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Karen Sherman    

Women's Rights Advocate & Author of "Brick By Brick"

Karen Sherman, author of "Brick by Brick -- Building Hope and Opportunity for Women Survivors Everywhere," has spent her life advocating for women in war-torn and transitional countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Kosovo, and the former Soviet Union. Throughout her 30-year career in global development, Sherman has met and interviewed thousands of women. Their remarkable stories of strength, courage, resilience, and resourcefulness fuel what she believes to be true: championing women’s education and economic participation has the power to transform the lives of women and the future of families, communities, societies, and, ultimately, the world.

Sherman has spent decades translating this belief into action, in field offices and boardrooms, and with leaders at all levels, including heads of state, ambassadors, business leaders, academics, and non-governmental organizations. She speaks and writes passionately about advancing women’s educational and economic opportunities.

Currently, Sherman serves as President of the Akilah Institute, Rwanda’s only women’s college, leading its strategy, growth, and partnerships. Prior to joining Akilah, Sherman was a senior executive at Women for Women International, an organization that helps women survivors of war to rebuild their lives. She began writing "Brick by Brick" during the year she spent living in Rwanda with her three sons to oversee the construction of a first-of-its-kind women’s opportunity center.

Previously, Sherman served as the Executive Vice President at Counterpart International, an international nonprofit development organization that partners with local organizations to build inclusive, sustainable communities in which their people thrive, where she was responsible for increasing the depth, scale, and impact of programs.

Sherman is a sought-after speaker on global women’s issues and has been featured on BBC, CNBC Africa, Al Jazeera English, and Voice of America, and in numerous outlets including ABCNews.com, Council on Foreign Relations, Huffington Post, and Africa.com. She served as Executive Producer of The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope, published by National Geographic and serves on the board of directors of Every Woman Treaty, a coalition working to secure a global treaty to prevent violence against women.

Sherman lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and their three sons. She holds a Master’s Degree in Russian and East European Studies from The George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon.

Speech Topics


Women's Leadership

Gender in Conflict Affected Countries

Women's Economic Development

Sustainable Business and Entrepreneurship

Workforce Development

Education Innovation

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