About Us

Who We Are

WomenStrong International supports women-driven solutions to urban poverty. Our programs are implemented in collaboration with a consortium of NGO partners in the countries where we work. The path out of poverty and toward a more just and prosperous world can be achieved by making women strong.


  • Susan Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director of WomenStrong International

    Dr. Susan M. Blaustein

    Founder and Executive Director

    As Co-Founder of Columbia University’s Millennium Cities Initiative, Susan leverages a decade’s work in severely challenged urban settings, where women and girls unfailingly emerge as leaders in transforming their communities.

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  • Sydney Rubin is Deputy Director of WomenStrong International (WSI), a consortium of non-profit organizations in five nations supporting women-driven solutions to urban poverty.

    Sydney Rubin

    Senior Advisor

    As an award-winning communicator and entrepreneur, Sydney brings years of experience in organizational development and communications to supporting women-driven solutions to ending urban poverty.

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  • Lorian Voila, Operation Manager at WomenStrong International

    Lorian Viola

    Operations Manager

    Lorian provides direct support to the Consortium members to ensure effective program planning and implementation with demonstrated knowledge in community development, fiscal management and field-level project implementation.

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  • Julia Nethero

    Julia Fan

    Senior Research & Program Associate

    Julia is documenting and sharing broadly some of the most valuable work undertaken by our Consortium members to enable girls and women in impoverished urban settings to thrive.

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  • Natalie Dudas-Thomas

    Natalie Dudas-Thomas

    Digital Communications Producer

    Natalie works to create engaging content about the vital work being carried out by our Consortium members to empower girls and women living in urban poverty.

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  • Naomi Walston Headshot

    Naomi Walston

    Director of Development

    Naomi uses her extensive experience in the field as a program manager, technical advisor, and researcher to serve as WomenStrong's Director of Development.

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Board of Directors

  • George Biddle

    George C. Biddle

    Chair of World Connect, supporting local leaders in the developing world; Former Executive Vice President, the International Rescue Committee

  • Bio - Dr. Yasmine Ergas

    Dr. Yasmine Ergas

    Director, Specialization on Gender & Public Policy, School of International & Public Affairs; Senior Advisor, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

  • Bio Dr. Beth Horowitz

    Dr. Beth Horowitz, MD

    Washington DC physician, Associate Professor, George Washington Medical Center; Fellow of the American College of Physicians

  • Cathy Lee, WomenStrong International Board

    Cathy Lee

    Attorney & Founder/Manager of Lee International Business Development; Expert on effective climate change mitigation strategies and women’s issues

  • Bio Dr. Geeta Mehta

    Dr. Geeta Mehta

    Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, Columbia University; Founder/President of two nonprofits to help poor communities realize their social capital

  • Mamphela Ramphele, WomenStrong International Board Member

    Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, MD

    Physician; Co-Founder of South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement; lifelong community activist; Former World Bank Director; renowned author & scholar

  • Pedro Sanchez, WomenStrong International Board Member

    Dr. Pedro Sanchez

    Research Professor in Tropical Soils at the University of Florida

  • Peggy Shepard

    Peggy Shepard

    Community activist, environmental health researcher and advocate, Co-Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice (WE ACT)

WomenStrong Partners

WomenStrong International’s work cannot be accomplished without the support of committed, experienced, passionate partners. Some of our partners work directly with our Consortium members while others contribute resources that address the 6 Essential Needs.

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6 Essential Needs

From a good education and a safe place to live to quality healthcare and economic opportunity, women and girls must meet 6 Essential Needs to succeed. Our work, determined by local women and girls, provides resources to help meet these needs.

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