Increasingly diverse and global-minded in our staffing, AWID staff work out of our Toronto, Cape Town or Mexico City offices, while our translators and other staff are located everywhere from Lomé to Rosario and from Shanghai to Bangalore.
Lydia Alpízar Durán - Executive Director of AWID
Lydia is a Costa Rican/Mexican feminist activist based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has been the Executive Director of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) since 2007, and was the manager of AWID’s Where is the Money for Women’s Rights? and Building Feminist Movements and Organizations Strategic Initiatives from 2003-2006. Lydia is a sociologist by training and co-founder and advisor of ELIGE - Youth Network for Reproductive and Sexual Rights (Mexico). She was member of the International Council for Human Rights Policy (2004-2011). She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Global Fund for Women and of the Central American Women’s Fund. She is also a graduate from the Human Rights Advocacy Training Program at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University in NYC. Lydia has extensive experience in advocacy and training on women's human rights, particularly in sexual rights and reproductive rights, financing for gender equality and women’s rights organizing, and violence against women.
Adina Spivak - Executive Assistant
With 6 years of event planning experience, Adina has conceptualized and realized hundreds of events. She holds a BA from Concordia University with a background in women’s studies and creative writing. Prior to joining AWID, Adina worked at the National Speaker’s Bureau, where she rubbed shoulders with high-profile Canadians working to support women’s rights and development. As AWID’s Forum and Events coordinator, Adina has had the opportunity to combine her event planning and logistics skills with her commitment to women’s rights.
Verónica Delgado - Administrator, Mexico Office
Veronica is a Mexican citizen with more than eight years of experience in civil association administration. She is the Administrator and responsible for the accounting at Elige –Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, A.C. and she is in charge of bookkeeping at Consorcio para el Dialogo Parlamentario y la Equidad, A.C. She studied Business Administration and has a special diploma in tax management.
Valentin Ermita - Administrative Assistant, Mexico Office
Valentin’s work is strongly connected to the institutional work of diverse national civil society organizations around issues of sexual and reproductive rights, youth, social development and legislative monitoring. As an activist, Valentin has been involved with a range of feminist organizations, including Elige Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity and has coordinated and facilitated various activities in Mexico and abroad.
Mindy Lee - HR/Operations Coordinator
Mindy graduated with an HBA degree in Women and Equity Studies from the University of Toronto, completed a Human Resources Management Certificate from Ryerson University, and obtained a Certified Human Resources Professional Designation from HRPA (Ontario). She loves to travel.
Cindy Clark - Director of Programs
Cindy oversees AWID's strategic initiatives, organizational learning and human resources. She was a lead researcher on AWID's Where is the Money for Women's Rights (WITM) initiative from its inception and was previously the Manager of the WITM and Building Feminist Movements and Organizations initiatives. Prior to joining AWID in 2007, she worked with Just Associates, a global community of justice activists, scholars and popular educators and with Women, Law and Development International. In the late 90s, Cindy lived in Chile, where she worked with PARTICIPA, an NGO dedicated to promoting participatory democracy. She is experienced as a trainer/facilitator, researcher, evaluator, and strategist, primarily on women's rights advocacy and organizing. Cindy has an M.A. in Human and Organizational Development, specializing in the study of change and learning processes in organizations.
Julia Miller - Program Coordinator
Julia holds an M.Sc. in Comparative Politics (Democracy) from the London School of Economics and a BAH in Political Studies from Queen's University in Canada. Prior to joining AWID, Julia worked at GROOTS and the Huairou Commission for four years, focusing on empowering grassroots women to build resilient communities through organizing, peer learning, advocacy, policy and programming. Julia has worked in Ecuador volunteering with Canada World Youth, and was awarded a CIDA internship to work in the Philippines with the Canadian Urban Institute where she worked with a diverse set of actors to facilitate community participation in areas of urban policy and sustainable development.
Angelika Arutyunova - Where is the Money for Women’s Rights? Manager
Angelika is Armenian who was born and raised in Uzbekistan. After obtaining a Finance Diploma and a Bachelor's of Arts in English and Russian Languages, Angelika earned a Master's of Science in International Development at Oklahoma State University in the U.S. Her work and activism experience in Uzbekistan includes coaching debate to high school and university students in her hometown of Samarkand, interning with the Commercial Service of the United States Embassy in Uzbekistan, and volunteering with non-governmental local women's organizations to improve reproductive health and rights of women. Prior to joining AWID, Angelika worked for the Global Fund for Women. Her latest position in the Global Fund was Program Director for Europe and CIS grantmaking portfolio. Angelika has advisory status with several donor agencies in ECIS region and is on the Steering Committee of the Grantmakers East Forum, the Affinity group of European Foundation Center. Angelika also served on the Board of the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) in the U.S and is also active in the Armenian Diaspora in the United States.
Veronica Vidal - Where is the Money for Women´s Rights? Research Associate
Verónica was born in Argentina and raised in neighboring Uruguay. She has been living in Mexico City for the past 5 years. She holds a M.A in International Cooperation for Development from the Instituto Mora in Mexico City and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of the Republic in Uruguay. Her experience, before joining AWID in July of 2009, encompasses a broad range of responsibilities, from conducting research to overseeing fundraising as well as organizational development. Veronica has almost 10 years of both ample and diverse experience in the development, nonprofit sector with specific focus on social and human rights issues in Uruguay and Mexico.
Amanda Shaw - Where is the Money for Women's Rights? Program Associate
Amanda is a feminist activist from Hawaii currently based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She completed her undergraduate degree in International Relations at the American University of Rome (AUR) in Italy and her MSc in Gender, Globalization and Development from the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE). Amanda has brought a gender perspective to programs, research and campaigns on human rights and development in the areas of trade, conflict and health in Europe and Latin America. Prior to joining AWID, she researched gender and trade for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and campaigned against gender-based violence with Amnesty International Argentina. In addition to campaigning for women’s rights, Amanda loves being outdoors and learning new languages.
Natalia Cardona - Constituency Engagement Manager
Natalia Cardona has worked on issues of militarism and economic justice for more than a decade. She began her career at UNIFEM’s Andean Regional Office in Ecuador. Natalia also spent nine years at American Friends Service Committee lobbying to change U.S. military and economic policy in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Most recently, she worked as Program Director for the Center for Women's Global Leadership leading their work on militarism and violence against women as well as social and economic rights. Natalia was also advocacy coordinator for Social Watch in New York focusing on financing for development, gender equality, and climate justice at the United Nations. She holds a M.Sc. in International Affairs with a specialization on Poverty and Development from The New School and a B.A. in Spanish Literature and International Development from the University of New Brunswick, Canada.
Lejla Medanhodzic - Constituency Engagement Associate
Lejla holds an HBA degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a Master's Degree in East European Studies from the Free University of Berlin, Germany. She is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina and has lived in numerous countries before moving to Canada and starting at AWID. Lejla is based in Berlin.
Katherine Ronderos - Women Human Rights Defenders Program Coordinator
Katherine is a British-Colombian feminist based in Bogota (Colombia). She holds an MSc in Development Studies from London South Bank University in the UK, and a BSc in Economics from St. Thomas University in Colombia. Katherine has focused her work in supporting local organisations in capacity building, gender equality and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. Prior to joining AWID, Katherine worked for the Central America Women’s Network (CAWN), the UK Gender and Development Network and the United Nations Association of the UK.
Rachael Dempsey - Women Human Rights Defenders Program Associate
Rachael holds a BA in International Studies from Glendon College, York University and a Masters in International Relations from the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Prior to joining AWID she worked as a Communications consultant in the non-profit sector and on diverse Mine Action initiatives with the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines in Medellin, Colombia. In past lives she has also been an English teacher in rural Japan, a tree-planter in northern BC, and the editor of a literary journal in Montreal. Rachael enjoys learning new languages, understanding different perspectives, working towards social change, and playing in the snow. She is based in Toronto
Shareen Gokal - Strategic Initiative Manager, Resisting and Challenging Religious Fundamentalisms
With over 15 years experience in the not-for-profit sector, Shareen worked with Canadian refugee-sponsoring organizations in the area of capacity-building and refugee legislation and has developed and managed programs for recently immigrated Afghan women to Toronto as part of her work with the Afghan Women's Organization. Shareen also spent several years in the Dominican Republic working with Haitian migrant workers and in marginalized neighborhoods in Santo Domingo. Since joining AWID in 2001 Shareen has held several positions in the organization- she was the Forum Manager for the 2002 AWID Forum, the first one held outside the USA in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Programme Manager for the Women's Human Right Net website and resources and in 2007 launched and presently manages AWID's 'Resisting and Challenging Religious Fundamentalisms initiative. She holds a degree in International Development Studies and her Masters in education- Sociology and Equity Studies at the University of Toronto.
Saira Zuberi - Resisting and Challenging Religious Fundamentalisms Program Coordinator
Prior to joining AWID, Saira ran her own consultancy, working with public and non-profit clients in the areas of diversity management and strategic communications. She has previous experience in the fields of research, advocacy, communications, and management and administration in private, non-governmental and academic sectors. Saira has an academic background in Islamic law and women's rights from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). Saira is an active volunteer in her community, including current affiliations with the board of Women's Health in Women's Hands and the Toronto Grants Review Team of the Ontario Trillum Foundation.
Sandra Dughman Manzur - Resisting and Challenging Religious Fundamentalisms Program Associate
Originally from Santiago, Chile, Sandra holds an undergraduate degree in Theology from the Centro de Estudios Teológicos (CET-Chile), a professional degree in Law (J.D.) from the Universidad de Chile, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of Toronto. Since 2009, she has collaborated with the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, generating research and legal briefs for international and local courts. In the past, Sandra provided legal research, advisory and expert opinions on women’s rights, reproductive and sexual rights, and health law for the Centro de Derechos Humanos, Faculty of Law, Universidad de Chile; the Latin American School of Social Sciences-Chile (FLACSO-CHILE); the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; and the World Health Organization (WHO). She is a fellow and alumni of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) training program in Health Law, Ethics and Policy as well as the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, where she was granted a Ford Foundation Scholarship. Today, Sandra lives in Toronto with her wife, Natasha, and daughters, Zara and Alma.
Lina Gomez - Forum & Events Manager
Lina joined the AWID team in 2004 and has been involved in the planning and organizing of numerous AWID meetings and events, highlighted by the 2005 and 2008 Forums in Bangkok and Cape Town. Before joining AWID, Lina worked for various non-for-profit initiatives and development organizations in South, Central and North America, focusing on gender equality initiatives. She holds a magna cum laude MBA from ICESI University in her native Colombia as well as an honours degree in International Project Management from Humber College in Toronto, Canada. Her work has taken her to many countries around the world including El Salvador, through a CIDA Internship with SalvAide, partnering with local grassroots community development organizations.
Ibiza Vázquez Macario - Forum and Events Assistant
Ibiza graduated in Business Tourism Administration from Universidad del Valle de Mexico in Mexico City and completed the Program of Festivals, Events and Conference Management at Centennial College in Toronto. Her experience in the hospitality industry includes events such as Maurizio Corbi’s Conference in Mexico City. Her volunteer experience in Canada includes: Juvenile Diabetes Ride, Flamenco Festival, Gold Medal Plates and Honda Indy Toronto. She believes in gender equity, human and animal rights and would love to make a difference in her hometown regarding these issues.
Marisa Viana da Silva - Young Feminist Activism Manager
Marisa Viana da Silva was born and raised in the Brazilian Amazon and has been a youth rights and environmental social justice advocate for more than 12 years. Marisa’s commitment and dedication to the empowerment of young women and gender equality is deeply rooted in her experiences growing up in a resource-poor area of the Amazon where discrimination and violence against women continues to be the norm. Prior to joining AWID Marisa worked at the Foundation for Tropical Medicine implementing a youth-friendly health services for adolescents and young people living with HIV/AIDS in the Brazilian Amazon. Previous to her work in the Amazon, Marisa was the Program Associate at the International Women’s Health Coalition where she helped train and mobilize young people from throughout the world to advocate effectively for sexual and reproductive rights and health in national, regional, and international fora. As the first one in her family to attend university, Marisa has a B.A. in International Affairs and Environmental Social Justice from Northeastern University and a Master in Public Health/Global Health from Columbia University . Marisa is a Brush Foundation Fellow for her commitment and leadership in the field of reproductive health and a co-founder of the Movement of Adolescents and Youth in Positive Causes - MACAP - a volunteer based youth-led organization promoting the health and rights of adolescents and young people in Amazonas.
Ghadeer Malek – Young Feminist Activism Program Associate
Ghadeer is a Palestinian feminist activist who is currently residing in Toronto, Canada. She attended the University of Toronto where she completed a double major in History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations along with a minor in Political Science. She worked with many progressive groups on campus to promote anti-racism, anti-oppression and anti-occupation values. She developed a strong passion for feminism at an early age, and committed herself to fighting for women’s rights as she witnessed first hand the effects of religious fundamentalism and patriarchy on women’s rights. Ghadeer was also on the editorial board of the Undergraduate Journal of Middle East Studies at the University of Toronto and has worked as a Research Assistant in a health and women's rights project.
Mayra Moro-Coco - Development Policy and Advocacy Manager
Mayra is a feminist and has a Ph.D on Political Science at the University of Montreal (Canada) and Master on International Relations at the Autonoma University (Madrid). Her education has been completed at the London School of Economics (London), Columbia University (NY) and NYU (NY) on International Relations and Political Science. As a researcher, feminist activist and consultant on International NGOs and at the UN, her career has focused on Women Human Rights, women and conflict, gender and development, SRHR and conflict and violence against women. She also has published on these themes in several academic reviews and has lectured in English, French and Spanish.
Alejandra Scampini - Influencing Development Actors and Practices for Women’s Rights Manager
Alejandra is a passionate Uruguayan feminist activist. Before joining AWID she worked for ActionAid as the Women’s Rights coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean. Alejandra also worked with REPEM for more than 10 years where she gained vast experience in women’s rights, education and development advocacy. An educator by training, Alejandra is currently working on her Masters in Education at the Catholic University of Uruguay. Most recently she has become a mother to lovely Guillermina.
Anne Schoenstein - Lead Advocacy Associate
Anne holds a MA in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the UK and a German degree (Diplom-Betriebswirtin) in Business Studies with specialization in Market and Communications Research. Anne has studied at the Hiroshima University of Economics in Japan and the Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia, where she also worked as program evaluator for INSIST, the Institute for Social Transformation. She completed a training course on Monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the Graduate Institute Of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Prior to joining AWID, Anne worked at WOMNET Gender and Global Governance in Bonn, Germany.
Ana Ines Abelenda - Influencing Development Actors and Practices for Women’s Rights Program Associate
Ana has six years of experience working for civil society movements at the Third World Institute (ITeM) based in Uruguay, first as an editor of the portal Choike.org covering the issues of financing for development and women’s rights and more recently in the Social Watch International Secretariat as part of the Advocacy and Networking team. Her commitment to the promotion of human rights and women’s rights in particular led her to collaborate many times with feminist organizations in the Latin American region, training young women activists in the use of ICTs and writing articles and occasional papers on women's rights, the latest of which was presented at the Beijing+15 Conference in New York. She is about to finish her M.A. in International Relations at the University of the Republic of Uruguay and is passionate about learning new languages.
Sarah Rosenhek - Program Coordination & M&E Manager
Before joining AWID, Sarah worked for the National Council on Ethics in Human Research (NCEHR) in Ottawa Canada, an organization working to advance the protection and well-being of human participants in research. Sarah holds a B.A. and a Master's degree in Philosophy (specializing in gender and ethics). Other interests that propel Sarah to remain active in her own community include issues related to disability rights and violence against women.
Srilatha Batliwala - Associate Scholar, Building Feminist Movements and Organizations
Srilatha Batliwala is an India-based Civil Society Research Fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard University, where her work focuses on transnational civil society, but she is best known for her work on gender equality and women’s empowerment. She is Chair of the Board of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, and a member of the Board of PLAN International and Gender at Work. Srilatha has over 35 years’ experience as a grassroots activist, gender equality advocate, and women’s studies teacher and researcher in India and internationally. She is well known in South Asia for her leadership of large-scale empowerment movements (such as SPARC and Mahila Samakhya) that mobilized and empowered thousands of the poorest women and communities in both urban and rural areas in India. Srilatha has published extensively on a range of women’s issues, including the widely translated and used “Women’s Empowerment in South Asia – Concepts and Practices.” Since 1997, Srilatha has moved into the arena of transnational civil society and global governance issues, as a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation in New York and than at the Hauser Center. She has just published, with co-editor L. David Brown, an edited volume entitled “Transnational Civil Society: An Introduction” (Kumarian Press, August 2006) and is currently working on her second book, on transnational grassroots movements. She also does a good deal of freelance work in program and organizational evaluations, gender and organizational change, and helping practitioners generate new concepts and theories to challenge dominant discourses.
Rona Donefer - Resource Development Coordinator
Rona holds a BA in Canadian Studies and a Masters in Administration and Policy Studies in Education, both from McGill University in Montreal (her home town). Before joining AWID, she worked at Horizons of Friendship, a Canadian organization that supports community development in Central America and Mexico. Rona spent ten years in Guatemala with her family where she worked at ActionAid International and national organisations. She has always been passionate about women’s rights and is very concerned with issues of violence against women.
Anna Turley – Director of Communications and Information
Anna has been involved in women’s rights works for 15 years. Prior to joining AWID, Anna was the Coordinator of the Women's Programme at WACC, an international NGO working on communication rights and media for development. As part of her work at WACC, Anna coordinated the Global Media Monitoring Project - a grassroots media research project in 76 countries - and organised the first ever global campaign on gender representation in the media 'Who Makes the News?'. Anna has also previously worked with refugee women in London and grassroots women's organizations in Santiago de Chile. Anna is from the UK and holds a BA (Hons) in Latin American Studies from the University of Liverpool and a MSc in Development Studies (specializing in gender) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
Susan Tolmay – Women's Rights Information Manager
Susan has been working in the area of gender and women’s rights for seven years. Prior to joining AWID she worked for a Gender Links (GL), a southern African regional NGO promoting equality and justice for women. Over the years she was involved in a range of programmes around gender and the media, gender justice and mainly gender and governance. Her work in the area of gender and governance related to issues of representation and participation of women in political decision making in general but with a specific focus on gender and local governance. She has conducted and coordinated research on gender and local government in ten Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and has co-edited the publication series At the Coalface: Gender and Local Government in Southern Africa. She has also been involved in developing training materials, facilitation and developing gender and gender based violence strategies and action plans for local councils in the SADC Region. Before she left GL she was managing the monitoring and evaluation for the organisation. Susan is from South Africa and holds a BJuris degree, an Internal Auditing Diploma and a Masters degree in Governance and Political Transformation.
Gabriela De Cicco - Women's Rights Information Coordinator
Gabriela lives in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. She is a writer, journalist and lesbian feminist activist. She teaches European Literature as a student assistant at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario. Since 1993 she has been promoting women's human rights by broadcasting programs and articles. Since 2000 she has co-coordinated the Argentinian Women's Information Network. Gabriela has also published 4 books of poetry. You can learn a little more about her work and activities at: http://www.gabrieladecicco.com.ar.
Ani Colekessian – Women's Rights Information and Communications Program Associate
Ani is an Austrian-Armenian Canadian who holds an MA in Gender and PeaceBuilding from the United Nations mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica) and a BAH from Queen’s University (Canada), where she studied Politics and English Literature with a strong gender/feminist focus. Prior to joining AWID, Ani was part of the UN-INSTRAW/UN Women (Dominican Republic) Gender, Peace and Security team, researching under the frameworks of UNSCR1325 and Security sector reform. She also spent a year with the Women’s Resource Center (Armenia/Nagorno-Karabakh), an organization Ani is affiliated with to this day in support of young feminist activism projects. Ani has written for Elevate Difference (Feminist Review), Education for Change, the UPeace Monitor, Feminuity, and the YFA Wire and was awarded the 2011 IASSCS prize for best paper. She has held the posts of trilingual moderator (YFA/CF) and Executive Assistant with AWID.
Ritu Sharma - IT Manager
Ritu has over fourteen years of experience as an IT professional in NGO sector. Having completed Masters in Computer Applications from a reputed institute, she has handled a unique blend of projects in software development, Intranet & KM (knowledge management), remote access, website administration, database applications, and capacity building. She has also participated in the projects involving email and networking set-up, software development for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and various other key projects for not-for-profit sector.
Meghan Babin - IT Assistant
Meghan currently holds a diploma as a Computer Programmer Analyst from St. Lawrence College. After travelling extensively throughout Asia, she returned to Canada to pursue her B.A. in Environmental Policies and Practices, and Political Science from the University of Toronto. She is interested in the relationship between society, human rights and the physical environment and what this means for policy and law development.