WEI Board of Directors

Margo Thomas, PhD – Founder & CEO

Policy Advisor – inclusive growth and private sector development | Globally acknowledged advocate for women’s economic empowerment | Disruptive thinker & thought leader. Throughout her career spanning more than two decades as a senior official at the World Bank Group, Dr. Thomas has provided policy advice to over 50 national and sub-national governments.  As Founder and CEO of the 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. In April 2017, 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. Under the Argentinian Presidency of the G20, Dr. Thomas was appointed Co-Chair of the 2018 Think 20 Task Force on Gender Economic Equity. Subsequently, Dr. Thomas was invited by the Japanese Presidency to continue her work and serve as a Co-Chair of the 2019 Think 20 Task Force on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.In September 2019, Dr. Thomas was appointed as a member of the first cohort of the Global Solutions Institute Fellows to conduct research and provide thought leadership on critical issues underpinning the work of the G20. In 2017, Dr. Thomas was appointed as an Associate Fellow at Chatham House – the UK Royal Institute of International Affairs.



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. Thomas is a globally acknowledged thought leader, urban health champion, and an advocate for valuing the health of women and girls as an economic imperative. She is the president of Borjoner International and Global Advisor for the Centre for Urban Health and Development within the Asian Institute of Poverty Alleviation (CUHD-AIPA). She served as the inaugural Executive Director of the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH) for the past two and a half years. Dr. Thomas is a founding board member of the ISUH and has served as a science advisor for urban health to the New York Academy of Medicine. She is a founding board member and former vice president of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science (IAPHS) and served on the Steering Committee of the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse for more than a decade. She formerly served as the Associate Vice President for Research Compliance at Howard University in Washington, DC. Previously Dr. Thomas served as the chief of the Epidemiology Research Branch and program director for the social epidemiology program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. She has held faculty appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and in the School of Pharmacy at Howard University. She is a member of the
Consortium of Social Science Associations Advisory Committee and 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 health of women and girls as an economic value, the social 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.
 She has a Ph.D. in medical sociology and demography, with post graduate training in epidemiology.


Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu  – Board Member

Joannes, of Cameroonian nationality describes himself as a global citizen having lived, studied and worked in Cameroon, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Niger and now Nigeria. Within the last 9 months with UNICEF Nigeria, Joannes led Generation Unlimited (GenU) – a new multi global partnership working to prepare young people to become productive and engaged citizen. Prior to this role, Joannes has worked in several institutions including: the Medical College of Wisconsin (USA), World Vision (Niger), Plan International (Canada), Corporate Canada and most recently as Community Engagement Officer with UNICEF Canada. Joannes recently obtained his second master’s degree in Leadership and Community Engagement from York University (Canada), which cemented his passion in community mobilizing and youth engagement, social justice and policy with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. He brings to this role over 5 years of experience working with children and marginalized youth in the global south on issues related to education, employment, youth empowerment and community engagement with a strong advocacy and policy background around key human and social development thematic areas namely: education, sexual reproductive health and gender equality. As youth advocate, Joannes has provided expert policy recommendations to governments and Think Tanks including the Foreign Office of the Commonwealth; the Sultan of Sokoto Peace and development Foundation; supported Canada’s first youth policy framework and most recently co-published a policy brief as part of the G20 Task Force on Gender Equality in Education. He currently serves as board member for WEI – the Women Economic Imperative – global, collaborative initiative to promote women’s economic empowerment. Joannes’ work with young people has received several academic and international recognitions including – as recipient of the UN Envoy on Global Education Youth Courage Award and most recently the Queen of England Young Leaders Award. Joannes has co-published several book chapters and articles and plans to continue with his PhD later in his career. In his free time, he enjoys connecting with nature; photography and mentoring young people.


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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