She holds her Series 7, 66, 9 and 24.

In addition to her professional endeavors, Mollie is an active member of the Penn State Alumni Association. She dedicates her volunteer efforts on behalf of girls and their leadership development through Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Amina Evangelista Swanepoel
Founding Executive Director, Roots of Health
Palawan, Philippines

Amina Evangelista Swanepoel is the founding executive director of Roots of Health/Ugat ng Kalusugan. Roots of Health is the only reproductive health organization in Palawan focused on providing comprehensive sexuality education and access to free clinical services for women and young people. The organization envisions self-reliant women, young people and families leading healthy reproductive lives. Programming centers around the goal of preventing unplanned pregnancies. Roots of Health was founded in 2009 and today serves thousands of women and young people all over the province.

Amina provides leadership in the day-to-day running of the organization and is the liaison with the Roots of Health Board of Directors in the United States, and with the Philippines-based Advisory Committee. She also oversees the organization’s management and fundraising. Amina is a member of the Provincial Family Health Council of the Province of Palawan, and of the Puerto Princesa City Maternal Death Surveillance and Response Council. She is an Asia Society Young Leader and was a Vital Voices Lead fellow from 2013-2014. In 2015, she was selected as a fellow for a Vital Voices documentarian project. She was a member of the Swedish Institute Management Program Asia in 2016.

Prior to Roots of Health, Amina spent two years at Human Rights Watch where she researched and documented human rights abuses in Asia. She also previously held positions with the Guttmacher Institute and the Program Division of UNHCR in India.

Amina received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 2002, and later master's degrees in International Affairs and Public Health from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Mailman School of Public Health.

K. Shelly Porges
Managing Director, Reservoir Q Global LLC
Washington, DC. U.S.A.

K. Shelly Porges is a successful serial entrepreneur, investor and global entrepreneurship advocate. She is managing director of Reservoir Q Global LLC, an advisory and investment firm. She is also the president of the North American Jury for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, a member of the board of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, on the advisory board for Cornerstone Capital and Global Entrepreneurship Week and an expert on call for Georgetown University’s Entrepreneurship Program.

Shelly also served as the former senior advisor, Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) at the U.S. State Department, a program she expanded to almost 150 countries, under Secretary Hillary Clinton. Before joining the State Department, she had a distinguished career in the private sector, including both corporate and entrepreneurial ventures. She served as executive head of marketing for American Express Canada and as chief retail marketing officer for Bank of America during a historic turn-around. Shelly then founded or co-founded a number of start-up ventures including one sold to Wachovia Bank; Third Age Media, the leading Internet portal for baby boomers; Scudder Weisel Capital LLC, a joint venture between Thomas Weisel Partners and Zurich Scudder Investments; and Global Payments Experts LLC, a payments industry advisory firm.

Shelly holds both a BS with Honors and MPS degree from Cornell University.

Kirsty Galliard
CEO, Five Star Media,
Johannesburg, South Africa

Kirsty started her career as a trainee editor at ZSE Studios while pursuing a drama degree majoring in TV at The University of the Witwatersrand. Shortly after graduating, Kirsty was hired by African Motion Picture Company, where she spent the next few years writing, directing, producing and editing various projects for corporate clients.

After a brief stint as a freelance editor, Kirsty became head of production at Mann Made Media. During her time at Mann Made Media Kirsty produced everything from music videos, TV commercials, and corporate videos to television series and major events, and oversaw a team of 27 permanent staff and numerous freelancers.

In 2008, Kirsty left Mann Made Media to acquire General Post, an agency for freelance production crew, giving her access to some of the best and brightest production and creative talent in South Africa.

In 2010, Kirsty conceptualized and implemented "South Africa's Next Top Filmmaker," an initiative aimed at identifying and nurturing young filmmaking talent. The initiative ran through 2015, during which time it attracted such industry heavyweights as Endemol, Quizzical (Curious) Pictures, and Ochre Moving Pictures as partners.

In 2013, Kirsty started a new production company, Five Star Media, in partnership with Alan Roberts. Together, the partners are developing the TV series In Vino Veritas, which was selected for the DISCOP pitching session in 2016 and was picked up by a local Afrikaans channel.

In 2012, Kirsty was selected to take part in the prestigious Goldman Sachs-GIBS 10 000 Women Certificate Course for Women Entrepreneurs, which she completed in 2013. She then participated in the Cherie Blair mentorship programme in 2014.

Kirsty has been featured in the 702 Business Accelerator with Nedbank in 2014, and was selected as one of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2014. She was also featured as one of the Mail and Guardians 200 Young People 2014.

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