WE EMPOWER - G7 Programme in USA

Shelly Bell
CEO, Black Girl Ventures

Shelly Bell is a system disruptor and business strategist who moves ideas to profit while empowering people to live more authentically. As a cultural translator, she connects entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations in order to diversify their talent pipeline, increase equity and grow their brands.

She is what best-selling author Daniel Pink defines as “A Whole New Mind” - a Serial Entrepreneur & Computer Scientist with a background in performance poetry, K-12 Education and IP Strategy. She was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Technically DC and acknowledged as A Rising Brand Star by Adweek. She is among the nation's most sought-after transformational speakers in the Washington, DC Metro area. She has been featured in Forbes, Politico Live, The Washington Business Journal, NewsOne, The Afro, and People of Color in Tech. Her organization, Black Girl Ventures (BGV) is a social enterprise that creates access to social and financial capital for Black/Brown women founders. BGV travels the country with a disruptive pitch competition that shifts the power dynamics in funding by combining crowdfunding and pitching. As a Google Guru and Ecosystem Builder, she engages audiences from grassroots to government. Shelly has trained over 5,000 entrepreneurs, held over 300 events for empowering leaders, managed multi-million dollar contracts, and scaled over 100 businesses.

Payal Dalal
Senior Vice President, Social Impact, International Markets, Center for Inclusive Growth, Mastercard

Payal currently serves as the Vice President, Global Programs at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. She joined the Center in April 2018 and oversees the Center’s philanthropic investments around the globe. Previously, she was Head of Global Community Programs for Standard Chartered Bank. In this capacity, she oversaw all programs related to education, health, emergency response, and disaster relief. Payal joined Standard Chartered in July 2008 as the Head of Public Affairs for the Americas.  With a professional background in international philanthropy and politics, Payal has worked for a wide range of public sector organizations including the World Affairs Council, the Global Philanthropy Forum and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Payal also worked on foreign policy for the Office of President William J. Clinton. In 2014, President and Secretary Clinton appointed Payal to be a program advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative; her post was renewed in 2015. Payal has extensive experience in financial services as well. Prior to joining Standard Chartered, she worked on the launch of the AT&T Universal Savings and Reward Card for Citi.

Amanda Ellis
Global Director Strategic Partnerships, ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Amanda Ellis currently serves as Global Director Strategic Partnerships for the ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. She was previously New Zealand Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva (2013-16) during the negotiations for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Francophone Africa. Prior to that, as Deputy Secretary (International Development) in the NZ Foreign Ministry Amanda was the first woman to lead the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) Programme, managing an annual budget of over $0.6 billion.

Previous roles include Lead Specialist Gender for the World Bank Group, where she led the project that created “Women, business and the law”, Head of the Global Gender Group at the International Finance Corporation, and National Manager Women in Business at Westpac Banking Corporation. The author of two best selling Random House books on women in business and five research titles on gender and growth in the World Bank Directions in Development series, Ms. Ellis is a founding member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women and the recipient of the TIAW Lifetime Achievement Award for services to women’s economic empowerment.

Ariane Hegewisch
Program Director of Employment and Earnings, IWPR 

Ariane Hegewisch is Program Director of Employment and Earnings at IWPR and Scholar in Residence at American University; prior to that she spent two years at IWPR as a scholar-in-residence. She came to IWPR from the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings. She is responsible for IWPR’s research on workplace discrimination and is a specialist in comparative human resource management, with a focus on policies and legislative approaches to facilitate greater work life reconciliation and gender equality, in the US and internationally. Prior to coming to the USA she taught comparative European human resource management at Cranfield School of Management in the UK where she was a founding researcher of the Cranet Survey of International HRM, the largest independent survey of human resource management policies and practices, covering 25 countries worldwide. She started her career in local economic development, developing strategies for greater gender equality in employment and training in local government in the UK. She has published many papers and articles and co-edited several books, including ‘Women, work and inequality: The challenge of equal pay in a deregulated labour market”. She is German and has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and an MPhil in Development Studies from the IDS, Sussex.

Patti Greene
Professor Emeritus, Babson College

Dr. Patti Greene was the 18th Director of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor and is now Professor Emeritus at Babson College. She is an educational advisor for Portfolia, a company with a new model for equity investing. Greene led the design, development and deployment of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and was Global Academic Director of 10,000 Women. She is a founding member of the Diana Project, a research group dedicated to studying women’s entrepreneurship.

Patricia Griffith 
Chief Strategy & Partnerships Officer, ICRW 

Patricia leads ICRW’s Business Strategy and Partnerships, focusing on increasing the impact on ICRW both globally and across all portfolios, including ICRW Advisors. Patricia has devoted over 20 years of experience working as a researcher and consultant for the private sector and public sector driving improved performance of their businesses. She began her career as Mechanical Engineer working for both the government and private sector in the USA and abroad. After spending 9 years in Project Management, Patricia joined Independent Project Analysis, Inc. (IPA), which is a research and benchmarking organization for major global investments. At IPA, Patricia was appointed Managing Director for operations in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) before being appointed Vice President of Global New Venture Development. After 14 years with IPA, Patricia joined McKinsey and Company, a managing consulting company, as Senior Expert for major and global investments ranging from a few million dollars to over $25 billion for the extraction and production sector. Patricia holds a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master Degree in Business Administration from George Washington University. 

Jessica N. Grounds
Co-Founder, Mine The Gap

Jessica Grounds is a recognized thought leader in the space of women’s leadership. She was named to Marie Claire's List of 50 Most Influential Women. She has founded and led multiple organizations to advance women in leadership. As the Co-Founder of Mine the Gap, a company that equips leaders, industries, and organizations with the strategy to create and sustain gender-inclusive work environments, she has worked with industry leaders, including, Amazon, National Geographic, and Facebook. Over the years her work has garnered significant private sector investment from companies including, Walmart, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, and Google.Jessica is the Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Running Start, an organization that trains young women to run for elected office. She led Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC) as president, and served on the Board of Directors for fourteen years. She has advised and consulted hundreds of political candidates and organizations including many of the youngest women in Congress. Leading up to the 2016 presidential election, she served as the Director of Women Ready for Hillary.

She has extensive experience internationally working with the U.S. Department of State and international NGO’s. Jessica holds Masters in Leadership from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and a graduate certificate in Women, Policy, and Political Leadership from the Women & Politics Institute at American University. Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Pepperdine University. 

Cherylyn Harley LeBon
President and CEO, KLAR Strategies

Cherylyn Harley Lebon is a lawyer, advocate, and strategist with almost 20 years of experience in Washington, D.C. and abroad. She is the President and CEO of KLAR Strategies and provides strategic counsel, stakeholder engagement and business strategy to small businesses, start-ups, executives, and corporations.She was an appointee in the George W. Bush Administration as an Assistant Administrator for Intergovernmental Affairs, as Deputy Chief of Staff, and Deputy Director of Field Operations for the Small Business Administration. Cherylyn served as the liaison between the SBA, Governors, and state and local officials. She coordinated SBA’s programs and policies, including loans and financial assistance, and contracting for women, minority, and small businesses across the country. She also served as a Deputy in Field Operations where she managed daily operations for 11 regional offices; 68 district offices, and almost 1000 employees.

She writes about policy, business, and legal issues for a variety of publications including the Huffington Post, Opportunity Lives, SheKnows, and publishes op-eds in newspapers all over the country. Cherylyn regularly appears on nationally broadcast radio and television programs including CNN, Capitol Insider, Thom Hartmann Show, Sky News, the BBC, and FOX News.

Chisina Kapungu
Director of Learning and Organizational Strengthening at WomenStrong International

Dr. Chisina Kapungu is the Director of Learning and Organizational Strengthening at WomenStrong International. In this role, she provides technical oversight on the development and, implementation of Learning Labs focused on girls’ education and empowerment, women’s health, prevention of violence against women and girls, and economic opportunity. She also provides technical guidance on evaluation projects and organizational capacity-strengthening activities. Dr. Kapungu has nearly 15 years of experience as a clinical psychologist, community-based researcher and program developer with special expertise in adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. She has a wide range of competencies spanning quantitative and qualitative research, program development, monitoring and evaluation, data analysis, capacity-strengthening and translating research into action. Prior to joining WomenStrong International in 2019, Dr. Kapungu was Senior Gender and Youth Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women where she provided technical guidance to research and evaluation projects focused on gender, youth development and adolescent health internationally Dr. Kapungu also served as an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she served as principal investigator of a research study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) aimed at the evaluation of a culturally sensitive and faith-centered HIV prevention and health promotion program for African American girls and their mothers.  Dr. Kapungu has managed maternal and child health projects in Ghana and Zimbabwe. She also worked as a health policy fellow in the office of Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, where she provided scientific and technical expertise identifying emerging health policy issues in women’s health, infectious disease, global and domestic public health crisis response, and international development. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Loyola University Chicago.

Melissa Kilby, Executive Director of Girl Up

Under Melissa's leadership, Girl Up helps girls access their inner power to advance girls’ skills, rights, and opportunities, transforming girls by exposing them to new possibilities, increasing their sense of confidence and positioning them to be change makers in their communities. Having developed 58,000 girl leaders in nearly 120 countries and all 50 U.S. states, Girl Up is inspiring a generation of girls to be a force for gender equality and social change. Since joining Girl Up in 2011, Melissa has helped Girl Up raise more than $15 million for girls’ leadership programs and impact partners at the United Nations. Prior to Girl Up, Melissa served as a National Director for OP3, where she helped to manage the nine-city multi-day fundraising walk series benefiting the Avon Foundation for Women, which raised an average of $45 million each season. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Journalism in Strategic Communication from University of Missouri – Columbia. In 2014, she was selected to participate in a program for non-profit leaders through Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Previous experience includes working with donor relations and marketing for Hinsdale Hospital and the American Red Cross of Chicago. She is Vice Chair of the board of directors of Girls on the Run of Washington DC. Melissa has appeared on MSNBC, written articles for Huffington Post and Harvard International Review, been quoted in many national press outlets and speaks regularly as an expert on GenZ girls and their insights in the world, most recently participating in TEDxQUINCY. 

Courtenay Siegfried 
President, 20K Group 

For more than a decade, Courtenay has created and led communications initiatives to drive social impact and generate smart growth. As a consultant, she specializes in strategic communications planning and messaging, media relations, community relations, corporate social responsibility, media and presentation training, and issues management. She has also trained and coached hundreds of senior executives, employees, board members, and nonprofit leaders to communicate their business messages more effectively. As president of 20K Group, Courtenay is at the helm of a global communications agency with a diverse client roster that has ranged from Fortune 100 companies to local nonprofits. Courtenay also co-founded Launchpad Skills for Success, a corporate training company specializing in emotional intelligence and business communications skills for early-stage professionals. And as Vice President of Communications and Impact at Alice, she helped launch a growing technology company. While there, she was responsible for external communications activities, including earning more than 250 media pieces in just two years and establishing strategic partnerships with community organizations. After graduating from Texas A&M University, Courtenay served as a community health specialist with the U.S. Peace Corps in Tanzania and then headed to New York City to earn a Master’s in Nonprofit Management. 

Dr. Mischa Thompson
Director of Global Partnerships, Policy, and InnovationCommission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission)

Dr. Mischa Thompson is the Director of Global Partnerships, Policy, and Innovation at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), where she manages the commission’s legislative agenda, external engagement, and social impact portfolio. She is also the Senior Policy Advisor on OSCE matters related to western Europe, including the European Union. For nearly two decades, Dr. Thompson has worked with policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic to develop and execute strategic policies and programs. With a proven track record of creating innovative evidence-based policy solutions, Dr. Thompson develops and advances the commission’s policy positions and legislative portfolio and coordinates leadership and development activities for commission personnel.

She also advises the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance and commissioners on security, economic, and human rights issues related to diverse populations. Prior to joining the commission, she served as a Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and as an AAAS/APA Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives. Originally from Detroit, Dr. Thompson holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where she was a prestigious National Science Foundation Fellow and managed several laboratories, research grants, and diversity initiatives in the social sciences with a focus on intergroup relations, identity, and bias. She received her B.S. from Howard University, while also studying at Stanford University and the University of Münster, in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar