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Sara Minkara        

Founder & CEO of Empowerment Through Integration

Sara Minkara is the Founder and President of Empowerment Through Integration (ETI), and also the founder of Sara Minkara LLC. ETI is a nonprofit organization focused on the empowerment and inclusion of youth with visual impairment, particularly in the Middle East-North Africa region, and it works with blind children, including refugees, in Lebanon to help them build independence and learn life skills.

Minkara is a blind Lebanese-American who lost her sight at the age of seven. Raised in the Muslim faith, she recognized during trips to visit family in Lebanon that the privileges she had in the United States were not always available to blind children in developing countries. This led her to establish ETI out of her own personal experience and a drive to empower blind youth to effect change in their communities. As a result of this work, Minkara has been recognized internationally as an advocate in the fields of disability inclusion and social entrepreneurship.

ETI provides a range of vital services, including teaching blind children life skills like how to walk with a white cane or how to use a computer. The organization also runs a summer camp for both blind and sighted children. Since its inception, the reach of ETI has expanded significantly from a single summer camp to an organization that impacts over 3,000 individuals across Lebanon and the United States.

Minkara's commitment to disability rights and youth empowerment was evident during her time as an undergraduate at Wellesley College and persisted throughout her studies at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, where she was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and later a Dublin Fellow. Her contributions to the sector have earned her a number of accolades, including being listed in the Forbes 30 Under 30, recognition by the Clinton Foundation's Clinton Global Initiative, as well as fellowships with Halycon and Echoing Green. She is also a recipient of the Emily Bultch Peace and Justice Award, the MIT IDEAS Award, and is recognized as a Harvard Emerging Leader. The impact of her work was also highlighted in the documentary "Losing Sight, But Gaining a Vision," which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Girls Impact the World Film Festival.

As of October 28, 2021, Minkara serves as the United States Special Advisor on International Disability Rights in the U.S. Department of State, appointed by President Joe Biden. In this role, she works within the State Department and with its international partners to encourage and assist foreign governments and civil society organizations to increase their commitment to protect the rights, and ensure the inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities. 

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