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Melinda French Gates – Philanthropist, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda French Gates serves as co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing innovations in health, development, and learning to the global community. As co-chair, Melinda Gates helps to shape and approve foundation strategies and help set the overall direction of the organization. Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics, and a master’s in business administration from Duke University‘s School of Business before launching her career at Microsoft Corp., where she met husband Bill Gates. Together, they started the foundation to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.
Somaly Mam – Human Rights Activist and Author
Somaly Mam was sold into slavery as a child in Cambodia and endured tremendous hardship and horrors until she bravely escaped her captors. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors. Mam established a non-governmental organization (NGO) in 1996 called Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire (AFESIP), that ensures victims not only escape their plight but have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. In 2007, the Somaly Mam Foundation was launched as a means to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide survivors with a platform to have their voices heard. Mam is universally recognized for her courage, dignity, and extraordinary personal strength and has been honored for her work in making a just world where human beings are no longer enslaved and exploited.
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan
Queen Rania works for greater global action on access to quality education, and as an advocate for health, children and women’s rights. For over ten years, Queen Rania’s Jordan River Foundation (JRF) has provided disadvantaged families with skills and knowledge to work themselves out of poverty. In her capacity as Eminent Advocate for UNICEF and Honorary Chairperson for UNGEI, she campaigns on behalf of children in need, and is also a Board Member of the World Economic Forum. Queen Rania is committed to reconciling people of different faiths and cultures by encouraging cross-cultural dialogue, particularly amongst young people. Queen Rania is a champion of girls' education, and a supporter of Plan International's "Because I Am A Girl" campaign.
Liya Kebede – Maternal Health Advocate, Model and Designer
Liya Kebede first gained international attention as a top model after she was discovered at school in Ethiopia. Since then, she has gone on to beome a World Health Organisation Goodwill Ambassador and founder of The Liya Kebede Foundation, whose mission is to reduce maternal and child mortality and ensure that every woman, no matter where she lives, has access to life-saving care. Kebede has even acted in film, portraying fellow model and human rights activist Waris Dirie. In 2007, she launched a clothing line called Lemlem to way to preserve the art of weaving and inspire economic independence in her native country.
Roshaneh Zafar – Founder and President, the Kashf Foundation
Roshaneh Zafar is founder and president of Kashf, the first specialized microfinance organization in Pakistan. The foundation aims to alleviate poverty by empowering poor women and their families to become economically self-reliant. Zafar has been awarded one of Pakistan’s highest civilian awards for her work in the field of development, and has been noted for her work in Social Entrepreneurship. She is a graduate of Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, and holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics from Yale University.
Priya Haji – CEO & Social Entrepreneur
Priya Haji is the CEO and co-founder of SaveUp and has been a “serial social entrepreneur” since age 16, and is committed to building innovative companies that benefit people. Her prior venture, World of Good, was acquired by online giant eBay in 2010. Haji’s first start-up was a free clinic in Texas with her father; she later co-founded and led a national model for substance abuse treatment and HIV/AIDS intervention. Haji holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and has an MBA from Berkeley. She has been recognized by several organizations for her work, including a Social Innovation Award from the Social Venture Network for her vision to change the way the world does business.