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Biographies–U.S. Pakistan Women’s Council

Executive Committee of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council

Katrina Fotovat, Senior Official, Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State 

Katrina “Kat” Fotovat is currently the Senior Official to the Secretary of State in the Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), where she leads a team of gender experts promoting gender equality efforts including support of women, peace, and security, countering violent extremism, promoting women’s economic empowerment, and combatting gender-based violence. Ms. Fotovat has over 20 years of experience advocating gender and human rights globally, specifically in conflict and post-conflict settings.  Previously, Ms. Fotovat was Director for the Office of Communications, Policy, and Partnerships, in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations where she oversaw an expert team that provided policy and strategy guidance to respond to atrocities, fragility, increase global stability and peacebuilding, and integrating women, peace, and security efforts in areas of conflict.  Ms. Fotovat was also the Deputy Director for the Global Programs Office in the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor where she oversaw over a billion dollars in active programs geared toward supporting civil society and human rights in the most sensitive and fragile spaces, including internet freedom, transitional justice, and marginalized populations. Other positions in the US Government included as a Political Officer in the US Embassy in Moldova, and as the Senior Grants Officer in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Senior Human Rights Advisor in the Office of the Procurement Executive, and Interagency Liaison at USAID.  Before joining the U.S. government, Ms. Fotovat’s experience includes transitional justice and peace negotiations efforts with the Nobel Prize nominated, Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG). This work included drafting post conflict constitutions in Iraq and Kosovo, and international crisis aid negotiations in Sri Lanka.  Additionally, she has done extensive gender and human rights work through UNHCR, CEDAW, American Bar Association, and other organizations.  Ms. Fotovat previously worked as legal counsel at the International Human Rights Legal Clinic, focusing on trafficking in persons and asylum cases, with a special focus on Burma.  Ms. Fotovat also helped to found an anti-trafficking in persons organization in Moldova, where she was also a Peace Corps Volunteer.  She holds a Juris Doctor in International Human Rights Law and a master’s degree in Foreign Policy from American University.  She lives in Rockville, Maryland with her son and husband.

Dean Thompson, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State  

Dean Thompson is the Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, overseeing U.S. policy and relations with the countries in the region.  He is a member of the Senior Foreign Service and has more than 25 years of experience in U.S. diplomacy.  Most recently, Mr. Thompson served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  He has also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, U.S. Consul General in Kolkata, India, and the Chief of the Economic and Commercial Affairs section of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Mr. Thompson’s other overseas service includes tours at the U.S. Embassies in Paraguay and Bangladesh.  While stationed in Washington, Mr. Thompson has led several teams in direct support of the U.S. Secretary of State and served as Director of the Executive Secretariat Staff, the Deputy Director of the Department’s 24-hour Operations Center and the Director of the Department’s Crisis Management Staff. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense on counterproliferation issues and U.S. security assistance to the Republic of Korea.  Mr. Thompson has a Masters of Public Management from the University of Maryland, School of Public Affairs and a Masters of National Security Studies from the U.S. National War College.

Lesslie Viguerie, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs  

Lesslie C. Viguerie is the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Affairs within the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA).  Prior to assuming this role, he was Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at U.S. Embassy New Delhi.  A Senior Foreign Service Officer, he previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and in Washington as Director for Europe and Asia in the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau and Director for Central Asia in the South and Central Asia Bureau.  Aside from an earlier assignment as Deputy Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy New Delhi, Mr. Viguerie served overseas as Senior Director of the Interagency Rule of Law Section in U.S. Embassy Kabul and as External Political Relations Chief in U.S. Embassy Moscow.  He was also posted to Dhaka and Porto Alegre, Brazil.  In Washington, he served on the State Department’s Pakistan Desk and in the UN Political Affairs Office.  Mr. Viguerie is a graduate of George Washington and Catholic Universities and is a member of the District of Colombia Bar Association.

Dr. Mark H. Weichold, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President, Texas A&M University 

Dr. Mark Weichold is currently the Interim Provost and Executive Vice President at Texas A&M University after serving the university as a professor of electrical and computer engineering, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering, and executive director of the Halliburton Engineering Global Program. From 2007 to 2015, he was Dean and campus CEO for Texas A&M University’s branch campus in Doha, Qatar and from 1998 to 2006 he served as Texas A&M’s Associate Provost responsible for undergraduate academic programs.

Dr. Elsa Murano, President, Norman Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture, Texas A&M:

A graduate of Florida International University in Biological Sciences, Dr. Murano received an M.S. in Anaerobic Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Food Science & Technology from Virginia Tech.  She began her career as an Assistant Professor in food microbiology at Iowa State University in 1990, where she conducted research in food safety. In 1995, she joined the faculty at Texas A&M University as Associate Professor, leading the university’s Center for Food Safety as Director. In 2001, Professor Murano was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Undersecretary for Food Safety at the Department of Agriculture, the highest-ranking food safety official in the U.S. government.  As a result of her policies and leadership, the Centers for Disease Control’s Healthy People 2020 goals of reducing foodborne illnesses were met six years ahead of schedule, decreasing the rate of illnesses due to E. coli O157:H7 by 42% and the number of recalls of meat products by 74%. In 2005, Dr. Murano returned to Texas A&M, where she was appointed Dean and Vice Chancellor of Agriculture and Life Sciences by President Robert Gates.  During her tenure, she reversed the declining enrollment in the College, secured significant funding from the state and from private industry for the program, and rebranded the agencies to better reflect the important role of agriculture as well as the life sciences.  In 2008, Dr. Murano became the first woman and first Hispanic president of Texas A&M University. Her initiatives resulted in a significant increase in state funding, remodeling of the Memorial Student Center and Military Walk, and construction of the Agriculture and Life Sciences building complex. 

As a research scientist, Dr. Murano received an average of ~$750K/year in extramural funding, published an average of 4 scientific articles per year, and a total of 7 book chapters in the field of food safety. Since June of 2012, she has been serving as Director of the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, a premier institution within Texas A&M which conducts development projects to lift small farmers out of poverty and hunger in Asia, Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.  As Director of the Borlaug Institute, she has secured more than $100M in extramural funds. Dr. Murano serves on the Board of Directors of Hormel Foods Corporation, a position she has held since 2006, where she has been a member of the Audit and Governance committees. She also is a member of the Food Safety Advisory Committee for Ecolab, is a member of the Board of Directors for Food Safety Net Services, and serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the premier organization for livestock research in the world.

Dr. Raymond Robertson, Director of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M:

Dr. Raymond Robertson serves as a professor and holder of the Helen and Roy Ryu Chair in Economics and Government in the Department of International Affairs in the Bush School of Government and Public Policy at Texas A&M. He is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany and was named a 2018 Presidential Impact Fellow by Texas A&M University.  Robertson earned a BA in political science and economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and an MS and PhD in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and was a visiting professor in the Department of Economics at the Graduate School of Administration, Monterrey Institute of Technology’s Mexico City campus.  Widely published in the field of labor economics and international economics, Robertson previously chaired the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Advisory Committee for Labor Provisions of the U.S. Free Trade Agreements, served on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, and is a member of the Center for Global Development’s advisory board.


Esperanza Gomez Jelalian, President, U.S.-Pakistan Business Council and Executive Director for Asia, U.S, Chamber of Commerce:

Esperanza Gomez Jelalian, executive director for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, advances the interests of U.S. business in the world’s fastest-growing region.  Jelalian serves as president of the Chamber’s U.S.-Pakistan Business Council and executive director of the U.S.-Korea Business Council. She provides leadership and direction to both councils and oversees strategic planning, policy, advocacy, and programs that promote U.S. business opportunities and investment in Korea and Pakistan.  Before joining the Chamber, Jelalian worked with the late Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-TX) in the government relations firms of Wilson Associates and Hooper Owen & Winburn, representing the government of Pakistan and a number of companies before the U.S. Congress and the executive branch on a range of issues. These included foreign policy, defense appropriations, U.S. foreign assistance, sanctions, and international trade. Earlier, she held positions with the Republican National Committee, former Sen. Bob Dole’s (R-KS) Better America Foundation, and American International Group (AIG).  Jelalian has an M.A. in international commerce and policy and a B.A. in international studies from George Mason University in Virginia. She also has a certificate in executive leadership from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Jelalian resides in Vienna, Virginia, with her husband and two children.

Mujeeb Zahur, Managing Director, S&P Global, Pakistan:

Mujeeb Zahur is the senior director of operations at S&P Global’s Islamabad office. Mujeeb runs the operational aspect of the site in Islamabad, and has been with S&P Global for several years now. He previously ran one of the largest Business Process Outsourcing companies in Pakistan’s capital city. Mujeeb’s area of expertise is performance management, operations management, devising and implementing strategy and thought leadership.

U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council Team Members

Radhika Prabhu, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary and Executive Director of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council:

Radhika serves as Executive Director of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council at the U.S. Department of State.  In this capacity, she sets strategy and works with the private sector, civil society and government officials in the United States and Pakistan to advance partnerships that support women’s economic inclusion and reduce barriers to women in the economy in Pakistan, coordinating a passionate team across both countries.  Radhika previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues on U.S. foreign policy in South Asia and has held positions at the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, United Nations Development Program, and the Art of Living Foundation.  Radhika serves as a Term Member on the Council on Foreign Relations and was named a 2019 AAPI American National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Boston College and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Dhyana Parker, Special Assistant to the Executive Director and Special Events Coordinator, U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council:

Dhyana Parker, was born in the Washington D.C. area. She has worked for the Federal Government for over 29 years and is now a Management Analyst Contractor with the Department of State.  She received her Bachelor’s in Business Management and her Master’s in Public Administration with a Concentration in Non-Profit Management from Southeastern University. She’s the mother of two sons, one is a Deputy Sheriff in Charles County and the other is an ER Medical Technician at PG Hospital, and the proud grandmother of three beautiful grandchildren.  After losing her brother to suicide, Dhyana began her life mission to raise awareness of mental illness. In 2017 and 2018 Dhyana became the first Black DC Walk Chair for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Community Walk. In 2019, she started the Rock for Life Foundation, to help bring awareness to mental illness within the community, especially among youth and minorities and to rid the strong stigma associated with it in most cultures.  Her hope is that through education and awareness, those suffering with a mental illness will be urged to seek help and that our mental health laws get changed so that mental illness is viewed and treated just as importantly as physical illness.

Honorary Friends of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council

Ambassador Dr. Asad Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States:

A career Foreign Service Officer, Dr. Khan has served in several senior positions throughout his storied career including as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Japan, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy in Washington, and as Additional Foreign Secretary and the Director General for the Americas in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he was the focal point for bilateral relations between the United States and Pakistan. Dr. Khan has also served at the United Nations and in an array of senior positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad. He earned his doctorate in International Economic and Business Law from Kyushu University in Japan and has been an advisor to academic institutions in Pakistan, including International Islamic University, the Lahore University of Management Sciences, the Foreign Trade Institute of Pakistan and the Foreign Services Academy on International Trade, Law and WTO affairs.

Shaista Mahmood, founding member of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council:

Shaista Mahmood, a university graduate from Pakistan, came to the Washington area in 1976 and, with her husband Ray, has raised her four children in the United States.  Over the years, she expanded her circle of philanthropy, supporting numerous charities in her native Pakistan and in her community in the Alexandria/Mt. Vernon area. In response to 9/11, Shaista and Ray were moved to promote a better understanding of their Muslim faith.  Building on the Iftar dinners they hosted at their home for several years, they initiated an interfaith dialogue to bring together prominent U.S. government officials with faith community leaders to encourage understanding and tolerance. This fruitful dialogue has continued and expanded over the past 15 years with the active participation of various White House officials, and leading diplomats.  Shaista’s commitment to ecumenical understanding brought her together with Congressional spouses and wives of the Muslim ambassadors for a series of gatherings. This bridge building dialogue with participation from across the political spectrum continues to foster friendship and understanding. Along with her husband Ray, Shaista serves on the International Advisory Board of the U.S. Institute for Peace.  She serves on the boards of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C. and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. She was instrumental in advocating for the creation of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, launched at the United Nations in 2012. Shaista has hosted significant fundraising events for Save the Children and Seeds of Peace. She and Ray have been long-time supporters of SOS Children’s Villages in Pakistan and the Aschiana Foundation in Afghanistan.  They have now adopted a school for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan. 

Ryan Crocker, retired U.S. Ambassador:

Ryan Crocker is Dean and Executive Professor at the George Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University, where he holds the Edward and Howard Kruse Endowed Chair.  He was the James Schlesinger Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia (2012-2014), and he served as the first Kissinger Senior Fellow at Yale University (2012-2013).  He retired from the Foreign Service in April 2009 after a career of over 37 years but was recalled to active duty by President Obama to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in 2011.  He has served as U.S. Ambassador six times: Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007-2009), Pakistan (2004-2007), Syria (1998-2001), Kuwait (1994-1997), and Lebanon (1990-1993). He has also served as the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College, where he joined the faculty in 2003.  From May to August 2003, he was in Baghdad as the first Director of Governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority and was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2001 to May 2003. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1971, he also has had assignments in Iran, Qatar, Iraq and Egypt, as well as Washington.  He was assigned to the American Embassy in Beirut during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the bombings of the embassy and the Marine barracks in 1983.

Charlotte Ponticelli, Former Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor:

Charlotte M. (Charlie) Ponticelli is an international consultant with 23 years of U.S. Government experience in Washington, DC.  She began her career on Capitol Hill and served most recently as Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor.  Previously, Mrs. Ponticelli served as the State Department’s Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues; Senior Advisor for State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration; Director of Human Rights in State’s Bureau for International Organization Affairs; Congressional Liaison for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Director of Congressional Correspondence in the Legislative Affairs Office of the White House. She has also served as Commissioner Assistant at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  In the private sector, Mrs. Ponticelli has been Program Director for the Balkans within the Eastern European Division of the International Republican Institute, Director of Media Relations at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; and Director of Lectures and Seminars at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. Mrs. Ponticelli received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish literature from Hood College and her Master of Arts degree through New York University’s program in Madrid. She also completed two years of doctoral studies in Spanish literature at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Sherry Rehman, Senator, Pakistan:

Sherry Rehman is currently a Member of Parliament and a member of Pakistan People’s Party and became the first woman to serve as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in March 2018.  She previously served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States from 2011-2013. She has served as Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pakistan (2008-09) and previously held three additional portfolios of Health, Women Development and Culture as Federal Minister in 2008. During her time in Parliament, her areas of focus included foreign and security policy, human rights legislation, and media.  Sherry Rehman was the founding Chair of the Jinnah Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank committed to the strengthening of democracy, governance and an independent national security project in Pakistan. One of its main priorities is re-gaining space for moderate voices in the context of an extremist advance. She had a 20 year career as an award-winning journalist before becoming a politician. Former editor of the “Herald” news magazine based in Pakistan, she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, USA, where she studied Government and Art History. 

Jalil Jilani, former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States:

Jalil Jilani is a retired Ambassador who served as Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.  He is a career diplomat and has also served as Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union and as High Commissioner to Australia. Ambassador Jilani has a Law Degree and a Masters in Defense and Strategic Studies.  In his professional life, he has specialized in South Asian affairs and remained Director India, Deputy High Commissioner to New Delhi and Director General South Asia and SAARC.

Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States:

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry retired in 2018 with over 36 years of bilateral and multilateral experience in the field of diplomacy.  Before his appointment as ambassador to the United States, he served as Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, spokesperson of the foreign ministry, Additional Foreign Secretary for the United Nations and Disarmament Affairs, and Director General for relations with South Asian countries where he has remained closely associated with the peace process with India.  Overseas, he has served as Ambassador of Pakistan to the Netherlands, Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York, Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary General of ECO in Tehran, and Pakistan embassies in Washington, Doha, and Cairo. He holds Masters Degree in International Relations from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, Massachusetts, and a First Class First Bachelor of Science Degree from Punjab University, Lahore.


Elizabeth Vasquez, CEO and Co-Founder of WeConnect International:

Elizabeth A. Vazquez is the President, CEO, and Co-Founder of WEConnect International, a corporate led non-profit that helps to empower women business owners to succeed in global markets.  She is a world leader in women’s economic empowerment and global supplier diversity and inclusion. As the CEO of WEConnect International, Ms. Vazquez is responsible for mission delivery. WEConnect International identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women’s business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women, and then connects them with member buyers.  The WEConnect International eNetwork supports and promotes women-owned businesses based in over 100 countries, including local support in 45 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. Ms. Vazquez sits on the Walmart Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative’s International Advisory Council, the Procter & Gamble Supplier Diversity Advisory Council, the Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE Girls’ and Women’s Committee, and is a Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Jury Member for North America.  She sits on several Board of Directors and is a W20 Representative to advance G20 commitments and a member of the B20. She also served as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. Ms. Vazquez was born in Mexico, has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University, and was honored by the Barrett Honors College as an Inspiring Alumni for making significant contributions in her career and community. She has a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University where she studied development economics and international negotiation as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and is the recipient of the 2018 Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award for outstanding graduates who are making a meaningful impact in the world.  She also completed graduate seminars at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University, and Sookmyung Women’s University in South Korea.

Virginia Littlejohn, CEO, Quantum Leaps, LLC:

Virginia Littlejohn is the CEO and Co-founder of Quantum Leaps a non-profit which accelerates global women’s entrepreneurship.  She has held positions with the National Association of Women Business Owners, the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs, the Global Banking Alliance for Women, and the International Trade Centre where she worked to support women entrepreneurs’ integration into global supply chains.  Virginia was inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame and has won numerous international awards.  

Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, Head of Centre for the New Economy and Society, World Economic Forum:

Saadia Zahidi is a Member of the Executive Committee and Head of Education, Gender and Work at the World Economic Forum.  Under her leadership, the Forum’s teams in these areas produce new insights, gather best practices, help set change strategies for businesses and governments and mobilize leaders to work together to drive progress.  Saadia founded and co-authors the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Future of Jobs Report and several other publications. She was selected as one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2013 and 2014 and won the inaugural FT/Mckinsey Bracken Bower Prize for prospective authors under 35.  She is a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. Her book, Forty Million Rising, on women’s economics in the Muslim world, was released in 2017. She holds degrees in economics and public administration from Smith College, the Graduate Institute and Harvard University. She is from Pakistan and lives in Switzerland.

Dr. Sumera Haque, Executive Director, Johns Hopkins Women’s Health Center:

Dr. Haque is a leading expert in women’s health and champion of girls’ education and women’s empowerment.  A physician from Pakistan with a master’s degree from the George Washington Milken Institute School of Public Health, Dr. Haque is also a gender-based violence (GBV) survivor and social and women’s rights activist.  She personally understands the gender discrimination issues faced by women in developing countries and has dedicated her life to helping women with similar experiences. For her work she received the Shero Award for community service from Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).  She is a Producer/Ambassador of Girl Rising Pakistan, a global movement supporting girls’ education and empowerment. She also mentors and coaches undergraduate and graduate students interested in careers in medicine and public health and provides guidance to foreign medical doctors who are pursuing licensing exams and Public Health/Healthcare Administration degrees in the United States.  Her commitment to education and women empowerment also includes serving as a Faculty Advisor at the George Washington University Global Women’s Institute, as a GWU Alumni Ambassador, an advisor to the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Woodrow Wilson Center and as an academy member of the Global Teacher Prize, an annual one million dollar award given to an exceptional teacher. Among her other achievements, she facilitated the collaboration between first Pakistani Medical School & Hospital with George Washington University Medical School and Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Recently, she was announced as one of 60 recipients nationwide of prestigious Presidential Leadership Scholars program. She is the first Pakistani-American woman selected for this highly prestigious program.  

Syeda Henna Babar Ali, Board of Directors, Packages Group:

Syeda Henna Babar Ali, Advisor Business Unit Consumer Products, Packages Limited, Chairman DIC Pakistan Limited, Director Packages Constructions (Pvt.) Ltd., and Member of Packages Group Advisory Board, is involved with the Strategic Planning and decision making process together with the Senior Management of Packages Group looking after a manufacturing business turnover of over $ 500 Million, and an investment portfolio of $ 1 Billion. A poet, Henna received the Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah Award for Best English Poet and Best Pakistan English Poet from the Bolan Cultural Academy of Pakistan. She was also the winner of the Houghton Mifflin’s Spring Summer Poetry Award. Ms Ali is on the Board of 3 Family Foundations – the Ali Institute of Education and World Wildlife Pakistan,  Lean In Pakistan (2016 to present), and an Asia Society Global Council Member between 2002 and 2016. Henna attended  Convent of Jesus and Mary, the Cathedral School, Kinnaird College and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the United States. 

Farida Rokadia, author:

Farida started her career in 1996 as a teacher of history at Karachi American School. It was there when she became involved in teaching World History and AP European History and coordinated and led Strategic Planning for the school. Her work resulted in school acquiring accreditation from the Middle Schools of America. During her time there, she initiated the Model United Nations Program, which has been successfully maintained since its inception.   After 9/11, Farida re-entered student life and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. Continuing her love of learning and international interaction, she completed a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution with an emphasis in Religious Peacebuilding at American University. Her thesis looked at Madressas as a parallel education system or schools of radicalism. Farida is the author of “Madressas as terror schools: The myth and the reality.” Most recently, she completed compiling a book on Pakistani female role models along with their success stories, entitled “Pakistani Women: Journeys of Success“. Farida aspires to continue her career in education and gender issues. She is a member of the Interfaith Council at the University of Connecticut.


U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future