Executive Committee

Chair: Susan O’Malley is the Main Representative to the UN (NY) for the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW). She is also Communication Chair and editor of Action for Girls for the Working Group on Girls. She was co-chair of the Planning Committee for the NGO Forum 59 and co-organizer of the monthly NGO CSW/NY meetings based on the 12 areas of action of the Beijing Platform for Action, 2014-2015. In addition to serving as the elected Faculty Trustee and Chair of the 22-campus City University of New York (CUNY) Faculty Senate, Dr. O’Malley was a professor of English and Women’s Studies at CUNY (Kingsborough and the Graduate Center) for 36 years. She has published articles and books on early modern women’s literature, Shakespeare, higher education, disability and civil rights. She holds an AB from Smith College and a PhD from Tulane University. She is currently involved in Cities for CEDAW to get CEDAW ratified in NYC.


Vice Chair: Bette Levy is a Permanent Representative to the United Nations/New York Centre for Soroptimist International and is actively involved with a number of NGO committees. Bette is the Treasurer of the NGO Committee for Social Development, a member of the Core Committee of the Poverty Eradication subcommittee, the co-facilitator of the European/North American CSW Caucus, and an active member of the Women’s Major Group (Sustainable Development). She is also co-convener of the Trauma work group of the NGO Mental Health committee and a member of the Working Group on Girls.  Prior to retiring in 2011, she worked for the NYS Office of Mental Health for 38 years with an expertise in children/ families and disaster mental health. Currently, she is a Management/Culture Change Consultant with agencies that provide mental health and foster care services.

Communications Secretary: Houry Geudelekian is currently the UN Coordinator for Armenian Relief Society, Inc. a women’s organization established in NYC in 1910, present in 27 countries with more than 15,000 members promoting women’s and children’s rights through health and education initiatives. ARS’s major humanitarian aid currently is to help Syrian refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Armenia. Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, she moved to New York City during the late seventies. A private business owner herself, she specializes in Project Management, Public Relations and Event Planning and has been a consultant/advisor to many non profit organizations, schools, and campaigns. As an ARS member, Ms. Geudelekian is currently an Executive Board Member of Conference of NGOs (CoNGO), Member at Large on Executive Committee with NGO Committee on Human Rights, on the Advisory Board of Working Group on Girls and active on several other NGO Committees including NGO Committee on Children’s Rights and NGO Committee on Sustainable Development. She began with NGO CSW NY four years ago as an advisor, was elected Member at Large for the last term and served as Planning Committee co-chair for the past two years including Co-MC-ing with Dr. Susan O’Malley at the Apollo Theatre for CSW59.

Treasurer: Erica Higbie is the UN Representative in New York for FAWCO (Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas), a global women’s organization founded in 1931 with over 12,000 members in more than 30 countries. Born in the US, she spent most of her adult life living in Australia, where she has dual-citizenship, and Germany. She completed a semester of her undergraduate degree in International Relations at the University of Zambia and has done volunteer work in Ghana and Cambodia. With graduate degrees in International Health and Business Administration, she worked for many years in healthcare delivery management and business development. Erica is currently the Co-chair of the Working Group on Girls Advocacy Committee, a Director on the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, Chair of the Women’s Political Empowerment Committee of the FAWCO Human Rights Task Force, and Preventing Child Mortality Tutor for People’s Open Access Education Initiative (Peoples-uni).

Ivy GabbertRecording Secretary: Ivy Gabbert is the Program Coordinator for Soka Gakkai International’s (SGI) UN Liaison office in New York and is engaged in SGI’s work in the fields of sustainable development, peace and disarmament, and human rights mainly through its informal education approach. Ivy served as co-chair for the Beijing+20 Communications for Change Task Force and is actively engaged in raising awareness on Beijing +20. Prior to her current position, Ivy’s work has taken her to Venezuela, Boston, and Japan in the fields of international education, study abroad, editing and translation. She has taken part in projects concerning the empowerment of female peace builders, child labor, and women’s leadership. Ivy holds a MA with a concentration in Sustainable Development from the School for International Training and received her AB in Japanese and Spanish minor from the University of Georgia.

Member-at-LargeMary Ann Tarantula is currently the Chairman of the Zonta International United Nations Committee, wherein she is responsible for overseeing UN Committee members in New York, Geneva, Paris and Vienna. In addition to her new role with NGO/CSW/NY, Ms. Tarantula is a member of the Human Rights Committee (CoNGO), the Working Group on Girls, and is the Treasurer of the NGO Committee on UNICEF. She is also dedicated to helping plan the annual CSW events, having done so for both CSW 55 and CSW 56.

Member-at-LargeDr. Padmini Murthy is an OB/GYN and Certified Health Education Specialist who has practiced medicine in several countries and holds Master’s degrees in both Public Health and Management. She is currently an Associate Professor and the Global Health Program Director at New York Medical College School of Public Health. Additionally, Dr. Murthy is a Representative to the United Nations for the Medical Women International Association. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Sojourner Truth Pin and the Marie Catchatoor Oration Lecture. She was named Women of the Year for 2012-2013 by The National Association of Professional Women, USA. Her book, Women’s Global Health and Human Rights, was published in 2009.

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Member-at-Large: Melissa Guardaro is the Main Representative to the United Nations for the American Association of University Women, a 165,000 member organization that promotes gender equity through philanthropy, education, advocacy and research. She manages a UN team including two Youth Representatives and a Girl Advocate. Melissa has been active on the CSW58 and CSW59 planning committees and was elected to the Working Group on Girls Steering Committee, serving as Secretary. An entrepreneur with extensive marketing experience, Melissa has an MBA from Columbia and recently completed a Masters degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard Extension School.

Jackie Weatherspoon, pictureMember-at-Large: Hon. Jackie K. Weatherspoon is the Northern New England Coordinator for US Women Connect a White House Initiative to access the progress of Women and Girls every five years according to the National Platform for Action protocols since, 1995. Jackie served six years in the NH House of Representatives. Jackie has worked for the US State Dept. during the Clinton Administration, served on three US Delegations with First Lady Hillary Clinton, the “Northern Initiative” in Iceland, Estonia and Lithuania. Jackie was in Beijing, China, 1995 representing UNA/USA as a reporter when First Lady Hillary Clinton gave her famous speech, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights”. Jackie’s first piece of legislation was the UN CEDAW Resolution which passed both Houses: The UN Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Jackie has also worked for the United Nations as the Senior Election Officer and International Gender Expert to the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections in Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania. Jackie has served on the UN Roster of Electoral Experts.  Jackie lives at Phillips Exeter Academy with her husband and is co-faculty advisor to the  PEA Democratic Club and has served as a Luminary Circle Member and Mentor with Step UP Women’s Network. Jackie has served on multiple boards including New Hampshire Public Radio and the Harvard Alumni Association as Co-Chair to the University Wide cluster. Lastly Jackie serves on the NH Democratic Party Executive Committee and was a super volunteer in NH for @Ready for Hillary.

Past Chair, Ex-OfficioSoon-Young Yoon (former Vice-Chair) is the UN representative for the International Alliance of Women and works as a consultant for the World Health Organization. She was one of the organizers of the NGO Forum during the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and was a columnist for the EarthTimes newspaper. Ms. Yoon currently serves as a board member of the International Advisory Council at the Harvard AIDS Initiative and of the International Foundation for Ewha Womans University. A former Fulbright Senior scholar, she holds an AB with honors in French literature and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan. www.soon-young.com