Michele Costello, President (2011-present)
Michele Costello is a Director at the Royal Bank of Scotland and leads the Portfolio Management NV team for corporate clients. In this role, she manages a credit portfolio of US-based multinational clients across various industries. Michele is an experienced debt professional, with a background in corporate, leveraged, syndicated and real estate finance. Her interest in microfinance has led to various volunteer activities and affiliations with NY- area microfinance organizations, a role as outreach director for a microfinance renewable energy project in Haiti, a role as co-founder of a microfinance education company, and an Adjunct Professor position at Baruch College teaching a microfinance course. Michele received an MBA in Finance and Economics from New York University Stern School of Business.
Sharlene Brown is National Director for Oikocredit USA, the American affiliate of Oikocredit International. Oikocredit is one of the largest sources of private funding to the microfinance sector, trade cooperatives, fair trade organizations, and small and medium enterprises, with a special emphasis on rural areas and women. Most recently Sharlene served as a senior program officer for the Grameen Foundation Social Performance Management Center, where she oversaw projects for microfinance institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle-East/North Africa. Sharlene has also worked in the socially responsible investment marketplace as a business development manager for Domini Social Investments and as research associate for the Social Investment Forum. Sharlene received her bachelor's degree in economics and African studies from Wellesley College and a master's in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Lauren Clark (secretary, 2011-present)
Biography coming soon
Katleen Felix is project director and Haitian Diaspora liaison for Fonkoze, a leading microfinance institution in Haiti. She is responsible for research and development of new remittance products or initiatives, financial literacy programs for new immigrants, training and capacity-building for Haitian Hometown Associations (HHTAs), project reporting and donor relations.
Along with her work for Fonkoze, Katleen is very active in the Haitian economic development and business communities both on-island and in the diaspora. Her most recent project is Zafen (www.zafen.org) , a P2P website supporting small and medium enterprise development in Haiti. She serves on the board of directors of three organizations (the Haitian Hometown Associations Resources Group, the Haitian Diaspora Foundation, and the Kanpe Foundation) and appears frequently as a speaker at international conferences. In addition, Katleen is the recipient of many awards: 2006 Young Professional Excellence Award of HEC Montreal for her accomplishments and community involvement, 2009 Young Professional of the Year award and People's Choice award by the Young Chamber of Commerce from Montreal, 2009 Community Leadership Award from HABNET, 2009 Citation from the President of the Brooklyn Borough Hall, 2010 Pioneers of Prosperity Award of Mattapan Technology in Boston, and 2011 FANM and City of Miami recognition.
Prior to joining Fonkoze, Katleen worked in a variety of senior financial positions for
major corporations in North America. She holds bachelor and master degrees in finance and international business from HEC Montreal and speaks French, English, Creole, Portuguese and basic Spanish.
Anne Folan - Co-Founder
Anne Folan is an independent consultant focused on strategic communications, public relations, and knowledge management for clients primarily in the microfinance industry. Her clients include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mercy Corps, FINCA International, CGAP, Alternative Credit Technologies, the Social Performance Task Force, JMR Portfolio Management, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Haiti Democracy Project. Before launching her own practice, Anne handled communications for FINCA International, managing their brand identity, designing strategic communications plans, producing all web and print publications, leading internal communications, and producing high-profile special events. Anne began her career at Island Press, the only nonprofit publishing house exclusively devoted to environmental issues. She holds a bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
Cara Forster currently works as a program manager at the SEEP (Small Enterprise Education and Promotion) Network, a global "network of networks" dedicated to advancing microfinance and enterprise development. Her focus areas include consumer protection and social performance. Prior to joining SEEP, Cara worked as an independent consultant for ACCION International, the Social Performance Task Force, and the Grameen Foundation. From 2008 to 2010 Cara worked at ACCION where she helped launch both the Center for Financial Inclusion and the Smart Campaign in her capacity as program manager for the Double Bottom Line. She coordinated the Beyond Codes project and managed tool creation for the The Smart Campaign. Prior to joining ACCION, Cara spent four years in environmental consulting, designing performance measures and conducting project evaluations for several EPA programs. Her interest in microfinance dates to her Peace Corps service in Nicaragua where she coordinated a small savings and loan cooperative for single mothers. Cara did her undergraduate work in Environmental Science at Harvard College and holds a master's in Sustainable Development from Duke University.
Sona Gandhi is the deputy to the president and CEO of FINCA International, a leading global microfinance institution. She leads FINCA's strategy and planning activities, directs internal policy development, and focuses on initiatives of high priority to FINCA's strategic plan. Prior to joining FINCA in 2005, Sona worked in investment banking in New York and management consulting in Washington, DC. She began her microfinance career in Gujarat, India and Blantyre, Malawi. Sona is a frequent guest lecturer on microfinance, and a past Chair of the Washington, DC chapter of 'Women Advancing Microfinance'. Sona holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS from the University of Maryland at College Park. Sona speaks fluent Gujarati (dialect of Hindi) and conversational French and Spanish.
Jennifer Hansel is a Private Enterprise Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Jennifer has worked over ten years in international development with USAID, QED Group, RTI International, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, The SEEP Network, and Institutional Shareholder Services. She has published in the Microfinance and Enterprise Development Journal, and a paper she co-authored was presented at the United Nations. Jennifer was a 2003-2004 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador from 2000-2002. She holds a Master of Science degree in Poverty Reduction and Development Management.
Maria Sara Jijon-Calderon
Maria Sara Jijon Calderon is an international consultant, legal counsel, and trainer. She is a founding member of both the Ecuador chapter of Women Advancing Microfinance and of Mujeres por el Ecuador, a network of professional and businesswomen whose mission is to advance the opportunities of women in Ecuador. With 20 years experience in the design, development and execution of rule of law and good governance programs and projects, Maria Sara's areas of interest are banking and finance, economic development and social entrepreneurship, with a special focus on financial sector regulation, alternative finance and microfinance, and consumer protection within the financial industry. She also has a strong interest in social responsibility, corporate sustainability and responsibility, and corporate citizenship. Maria Sara holds an LLB from the Pontificia Universidad Catlica del Ecuador (PUCE), an LLM from Harvard University (Harvard Law School), and a Diploma on "Gender and Economics" from FLACSO Ecuador. Along with her native Spanish, Maria Sara is fluent in English and Italian, and proficient in French.
Andrée Simon is acting CEO of Women for Women International (WfWI), leading that organization's global efforts to provide women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the resources to move from crisis to stability and self-sufficiency. As acting CEO, Andrée heads WfWI's global management team, which spans 10 countries, in its pursuit of the greatest possible impact for the more than 300,000 women WfWI has helped around the globe. Prior to WfWI, Andrée served as Deputy Director of FINCA, a network of 21 microfinance affiliates serving 700,000 clients across four continents. In addition to providing strategic guidance to FINCA's network affiliates and management team through many years of rapid growth, Andrée led the development and implementation of many transformative projects including organizational design, corporate governance, and risk management. She serves as a board member of several microfinance-related institutions around the globe, is an Adjunct Professor of Microfinance at Georgetown University, and lectures frequently at international conferences about economic empowerment, microfinance and development. Andrée received her undergraduate degree in International Relations from the University of Virginia, her M.A. from Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and an MBA in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. She speaks French, Spanish and Japanese.
Susan Salerno has been involved in microfinance for several years in both professional and volunteer capacities. As an independent consultant, Susan worked with Grameen Foundation to develop their first proposed private equity microfinance fund. She has developed business plans for new self-sustaining microfinance ventures and her article about institutional investing in the sector was published by Microfinance Insights magazine. Susan has also served as a director at UBS Private Banking where she developed private equity funds for a global client base. Susan currently serves on the Steering Committee of WAM-NY, the Grameen America Advisory Board, the investment committee of a microfinance investment vehicle, the direct loan committee of Project Enterprise, and the board of directors of the Microfinance Club of New York. Susan holds a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College and a master's from the University of Toronto, both in economics.