Vital Voices Global Partnership recognized women leaders including Diane von Furstenberg, Amanda Nguyen, Habiba Ali, Saskia Niño de Rivera and Rouba Mhaissen for their work solving local problems to create global change


Washington, DC, April 25, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Yesterday, Vital Voices Global Partnership brought together leaders affecting change around the world at their 18th Annual Global Leadership Awards. Vital Voices honored fashion icon and philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg, renewable energy social entrepreneur Habiba Ali, justice reform advocate Saskia Niño de Rivera, refugee advocate Rouba Mhaissen and activist and advocate Amanda Nguyen for their work fixing problems in their communities to incite change on a worldwide scale.

The impactful evening showcased the 2019 Honorees’ wide range of impressive work – from working to reform the Mexican prison system, to bringing renewable energy solutions to rural Nigeria, to empowering Syrian refugees, to driving new legislation to protect sexual assault survivors, to creating a household brand name and elevating women along the way. This year’s incredible Honorees were acknowledged with the following awards:

  • Diane von Furstenberg, Global Trailblazer Award
  • Habiba Ali, Economic Empowerment Award
  • Saskia Niño de Rivera, Leadership in Public Life Award
  • Rouba Mhaissen, Human Rights Award
  • Amanda Nguyen, Light of Freedom Award

“What we’ve realized over 22 years, working across 181 countries with thousands of women leaders, is that women’s path to leadership is unconventional, their motivation is personal and their mission is collective progress,” said Vital Voices President and CEO Alyse Nelson. “Women lead differently – and that difference is needed in our world today. Women’s leadership is resonating around the world because it comes from an authentic place – from a place of empowerment, empathy and instinct.”  

Throughout the evening, Vital Voices welcomed special guests including:

  • Nancy Pelosi, 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State
  • Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security
  • Tina Brown, President and CEO, Tina Brown Live Media
  • Jasmine Cephas Jones, Actor and Activist
  • Amanda Gorman, First-Ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, Vital Voices HERlead Fellow
  • David Jaffe, Chairman and CEO, ascena retail group, inc.
  • Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures
  • Lauren Moore, Vice President of Global Community Impact, Johnson & Johnson
  • Deborah Rutter, President, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer, Endeavor

“We gather at a time of historic progress for women in America and across the globe. In Congress, we are so proud to be serving with more than 100 women, in the same Congress that marks 100 years since American women won right to vote,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, presenting the Global Trailblazer award to fashion icon and philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg. “And we are moved by the countless women who are standing up, speaking out and using their power to demand their full and equal rights.”

“I salute all of the Vital Voices women tonight with respect and admiration, and I share this award with them. Vital Voices women are fearless – they are resilient,” said von Furstenberg upon receiving her award. “They find the tiniest bit of light in the darkness, and build around that light. Together, we can make the world a better world.”

The powerful evening concluded with an address from Secretary Hillary Clinton, one of the founders of Vital Voices.  

“Today, in the midst of some of the most challenging times the United States have ever seen, it’s women who are doing the hard, essential work of reinvigorating our democracy,” said Secretary Clinton during her closing address. “Today more than ever before, women in the United States and around the world are raising their own vital voices, coming forward to tell their stories and demand equality.” 

The annual event honors and celebrates women leaders around the world working to strengthen democracy, increase economic opportunity and protect human rights. This year’s Global Leadership Awards was hosted at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. 

For select photos from the event, please visit the photo gallery here.

About Vital Voices Global Partnership  

Vital Voices Global Partnership is an international non-profit organization that identifies and partners with creative and fearless women leaders around the world. Vital Voices searches the world for women leaders with daring vision for change, then partners with them to make that vision a reality. We provide them with capacity building, skills training, grants, access to a network of their peers, mentorship, visibility, credibility, recognition of their efforts and guidance to accelerate change on a global scale.

For more than 20 years, Vital Voices has invested in women leaders from over 180 countries and territories. We are venture catalysts, supporting women who advance economic opportunity, increase political and public engagement, end gender-based violence and promote human rights. Vital Voices connects women already solving problems in their communities and equips them with the tools they need to incite global, positive change and accelerate shared progress for all. Visit to learn more.

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Vital Voices 18th Annual Global Leadership Awards Class Photo of the presenters and Honorees, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Diane von Furstenberg, Tina Brown, Alyse Nelson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Amanda Gorman, David Jaffe, Donna Langley, Lauren Moore, Deborah Rutter, Bozoma Saint John, Xiomara Diaz, Beth Brooke-Marciniak, V. Sue Molina, Jamira Burley, Amanda Nguyen, Habiba Ali, Rhouba Mhaissen, Saskia Nino de Rivera, Ariela Suster, and ElsaMaria D'Silva. Secretary Hillary Clinton offered final remarks for the evening, celebrating the contribution of women leaders around the world.

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