WEI Board of Directors

Margo Thomas, PhD – Founder & CEO

Throughout her career spanning more than two decades as a senior official at the World Bank Group, Margo Thomas, PhD has provided policy advice to over 50 national and sub-national governments. Dr. Thomas successfully completed her appointment as the Chief of Secretariat for the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. She plays leading roles in a large number of international organizations including Chatham House and MET Community. In her ongoing role as Founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Imperative, Dr. Thomas serves as a catalyst for initiatives aimed at increasing opportunities for the economic empowerment of disadvantaged and under-represented groups globally.





Amadou Mahtar Ba – Chair of the Board

Amadou Mahtar Ba is co-Founder and Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media, Inc – owner and operator of http://allAfrica.com, the largest content service provider specialized on Africa. Mr. Ba sits on several boards and participates in a number of international working groups including the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Councils, the Africa Democratic Institute, the Africa Policy Advisory Board of ONE and serves as a member of the Panel of Judges for the CNN African Journalist Award. He is a recipient of many distinguished awards and recognitions in Africa, Europe and the USA, including being selected in the “100 Most Influential Africans” for three years in a row by New African Magazine. Forbes Magazine listed him one of “The Top 10 Most Powerful Men in Africa” in February 2014. Mr. Ba was educated in Senegal, France and Spain. He is fluent in French, English, Spanish, Fulani and Wolof.




Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke – Board Member

Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke is Founder and Managing Director of W4 (Women’s WorldWide Web), an international humanitarian organization and Europe’s first crowdfunding platform dedicated to girls’ and women’s empowerment around the world. W4’s overarching objective is to promote SDG5b, girls’ and women’s equal access to and participation in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). After completing her B.A. at King’s College, Cambridge University, Lindsey joined Human Rights Watch in New York. She worked for several years in Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire for UNICEF and later for the humanitarian organization Children of Asia, which operates programs in South-East Asia. In 2008, she trained in Bangladesh with Grameen Bank (founded by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus) and later obtained an Executive MBA at ESCP-Europe, Paris, in 2009, for which she received the International MBA Student of the Year award, bestowed by AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and The Independent newspaper. In 2011, Lindsey was named a “40 under 40” European Young Leader by EuropaNova & Friends of Europe and nominated a “Women in IT Role Model” by the Digital Agenda of the European Commission in 2013. In 2015, Lindsey was named one of the Inspiring Fifty, Europe’s 50 most inspiring women leaders in the technology sector. In 2016, Lindsey was nominated a G20 Young Entrepreneur and was invited as a member of the French delegation to participate in the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit in Beijing. Lindsey was also nominated one of the Inspiring Fifty in France, France’s 50 most inspiring leaders in France’s technology sector.


Barbara J. Orser – Board Member

Barbara J. Orser is a Full Professor, and the Deloitte Professor in the Management of Growth Enterprises at Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa (Canada). Her research and industry outreach focus on gender and women’s entrepreneurship, finance, SME procurement and policy. Current studies include a 19-nation study on women’s enterprise policies, typology of women-focused capital funds, federal SME procurement, gender influences in ICT adoption among small businesses, and gender-based audit of Canadian accelerators and incubators. Industry engagement includes collaboration with the Canadian Bureau of International Education and INJAZ (Jordan) to construct gender-sensitive entrepreneurship curricula and training. She is the lead author of over 100 academic and industry publications, including Feminine Capital. Unlocking the Power of Women Enterprise (Stanford University Press, 2015). She is the Founding Chair of the Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth (2009 to 2011) and Founding Co-Chair of the Women Entrepreneurs Ontario Collective (2015 to 2016), non-partisan consortiums of women business owners, training agencies, academics and industry associations to advise on women’s enterprise policies. Dr. Orser has served an advisor to many Canadian federal agencies, APEC, OECD and the US State Department, and is an Editorial Board member of the International Journal of gender and Entrepreneurship. Her research and industry contributions have been acknowledged through numerous awards, including Women’s Executive Network ‘100 Most Powerful Women in Canada’ (2010), The International Alliance of Women ‘World of Difference Award’ (2010), and ‘Canada 150 Women’, an award that celebrates feminist leaders, champions and luminaries in Canada’s 150th year.



Doug Richardson – Board Member

Douglas Richardson is a Distinguished Researcher at the Center for Geographic Analysis and the Institute of Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. He was previously the longest serving Executive Director of the Association of American Geographers. Prior to joining the AAG, Dr. Richardson had founded and for 18 years was the president of GeoResearch, Inc., a private scientific research company specializing in geographic research and technology, including geographic information science and systems (GIS), spatial modeling, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS).  Richardson and GeoResearch developed and patented the world’s first real-time interactive GPS/GIS systems, leading to significant changes in the ways in which geographic information is now collected, mapped, integrated, and used within the field of geography, as well as in society at large. This technology is now at the heart of a wide array of real-time interactive mapping, navigation, mobile computing, military, and location-based business services, and large-scale mobile asset management applications of many industries ranging from electric utilities to transport, and from governmental planning and disaster response activities to environmental and natural resources management. Dr. Richardson and GeoResearch continued to pioneer the development of new real-time interactive geographic technologies and their applications internationally for more than a decade following their invention, through cutting-edge research and hundreds of large-scale implementation projects worldwide.  He sold his company and its core patents in 1998. Richardson holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a Ph.D. in Geography from Michigan State University. His current research and management interests focus on the geospatial dimensions of health and equity, and on geography and GIS’s evolution as international resources for economic development and global understanding.


William S. Reese – Board Member

Bill Reese was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Youth Foundation in 2005, having joined IYF in May 1998 as its Chief Operating Officer. He was President and CEO of Partners of the Americas for twelve years. Previously, he served with the Peace Corps for ten years, first as a volunteer in Salvador, Brazil, then as director of Brazil operations, and in Washington as deputy director of the Latin American and Caribbean region. He currently sits on the board of Youth Business International and previously served on the board of InterAction.
Bill Reese also serves as a founding board member of Solutions 4 Youth Employment, a multi stakeholder alliance co-created with the World Bank, international development agencies, multinational corporations and civil society leaders to tackle the global challenge of youth unemployment and serves as a board member of two organizations committed to certifying best practices in global supply chains in the apparel and toy industries: W.R.A.P. and ICTI Care Foundation. Reflecting his interest in promoting international volunteerism, he has joined the board of Global Citizen Year. Mr. Reese received his BA in Political Science from Stanford University and is a 1995 graduate of the Business School’s Executive Program.


Yonette F. Thomas – Board Member

Dr. Yonette F. Thomas is Executive Director of the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH) and Senior Research Advisor to the Association of American Geographers (AAG). She is a founding board member of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science (IAPHS) and a faculty affiliate in the Maryland Population Research Center (MPRC) at the University of Maryland College Park. She was formerly the Associate Vice President for Research Compliance at Howard University. Previously she served as the Chief of the Epidemiology Research Branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. She has held faculty appointments in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the School of Pharmacy at Howard University. She is a member of the Consortium of Social Science Associations Advisory Committee and the Steering Committee of the National Hispanic Science Network. She served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Her primary research and publications have focused on the epidemiology of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS and the link with geography, including edited volumes: Geography and Drug Addiction; Crime, HIV, and Health: intersections of Criminal Justice and Public Health Concerns; Trajectories of Drug Use Among Minority Youth.


Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu  – Board Member

Joannes Paulus, who runs Hope For Children in Cameroon, is a passionate youth advocate who has worked with young people across Africa and the world for more than seven years, focusing on engaging youth and men as key partners in the drive to fulfill the SDGs. Joannes was trained as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist at the University of Buea in Cameroon, after which he obtained a Masters degree in Biomedical Sciences from New Mexico Highlands University, USA. He holds a graduate certificate in International Development from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a graduate diploma in Public Health from the Medical College of Wisconsin, USA. Having earned a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from the Judy Business School at Cambridge University, UK, he is currently completing a Masters degree in Leadership and Community Engagement at York University, Canada. Joannes serves on the Youth Advisory Group for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and is a speaker with the Champions Bureau program of the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada. As a Global Youth Ambassador Influencer for A World at School, a One Young World Ambassador, and an Associate Member of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Joannes has spent most of his life advocating for access to quality education for all, especially for girls and those in communities affected by conflict. Joannes’s work to engage males in the push to disrupt norms and challenge perceptions in order to promote gender equity and the empowerment of women and girls was featured as one of the first IMPACT stories in the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign. Joannes has shared his work at the United Nations and the Vatican, and was recently honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. In 2017, Joannes and his team were recognized globally as Gold winners on the Education and ICT track during the first UNLEASH Innovation Lab in Denmark, where they developed a sharing-economy model that connects the deaf community in Kenya to sign language interpreters. Among many other honors, Joannes has received an Emma Watson’s Tribe scholarship (2016), a Canadian Bureau for International Education Photo award (2016), a Queen’s Young Leaders award (2015), and the 2014 Youth Courage Award, which honors young people who have demonstrated courage and leadership in their work as change agents for universal education.


From the blog...

International Conference Focuses on Women’s Economic Empowerment

International Conference Focuses on Women’s Economic Empowerment

January 24, 2020 - By WEI Media Team
Women's Economic Empowerment: Opportunities and Challenges for Equity, Inclusive Growth, and Sustainability were discussed during the first international Conference held in November in Scotland and presented by the Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI) in partnership with Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES). The conference focussed on engaging participants in active dialog and catalysing concrete actions to help advance the global agenda
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