Press Releases

JDC Champions Women Leaders at First Global Development Workshop


Michael Geller / JDC Telephone: (212) 885-0838

Jamie Epstein / JDC Telephone: (212) 885-0849

For Immediate Release

Six leading female civil society leaders from Haiti, the U.S., Sri Lanka, India, and Ethiopia will be in Israel for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) First International Women’s Leadership Workshop on Sunday, December 4. The 5-day workshop will provide educational, networking, and professional development opportunities in disaster relief and global development. Additionally, individual meetings and site visits have been tailored for each leader according to their specific interests—children’s welfare, healthcare, disabilities, education, and employment.

“One of the more outstanding features of social change we’ve witnessed in places affected by natural disaster, war, or poverty, is the incredible leadership provided by women. We are thrilled to have these extraordinary women join us in Israel for this workshop, which not only sheds light on JDC’s expertise in the field, but is another expression of our long-term commitment to investing in women as transformative forces in their communities,”; said JDC CEO Steven Schwager.

The participants, who have served as partners to JDC in countries where it is conducting humanitarian efforts, include:

  • Dr. Loune Viaud, co-Executive Director for Zanmi Lasante, Partners in Health’s sister organization in Haiti;
  • Maryse Penette Kedar, President of the ProDev (Progress and Development) Foundation in Haiti;
  • Mirai Chatterjee, Director of the Social Security at Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India, a union of 1.3 million women workers in the informal economy;
  • Sharadha de Saram, a social entrepreneur, writer and communications specialist in Sri Lanka;
  • Tegest Heruy Belayneh, Senior Director of the Clinic, Pharmacy, Cafeteria and Girls’ Education program at Unity University in Ethiopia;
  • Danielle Butin, Founder and Executive Director of the Afya Foundation, a medical supply provider organization in New York.

The workshop will consist of sessions on empowering women as change leaders, building partnerships, and best practices exchange. Participants will spend one day visiting JDC’s Israel programs, where JDC, together with the Government of Israel, ensures the most vulnerable populations have opportunities to fully participate and succeed in Israeli society.

There will also be participant-based workshops where each woman is presenting an aspect of her work to the group for comment and discussion. Topics include: Does Charitable Giving for Karma Lead to Social Change? How Does One Do Asset-Based Community Development in Low-Resource Haiti? How Can Ethiopian Women Move from Illiteracy to University? In addition, informal networking sessions and touring throughout Israel will be provided.

JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. JDC has provided immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including Japan, Haiti, South Asia, Turkey, and Kosovo. The organization continues to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions. JDC coordinates its relief activities with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Interaction, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israeli relief agencies, and the United Nations.

About JDC

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

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