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WomenStrong International Names New Board Member, Adds Deputy Director to Senior Team

WomenStrong International Names New Board Member, Adds Deputy Director to Senior Team

WomenStrong International, a consortium of non-profit organizations in five nations supporting women-driven solutions to urban poverty, announced today the additions of Peggy Shepard to its Board of Directors, and Sydney Rubin as Deputy Director of the growing organization.

Peggy Shepard has successfully combined grassroots organizing, environmental advocacy and environmental health research to become one of the most highly respected environmental advocates in the country. She has been a pioneer for advancing the perspective of environmental justice in urban communities to ensure that the right to clean air, water and soil extends to all people and communities. A leader within New York City and the national Environmental Justice Movement, she is Co-Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT), a 27-year-old organization based in West Harlem.

“We are delighted to begin 2016 with the addition of Peggy to our distinguished Board of Directors, all of whom believe in the power of women to end extreme urban poverty,” said Dr. Susan Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director of WomenStrong International. “Peggy’s unparalleled track record in mobilizing communities for environmental justice will help the women in WSI’s five urban settings advocate more effectively for healthful shelter and a functioning urban environment.”

WomenStrong Consortium members work with communities of women and girls in Kumasi, Ghana; Kisumu, Kenya; Madurai, India; Borgne, Haiti; and Washington, D.C.

Sydney Rubin, who joins as Deputy Director for organizational development and communications, has built a reputation as an award-winning communicator through her consulting work with top executives in both the private and public sector. Most recently, she served as Chief Communications Officer for a $2-billion healthcare services company with 12,000 employees in 44 countries. Her non-profit clients have included First Nations, The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development and the Global MDR-TB Initiative. Earlier in her career, she worked as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press, covering maternal and women’s health, the environment, HIV/AIDS and human rights.

Ms. Shephard joins WomenStrong International’s Board of Directors that includes:

George C. Biddle — Chair of World Connect, supporting local leaders in the developing world; Former Executive Vice President, the International Rescue Committee
Prof. Yasmine Ergas — Director, Specialization on Gender & Public Policy, School of International & Public Affairs; Senior Advisor, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Dr. Beth Horowitz, MD — Washington DC physician, Associate Professor, George Washington Medical Center; Fellow of the American College of Physicians
Catherine A. Lee – Attorney & Founder/Manager of Lee International Business Development; Expert on effective climate change mitigation strategies and women’s issues
Dr. Geeta Mehta — Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, Columbia University; Founder/President of two non-profits to help poor communities realize their social capital
Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, MD — Physician; Co-Founder of South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement; lifelong community activist; Former World Bank Managing Director; renowned author & scholar
Dr. Pedro Sanchez — Director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Security at Columbia University; MacArthur Fellow; World Food Prize laureate.

“As we move into 2016, we know we have never had a better moment than we do right now to unleash the powerful potential of women and girls,” Dr. Blaustein said. “As those who know best what their families and communities need, women are the key to sustainable urban development.”


WomenStrong International is a consortium of non-profit organizations in five nations supporting women-driven solutions to extreme urban poverty. WSI emerged from a decade of work at Columbia University’s Millennium Cities Initiative where we found the most successful programs were local and led by women. Through our Consortium members in Ghana, Kenya, Haiti, India, and Washington, D.C., we help thousands of women and girls meet their 6 Essential needs for health, shelter, safety, education, economic empowerment and a functioning urban environment. These women, in turn, improve the lives of their children, families, communities and nations. WomenStrong International believes the path out of poverty and toward a more just and prosperous world can be found by making women strong. For more information, visit

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