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.

Dr. Susan M. Blaustein is Founder/Director of WomenStrong International, a global non-profit that finds, funds, strengthens, and shares women-driven solutions that will transform lives in urban communities. Through our collective learning and sharing, WomenStrong is building a global network of organizations better equipped to advance the rights and wellbeing of women and girls worldwide.

Prior to establishing WomenStrong, Dr. Blaustein co-founded and directed The Millennium Cities Initiative, a 12-year project of The Earth Institute at Columbia University committed to sustainable urban development across sub-Saharan Africa. There, over the course of a decade, Dr. Blaustein repeatedly witnessed the effectiveness of local women and girls in the cities’ poorest communities, as they took the lead in effecting transformative change.

Before her work at The Earth Institute, Dr. Blaustein served as senior consultant and analyst with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank focused on conflict prevention, and with the Coalition for International Justice, a Washington-based NGO supporting the efforts of international criminal tribunals to prosecute gross human rights abusers in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, East Timor, and Sierra Leone.

Dr. Blaustein reported on conflict, politics, economics, and social injustice from the Balkans, Southeast Asia, and Washington, DC, for such publications as The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The New Republic and the Los Angeles Times; she served previously as Assistant Professor at Columbia University, where she now teaches in The Earth Institute’s Sustainability Management Program and is researching her book, Toward a Just and Sustainable City, on essential ecosystems enabling community-driven urban development.

Dr. Blaustein’s doctorate is from Yale University, she was a Harvard Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, a Guggenheim Fellow, and the recipient of multiple awards, including from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, Asia Initiatives, which honored her in 2018 with the Ban Ki-moon Award for Women’s Empowerment, and Women’s e-News, which recently chose Dr. Blaustein as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.”

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