Welcoming Laura Cansicio, Our New CDO!

I am thrilled to announce that Ms. Laura Cansicio has joined WomenStrong as our new Chief Development Officer.

In line with WomenStrong’s 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, which outlines our clear commitment to ensuring future organizational growth and development, Laura will drive our fundraising and donor relations strategies to broaden our visibility and further our financial sustainability.’


“WomenStrong has been humbly proving their Theory of Change for years in an authentic and humble way. I am honored to step into this new role at a time when the organization not only has proof of concept and a talented team to execute on their strategies, but at a time in my career when I have met some of the best donors, partners, and authentic leaders who can help us propel forward.”

– Laura Cansicio, Chief Development Officer

Laura’s previous experience includes serving at the United States Embassy in Bangkok while with the U.S. Department of State, and in progressive leadership roles at large global non-profits, such as CORE Response, CARE USA, Habitat for Humanity, and RTI International.

I founded WomenStrong International in 2014 after leading The Millennium Cities Initiative, a sub-Saharan urban development project at Columbia University, which taught me that the women-led organizations on the ground in the low-income cities where we worked always knew what their communities needed, in order to thrive; they were rarely consulted, however, and they simply lacked the technical and financial resources to put their solutions into practice on their own.

So at WomenStrong, we decided to flip the script: we start by listening to the leaders and staff of local women-led organizations, who tell us what their communities need and what they themselves need, in order to best serve those communities. We began with five founding grantee partners, in Kenya, Ghana, India, Haiti, and the U.S.

Fast forward to today, when WomenStrong’s current community of partners includes 19 partners across 17 countries, from Asia, to Africa, to the Americas. We support these dynamic, capable women-led organizations with unrestricted funding, capacity strengthening, and enhanced visibility, and they come together in our WomenStrong Learning Lab, to develop, test, sharpen, and amplify their solutions, so that the girls and women in their communities can lead lives free of violence, with full access to quality education, healthcare, and decent, dignified work.

In celebration of our 10th anniversary, and in response to our partners’ needs, early in 2024 WomenStrong will be launching a 3-year, $5 million campaign, to –

  • Expand our partnership model with women-led organizations and reinforce our identity as a trust-based, feminist funder
  • Continue to build out our Capacity Strengthening Program, to better serve our grantee partners, and
  • Grow our distinctive WomenStrong Learning Lab, enabling partners’ staffs to share findings and best practices, and to collaborate on joint projects and advocacy campaigns.

“I’ve been inspired by what we can achieve together when we place equity and language justice at the center of our work. I’ve seen partners’ collaborations grow beyond what I had envisioned, because the Learning Lab catalyzes connection, collaboration and community.”

Chisina Kapungu, Director of Learning and Partnerships

Over the next few months, Laura will be reaching out to her network and to our WomenStrong Board, our new Strategic Advisory Council, to leaders across our community of partners, and to others, to detail our campaign and to find new ways of partnering. We will also begin a series of salon dinners and events aimed at continuing to grow a global and inclusive community championing the rights and wellbeing of women and girls, everywhere!

In this season of joy, and at this hopeful, forward-looking moment for WomenStrong, please join me and our entire team, in warmly, welcoming Laura to our WomenStrong family!

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