Campaign & Creative Team
Girl Rising is guided by a group of committed advisors who generously lend both their time and expertise to the project.
Girl Rising US-India Advisory Board
- Amita Vyas, Advisory Board Chair
- Nish Acharya
- Sheetal Acharya
- Nitasha Chaudhary Nagaraj
- Jyoti Gifford
- Anu Jain
- Vaibhav Jain
- Emily Ketchen
- Asha Kumar
- Seema Kumar
- Aliyya Mattos
- Anita Mawji
- Aimee Meher-Homji
- Sonali Mody
- Brooke Moss
- Rajan ‘Raj’ Palaniswamy
- Kevin Parikh
- Nirva Patel
- Dr. Aparna Rao
- Aparna Rao
- Shruthi Reddy
- Rajan Shah
- Raj Sharma
- Anurag Varma
- Shefali Vyas
ENGAGE Advisory Board
Christina was the Supervising Producer for the Girl Rising film and has been a member of the GR team since inception. In her role as Managing Director for the Girl Rising organization from 2012-2015, Christina was instrumental in optimizing day-to-day operations as she and her team built on the film’s success to establish a global campaign for girls’ education and a brand which is now synonymous with girls’ empowerment. Christina spearheaded Girl Rising’s unique partnership with USAID to launch grassroots campaigns and the Girl Rising film in India, Nigeria and The Democratic Republic of the Congo.
With a Master’s degree in community development and deep roots in storytelling through documentary film, Christina is passionate about compelling narrative as an engine of social change. She has produced and managed programs for The Documentary Group, ABC, CNN, A&E, Bill Moyers and The History Channel as well as feature films and has researched and worked in Latin America, Africa and Europe. She lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley with her husband and three children.
Executive Producer and President of The Documentary Group
As co-founder and president of The Documentary Group, Tom Yellin has overseen all productions since the company’s inception in 2006. Previously, Tom was president and executive producer of PJ Productions and spent many years as an executive producer at ABC News, where he created the award-winning Peter Jennings Reporting series. His programs have won numerous broadcast and journalism awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, the News Emmy Award and the Polk Award.
Co-founder & Board Chairman
As Co-Founder and Board Chairman of Girl Rising, Holly supports the CEO in long-term strategy for the campaign and looks for new opportunities to drive change for girls around the world. Holly is also an Executive Producer of the Girl Rising film. Holly has been selected by Fast Company as a member of the League of Extraordinary Women and named by Newsweek/Daily Beast as one of 125 Women of Impact. Forbes Magazine also named the Girl Rising movement the #1 Most Dynamic Social Initiative of 2012. Prior to Girl Rising, Holly Gordon worked at the Tribeca Film Festival, and before that at ABC News, where she was a producer and booker for the major news broadcasts, covering high-profile stories, including the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the shootings at Columbine, and the September 11th attacks. Holly graduated from Brown University, with a B.A. in International Relations.
Kayce Freed Jennings
Senior Producer/Executive Vice President, DocGroup
Before co-founding The Documentary Group, Kayce was a producer at ABC News for 20 years, based in London, Atlanta and New York. She covered international and national news events for virtually every news division broadcast and was on the staffs of Nightline, World News Tonight and 20/20. Kayce works closely with non-profit organizations including Teach for America and Concern Worldwide; she serves on the board of Win, an agency that serves homeless families, and the advisory board of SOLA - School of Leadership, Afghanistan; and she was co-creator of The Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution. She’s a graduate of Brown University, and studied government at the London School of Economics.
Lauren joins Girl Rising with a passion for storytelling, education and social change and a deep interest in international affairs. Originally from Connecticut, she left the east coast to attend Northwestern University, where she studied journalism, sociology and civic engagement. Before Girl Rising, she lived in northern Uganda and worked in communications with Invisible Children, interviewing fascinating people and spending a significant amount of time riding around on motorcycles. Later, she worked as Digital Storyteller for an education and service learning non-profit. She has a passion for mentorship, hashtags and compelling narratives and is thrilled to be part of a growing movement for girls' empowerment.
Reilly Corbett joins Girl Rising with a passion for elevating the importance of girls’ education and gender equality around the world. Originally from Connecticut, she spent her college years surrounded by Red Sox fans at Boston College, where she studied Philosophy and Faith, Peace & Justice. Her prior experiences include working at the nation’s first women’s homeless shelter and also teaching at an after school program for Sudanese refugees. She spent the last two years working at a hedge fund and is excited about putting both her corporate sector and nonprofit experiences to use in order to advance the mission of Girl Rising!
Colleen comes to Girl Rising with a lifelong interest in women’s issues. Since 2011, she has been a member of Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund’s Activist Council and currently co-chairs the Political Action Group (PAG). PAG supports PPNYC Votes' efforts to elect pro-choice candidates and pass pro-choice legislation in New York City and State.
Colleen received her B.A. from The New School, where she studied writing with a concentration in fiction and journalism. In her day-to-day role at Girl Rising, Colleen provides administrative support to the organization’s senior leadership and helps manage the educator program. She is thrilled to be part of the smart, creative, and passionate team that is changing the way the world sees the girl.
Qaisar is the founder and CEO of several initiatives in his native Pakistan including Welfare Association for New Generation, which struggles for fairer society through youth interventions, and the Chairman of Chanan Development Association (CDA-Pakistan), one of Pakistan’s leading youth focused organizations.
He recently launched MeriReport.com®, a platform enabling grassroots voices to reach the mainstream, and leading Youth Peer education network (Y-PEER Pakistan), an initiative by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) including thousands of young people working in the area of Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health.
Qaisar’s work runs the gamut – from grassroots development work to advocacy to policy. His development work includes community workshops and trainings in issues including: Leadership, Change, Conflict resolution, Civic Education, Countering Violence and extremism, citizenship, communication skills, social media activism, human rights, social enterprise, micro-entrepreneurship, youth engagement, cross-cultural understanding and safe motherhood.
His advocacy work has focused largely on these same issues, with agencies including USAID, UNFPA, Rutgers World Population Foundation, Do School Global and Soliya.
Qaisar is a regular contributor to various newspapers and he blogs at www.roonjha.com. He has been recognized for his work by the British Council as a Global Changemaker and a global creative art winner by the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS. He joins Girl Rising as a fellow with Atlas Corps.
ENGAGE Project Director
As the ENGAGE Project Director, Carla oversees and manages all aspects of the Girl Rising ENGAGE project. Carla is certain that not all who wander are lost - not in the least. In 2003, she left the practice of law to join the Peace Corps and never looked back.
Carla brings a wide range of experience, including the management of USG funded projects - working to building awareness and influence policy across a range of critical development issues. Her experience includes the use of innovative media initiatives and community engagement to influence strategic policy, engage the private sector and empower communities and local leaders.
Carla has lived and worked in Macedonia, Nepal, Chile and El Salvador. She loves adventure and firmly believes that there is no development tool more potent than the empowerment of women and girls.
Her favorite quote is… “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Country Manager, Democratic Republic of Congo
Before joining Girl Rising in 2016, Helen headed Development Media International’s behaviour change campaigns in the DRC and prior to that, worked as a journalist, analyst and field producer (BBC, ABC, October Films). She has 20 years of experience living and working in central, east and west Africa. With a Bachelor’s degree in communication and literature, Helen has had a lifelong interest in theater. She has a deep attachment to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where both of her daughters were born. Helen feels passionately that if women are able to play a bigger role in the running of the country things will change for the better. Her priority is to ensure that the Girl Rising film is seen and re-seen by as many people as possible in the DRC.
Kaleigh McKenna is the Program Officer for Girl Rising’s ENGAGE project. She became part of Girl Rising in 2013, contributing to the Global Engagement, Social Media, and Corporate Engagement teams before moving on to work on ENGAGE.
Kaleigh has a B.A. in International Studies from Fordham University with double minors in International Humanitarian Affairs and Visual Art. Prior to her time at Girl Rising, Kaleigh worked on a variety of campaigns for organizations such as the American Red Cross and Room to Read. She is fascinated by theories of impact and social change and is excited to join in the movement for girls' education!
Maryam Tafida Bello
Maryam Tafida Bello leads the Girl Rising ENGAGE team in Kano, Nigeria. Maryam is passionate about the importance of girls’ education and gender equality. Born in Tarauni LGA of Kano Nigeria, she earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Business Administration and Management from Bayero University Kano.
Maryam is a communications and public relations professional with an impressive track record in the telecom industry in northern Nigeria where she managed several dynamic campaigns. She is a seasoned manager and has worked successfully with a wide range of stakeholders, including trade partners, retailers and a 60 plus person sales team. As a recognized and trusted radio voice and personality, she served as the “communication bridge” between the community and the companies she represented.
Maryam is a lover of nature and music with a big and hopeful heart. With a dauntless and unbreakable spirit, Maryam is passionate about making a difference. She is a wife and mother of four - two boys and two girls. She believes that in her own “little” way she can affect humanity positively.
Maryam is excited about using her experiences in the corporate sector to advance a future in which all girls in northern Nigeria have the chance to go to school, stay in school, and become healthy, productive members of their communities.
Maryam Habib Abdullahi is the Program Coordinator for Girl Rising’s ENGAGE project in Nigeria. She was born and brought up in Kano State Nigeria and holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry from Bayero University Kano. Before joining Girl Rising, she was a project associate community action mobilizer with Discovery Learning Alliance where she led training, monitoring and mentoring of participants from outreach communities on the importance of girls' education.
Cate Browning grew up in Kailua, a tiny beach town located on the beautiful island of Oahu. Like many who grew up in Hawai’i, Cate rode dolphins, surfed to school, and loves SPAM. She moved to the “mainland” to pursue a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at Chapman University. After graduating, Cate was honored to join the Girl Rising team.
Country Director, Girl Rising India
As a trained lawyer, Nidhi brings an unwavering commitment to social justice to her role as the India Country Director for Girl Rising. With over 15 years of experience, she has spent her career employing the art of storytelling and the power of advocacy to affect positive change for marginalized populations within India. In the past, she has worked with Lawyers Collective, Heroes Project - Richard Gere Foundation, Johns Hopkins University - Centre for Communications Program to fight stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV using advocacy strategies, mass media campaigns and the influence of celebrities. Most recently, Nidhi served as the Vice President of Global Health Strategies in Delhi. In this position, she focused on improving access to new child health interventions through innovative advocacy and communications campaigns.
With a passion for travel combined with volunteering work, Nidhi has traveled to the interiors of the country working on various voluntary projects. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter.
With an honours degree in communications from St Xaviers Calcutta followed by a summer scholarship at Gallaudet Washington DC to study ASL with dance and theatre, Tess Joseph has always made eclectic choices. Tess Joseph began her journey as a Casting Director (India) on Mira Nair’s ‘Namesake’ and went on to work with many international directors including Wes Anderson, Jeffrey Brown, Ang Lee and Doug Liman. She was among of the Top 40 producers handpicked for the Puglia Experience 2013 by AFC Italy. Tess is also one of the co-producers on “Girl Rising,” and in 2014, she was the producer on oscar winner Megan Mylan’s short documentary “After My Garden Grows”.
While making movies is her passion, she has also been on the Board of Directors of EU funded NGO GD-Sanjog which works to prevent exploitation and trafficking of children. Along with her friends she continues to run a program called CHILDWISE which believes that children have innate wisdom and potential which adults need to learn from. She is Director of Kommune, a collaborative arts collective in India that funds and seeds ideas to actuality. Kommune was founded by Roshan Abbas, Ankur Tiwari and Gaurav Kapur. She studies process-based psychology, plays the piano, crusades for street dogs and is a travel junkie!
Program Associate, Girl Rising India
Prior to joining Girl Rising, Smriti worked as SAARC-SAIEVAC’s Program Support Manager (Consultant), India to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, GoI, where she provided advocacy, technical, coordinative and administrative support to the Government and represented the Bureau in national and international meetings/conferences. Before this, she worked as UNICEF’s Legal Consultant for the Ministry of Women and Child Development where she provided technical and program support on matters related to Child Sexual Abuse in India. Smriti has also worked as a Consultant with UNICEF India Country Office for protection of children affected by HIV and/or AIDS and at the State level with Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Smriti is really passionate about gender sensitization and has taught a Seminar Course on ‘Law, Society and the Queer’ in National Law University, Delhi.
Smriti has also single-handedly taken up initiatives such as designing and implementing innovative behavioral change communication and advocacy strategies to build support systems against and prevent sexual abuse of children in India. She was a Youth Representative for Indo-Japanese Global Summit’s NGO Forum held in Tokyo (2010) and her efforts in the field of child sexual abuse were recognised and appreciated by the then President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. She holds a Masters Degree in Law with a specialization in Human Rights from National Law School of India University, Bangalore.
She is trained in Indian Kathak dance, loves to sing and is also an ardent street photographer.
Media & Communications Officer, Girl Rising India
Richa Hingorani has over 4 years of work experience and recently earned her Master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies on a Chevening scholarship. Richa started her career at a leading English news channel NDTV in New Delhi, after graduating in 2010 in Mass Communication from Delhi University. As one of its youngest producers, she produced a weekly show on pressing developmental issues. Keen to work with marginalized communities directly, she made a switch to the nonprofit sector, and joined a civil society organization called Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), where she was tasked with the job of setting up its media and communications department.
As its manager, she travelled extensively to Bihar, one of the poorer states in India, to create robust communication models to spread awareness about women’s empowerment, and marginalized girls’ access to education. Later, she joined another nonprofit organization called Indus Action, setup by Harvard graduates, and launched a vigorous campaign to disseminate information about a legislation mandating reservation of 25% seats in all private schools for children belonging to weaker sections of society which saw a substantial jump in the number of such children getting admission.
Richa is an avid traveller, and a closet writer. For therapeutic unwinding, she likes to spend time with friends and family.
Administrative Manager, Girl Rising India
Deepak, a seasoned professional, has over 15 years of work experience in successful delivery of Administrative Solutions, Policy Development, and Procurement Procedures. His key strength lies in building communications with key stakeholders, vendors and technical staff for effective delivery of processes. Prior to joining Girl Rising, Deepak worked with various international organizations including USAID supported projects in India HIV/AIDS Alliance, MCHIP and FHI360, focusing on Operations and Procurement. He holds a Masters in Human Resource Development.
In his spare time, Deepak enjoys travelling, photography, sketching, writing poetry and singing.
Priyanka Chopra is an Indian actress and international recording artist. Her acting career in the Indian Film industry commenced when she won the Miss World pageant in 2000. She has been frequently nominated and won multiple awards for her various performances. Most recently, Chopra won best actress at the 2015 Apsara Film Producers Guild Awards, best actress at the 2016 Filmfare Awards and was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. She became the first South Asian actress to win a People’s Choice Award, for her role in Quantico and received the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors. Chopra has been working on her next highly anticipated film, the remake of Baywatch. She has often leveraged her fame to speak out about Indian women’s issues, mainly lack of education for girls, female infanticide and feticide.
She has been India’s official UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights since August 2010, acts as an ambassador for Girl Rising and for Girl Up, one of our impact partners and a program of the United Nation Foundation. Chopra’s humanitarian work is expansive and includes her very own private foundation, the Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education.
Freida Pinto is an Indian actress and model, best known for her role as the leading lady in Slumdog Millionaire (2008), for which she received numerous nominations and awards. The Mumbai-native has since then appeared in a variety of notable performances like Miral (2010), You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Immortals (2011), and Trishna (2011). Pinto is dedicated and highly active concerning various humanitarian issues such as education, women’s rights, and sexual violence. As the Girls' Rights Ambassador for Plan International and ambassador for its ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign, she is a global voice about the ills of child marriage and female genital mutilation. Additionally, Pinto serves as an ambassador for Girl Rising and as a producer for the Girl Rising film.
Paul G. Allen
Executive Producer, Girl Rising / Founder and Chairman, Vulcan Productions
Mr. Allen is a technologist who started Microsoft with Bill Gates, a childhood friend, in 1975. He is also founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., the company that oversees his business and philanthropic efforts. His multibillion-dollar investment portfolio includes a major real estate redevelopment in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, professional sports teams, and holdings in dozens of media and technology companies. In 2011, Mr. Allen founded Stratolaunch Systems, which is developing an innovative airborne launch system.
Mr. Allen, who has pledged to leave a majority of his estate to philanthropy, gives back to the community through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation as well as with direct gifts. In 2003, he created the Allen Institute for Brain Science to accelerate understanding of the human brain in health and disease. With a commitment of $500 million to date, Mr. Allen supports the Seattle-based nonprofit’s large-scale research initiatives that fuel discovery throughout the scientific community.
His independent film company, Vulcan Productions, has won numerous awards for feature films and documentaries. Idea Man, Mr. Allen’s 2011 memoir, was a New York Times bestseller.
Mr. Allen is also founder of Seattle’s critically acclaimed EMP Museum; the Flying Heritage Collection, an assemblage of World War II aircraft; and the Living Computer Museum, a collection of restored vintage computers. Learn more at www.paulallen.com.
Executive Producer, Girl Rising / President, Vulcan Productions
Jody Allen is president and CEO of Vulcan Inc., the project and investment management firm she co-founded with investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen in 1986. Since then, she has developed and led a wide range of Mr. Allen’s business and charitable endeavors around the world.
Ms. Allen serves as president of Vulcan Productions, which produces compelling films, innovative digital programs, and outreach initiatives. Ms. Allen co-produced the PBS series Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, as well as the independent feature films, Far from Heaven and Hard Candy.
In addition, Ms. Allen is co-founder and president of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which builds strong communities and supports vulnerable populations around the Pacific Northwest. She is president of the board of Seattle’s EMP Museum, the critically-acclaimed museum of music, popular culture and science fiction, and vice-chair of First & Goal Inc., which oversees operations of the Seattle Seahawks. She also serves on the boards of the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Seahawks Charitable Foundation.
An active member of the arts and education communities, Ms. Allen has served on the boards of ArtsFund, the Theatre Communications Group, the University of Washington Foundation, the Museum of Glass, the Los Angeles International Film Festival and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Richard E. Robbins
Director, Girl Rising / Co-Founder, DocGroup
Richard E. Robbins is an award-winning documentary director, writer, and producer. His most recent documentary, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, about soldiers returning from Iraq, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008. After several years at ABC News and PBS, Richard joined Peter Jennings’ documentary unit at ABC News, and directed the critically acclaimed ABC series The Century. His documentary work for ABC took him around the country and the globe, from the mountains of Kashmir interviewing Al-Qaeda militants, to the press plane of the 2000 Bush campaign, to the back of an LAPD squad car patrolling Watts. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, daughter and son.
Chief Creative Officer
Martha Adams is an award-winning storyteller who travels freely between the commercial realm of TV, the independent world of filmmaking and all things digital media. Originally brought on to produce the film at the center of the Girl Rising campaign, she is now the Chief Creative Officer and was featured in 2013 by Newsweek/Daily Beast as one of “125 Women of Impact.” Adams is a Senior Fellow at The University of Southern California’s Marshall Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab which recognizes leadership at the intersection of business and social impact, she serves as a Film Expert for the U.S. Department of State diplomacy program American Film Showcase, and in 2015 Novus awarded her “Humanitarian of the Year.”
She has spent years working with the girls featured in Girl Rising and frequently speaks on the subject of girls' empowerment, radical change and the critical role storytelling plays. Recent engagements range from the FiSahara Film Festival and INmarket Conference to corporate events for Shearman and Sterling, Charles Schwab, Microsoft and Stroz Friedberg.
She began her career at Discovery Channel and after 5 years in production and programming, she co-founded Arcwelder Films. She executive produced a wide array of films, including four series and eight specials (including Inside the Kill Box, Citizen Soldier, Robots Rising and Spies Above) that won an array of awards including a National Emmy, Worldfest Houston prizes, New York Film Medals and Cine Awards. Audiences can enjoy her documentaries in more than 188 countries around the world, on networks such as Discovery, National Geographic, and Bravo. Martha graduated cum laude from American University in Washington D.C.
Hilary Sparrow manages the production, outreach & impact initiatives and evaluation of Vulcan Productionsﾕ film, television and multi-media projects. Her most recent work includes the award-winning six-hour PBS series, This Emotional Life and the web-based toolkit for educators, Success at the Core. Prior to joining Vulcan Productions in 2008, Hilary was Director of Production for a Washington, DC-based independent film company where she oversaw projects for clients including National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and The Smithsonian Channel.
Lorne Balfe is a Grammy award- winning and BAFTA- nominated film composer from Inverness, Scotland. Lorne is known for composing the scores to Dreamworks Animation’s Megamind, and Ron Howard’s The Dilemma, in collaboration with Academy Award-winning composer, Hans Zimmer.
Balfe began his career in Hollywood providing additional music on several major motion pictures including the Pirates of the Caribbean II and III, The Simpsons Movie, Angels & Demons, Iron Man, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. He also composed additional music on the 2009 Golden Globe nominated film Frost/Nixon. Balfe’s role as a score producer on 2008′s The Dark Knight earned him a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture.
Alexandria Dionne comes to documentary film after having worked as a journalist and editor for more than 10 years at such publications as Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and Entertainment Weekly. Though originally from California, she worked in New York for more than 13 years on a variety of award-winning, long-format PBS documentary productions, including David Grubin’s Abraham Lincoln and Immigration films and Bill Moyers’ The Hudson River.
While in Ethiopia for Girl Rising, Alex directed a shoot with a woman there named Melka, who had been the victim of early marriage. Alex is proud that Melka’s story is being heard and has become featured content addressing the ill effects of early marriage for many of Girl Rising′s NGO partners, including World Vision, the UN Foundation, and The Elders. Just prior to joining the Girl Rising team, she produced radio pieces for KCRW’s Good Food show. Alex now lives back in her home state with her husband and two children.
Derek joins the Girl Rising team after graduating from Stanford University, where he majored in American Studies with a minor in Film. While at Stanford, Derek was heavily involved in the film community, serving as co-president of the Stanford Film Society. His travels have taken him to Italy and most recently South Africa, where he worked for Shikaya, an NGO focusing on education and the teaching of history in South African schools. He is thrilled to combine his interests in the film and humanitarian arenas with Girl Rising.
Director, Sierra Leone
Jenny Lee and Gareth Smith have created film and television title sequences for Paramount Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and FOX Television and others. They have also produced live-action sequences for HBO Films and video content for the web.
Jenny Lee studied fine art at Boston University and earned an M.A. at the School of Visual Art. She has directed videos on artists like choreographer Bill T. Jones and created live video projection design with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.
Gareth Smith and Jenny Lee began their collaboration on the title sequence for Jason Reitman’s Thank You For Smoking. They went on to create renowned title sequences for Juno, Up in the Air, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and John Carpenter’s The Ward. At the SXSW Film Festival in 2011 and 2012, they were on the jury for the Title Design competition.
Gareth and Jenny’s title sequences for Juno and Up in the Air are in the Walker Art Center and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s international exhibit, Graphic Design: Now in Production. Their work has been featured in a number of publications, including The New York Times, LA Times, and Print Magazine.
Gillian McCarthy is an accomplished editor with a passion for filmmaking. With more than 15 years of experience, she has evolved a creative style that embraces compelling storytelling with a cinematic sensibility. Her feature documentary credits include Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience; The Hollywood Complex; and Flesh. Her television credits include work for ABC, Showtime, The Discovery Channel, The Science Channel and OWN. She learned her craft working in the most precise form of visual storytelling, the television commercial, editing countless national campaigns in New York and Toronto. A dual American and Canadian citizen, she lives in Los Angeles.
Ramaa Mosley made her first film at age 16: the documentary We Can Make a Difference, about global pollution’s effect on children. It was screened around the world and went on to win a UN Global 500 Award in Geneva, Switzerland. That same year, Ramaa enrolled at Bennington College in Vermont, where she studied theater, literature and photography. Upon graduating, she was hired by the Dutch government to direct a documentary on the Aymara Indians of Bolivia. Ramaa went on to direct music videos for bands such as The B-52s, Brendan Benson, Creed, and Five for Fighting, and has directed award-winning national and international commercials for clients such as Adidas, Powerade, PGA, Pedigree, Walmart and Espn.
Ramaa won best director at the First Glance Film Festival for her short film Grace. In 2011, she won the Audience Choice Award at Dance Camera West for her film In Dreams I Run Wild. In the Fall of 2012, Ramaa’s feature film directing debut The Brass Teapot, a comedy starring Juno Temple and Michael Angarano, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film will be released in theaters April 5, 2013 by Magnolia Pictures.
Beth Osisek is an award-winning journalist who cut her teeth during the overthrow of the Soviet Union as a producer living in Moscow. She has worked for ABC News and the The Christian Science Monitor and has reported on stories ranging from human trafficking to celebrity profiles. Most recently, she worked on the PBS documentary MAKERS: Women who Make History. She is driven by a belief in power of an individual’s story to impact change.
Prior to joining the Girl Rising team, Gina worked as a freelance field and story producer on programs for MTV, CNN, Current TV and Discovery Health. Gina recently made the shift from television to feature documentary production, helping to produce global crowdsourced documentary, and UNDP partner project, One Day on Earth. An avid traveler, Gina looks forward to returning to the field to help tell the stories of these remarkable girls.
Director and Photographer, Girl Rising India
Kolkata-born Indrani is a director, photographer, and author and believer in the motto “One girl with courage is a revolution.” Raised by volunteers for Mother Teresa and Ramakrishna Mission, as a teen Indrani co-founded Shakti Empowerment Education SEEschool.org for 300 children and women. While a student at Princeton University, before graduating from with an AB Magna Cum Laude in Anthropology, her photography was discovered by David Bowie. She became known for her work with stars such as Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Olivia Wilde, published in 20 books and 25 exhibitions, including the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute DC. A director since 2011, her films have won 17 awards including Best Film at the LA Independent Film Festival, 2 Gold Lions at Cannes Festival of Creativity and have screened at the Center Pompidou Paris, Lincoln Center NY, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Australian Center for the Moving Image. Indrani directed the Bollywood stars for the Girl Rising India film, and photographed the campaign.
Indrani has co-directed SEEschool.org since its inception and worked with many NGO’s including UN’s Nothing But Nets and Population Services International in Central African Republic, Keep A Child Alive in Africa and India, Yuwa girls' sports in Jharkhand, and Nanhi Kali against female infanticide. As Special Advisor to the UNGMDF and Director of Relations at the World Film Forum at the United Nations Headquarters in NY, she worked to bring together the private and public sectors around issues such as fighting child trafficking. According to the Huffington Post, “Her creative lens, coupled with an impassioned perspective on gender realities [result in] powerful and provocative films.”
Rachel Portman was born in west Sussex, England and read music at Oxford University. Rachel won an Academy award for her score for Emma and Academy nominations for Chocolat and Ciderhouse Rules. She has worked with directors Roman Polanski (Oliver Twist), Norman Jewison (Only You), Jonathan Demme (Beloved, The Truth About Charlie, The Manchurian Candidate), Robert Redford (The Legend of Bagger Vance), Mike Leigh (Life is Sweet), and many others. Her list of film scores includes The Vow, Never Let Me Go, One Day, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Grey Gardens (HBO), The Duchess, Infamous, Lake House, Hart’s War, The Human Stain, Marvin’s Room, Benny and Joon, The Joy Luck Club, Smoke, Nicholas Nickleby and Where Angels Fear to Tread.
She has written a musical of Little House on the Prairie as well as an opera of Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince for Houston Grand Opera and The Water Diviner, a dramatic choral symphony commissioned for the BBC Proms concerts.She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.
Rachel lives in London with her three daughters.
Creative Director and Executive Producer, Girl Rising India
Creative director, designer and executive producer GK Reid is an influential innovator across multiple platforms. Inspired by his childhood in Northern India and the American Southwest, GK has an intuitive understanding of cross-cultural communications and the importance of campaigns for social good. He is known for his high profile collaborations with brands and artists for their most important projects, including David Bowie, Neil Gaiman, Kaws, Yoshitaka Amano, Richard Phillips, Peter Lindbergh and Michael Haussman, Lady Gaga, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway and Beyonce. His ad campaigns include Louis Vuitton, L'Oréal, Pepsi, LVMH De Beers, Hugo Boss and Barney’s New York, and his editorials have been featured in magazines such as V, Harpers Bazaar and Vogue. His fashions were celebrated in the Daphne Guinness exhibition at the Museum of the Fashion Institute NY, the Center Pompidou Paris and SHOWSTUDIO Cabinet in London. His films have won 5 Best Picture awards for his work as Executive Producer, 2 Gold Lions at Cannes Festival of Creativity, and 3 awards for Best Costumes/Design. As executive producer and creative director his many projects for social good include films for girls' sports with Sambhali Trust and Yuwa India, the American Cancer Society directed by James Mangold, and Keep A Child Alive with Alicia Keys, Kim Kardashian, Usher, and Jayden and Willow Smith, raising millions for families in Africa and India. As executive producer and creative director of the Girl Rising India film and campaign, GK brought together a wonderful film and photo crew, and worked with traditional Bengali craftwomen to create eco-friendly hand-woven natural fashions to help each of the stars to shine.
A native of Arizona, Brittonya recently moved to LA in order to be a part of the Girl Rising team. She graduated in May 2011 with a degree in Digital Media Production and Video Editing and has been working professionally as a video editor for over two years. Her experience includes work on a wide variety of pieces, from corporate and commercial to music videos, narratives, and documentaries. Brittonya is incredibly excited to pursue her lifelong passion to work with women around the world alongside her love for documentary filmmaking.
Erin Sarofsky, Sarofsky Design
Title Design & Production
Erin graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in graphic design and an MFA in computer graphics, both with a strong photography influence. Initially, Erin was hired by Digital Kitchen. Over the course of six years, she rose from Designer to Creative Director and worked on many high profile commercials and main title designs.
In 2006, Erin was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her work on the “Ghost Whisperer” main title sequence. Later that same year, Erin was hired by Superfad as Creative Director of their newly formed New York office.
Erin Sarofsky established her company, Sarofsky Corp., in January of 2009. Sarofsky specializes in design-driven production, working with a broad range of clients in the advertising, broadcast, network, film and entertainment industries across the United States and in Europe. Their artists use animation, visual effects, computer graphics and live action to create commercials, television, main title sequences and new media applications.
Director, Sierra Leone
Jenny Lee and Gareth Smith have created film and television title sequences for Paramount Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and FOX Television and others. They have also produced live-action sequences for HBO Films and video content for the web.
Gareth Smith earned his B.A. in Design at UCLA. In 2000, he co-directed and art directed the short film This Guy Is Falling, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Gareth Smith and Jenny Lee began their collaboration on the title sequence for Jason Reitman’s Thank You For Smoking. They went on to create renowned title sequences for Juno, Up in the Air, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and John Carpenter’s The Ward. At the SXSW Film Festival in 2011 and 2012, they were on the jury for the Title Design competition.
Gareth and Jenny’s title sequences for Juno and Up in the Air are in the Walker Art Center and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s international exhibit, Graphic Design: Now in Production. Their work has been featured in a number of publications, including The New York Times, LA Times, and Print Magazine.
As an Ethiopian immigrant, Rediate has seen first-hand the benefit of educating women from developing countries. After completing her first degree in Intercultural Communications at Arizona State University, she moved back to Ethiopia where she worked for World Vision Ethiopia as a journalist and built the communication department at a smaller NGO, Selam Children’s Village. Rediate was first introduced to the Girl Rising film team while working with their partners at World Vision Ethiopia. Upon her return to the U.S., she joined the team as the Production Coordinator and traveled to India, Nepal and back to Ethiopia for the production of Girl Rising. She is currently pursuing her M.A at the University of Southern California, and is excited to combine her passion for innovative methods of development and education at Girl Rising.
Chris Wilcha won two Emmy awards and two International Documentary Association Awards for directing and co-executive producing a TV version of Ira Glass’ acclaimed radio show “This American Life” for Showtime. He has also directed promos, pilots and short films for MTV, PBS, Sundance Channel and TV Land, including The Social History of the Mosh Pit, So Five Minutes Ago and Second Hand Stories. Wilcha also shot and directed a first-person video diary called The Target Shoots First, about his tenure in the marketing department at the mail order CD and tape club Columbia House in the early 1990s. The Target Shoots First won many festival awards, was screened internationally, and broadcast on Cinemax.
Former CIO, CapitalOne and NASDAQ Stock Market
Gregor Bailar is an independent investor, executive advisor, industry speaker, and international philanthropist, devoting his time to developing new ideas to create a more responsible, tolerant, and sustainable future. Gregor left Capital One in late 2007 where as CIO he led an industry-recognized technology team that was pivotal to Capital One’s diversification and innovation strategies. The company transformed itself from a credit card supplier to one of the top 10 diversified banks in the United States – re-inventing nearly all of its processes and systems along the way. An active environmentalist, Gregor was the founding executive sponsor of Capital One’s Environmental Council and is a director for the National Wildlife Federation. His writings and speeches have been featured in publications and events all over the world sponsored by CIO Magazine, CIO Insight, CIO Summit, Business Week, The Economist, Forbes, The New York Times, the NACD and several other innovation and business forums.
Director of Indian Diaspora Investment Initiative, Calvert Foundation
Nish Acharya is currently leading a social enterprise investment fund for the Calvert Foundation, serving as a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress and the Indian Council on Global Relations, and as a columnist for Forbes. He most recently was advising Northeastern University on its global strategy.
Nish previously served in the Obama Administration, where he was appointed by President Obama as the Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, where he led the President’s efforts to nurture economic growth through innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization.
Prior to joining Commerce, Nish served as Executive Director of the Deshpande Foundation, a prominent American philanthropy focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and scalability around the world. Nish led the Foundation’s strategic planning, grant making, evaluation and advocacy efforts. Nish also served five years as a Presidential Appointee in the Clinton Administration and has been on the founding team of several startup organizations.
Nish was previously a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bretton Woods Committee, The Indus Entrepreneurs, and the Clinton Global Initiative. He also served as a Board member of Akshaya Patra USA and the United Way Worldwide Leadership Global Advisory Council.
Nish has a Master’s in Public Administration from George Washington University; and a BS in Political Science from Northeastern University and is a graduate of an MIT Sloan School of Management Executive Program.
Senior Associate, the Population Council
Judith Bruce is a senior associate and policy analyst with the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender, and Youth program. Since joining the Council in 1977, she has coordinated a program of policy-oriented research on issues related to women’s and adolescent girls’ social and economic development. Recently she served as co-chair of the Expert Group Meeting on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl-child. Her areas of expertise include women’s roles and status, with a focus on intrafamily dynamics, investments in children, and adolescence, especially vulnerable adolescent girls. She has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1977, and in 1993 received the Association for Women in Development’s bi-annual award for outstanding contributions to the field. A graduate of Harvard University, Bruce has written and lectured extensively on population policy, the quality of reproductive health services, adolescent girls’ status in the developing world, family and partnership dynamics, and women’s access to and control of resources inside and outside the household.
Executive Director of Talent and Development for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network
Kimi’s experience includes work as a producer and as a story developer for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, ABC’s Good Morning America & 20/20. She has conceived and produced hundreds of stories around the world and currently serves as the Executive Director of Talent and Development for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE USA
As President and CEO of CARE, Dr. Gayle works to drive resources to underserved women around the world in the fight against global poverty. Before joining CARE in 2006, Dr. Gayle was Director of HIV, TB & Reproductive Health within the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She also served in the US Public Health Service for 20 years, retiring as a Rear Admiral, and has been a consultant to WHO, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Bank. Dr. Gayle holds a BA from Barnard College, an MD from the University of Pennsylvania and an MPH from Johns Hopkins.
Former Media Arts Consultant; Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program
Terry Hong is a writer and arts consultant. She created and maintains BookDragon (http://bookdragon.si.edu/), an extensive book review blog for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, where she was most recently media arts consultant; she also served as the project director for the 2003 Smithsonian Korean American Centennial Commemoration. Terry taught for two years in Duke University’s Leadership in the Arts, a performance and public policy program based in New York City. She writes frequently about books, theater, and film; publication credits include Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, Bookslut.com, American Theatre magazine, Dallas Morning News, The Bloomsbury Review, AsianWeek, aMagazine: Inside Asian America, among others. Terry co-authored two books, Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture from Astro Boy to Zen Buddhism and What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature. She holds degrees from Dartmouth College and Yale University.
President of the IF Hummingbird Foundation
Educator and activist, Jill Iscol, Ed.D, is President of the IF Hummingbird Foundation, a family foundation established in 1989 to support domestic and international efforts to strengthen democracy and reduce the social, economic, and educational inequalities that threaten it. For the past two decades Jill has supported and participated in numerous organizations and has developed an expertise in identifying visionary leaders and programs at early stages of their development. She fosters their advancement by providing seed capital and guidance enabling them to become stable, sustainable and successful organizations, impacting lives around the globe.
As a Democratic Party activist, Jill served as Co-Chair for Hillary Rodham Clinton for Senate’s New York Finance Committee and as National Vice-Chair of Hillary Rodham Clinton for President’s 2008 Finance Committee.
Jill’s first book, Hearts on Fire: Twelve Stories of Today’s Visionaries Igniting Idealism into Action, was released in November 2011.
CEO and Founder, 6Sense Amanda Kahlow is an entrepreneur who is passionate about bringing the power of predictive marketing and sales analytics to enterprise and mid-market companies. At 6Sense, she leads a team that helps B2B companies turn rows of data and billions of behavioral signals into sales. Prior to 6Sense, Amanda spent 14 years as the CEO and founder of CI Insights, a big-data services company that used multichannel analytics to help enterprise companies generate as much as $300 million in net-new business. Amanda is focused on finding the positive in life and giving back to the community as a way to build thriving, prosperous, healthy communities and effect positive social change.
Thad Kahlow is the CEO of BusinessOnline and is responsible for the entrepreneurial leadership of all operations. His visionary leadership-style has helped propel the company into the online marketing spotlight; making the Agency one of the nation’s leading online marketing companies. He focuses on the alignment of business goals and user needs so our client’s can make business decisions guided by information that matters. Thad’s “roll-up-the-sleeves and get it done” attitude coupled with a commitment to client relationships allows him to effectively direct the agency to support large engagements with sophisticated, global clients.
Thad is considered an authority on online marketing. He has presented at numerous industry and executive conferences including the DMA, HTMA, AMT and Online Marketing Summit, is published in leading trade and business publications like iMedia, ERA and B2B Magazine, and was one of the original founding members of the SEMPO institute.
Vice President, Wasserman Media Group
A brand strategist with 20 years of experience, Thayer Lavielle brings a unique mix of television production, public relations expertise and brand building to her current position as a Vice President with Wasserman Media Group, a sports and entertainment agency that manages over 1,200 athletes, consults with Fortune 500 brands, negotiates global media deals and is world-renowned in experiential activation. As a senior strategist with the company, Lavielle manages key accounts and projects in the consulting division, a position she has held since 2011.
Prior to Wasserman Media Group, Lavielle worked at JR Motorsports as the Vice President of Marketing and Brand Development, taking her corporate marketing experience with one of the world’s leading fragrance and cosmetic companies and directing it to one of America’s most popular athletes, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Lavielle is a 1993 graduate of Colgate University and resides in Cary, NC.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Deputy Director of Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
“Gayle is the deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program. Prior to joining the Council, Ms. Lemmon covered public policy and emerging markets for the global investment firm PIMCO, after working for nearly a decade as a journalist with the ABC News Political Unit and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Gayle has reported on entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict regions for the Financial Times, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Daily Beast, and Christian Science Monitor, along with Ms. Magazine, Bloomberg, Politico and The Huffington Post. Gayle earned a BA in journalism summa cum laude from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she received the 2006 Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship. A former Fulbright scholar and Robert Bosch Foundation fellow, she serves on the board of the International Center for Research on Women.”
Cynthia B. Lloyd
Consulting Senior Associate for Poverty, Gender and Youth Program, Population Council
Dr. Lloyd’s areas of expertise include transitions to adulthood, children schooling, gender and population issues, and household and family demography in developing countries. She has worked extensively in Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan and other developing countries. Her recent research has concentrated on school quality and the relationship between school quality, school attendance and transitions to adulthood in developing countries. Dr. Lloyd has published seminal research on adolescent girls including New Lessons: The Power of Educating Adolescent Girls, Girls Count: A Global Investment and Action Agenda, and Girls’ Schooling in Developing Countries: Highlights from Population Council Research. She holds MA and PhD degrees in Economics from Columbia University.
Senior Vice President/Director of Global Marketing, Fenton
Susan McPherson is a serial connector, passionate cause marketer, writer and corporate responsibility expert. As Senior vice president/director of global marketing at Fenton, she focuses on creating visibility for the firm and running its corporate social responsibility practice. She’s a regular writer and contributor for the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Triple Pundit, and has 20+ years experience in marketing, public relations, sustainability communications. She speaks at a variety of industry-leading conferences including Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, Sustainable Brands, and Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. Prior to joining Fenton, McPherson was vice president, CSR services at PR Newswire.
Currently, McPherson invests in and advises technology start-ups including Theli.st and The Daily Muse. She serves on the boards Bpeace, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting women in regions of conflict and post-conflict start businesses; and Earth 2 Hub, a London-based innovative media platform for science and technology. She is also a member of Echoing Green’s Vanguard Council and Social Media Week’s New York Advisory Council. Additionally, she serves as an adviser to several non-profits, including Girls Who Code, Plant A Fish, She’s The First, The Adventure Project and The OpEd Project. Recently, McPherson was selected as a Vital Voices global corporate ambassador.
Kim Anstatt Morton
Board of Directors, Room to Read
Kim worked almost a decade on Wall Street as an Equity Research Analyst at UBS and Hambrecht and Quist in NYC. She later joined Montgomery Securities in San Francisco where she covered emerging growth and big cap biotech companies. Kim is passionate about literacy, education and the arts. She enthusiastically serves on the board of directors of Room to Read, a global non-profit dedicated to literacy and gender equality in education. She is a member of San Francisco’s Edgewood Arts Advisory Board, has trained as a docent for Middle School kids with SFMOMA, and is active on their Artist’s Circle Donor Development Committee. Kim has worked with the Department of Health and Human Services in SF with abused and neglected children and has tutored a special literacy program for 6-8th graders struggling with reading at Francisco Middle School in San Francisco. Kim received her BA from Dartmouth College, and Fine Art and Graduate Painting Degrees at San Francisco Art Institute. Kim travels extensively in the developing world and lives in San Francisco with her husband Ian and son Baker.
Holly Peterson is a journalist and New York Times best-selling author. She was formerly an Editor at Newsweek and Talk Magazine as well as a Producer for ABC News. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The Daily Beast. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Board Member of the Children’s Storefront of Harlem.
May A. Rihani
Senior Vice President and Director of Development Global Learning Group, Center for Gender Equity, Academy for Educational Development
At AED, Ms. Rihani is responsible for ensuring gender equity in the academy’s educational projects as well as in other social development programs. She is the co-chair of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). Ms. Rihani is a leading voice on the relationship between girls’ education and health nutrition, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, and economic productivity.
Vice President, Marketing Personal Systems Asia-Pacific & Japan Hewlett-Packard Company
Emily Ketchen is Vice President of Marketing for HP Personal Systems Group in Asia-Pacific & Japan, responsible for integrated marketing and communications to drive demand and revenue.
A respected strategist, Emily has specialized in technology marketing since 1996 and joined HP in 2011. Emily and her team drive the planning, prioritization and delivery of comprehensive marketing strategy and plan to support PS in the region. They partner with the Business Units, the HP Centers of Excellence marketing leaders and regional leadership to drive innovative and effective marketing that delivers business results.
Prior to HP, Emily was Director of Global Agency Relations at LinkedIn, responsible for the relationships with all major advertising and marketing agencies around the world. Before that, Emily spent five years at McCann Worldgroup San Francisco as Senior Vice President and Group Account Director for the HP’s personal systems business in the Americas. A leader and collaborator, she worked closely with several agency networks that handled different aspects of the HP business, ensuring seamless integration worldwide. In addition to HP, Emily led the iShares US business and the North America portion of the Cathay Pacific Airlines business for McCann Worldgroup.
During her 27 plus years marketing career, Emily has held roles at Publicis & Hal Riney, Grey San Francisco, Dell, Poppe Tyson/Bozell Advertising, Falcon Cable TV and Iberia Airlines of Spain.
Emily holds a degree in international relations from Pitzer College, part of the Claremont Colleges. Fluent in Spanish and French, she studied at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, while pursuing her undergraduate degree.
Emily recently held the post of Chairman of the Mopria Alliance, an industry alliance created to advance mobile printing technology and ubiquity. She resides in Singapore with her husband and their children, Isabella, 12 and Lucy Jane, 6.
Dr. Vaibhav Jain is a dental surgeon and public health specialist from New Delhi, India. He currently serves as a Research Associate with the Health Policy Research division at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. (since April 2014). Jain moved to the United States in August 2011 to pursue his graduate studies in Global Health Policy at the George Washington University. Prior to his arrival in the U.S., Jain practiced as a public health dentist in South India. There he worked to improve access to oral health care by underserved communities in the region.
Jain continued his service to vulnerable populations as a graduate student when he spent a semester abroad conducting research in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where, he worked in collaboration with BRAC, the largest non-governmental development organization in the world, and the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B). His research focused on understanding diarrheal diseases in the urban slums of Dhaka using Geographic Information System mapping.
In 2013, Dr. Jain was awarded a prestigious fellowship at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. There, he worked on analyzing health statistics and information dissemination for 194-member countries of the WHO. Dr. Jain also has a keen interest in Maternal and Child Health and worked with the Empowering Latino Youth Program, a federally-funded initiative focused on curbing teen pregnancy among Hispanic youth in the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. The project was run by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Jain also volunteers with the Global India Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting public health and protecting the individual rights of underserved girls and women in India, since 2012. Jain serves as an executive board member for the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA) – a U.S. based non-profit working towards raising awareness about public health issues of South Asian Americans in the United States. He also serves on the executive board of Khush DC, a Washington, D.C. based South Asian LGBTQ support and resource group.
Gene B. Sperling
Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
Mr. Sperling, the founder of the Center for Universal Education at the Council on Foreign Relations, is one of the most widely recognized experts in the field of girls’ education and co-author of What Works in Girls’ Education. He previously served as National Economic Adviser to President Clinton from 1996-2000 and represented the Clinton Administration at the 2000 UN World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal. Mr. Sperling also serves as US Chair of the Global Campaign for Education. He graduated from Yale Law School and holds a BA from the University of Minnesota.
Shelly M. Esque
Director of Corporate Affairs Group, President of Intel Foundation and Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs of Intel Corporation
Shelly M. Esque serves as Director of Corporate Affairs Group, President of Intel Foundation and Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs of Intel Corporation. At Intel Corporation, Ms. Esque oversees a staff that manages corporate social responsibility, education, media relations, government and community affairs programs.
Ms. Esque joined Intel in 1996 as manager of Public Affairs for the Arizona site and assumed responsibility for Public Affairs in the United States since 2002 and in 2004 her role was expanded to include oversight of the worldwide Public Affairs organization as well as Intel’s corporate social responsibility functions. In 2006, she assumed broader responsibilities including the management of Intel’s various education programs around the world. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications from Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs in 1982.
Managing Director, Wolfensohn & Company; Former New York State Superintendent of Banks
From 2003 to 2007, Diana Taylor was Superintendent of Banks for New York State, and was responsible for overseeing regulation for more than 3,500 financial institutions, including New York state chartered banking institutions and over 80% of the foreign banks that do business in the Unites States. Formerly, she was the Governor’s Deputy Secretary for Finance and Housing, Vice president of KeySpan Energy and Chief Financial Officer of the Long Island Power Authority. She began her career with Smith Barney, Lehman Brothers and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. She earned her A.B. at Dartmouth College, and her MBA and MPH at Columbia University.
Rajkumar Jha is currently the National Creative Director at Ogilvy Outreach, a low-income consumer communication arm of Ogilvy Advertising. He is also Director at Pracharprasar, an NGO working in the field of health communication and training and Vice President at Rural marketing Association of India (RMAI). He has nearly 25 years of experience is strategy and creative development on a variety of issues, spanning from HIV/AIDS, reproductive maternal and child health, and sanitation to polio, malaria and infectious diseases. He has also worked on rights of the girl child in India with regard to the consensual age of marriage. This project was in partnership with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Government of India.
He is also a faculty member at premier business and media colleges including SP Jain, Indian Institute of Mass Communications, Institute of Financial Management and Research and MICA.
Counsel, Jones Day Partners
Nancy is an attorney at the international law firm of Jones Day. Her practice focuses on intellectual property with an emphasis on trademark, trade dress, unfair competition, copyright and licensing, and on intellectual property aspects of commercial transactions. She represents a wide variety of clients, including startups and established domestic and multinational companies. Nancy also counsels pro bono clients and is excited to have the opportunity to work with Girl Rising. Prior to becoming an attorney, Nancy worked with international nonprofit organizations in a refugee camp in the Philippines. Her work there sparked a life long interest in international development and education. She currently lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and three children.
Karen Cahn has been in the digital media space for 15 years focused primarily on how people watch and engage with video content across all the screens in their lives. Most recently, Karen spent 3 years as GM, Aol Original Video and was responsible for business strategy, strategic partnerships, and revenue. In this role, Karen focused primarily on sparking the female creative economy and as a result launched award winning and highly regarded video series with female creative producers. Prior to Aol, Karen spent ten years at Google and YouTube where she held various leadership roles in video, search, and display advertising most notably starting the Branded Entertainment division at YouTube where she focused on the marriage of brands and video content. Karen holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin. She is originally from the suburbs of Boston and in the late 1990’s migrated to NYC to be a part of the early days of the digital media revolution. When she’s not working, she can be found in her kitchen in Montclair, NJ with her kids covered in cookie batter and writing her food blog RusticMeasures.blogspot.com, or outside doing something sporty like playing golf, yoga, tennis, or really any sport involving a ball and sometimes a bat.
Anu Jain is an entrepreneur with a deep commitment to philanthropy. She co-founded several successful ventures with her husband, including InfoSpace and Intelius.
She is passionate about giving back and making a difference, with a focus on education, girls and women empowerment, and children. She believes that everyone should have equal rights to all basic needs as well as the best education possible, regardless of their socio-economic situation.
Anu is a trustee of the board and a member of the visionary circle at the X-Prize Foundation, an organization focused on using exponential technology to solve the grand challenges of humanity. She is also on the advisory council of the UN Foundation Girl Up campaign that specifically focuses on empowering adolescent girls around the world.
Anu is a director and the chair elect of the board for Bellevue LifeSpring, an organization dedicated to serving underprivileged children and their families in the local Bellevue community. She also serves on the advisory board of Pratham, an early learning education non-profit. Previously, Anu served on the board of the United Way of King County as well as a six year term as a board member at University Preparatory Academy.
Anu holds a BA in business administration and economics from SUNY, Stony Brook, NY, and an MBA from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Anu and Naveen Jain have three children who are all actively involved in giving back to the community.
Vice President, San Gabriel Valley Diagnostic Center
With over 15 years of experience in healthcare management, Asha Kumar specializes in marketing and practice management. Since 2007, she has been Vice President of San Gabriel Valley Diagnostic Center, a multi-modality outpatient radiology facility in the Greater Los Angeles Area, where she oversees operations. Her responsibilities include customer service, finance, HR, IT, marketing, revenue cycle management, sales and strategy. Asha is also President of Akshaya Management Services, a physician and medical practice consulting firm.
Asha holds a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Sociology and Communication Studies, and an MBA/MPH in Health Policy and Management from The Johns Hopkins University.
Asha lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 3 year old son. Philanthropy and community service are priorities for her and her family – she and her husband serve on the Leadership Council of the American India Foundation (AIF), and are actively involved in the Akshaya Patra Foundation as well.
Senior Manager, National Advisory Financial Services
Sheetal Acharya is a Senior Manager for National Advisory Financial Services Sector Alliances. As part of the Alliances team, Sheetal collaborates closely with Advisory senior leadership to manage a portfolio of strategic vendor relationships and drive cross Line-of-Service revenue. She drives the day-to-day operations of the Alliance Program Management Office (PMO) and has oversight of teams and activities in the areas of project management, change management, financial management, and communications.
Prior to this role, Sheetal served four years in Financial Services Advisory. In addition, she has over 15 years of professional experience at multinational financial institutions. Sheetal’s areas of expertise are in developing and executing strategic initiatives and operational efficiencies with a focus on organizational change management, organizational behavior, and developing relationships with and influencing key stakeholders.
She served as the first National President of the Network of Indian Professionals of North America and actively supports causes for women and children. She received her MBA from FW Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College and her BA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.
Aliyya Shelley Mattos
Executive Director, Paperseed Foundation
Aliyya Shelley Mattos is the Executive Director of the PaperSeed Foundation and leads corporate social responsibility for CellMark, a global commodity trading, supply chain and financial services company. Aliyya is a social entrepreneur who focuses much of her energy on harnessing business for social and environmental benefit, and has fifteen years experience at the intersection of education, girls’ empowerment, international development and gender-based violence prevention. She specializes in multisector collaboration to break down gender barriers, increase educational achievement and to support sustainable grassroots development work, and her experience includes working to mitigate sexual harassment and violence at the University of California, Berkeley, leveling the playing field for low-income students with Aspire Public Schools, empowering and educating indigenous girls with the Population Council and serving as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. She holds a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a graduate certificate from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She is currently Board President of the Angel Island Conservancy and is enjoying seeing the world with new curiosity through the eyes of her young daughter.
Nirva Patel grew up in Ashland, Massachusetts and earned an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. While working full-time at Wyeth Pharmaceutical, Nirva pursued her Juris Doctorate cum laude from New England School of Law. At Wyeth, Nirva worked as a Legal Advisor and Communications Manager for Discovery Research which spanned seven therapeutic areas. After passing the MA Bar exam and United States Patent Bar, Nirva practiced as a corporate attorney for Nixon Peabody Associates. Her main focus was biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
Nirva enjoyed dedicating time in Nixon Peabody’s pro bono program where she had the opportunity to counsel South Asian victims of sexual abuse. After moving to Mumbai with her husband, Nirva headed the non-profit sector at Nishith Desai & Associates. She also volunteered her time at Asha Sadan, an all girls orphanage in South Mumbai. After having four children in four years, Nirva and her husband have recently relocated back to the US and she is busy with her children. Nirva recently joined SAHELI Boston as a legal volunteer. SAHELI is a domestic violence support group for South Asians. Nirva is also actively involved at Meadowbrook School where she sits on the Annual Fund and Marketing Committees.
Senior Research Associate, The George Washington University
Nitasha Nagaraj, MPH, DRPH© currently works at The George Washington University (GW) Milken Institute School of Public Health. Nitasha joined GWU in June 2011 as a Senior Research Associate. Nitasha is also a doctoral student at GW in the Health Behavior track.
Her work at GWU is specific to the tracking, monitoring and evaluating the NIH funded Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National (CTSI-CN) in Washington, DC. She also managing the evaluation of the “Accomplishments of the Domestic Violence Hotline, On-Line Connection, and Text” (ADVHOCAT), a program funded through the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Prior to joining GW, Nitasha worked on public health preparedness projects at the local, state and federal levels. At the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute (HSsaI), she provided support in policy development, decision-making and evaluation of new ideas related to the food and agriculture sector for the Office of Health Affairs, an agency within DHS. Nitasha also spent approximately four years at the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO). As a Program Associate at NACCHO, Nitasha worked on various projects leveraging the support and development of preparedness at the local level.
Nitasha received a B.A. in Health Care Administration and Information Systems from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1999. She also received a Masters in Public Health from The George Washington University (GWU). It was at GWU that she realized her passion for working with marginalized communities in the U.S. Nitasha has worked with GW to conduct a national needs assessment of the health of south Asians in the U.S. She has supported projects, which have allowed her to create substantial relationships with community leaders and community-based organizations working with South Asians in the U.S. Most recently, she supported projects that worked to better understand, child sexual abuse, family violence and Type 2 Diabetes amongst South Asians living in the U.S.
Nitasha currently is on the Board of the Global India Fund, and a committee member of Asian Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islander Subcommittee of the American Diabetes Association.
Dr Kumar has practiced clinical medicine in Northern Virginia in the fields of Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Venous disease. She has served in both clinical and leadership capacities most recently as the regional medical director for a national single specialty practice.
She received her Honors BSc from the University of Michigan and MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She served her residency at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Her health care experiences are diverse and include receiving a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown Public Policy Institute with a certificate in Health Services Research during her fellowship with the Clinical Economics Research Unit at Georgetown University. She has worked with the development of health care policy at the FDA and Agency for Health Research and Quality and has field experience with health care delivery to underserved populations in the US and abroad. She has had an ongoing involvement with community groups working to improve the needs of the underserved.
Founder, Sage & Stone
A media executive turned yoga teacher, Anita Mawji started making jewelry as a hobby in 2011. While exercising her love for yoga she began exploring her creative side infusing yogic teaching, healing and stones. The initial launch of her company included yoga apparel and jewelry.
However, as her jewelry line started to gain attention among Hollywood’s trendsetters, Mawji decided to expand and solely focus on her handcrafted jewelry and in 2014, she launched Sage & Stone, a delicately handcrafted jewelry line named after her daughter Sage.
Based in Los Angeles, Sage & Stone captures the essence of India with the ease of California. The jewelry featuring gemstones and diamonds, is designed to adorn and enhance a woman’s natural beauty. Mawji’s original designs are influenced by her Indian roots and inspired by the allure of women and the spiritual qualities they possess. Each piece is tailored to instill love, confidence, freedom and elegance in her clientele.
Sage & Stone’s clients include celebrities Drew Barrymore, Iggy Azalea and Shakira who love the simplicity and ethereal quality of the jewelry. The line is available online at http://www.sageandstonela.com and at upscale retailers in Los Angeles and Aspen. A percentage of Sage & Stone’s proceeds are donated to environmental or humanitarian foundations that make a profound difference to the world.
Mawji spent her early professional years in NYC as a banker at European banks including ABN Amro and later as an Advertising Executive at Yahoo! Her formative years were spent in India. She has been teaching yoga since 2003, and still continues to teach privately. Mawji designs and manufactures the majority of her line in her LA studio. She lives in California with her family and dogs.
Raj Sharma is the CEO and Co-Founder of Censeo Consulting Group, and a recognized thought leader in applying proven management practices and driving operational excellence within large public and social sector organizations. Over the past 15 years, he has worked with stakeholders within these sectors to drive consensus, build communities, and promote management approaches leading to substantial public and social impact.
Sharma has channeled his passion for creating positive change through collaborative systems as CEO of Censeo, a management consulting firm that has been awarded for its progressive workplace culture, and was featured in Harvard Business Review. He has also been received Washington Business Journal’s Minority Business Award, and has been recognized as one of Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Pros to Know for three years in a row.
In addition to leading Censeo Consulting Group, Sharma is involved in multiple initiatives that are all focused on the mission of improving public and social outcomes through management. Sharma is the Chairman of the Public Spend Forum and also serves on several advisory and leadership boards, including as a Senior Advisor at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Asian Law, and Board of Higher Achievement. Sharma has also served as member of the Leadership Circle for the Women in Public Service Project, co-founded by Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and managed within the Wilson Center for Scholars, as well as serving as a visiting fellow at the Center for American Progress on the “Doing What Works” team.
Sharma holds a B.S. in International Business and Finance from University of Maryland, and an M.B.A from Carnegie Mellon University.
Dalbir Singh is currently the National Secretary of the Indian National Congress, India’s largest political party. Prior to this, he had a brief distinguished career in the army during which he fought the war, taught at the Army Combat School and had a stint with the military intelligence. He has handled challenging political assignment of the insurgency prone and tribal dominated areas of the North East, besides strategic policy and planning, logistics, organizational work and coordination of national political programmes of the party.
An honours graduate in Law and an MBA, he has been the Chairman of Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi, Member Governing Board, Universal Business School and President of Foundation for Policy and Governance. He was an international observer during national elections in Uzbekistan-2004. He has authored several papers on conflict management, democracy, federalism, governance, women empowerment amongst other key issues in India and abroad.
He is Chairman of the organizing committee of One Globe: Uniting Knowledge Communities, a standing conference for global dialogue on building information and knowledge based societies with a focus on education, technology, innovation, skill development and emphasis on education of the Girl Child. He is also the President of Global Coalition Against TB, an International Network to combat Tuberculosis.
Client Partner, Global Development Nonprofit & Diversity Practices Leader
Ms. Meher-Homji has extensive experience in the recruitment of senior executives for organizations across the public and private sectors on a global platform. Her clients have included organizations with causes related to international development, global health, environmental, cultural, government and academic interests. She has conducted numerous assignments for CEO’s, Presidents, Board Directors and functional specialties such as development executives, human resources executives, and financial officers across multiple industries. Prior to joining Korn Ferry, Ms. Meher-Homji spent several years with another global executive search firm, where she worked within the Nonprofit and corporate officers sectors. In 2006, she was appointed to India where she helped launch the firmís presence in the Indian market and establish the flagship office in New Delhi.
Ms. Meher-Homjiís earlier career includes serving as a Global Relationship Manager for Fortune 500 companies at the Corporate Executive Board where she managed clients within the U.S. and Australia.
Previously, she was a Business Development Manager for global finance projects at a consulting corporation where she oversaw proposals and international finance projects funded primarily by The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Earlier, Ms. Meher-Homji served as a business development consultant for Ruesch International, a global financial services company.
Ms. Meher-Homji is a member of the Society for International Development, the U.S.-India Business Council and the International Public Management Association for Human Resources. She serves on the boards of the YWCA USA and Encore Stage Theatre. Ms. Meher-Homji holds a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs and Economics from Old Dominion University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and English Literature from Aquinas College.
Partner, Lily Blue LLC and Lakhani Properties, LLC
Sonali Mody is an entrepreneur, asset manager and investor focusing on the real estate and hospitality industries. She is a partner in two closely-held companies, LilyBlue LLC and Lakhani Properties LLC, which own and redevelop hotel properties in New Jersey and Maryland, as well a principal owner of multi-family properties in the New York City metropolitan area. Sonali has particular expertise in matters concerning management and financial controls. In prior roles she has worked as a consultant to a non-profit branding and communications firm, and as a brand manager to a leading financial software company.
Sonali has been actively involved in various local charities in New York City, including Sanctuary for Families, which is the leading service provider and advocate for victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related-gender violence.
Sonali received an M.B.A. from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and a B.S. from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Sonali lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, NY.
Rajan ‘Raj’ Palaniswamy
Chairman & CEO, Virima
Palaniswamy “Raj” Rajan co-founded Virima Technologies and serves as the company’s Chairman & CEO. With more than 15 years experience in the technology industry, Rajan has a deep understanding of current technologies and has the ability to articulate the application of these technologies in various business contexts and models. A highly versatile and proven entrepreneur, Rajan also founded Vigilar, Inc, a leading network security technology firm; eLaunchpad, LLC, an early stage venture capital firm/incubator focusing on Internet infrastructure and network security technologies; and Emerald Systems, a boutique technology consulting firm. During his tenure at Vigilar, he grew annual revenues to $32M from 2000 to 2005, during the most difficult technology industry climate. Another previous success, financial aggregator VerticalOne was sold to S1 in 1999 in a deal valued at $166 million.
Rajan previously served on the Board of Directors for Vigilar, currently serves on the Board of Directors of Virima and serves on the advisory boards of several early stage technology firms around the country. A leader in the business community, he is involved in several professional and community organizations. Rajan was instrumental in establishing the Atlanta CEO High Tech Council, where he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, and he co-founded and serves on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE). Rajan was honored as Georgia Trend’s “40 Under 40″ Rising Stars in 2000. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the Florida Institute of Technology.
CEO & Senior Partner, Avasant
Kevin Parikh is the CEO and Senior Partner of Avasant. Mr. Parikh specializes in IT and business process (BP) outsourcing contract and service-level negotiations, strategic management, business risk evaluation and software licensing. His practice engages in both nearshore and offshore sourcing solutions. Mr. Parikh is based in Los Angeles, California. Prior to joining Avasant, Mr. Parikh led the Global Sourcing practice for Gartner Consulting.
Madhubala Nath is currently Country Director at Engender Health, a leading global women’s health organization working on issues of family planning and sexual and reproductive health. She has over 20 years of experience on matters related to women empowerment, gender and policy advocacy. Preceding Engender Health, she was the Regional Programme Advisor at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) where she was responsible for implementing UNIFEM’s global programme on gender and HIV-AIDS in Asia and the Pacific region. The programme aimed at mainstreaming gender, HIV and human rights concerns in UNIFEM’s on going programme in the region and strengthen local and policy frameworks that promote gender equality, women’s empowerment and stigma reduction for communities affected by HIV-AIDS.
Prior to this, she worked as a Gender and HIV Advisor to UNAIDS/UNIFEM where she led advocacy initiatives with UN agencies, national government, and civil society to enable the incorporation of gender concerns in HIV and development issues in their programs. She piloted initiatives to address challenges of HIV/AIDS in six countries over 3 geographical regions – Asia, Africa, and Latin American. She has also been affiliated with agencies including UNDP, ILO, and UNFPA.
She has trained several senior level policy makers, planners as well as representatives of NGOs, donor agencies and training institutions on gender issues in India and around the world. She has also authored multiple papers and publications on the job environment for women, working of NGOs in India, HIV/AIDs as a gender issue amongst several other such topics.
Dr. Aparna Rao
Pediatric Neuropsychologist; Founding Director, SINAPS-Global; President, eCareVault LLC.
Dr. Rao combines neuropsychological expertise and training from premier Western educational institutions, such as Harvard and MIT, with her Eastern philosophical approach of holistic child development. She holds a doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Ph.D.) with post-doctoral training in Pediatric Neuropsychology (Harvard Medical School).
Previously, Dr. Rao has received a graduate degree in Business (Harvard Business School), with extensive corporate experience, including Corporate Finance (Citibank, Dubai; Bank of America, Boston) and Management Consulting (The Boston Consulting Group, Boston & Buenos Aires). All of these experiences have enabled her to appreciate a systems-based approach and to think strategically at the intersection of healthcare and education services. Dr. Rao has also completed graduate work in the Creative Arts Therapies driven by her love for the arts, which enhances her appreciation for alternative, holistic modalities that can, in several cases, effectively harness the power of the arts to support a child in safe and lasting ways.
Today, as part of her clinical practice as a Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Dr. Rao examines how we can leverage what we now know about the developing brain to uncover a particular child’s unique learning profile so that the child can be supported strategically so as to reach his/her maximum learning potential. Additionally, Dr. Rao’s research and advocacy at the intersection between Learning, Memory and Childhood Trauma have received international accolades, including a chapter on Child Sexual Abuse in the Encyclopedia of Psychological Trauma.
Based on her exposure to several cultures around the world, a multi-faceted education and varied professional experiences, Dr. Rao imbibes a multi-disciplinary approach that draws from culturally-sensitive methodologies, macro-economic systems, mind-body connectivity, positive psychology and neuroscience. Such a multi-disciplinary focus has enabled her to recently launch an electronic dashboard called eCareVault that enables families to securely manage and coordinate education & care in ways that enhance holistic health and education outcomes of their children.
Dr. Rao resides in Boston with her husband and two children. She travels globally and consults to governments, corporations, schools and parent forums with the goal of growing the nascent field of pediatric neuropsychology and building capacity via training of professionals at the inter-disciplinary confluence of education, neuroscience, psychology and alternative therapies.
Publicist, 20th Century Fox
Aparna Rao is a seasoned entertainment marketer with over 14 years of experience in both music and film, and currently serves as a Senior (studio) Publicist at 20th Century Fox.
In her current role, she executes national publicity campaigns for domestic theatrical film releases securing press coverage across all media platforms. She also manages all of the media at large-scale red carpet premieres and special events in New York City. Among other responsibilities, her role involves advocating for, and fostering long-term impactful relationships with, talent, filmmakers and journalists to ensure a strong working relationship with the studio. Notable films she has helped launch include: Gone Girl, SPY, the X-Men franchises, Ice-Age franchise. Notable filmmakers / talent that she has worked with include: James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Mark Wahlberg, Andy Serkis, Ben Stiller, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Samuel L. Jackson, and Colin Firth.
Prior to joining 20th Century Fox, Aparna worked in the music industry at Rogers & Cowan, J Records (RCA Music Group) and Warner Bros. Records, on various genres from Pop and Rock to developing and established Urban musicians such as Alicia Keys.
Aparna grew up in the Boston area and graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S., in Psychology. She likes to think her education has been well suited for the “diverse personalities” of the entertainment business. She is also an avid news/tech/politics junkie and lover of all things dogs, animals, noodles, and Indian food. Aparna resides in New York City with her music aficionado husband, where they are devoted parents to their toddler son, big fur-baby, and human baby-to-be.
Co-Founder, Phenomenon & CEO/Founder Shah & Partners
Rajan Shah is one of the top brand strategy and cultural lifestyle marketers and innovators in the marketing and entertainment industry. He is a CEO/founder of Shah&Partners and co-founder of Phenomenon, one of the industry’s top ideation, innovation and marketing firms, and a former brand executive at The Coca-Cola Company. Raj is leading brand strategy, advertising, strategic partnerships, and branded entertainment for and with marquee consumer brands such as Coke, vitaminwater, HP, and Converse, as well as entertainment companies such as Warner Bros., The CW, NBCUniversal, and FOX. Raj graduated from Kellogg with an MBA in Marketing and International Business and lives in New York City.
Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Haur & Feld LLP
Anurag Varma develops and executes strategies to facilitate direct communication between sovereign clients, multinational corporations and trade associations between the U.S. Congress, the administration, non-governmental organizations, think-tanks and other relevant public and private sector bodies on wide variety of trade and policy matters, including those related to health care and pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Varma served as lead U.S. policy counsel for the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) on the passage of legislation for the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement and also for USIBC’s efforts to limit the adverse impact of U.S. immigration legislation on U.S.-India relations. Mr. Varma has advised sovereign entities, including India, Sri Lanka, the Republic of Korea and a national political party in Bangladesh on U.S. policy. Mr. Varma provides strategic trade advice, engages U.S. and Indian government officials, and coordinates legal strategy for clients facing market entry and other policy matters in India. Also, since 2000, Mr. Varma served as counsel to numerous national organizations of Americans of Indian descent.
In addition to his public law and policy work, Mr. Varma has served on the lead plaintiffs’ counsel teams for national civil rights class action cases on behalf of African American farmers and Native American farmers resulting in settlements of over $2 billion and $760 million, respectively.
Associate Professor, The George Washington University Producer & Advisory Board Chair, Girl Rising India
Amita N. Vyas, PhD, MHS, is a tenured Associate Professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Dr. Vyas earned her Masters in Demography at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and then continued her studies at Johns Hopkins earning her doctorate in Population and Family Health Sciences. She is the Director of the Maternal & Child Health Masters in Public Health program. Dr. Vyas teaches Reproductive Health: US and Global Perspectives; Maternal and Child Health; Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health; and Social Entrepreneurship.
Currently, Dr. Vyas is conducting research on teen pregnancy prevention; social media use and health; evaluation of MCH interventions/ programs in India, Egypt, and Morocco; nutrition and physical activity; and health care access and behaviors among South Asians living in the U.S. Dr. Vyas has given lectures and speeches around the country including the Aspen Institute and Capitol Hill. Dr. Vyas is the recipient of several awards including the George Washington University Bender Teaching Award; the National Delta-Omega Honor Society Award for Innovative Curriculum; and was selected for the Impact Center’s Women’s Leadership Fellowship.
In 2007, Dr. Vyas founded the Global India Fund, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring global philanthropy by providing secure and transparent giving options to individual and corporate donors. Dr. Vyas resides in Mclean Virginia with her husband and three young children (Saira 10, Shaan 8, and Neera 6).
Senior Social Media Manager, Social@Ogilvy, Ogilvy Public Relations
During her 6-year career at Ogilvy, Shefali has worked on a number of fully integrated campaigns that focus on consumer packaged goods, automotive, B2B communications, content creation, digital storytelling, community management and active social media listening programs.
Prior to working at Ogilvy Dubai, Shefali worked at OgilvyPR in Toronto and Washington, DC where she lead award winning social media strategy for a variety of clients including DuPont, IBM, BP, Team USA Olympics, National Crop Insurance Services, Gap and Ben and Jerry’s. Shefali’s automotive experience includes Ford Motor Company and Nissan, for which she led an innovative influencer program in the UAE.
Shefali completed her Masters of Strategic Communications at American University, Washington, D.C. and her Bachelors of Communications at York University.