2019-2021 NGO CSW/NY Executive Committee Election Candidates

Nominees for Chair

Houry Geudelekian
Rosalee Keech


Ivy Koek

Nominees for Communications Secretary

Azadeh Khalili
Padmini Murthy

Corresponding Secretary

Saphira Ramishfar


Margaretha Jones

Nominees for Member-at-Large VOTE FOR THREE

Marie Victoria Espada
Shirley Gabel
Pamela Morgan
Yvonne O’Neal
Jane Durgom-Powers
Saeeda Rizvi
Vanesa Treers
Alexa Ward
Jackie Weatherspoon
Jourdan Williams

Nominees for Chair:

Houry Geudelekian is the Gender Program Coordinator at NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY and the UN Coordinator of Unchained At Last, an ECOSOC accredited US based organizations that fights to stop early marriage in the US. She recently ended her term as Co-Chair of Working Group on Girls and Co-Chair of NYC4CEDAW. Born in Beirut, Lebanon into an Armenian family, she moved to New York City in the late 70’s with her husband and together they started a business that grew to over 30 employees and 2000 clientele in the competitive market of Manhattan. Her professional expertise is in Project Management, Marketing and Public Relations with a passion for Human Rights. Houry has been involved with many non-profits and academic institutions, chaired major events and fundraised for special events. In her capacity as UN Coordinator for Armenian Relief Society (2011-2016), she served as Executive Committee member of NGO CSW NY for two terms, Co-Chaired NGO CSW Forum Planning Committee, MC’d two Consultation Days and Chaired Women of Distinction Award for CSW57/58. As a board member of NGO CSW NY she was a founding member of the Cities for CEDAW campaign as well as Beijing Platform for Action+20, working closely with UN Women. She is always actively looking to partner with international organizations to bring gender equality to global attention while mentoring young adults to be inspired and care about Human Rights. She has also facilitated and partnered with UN Member States, UN Women, UNDP to bring about positive change globally through panel discussions and projects.

She lives in NYC and is most proud of her feminist sons, Tavit, Mika and Alex.


Rosalee Keech represents the League of Women Voters of the United States as Chief Observer to the United Nations (UN) since 2011 and has developed multiple programs to promote women’s human rights specifically in the areas of:

  • women’s leadership and participation in democratic political processes;
  • equal rights via promoting the ERA and Cities for CEDAW within the United States;
  • democracy around the world;
  • preventing violence against all women and girls.

Elected in June, 2014, she served on the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and the Board of Trustees of the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) until June 2016. Ms. Keech is a member of NGOCSW/NY and has served as the Communications Secretary since 2016.  She also served as co-chair of the NGO CSW 62 Forum Planning Committee and as the NGOCSW representative to the Joint Advocacy Group on Social Protection.  Her work also includes working with member states, UN agencies, other NGOs in program development for CSW55-63, diminishing the demand for human trafficking, speaking at and/or moderating panels at the United Nations, Wharton School of Business, Montclair University, Fordham University and other venues.

Rosalee formed the NGO Coalition for ILO’s Alliance 8.7 to stop the demand for forced labour and trafficking by working with UN agencies, member states, academia and the private sector. Additionally, she has developed a comprehensive strategy for preventing exploitation of women and children at major events. By working in conjunction with the UN, the strategy has been adopted and implemented by governments, both foreign and domestic. It was as a result of this that Ms. Keech currently serves as a member of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force, chair of its Outreach and Awareness Committee as well as co-chair of its newly formed Business & Industry Advisory Committee.

Additionally Rosalee serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, the Government Affairs Committee for the Jewish Home Family and as a member of the Board of Advisors for iCAP (International Center for Assault Prevention). Previously she served as the Governor appointee to the NJ Board of Professional Planners (2000-2017).  Ms. Keech is a retired Information Officer with more than 30 years of experience in developing and executing system strategies for the private sector. Ms. Keech graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Economics and Education and a MBA in Finance from New York University.


Ivy Koek is Program Coordinator for the Soka Gakkai International  (SGI) Office for UN Affairs in New York and has been engaged in SGI’s work in the fields of sustainable development, peace and disarmament, and human rights mainly through its nonformal education approach since joining in 2013.She has served on the NGO CSW/NY Executive Committee since 2014 and is Co-chair of the Young Professionals Subcommittee.  Prior to her current position, Ivy’s work has taken her to Venezuela, Boston, and Japan in the fields of education, study abroad, editing and translation. She has been involved in projects on issues such as the empowerment of women peacebuilders, child labor, and women’s leadership. Ivy holds an MA with a concentration in Sustainable Development from the School for International Training and received her AB from the University of Georgia in Japanese Language and Literature with a Spanish minor.

Nominees for Communications Secretary

Azadeh Khalili is an immigrant woman leader committed to progressive social change. 20+ years in NYC government, civil society and philanthropy advancing immigrant integration, racial and gender equity, fair criminal justice system, public health and human rights. Deep experience in policy development, large-scale reform, replication of best practices, leadership development and results-based management. View Resume.

Dr. Padmini (Mini) Murthy, Professor and Global Health Director at New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice. Dr. Murthy is a physician (a trained obstetrician and gynecologist) and an activist who did her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has practiced medicine and public health for the past 28 years in various countries. She has been working in various arenas of the health care industry. And workded as consultant for UNFPA. She has a MPH and a MS in Management from New York University. Dr. Murthy serves as the Medical Women’s International Association NGO representative  to the United Nations. She also serves a member of the Executive Council of the NGO CSW Committee of NY, and the DPI NGO executive committee of NY at the United Nations. Dr. Murthy is widely published and is the author and editor of Women’s Global Health and Human Rights (Jones and Bartlett publisher) which is used as a textbook worldwide and she serves as a peer reviewer for several publications. Her poetry book Mini’s Musings was published in 2012. She is currently working on her 3rd book on the use of technology in promoting health.  She has made over 150  presentations on women’s and children’s health nationally and internationally in scientific conferences and in the United Nations and countries where she has been invited.to. She has been working to promote safe motherhood and other health initiatives focused on women in India, Malawi, and Grenada. Dr. Murthy has been the recipient of numerous national and international awards. She was the 1st American woman physician to receive the Jhirad Oration Award (in Seoul, Korea) conferred at an international conference in recognition of her service and work to MWIA. She has also been the recipient of the Sojourner Truth Pin which is given to those women who excel in community service. In June 2015, she was presented Millennium Milestone Maker Award at the 9th Annual Women’s Symposium at Sias University, China. In 2016 She was the first Indian born American in over 70 years to receive the Elizabeth Blackwell Medal from American Medical Women’s Association for her work in promoting women’s health globally. She is the recipient of the Lalita Pawar memorial award in 2016 conferred by the Association of Medical Women in India  Nagpur for her work in promoting women’s health and human rights. In 2017 Murthy has conferred the prestigious Dr. Homi Colabawall Oration in Mumbai India for her work on promoting women’s health. In 2018 she received a mentorship award from the Australian medical students and Exceptional Woman of Excellence Award at the Women economic Forum in New Delhi.

Murthy is currently chair-elect of the International Health Section of the American Public Health Association which is one of the largest associations of public health professionals in the world.

Murthy is married to a physician and is the mother of a daughter who works in international development and education. https://www.padminimurthymd.com/

Corresponding Secretary

Saphira Rameshfar is a Representative of the Baha’i International Community’s UN Office in New York. Prior to this, Saphira was at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs headquarters in New York working on capacity development policy. As an Australian, she worked for the Australian Federal Government Department of Agriculture on international trade negotiations and market strategy for Australian agricultural exports. Ms. Rameshfar dedicated three years to projects aimed at the empowerment of youth in Australia as well as in communities throughout the Asia Pacific region and North and South America. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of Economics, Research Degree in Ecology, Postgraduate qualifications in Public Administration, and Governance as well as a Masters of International Law (Australian National University).


Margaretha Jones lived and worked in Switzerland, France, Belgium and the United States. She has a Commercial Degree (Handelsdiploma) from Switzerland and a BA in Anthropology from Fordham University. She worked for the American Ethical Union first as part-time for their Executive Director and later as their National Administrator for over 20 years. In recent past she has been involved in NGO Committees, including Co-Chair of the NGO Committee on Children’s Rights. She started her second term being on the Board of CoNGO and accepted to be their treasurer. She has been a member of the NGO Committee of CSW for over 10 years and is happy to serve as their treasurer.

Nominees for Member-at-Large:
Vote for 3 for Member-at-large

Marie Espada is a Master’s Degree Economist with 25 years of professional experience, including more than twelve years working for the United Nations in economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Areas of
expertise include public policy, public finance, fiscal policy, gender mainstreaming, and development cooperation. Extensive experience in managing region-wide development projects. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis skills with vast experience in applied research. In-depth experience as a lecturer and workshop facilitator in capacity-building and peer-learning programs in cross-cultural work environments. International expertise in strategic partnership building. View Resume.

Shirley Gabel represents the International Association of Schools of Social Work. She has served as a consultant to UNICEF and UNESCO on child poverty and social protection. View Resume.

Pamela Morgan is one of four International United Nations Committee members for Zonta International in New York. Her work reflects her focus on the critical importance of addressing myriad issues facing women worldwide.

Pamela is also the Executive Director of Woman In Media – Newark, a not-for-profit organization which she founded that advocates for and educates the community about issues affecting the global status of women using film, video and new media as its platform. Their flagship event is their annual Women’s History Month Film Festival, housed primarily at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, where they screen an international array of independent film by and about women.

A retired educator, Pamela worked for over thirty five years in public education. Starting as a classroom teacher, she became an instructional technologist, working in that area for twenty years. During those years she thrived on her ability to identify inventive ways in which to use technology as a tool for academic achievement, spearheading innovative award winning projects.

Pamela has served on numerous New Jersey State Department of Education Instructional Technology committees, and was a contributor to two of the New Jersey State Educational Technology plans. She was responsible for securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant based funding for technology for the Newark Public School district, and has given testimony before a US Senate sub-committee investigating funding for instructional technology. Additionally, she has spoken before major institutions including the US Department of Commerce regarding the effective implementation of community-based telecommunications networks, as well as authored articles on that subject. Pamela ended her career in education as an Executive Assistant for the Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools.

Yvonne O’Neal represents Africa Development Interchange Network (ADIN) at the United Nations. She is the past co-chair of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY) and is active in other NGO Committees. She is the secretary of New York City for CEDAW, working to bring a bill of rights to end all forms of discrimination against women. In 2018, Yvonne was awarded a Citation by the Council of the City of Philadelphia “for her commitment to the advancement of women and girls in the United States and abroad.” At the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Yvonne was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Church Pension Group and serves on the Audit Committee and the Benefits Policy Committee.  She is also on the Board of Trustees of The Church Club of New York. Yvonne previously served on the American College of Financial Services Board of Trustees, as a Trustee of The Cathedral School of Saint John the Divine, on the Board of Directors of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. She is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). In the Episcopal Diocese of New York, Yvonne is a member of the Diocesan Council and the Task Forces Against Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. She chaired the Companion Diocese Committee for nine years and the Global Mission Commission for six. She has overseen the establishment of an endowment for the Diocese of Matlosane in South Africa, the Women’s Global Fund, which provides scholarships for women to make a difference in their communities, and the Carpenter’s Kids, a program to transform the lives of HIV/AIDS vulnerable children in Tanzania. Yvonne has a Master of Arts degree in psychology and a Bachelor of Science degree in natural sciences. She completed the Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary and Education for Ministry from the School of Theology, The University of the South. www.yvonneoneal.com

Jane Durgom-Powers is the founder and president of Families of the Missing, formerly named the International Federation of Family Associations of Missing Persons from Armed Conflicts (IFFAMPAC), an international non-governmental organization holding Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. She is considered the foremost international lawyer on the issue of families of missing persons from armed conflicts. Her international human rights and humanitarian law endeavors span over forty-three years. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center; and a Bachelor of Science, Industrial Management degree with honors, from Purdue University.

Ms. Durgom-Powers has served as General Counsel and Assistant General Counsel for three Fortune 500 companies; was the CEO of two international corporations; was the first woman partner in a major Illinois law firm; and established her own private practice. She was in the initial group of five women appointed to the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York in the 1970s. She continued to “break the glass ceiling” for women to work and achieve management positions at General Motors Corporation and the Nissan Motor Corporation. Ms. Durgom-Powers is licensed to practice law in four states, five federal courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Ms. Durgom-Powers is an acclaimed speaker. Since the 1970’s she has been an advisor to many international organizations, foreign governments, and the United States government. She has a distinguished career in volunteer service to the American Bar Association raising international awareness of the complex legal and civil society issues confronting families of missing persons from armed conflicts. She has served as an ad hoc advisor to two US Congressmen and Congressional Committees on humanitarian law and consequences to families during and after armed conflicts.

She has appeared on national and international television, radio and Internet talk shows. She has authored and co-authored many legal publications, contributed to the drafting of prominent federal statutes such as Regulation Z and RICO Act; written humanitarian and human rights laws for foreign countries, and continues to advise foreign governments on humanitarian and human rights principles. View Resume.

Saeeda Rizvi is an advocate for the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women and I have had the opportunity, to work with many incredibly activists from around the world. From serving on the grounds in Taliban occupied regions of Pakistan, to working as an intern with seasoned gender equality champions at NGO CSW, I have had the privilege to experience the struggle for gender equality at many different levels and in many different forms. In 2018, I helped organize the NGO CSW 62 forum for the empowerment of rural women and today, I am helping organize the Women Deliver 2019 conference – the world’s largest gathering on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women. Both these forums and conferences are about power. The power of our beliefs, the power of our individual voices, and the power of our collective actions. Coming from a country – Pakistan – where advocating for gender equality can get you killed, I am deeply cognizant about where I stand today and the privilege, responsibility and power, that comes with his position. When I find myself in spaces like NGO CSW, addressing incredible activists with a wealth of experience amongst them, I find myself to be a young voice, but no less a powerful voice. I am a young woman form the global south, privileged enough to be speaking in global spaces. The NGO Committee on the Status of Women, advocates for gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women across the globe. Which means our movement has to be intersectional. Our movement has to break down traditional development silos and work across generations, geographies and communities. Only by leveraging our collective and individual power, can we accelerate progress for one another. Gender equality benefits us all – and it will take all of us, to get there. I am the movement for gender equality and the movement for gender equality, should represent me. If given the opportunity, it would be an honor to join NGO CSW and contribute to this network of global leaders, innovators and change makers.

Vanesa Treers is a gender equality advocate and a UN Representative of Soroptimist International, an ECOSOC accredited organization that works for women and girl’s rights and education worldwide. She is currently a member of the Steering Committee for the Working Group on Girls and The Coalition for Global Citizenship 2030.

Vanesa was actively involved at the UN Commission Status of Women and the High Level Political Forum since 2015, supporting the women’s movement. In 2015 Vanesa was the Sustainable Development Fellow at the Women’s Environment & Development Organization and the UN Women’s Major Group. During CSW63 she Co-Chaired the NGO CSW Forum Orientation Committee.

Vanesa has a postgraduate in Development & Management and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  Vanesa originally from Colombia, where completed her first Psychology degree, lived in England for 9 years where worked at the Latin America Women’s Rights Service.

Vanesa moved to New York 6 years ago with her husband and two kids. In 2016 she interned NGO CSW after consulting for the Open Society Foundations as a program specialist. Currently, Vanesa is the founder of The Embroidery Project, a program that supports Women’s Economic Empowerment in South America.  She brings to the table skills on development and management, social media, web design, grant-making, networking, knowledge of NGO CSW NY and, experience at the UN various groups working towards gender equality and the 2030 Agenda.

Alexa Fish Ward represents the Women’s Federation for World Peace, International (WFWPI), an NGO in general consultative status with ECOSOC since 1997. She currently serves as Director of the Office for UN Relations in New York, International Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. A graduate of Georgetown University, she held the position of Executive Director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill in Hyde Park, NY; served on the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross of Dutchess County, NY; and is a member of the Congressional Club, a bipartisan organization of members of families of current and former members of the US House of Representatives.

WFWPI has been active with CSW since 2000 and with NGO CSW NY since 2003, having sponsored parallel and side events on an annual basis. She, and members of the WFWPI UN Team, have served on numerous committees in preparation for the annual CSW session.

Alexa has 30 years of experience in the not for profit sector. During her tenure as President of WFWP, USA, she founded the Schools of Africa Project, which has raised close to $1 Million for WFWPI’s schools in Africa. Having traveled to more than 35 countries, she organized international conferences and events throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, as well as North and South America. Of particular note, she helped to organize a large women’s peace conference in North Korea.

More recently she has focused her efforts on intergenerational activities and providing young women with leadership opportunities.  Such efforts include the Horizon Summit, an intergenerational gathering dedicated to fostering peace leadership, and WFWPI’s internship program in New York.

Alexa brings with her respect for the UN, for CSW, and for NGO CSW NY. As a team player, her working style centers on a commitment to building long term trusted relationships and partnerships, by investing in others and by working together in areas of common interest.

Alexa understands that in every situation, each one of us has something to offer as well as something to learn. She would be pleased to have the opportunity to serve on NGO CSW NY’s Executive Committee, as a Member-at-Large.

Jackie Weatherspoon (born Jacquelyne K. Weatherspoon) is a human rights activist. She has worked in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe as a mediator. She was a state representative for New Hampshire and her first piece of legislation to pass was the CEDAW Resolution.

States Civil Rights Commission State Advisory Committee. She has policy field work experience in post conflict countries in Eastern Europe and Africa. Jackie served eight years as the Technical Advisor for Former Heads of State and Prime Ministers. Weatherspoon is the founder and CEO of Decisions in Democracy International. The DDI gives training for people seeking to run for public office.

Since 1995, Weatherspoon is a Member-at-Large and the Northern New England Coordinator for US Women Connect, a White House Initiative that tracks the progress of Women and Girls World Conference on Women, 1995. It is an every five year initiative that documents the progress of women and girls which is in accord with the National Platform for Action Beijing protocols.

Jourdan Williams is the Youth Representative to the United Nations for the International Health Awareness Network (IHAN), Vice-chair of the Working Group on Girls at the United Nations, and a Columbia University master’s degree candidate specializing in neuropsychology and global mental health. Her research foci include the neurodevelopmental sequelae of complex trauma, medical capacity building frameworks in humanitarian settings, and the impact of migration law and policy on displaced children’s access to care.  Jourdan has spearheaded the design and implementation of a numerous interventions in under-resourced communities, having served with variety of NGOs that support young girls, children with disabilities, socioeconomically disadvantaged youth, refugees, and undocumented persons.  In addition she has experience as a bilingual STEM educator, child advocate, and immigration caseworker. Jourdan is currently applying to peruse a joint J.D./PhD in neuropsychology and international law in order to further investigate and address the intersections between mental healthcare systems in humanitarian settings, forced migration, and issues of child protection.