SAIS Women Lead

A Global Women’s Leadership Initiative
A Conversation with Dr. Condoleeza Rice
Securing a Sustainable Future
Women, Peace, and Security Panel
Roundtable at Bloomberg
Tina Brown on Feminism
A Turning Point
Executive Director of UN Women
Global Women in Leadership Student Club
Award-Winning Writer on Transforming Culture
SAIS Women Lead: Our First Year

SAIS Women Lead is a global women’s leadership development program that partners faculty, students, alumni, and public and private organizations to raise the political and economic status of communities through the empowerment of women.

The former secretary of state shares insights from her new book, "Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom" as part of the Women Who Inspire Lecture Series.
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The spring 2017 in Washington Global Women in Leadership (GWL) student conference examined the critical intersection between gender and climate change.
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The Global Women in Leadership student organization filled an auditorium of alumni, faculty, and students during the 2017 Spring Alumni Weekend at SAIS Europe to discuss "Why the United Nations Women, Peace and Security Agenda Matters Now".
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SAIS Women’s Alumni Network (SWAN) Chair Emily Howells (MA ’08) and Yelena Shulyatyeva, Senior Economist at Bloomberg Intelligence, discuss Finance and Economics in November 2016.
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Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli welcomes SAIS Women Who Inspire Lecture Series speaker Tina Brown for a discussion on “Women, Global Leadership, and the Future of Feminism".
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Dr. Kent Davis-Packard, SAIS Women Lead Coordinator, discusses the status of women globally, President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, and her work to establish the SAIS Women Lead curriculum with Rob Satloff.
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Dr. Phumzile Mlambi-Nguka presents “Nothing for Women Without Women: Raising Voices for Change” to the International Development Program and community on April 12, 2017.
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Swetha Ramachandran, President of the Global Women in Leadership student organization, greets incoming SAIS Europe student Sofia Eirini Agrapidi at the fall student club fair. GWL is the largest student club on campus.
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Dr. Chiedo Nwankwor convenes The Political Power of Gender and Women's Empowerment of Gender in Africa Conference and interviews Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi on April 14, 2017.
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It is our pleasure to share with you our recent and upcoming activities as SAIS Women Lead joins hands with the global women's movement on International Women's Day.
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About SAIS Women Lead
Curriculum and Professional Development
Women of Promise Fellowship Program
Women Who Inspire Lecture Series
Get Involved
Invest in SAIS Women Lead
SAIS Women Lead Newsletter Archive
Student Blogs and Publications

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About SAIS Women Lead

SAIS Women Lead is a global women’s leadership development program that partners the school's faculty, students, alumni, and public and private organizations to raise the political and economic status of communities through the empowerment of women. By fostering scholarship and cross-cultural exchange, SAIS Women Lead raises awareness of gap areas in research and advocacy to create more inclusive, compassionate, and service-oriented societies.

Its mission is to increase and amplify women’s leadership around the world to inspire balanced, sound policy decision-making. Our interdisciplinary courses and practicum program, Global Women in Leadership (GWL) (student-led organization), and SAIS Women’s Alumni Network (SWAN) provide opportunities for students and alumni to develop their leadership skills and collaborate on action-oriented projects that advance women. The Women Who Inspire lecture series showcases dialogue with women leaders. The Women of Promise fellowship program enables women underrepresented in the field of diplomacy to study at Johns Hopkins SAIS on two-year fellowships.

These programs, courses, and networks support students, faculty and alumni to integrate the study of women’s contributions to the field of international relations and promote the understanding that women’s empowerment is central to sustainable peace, economic growth, and transformational leadership.

Recent Events and Publications

SAIS Women Lead

Students can follow a curricular path that focuses on inclusive leadership and women's contributions to international relations by enrolling in classes, the SWL Practicum course (full-year commitment), and additional cross-disciplinary courses from a comprehensive list. One of these courses, Women, Peace and Security: Moving Beyond the Myth includes a study trip to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women study trip. Other course choices may include:

  • Gender Politics in Africa
  • Gender Inequality and Development
  • Multiculturalism and the Human Rights of Women
  • Microeconomics of Development. 

SAIS Women Lead Practicum Program

The SAIS Women Lead practicum collaborates with government, corporate, and non-governmental organizations to provide students with hands-on professional experience through action-oriented research projects that advance women. A team of students works closely with a client organization to produce and present a high quality report, policy recommendation, or implementation plan for a new program.  Students in the practicum also participate in a series of leadership and professional development master classes largely curated by alumni experts.

Current practicum projects include increasing women leaders in diplomacy in the Middle East with the Emirates Diplomatic Academy; studying barriers to girls' education in Nigeria with Creative Associates International; advancing equity for women of color entrepreneurs with Ashoka Changemakers; providing best practices on how the Inter-American Development Bank can help women entrepreneurs enter the creative and cultural industries in Latin America; and passing the Equal Rights Amendment with Equal Means Equal in the United States.

Study Trips

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Study Trip
Participants in the Women, Peace, and Security: Moving Beyond the Myth course are invited to attend the annual class trip to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The study trip includes meetings with senior level UN Mission representatives, UN Women, women's NGOs participating in the CSW and members of the school’s SAIS Women's Alumni Network (SWAN) chapter in New York.

The Power of Womenomics in South Asia Study Trek
The International Political Economy and Global Theory and History Programs in collaboration with SAIS Women Lead will embark on a two-week study trip supported by the Starr Foundation. Students will travel to the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh and to Bangalore and Auroville, India during the 2018 intercession. The trip will focus on women in the tech industry and women's economic rights.


Since 2014, the SAIS Women’s Alumni Network, SWAN, has conducted 11 skills sessions for alumni and students in Washington and Bologna. Leadership classes offer participants the opportunity to develop and refine skills critical for women as leaders such as negotiation, finding your voice, and the art of storytelling. Classes are often followed by an alumni panel of discussants on the skills topic.

Marshall Millsap ’76, Managing Partner at Sprezzatura Advisors and former Managing Director at JPMorgan, teaches a Leadership class on Negotiation.

Women of Promise Fellowship Program

The evidence is clear: women’s advancement brings about a healthier, more prosperous and stable world. Placing more women in leadership also improves the success of businesses and organizations. Despite the understanding of women’s positive influence in economic, political, and social life, there is little formal training in the field of international relations that specializes in the study of how women can advance, how to measure their impact, and what this means for the trajectory of global politics. Men hold the majority of elected and appointed office worldwide, and the United States ranks 72nd in a global ranking of women’s representation in national legislatures and parliaments. Only 15% of corporate board chairs are held by women. The “gender gap” persists in other measures of equity such as wage equality and education.
To address the demand for women’s leadership, Johns Hopkins SAIS will provide fellowships and a new curricular track for the academic study, practical training, and social capital required to develop women’s leadership potential.  Our co-curricular programming offers a wealth of mentoring, networking, and skill-building so that participants gain optimal benefit from the program.

In 2018, the first cohort of “Women of Promise” fellows will arrive on campus thanks to a new partnership with Asian University for Women (AUW). In future years, the school will recruit Women of Promise from universities around the world.

Fellows in the program may concentrate in any of the school’s twenty-plus regional and functional areas of study, and also specialize in the women’s leadership track. These young leaders will serve as ambassadors from their countries of origin, and will be invited to speak about issues concerning their experiences and areas of study.

For more information about how to support our Women of Promise Fellows, click here.

Women Who Inspire Lecture Series

In 2015, SAIS Women Lead launched its flagship Women Who Inspire lectures, a series of conversations using the power of example to motivate students to become pioneers in their chosen occupations. Bringing two to three exceptional high-profile women each year to explore different facets of leadership, the program features conversations with trailblazing women from a variety of career and life paths. The series was started and is moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli herself an inspirational leader and appointed as the first Ambassador for women's empowerment by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice among many other accomplished posts throughout her career in government.

To support the Women Who Inspire Lecture Series, click here.

Past Events:


Recent Events:

Celebrate International Women's Day with Speaker Azhin Fuad, Co-Sponsored by the Office of International Service
Azhin Fuad will discuss her work with SAIS Women Lead, a global women's leadership development program here at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Fuad's current research, with the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi, seeks to implement best practices for including more women in global diplomacy.

Luncheon and Photographic Journey of Global Theory and History's, SAIS Women Lead & International Political Economy's "Power of Womenomics" Study Trek to Bangladesh and India
The majority of the world's poorest billion people are women and girls, with the share of women employed outside of agriculture remaining as low as 20% in South Asia. The "Power of Womenomics in South Asia" tour represents a landmark international study trip through the Starr Foundation's "Understanding Asia in the 21st Century" program dedicated to "womenomics," or increasing the participation of women in the labor force in order to bring nations out of poverty. Experts from Bangladesh and India will join students who will shared stories from our visit to the Asian University for Women in Chittagong; meetings with entrepreneurs in Bangalore; and a tour of social programs in Pondicherry's Auroville and villages.

"Engaging Men to Invest in Gender Equality and Advance Global Development: A Discussion with Dr. Gary Barker, CEO of Promundo"
Gender inequality is one of the most pressing global development issues we face today: it hinders women's fundamental human rights, as well as their access to economic, social, and political opportunities. It also holds back social and economic development on a global sclae, and threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Too often, however, work to rectify these inequalities- largely through women-led movements- has lacked the support of men and boys and their buy-in as thoughtful partners in advancing the agenda. This needs to change if we hope to realize full equality in our lifetime.

A Conversation with Helene Cooper, Pentagon Correspondent with the New York Times
Dean Vali Nasr hosted the Women Who Inspire lecture series with Helene Cooper, Pentagon Correspondent with the New York Times and Author of Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson SirleafMadame Presidentis a riveting biography of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia, the world's first elected black female president and Africa's first elected female head of state. This event was moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute. Watch it here.

New York: 2nd Annual SAIS Women's Alumni Network (SWAN) Documentary Film Forum: Afghanistan and 'What Tomorrow Brings'
The SAIS Women's Alumni Network (SWAN) hosted a special evening focused on one complex country, Afghanistan, from two distinct perspectives. Sarah Sewall, Speyer Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, provided expert insights. Read more.

A Discussion on Social Enterprise in Ghana with Bernice Dapaah, Founder and CEO, Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative
Entrepreneur Bernice Dapaah and leaders of the Africa Bicycle Contribution Foundation were hosted by SAIS Women Lead for a discussion on social enterprise and community development in Ghana. Read more.

Abenomics and Womenomics: A Conversation on Macroeconomic and Structural Reform in Japan with Kathy Matsui, Vice Chair, Goldman Sachs Japan
Kathy Matsui is vice chair of Goldman Sachs Japan, co-head of Macro Research in Asia and a chief Japan equity strategist. She is a member of the Asia Pacific Management Committee and Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd. Executive Committee. Matsui joined Goldman Sachs in 1994 and was named managing director in 1998, and partner in 2000. Matsui has been ranked No. 1 in Japan Equity Strategy by Institutional Investor multiple times. She was chosen by The Wall Street Journal as one of the “10 Women to Watch in Asia” for her work in “Womenomics” and was also named to Bloomberg Markets magazine’s “50 Most Influential” list in 2014.

A Conversation on Gender, Development, and Public Service
The World Bank Law, Justice and Development Week 2017 focused on the overarching theme Gender, Law and Development by highlighting the role of law and justice as enabler for a full and equal participation of women and men to development objectives. Distinguished guests added a public service perspective explaining how in their own careers gender has played an important role in re-imagining how national or international laws and institutions could be transformed to enhance equality and women’s opportunities by engaging markets and societies at large.

What's Next? Ensuring Implementation of the New US Women, Peace, and Security Act
A conversation by the United Nations Foundation examining how the US Government, UN agencies, international NGOs, local women’s groups, and others can work together to finally break through persistent barriers and ensure that girls and women are at the forefront of bringing stability, security, and peace to their countries.

Get Involved

We want to hear from you! SAIS Women Lead is dedicated to realizing the collective advantages of women’s political, social, and economic leadership. Collaboration is innately part of our approach, and we invite your investment, participation, and thought leadership. There are a many ways you can be involved, including:

Become a Practicum Partner
Does your organization require research in a field that advances women? Join our vibrant network of practicum organizational partners. To learn how you can partner with a team of students to research and address a topic of interest at your organization contact Professor Kent Davis-Packard.

Mentor a Woman of Promise fellow
Tomorrow’s leaders will be from every corner of the world. They will be globally-minded. And they will be ready to transform the world. Join their journey and contact Julie Micek, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs to learn how you can mentor a student.

Donate your Expertise as a Skills Course Instructor

Johns Hopkins SAIS welcomes senior alumnae to donate their talents as instructors for skills workshops and courses. For more information, contact Marshall Millsap at

Take Action with the SAIS Women's Alumni Network (SWAN)
Join an active community of alumni and make an impact in women's leadership and professional development. Sign up to be on the SWAN Speaker Bureau as a panelist, moderator or facilitator for an event or for the SWAN Documentary Film Forum. Take initiative and facilitate a professional skills workshop, speak on a career panel in your city, or get involved with SWAN Action. Connect with alumni on social media or subscribe to our global newsletter for upcoming events. To learn more, visit us at or email Emily Howells Matson (B’07,’08), Chair, Global SAIS Women’s Alumni Network.  

Join the SAIS Women Lead Mailing List
Receive our newsletter and invitations to program happenings and events. Click here to join our list serve.

Invest in SAIS Women Lead

Give to SAIS Women Lead

To support annual operations, name a practicum, name a Women of Promise Fellowship, support the student run Global Women in Leadership Conference, or create an endowment, visit or contact Kenna Barrett, Director of Development. Be sure to note that your tax deductible gift is in support of the SAIS Women Lead.
Thank you to our SAIS Women Lead Supporters

Through SAIS Women Lead, the leaders of tomorrow will receive a world-class education together with specific training and mentoring preparing them to remove barriers to women’s advancement. The program has come to fruition thanks to the partnership of individuals and organizations who have made founding investments of $25,000 or more in the initial stages of development. We are grateful to the founders named below, as well as to the many sponsors of the Global Women in Leadership Conference.

Founders Circle of Johns Hopkins SAIS Women Lead:
·       Henna Babar Ali
·       Marshall H. Millsap
·       Peter and Sarah O’Hagan
·       Kathleen M. Pike
·       Edith Quintrell
·       Starr Foundation “Understanding Asia” Endowment

Additional supporters:
·       Veronica Baruffati
·       Elizabeth A. Corwin
·       Leanne D. Galati
·       Gabriela Gold
·       Terri L. McBride
·       Elizabeth Madigan Jost
·       Maureen H. Norton
·       Sara S. O’Rourke
·       Alison von Klemperer


SAIS Women Lead Newsletter Archive

Contact Us

Kent Davis-Packard
SAIS Women Lead Coordinator and Practicum Director
Visiting Research Associate
Adjunct Lecturer of Global Theory and History
BOB 603

Kenna Barrett
Director of Development

Address & Email

SAIS Women Lead
Bernstein Office Building, Room 603
1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036

Student Blogs and Publications

To see more student blogs, please visit our blog site.

Student Blogs

Despite Obstacles, Women Entrepreneurs are Emerging in India 

By Zhao Liu

Our one-hour discussion with these inspiring businesswomen showed us another story about women in India. Read more here.

Why Transform the Dowry System in India?
By Yi Ren

Today, dowry is no longer a gift in India but a demand – a kind of capital that reveals a parasitic economy of men living off ransom or surplus generated from women. Read more here.

Is Microfinance Still Development's Silver Bullet?
By Sydney Hulebak

Poverty often stifles creativity. When you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you are going to start a business that you know will succeed because you have seen it done time and time again. Read more here.

Hopes and Dreams at the Asian University for Women
By Freddie Sleiffer

The most insightful and inspirational part of the trip for me was our visit to the Asian University for Women (AUW), based in Chittagong, Bangladesh. AUW, which was launched with the support of SAIS alumnae Kathy Matsui and Kathy Pike, gives women throughout Asia the opportunity to obtain a university degree and analytical skills that enable them to become leaders in their communities in promoting human and economic development. Read more here.


AUW Students Stand Up to Their Parents' Mores
By Sophie Seidner

Weaving through the busy streets of Chittagong filled with rickshaws and pedestrians in colorful clothes, the air filled with smog and the noise of a busy city, our van reaches the gate that opens to reveal a small oasis of calm and quiet and curious students. Read more here.