Social Change and Economic Opportunity: Empowering Women Leaders from the Middle East & North Africa and Eastern Europe

Zoë Dean-Smith, Senior Director, Global Programs

Next week in London marks the 12th in our series of Global Ambassadors Program mentoring initiatives, a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership that connects women leaders — at a pivotal point in their professional, business and leadership paths — with established women executives for mentorship.

We have a very special program planned February 22-26. Women entrepreneurs and NGO leaders will convene in London, England from countries in the Middle East & North Africa and Eastern Europe. Some of these countries have faced a number of challenges, including humanitarian crises, ongoing conflict or the rebuilding of economies post-conflict. Their business and organizational challenges are compounded by obstacles such as insecurity, restricted mobility and fractured communities. I look forward to sharing insights learned from my own lifelong commitment to strengthening women’s entrepreneurship and economic opportunity, starting in my home country of Swaziland, throughout Africa and across the world.

In London, 11 mentees will pair one-on-one with 11 senior women leaders in business, banking and finance, and media for mentorship and trainings tailored to meet their specific challenges and build skills in organizational and financial management, strategic planning, marketing and communications. Watch our video to see the program in action.

Public forum

On February 25, Bank of America and Vital Voices will host a public forum, “Women, Progress and the Global Economy,” featuring experts and thought leaders for discussion of the role of women in peace and security. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour will kick off the forum with a keynote address and interview with Bank of America Vice Chair Anne Finucane. The idea for the public forum comes on the heels of UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon’s declaration at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month that empowering women economically is a “global imperative.” Panels will also address women and economic growth and the power of mentoring and women’s leadership. Watch the livestream and join the conversation at #WomenLead.

Join the conversation

We’ll be blogging from London and posting photo galleries each day — follow along and be sure to tweet questions to @VitalVoices and @BofA_News using the hashtag #GlobalAmbassadors. You’ll hear from mentors and mentees directly about what they hope to learn as part of the Global Ambassadors Program. Stay with us!



Ahu Serter
President, Farplas Group

Lamice Joujou

              CEO, My Doll & Me

Alyazia Ali Al Kuwaiti
Director, Midstream & Upstream Investment, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC)

Irma Daushvili
General Director & Founder, DIO Ltd.

Amel Bouchamaoui Hammami

Tinatin Rukhadze
Co-founder & General Director, Analysis & Consulting Team (ACT)

Iman Wadi
General Manager, International Elevators Group “Schindler”

Tatyana Mikayilova
Managing Partner, RED Communications

Jennifer Boussuge
Head of Global Transaction Services, EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Zeynep Harezi
Business Development Director, Karpowership

Jessica A. Oppenheim
Managing Director, Bank of America

Biljana Dakić Đorđević
Executive Director, Trag Foundation

Kim Kingsley
Chief Operating Officer, POLITICO

Khadija Idrissi Janati
Founder & CEO, KMK Groupe

Laura Cox Kaplan
Principal-in-Charge of U.S. Public Policy, PwC

Meryam El Ouafi
Founder & General Manager, Chemsayour Ltd. 

Reiko Hayashi
Member of the Board, Managing Director, Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., Ltd. 

Aline Kamakian
CEO & Co-founder, FIG Holding 

Michelle “Shelley” Wright Brindle
Executive Vice President, Domestic Network Distribution, HBO

Shani Aloni
Executive Director, Haifa Rape Crisis Center (HRCC)

Galina Melnikova
Owner, HR Partners, Ltd.
Owner, MakeItWork.Ru

Velma Šarić
Founder & Executive Director, Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC)