About AWIU

Our Purpose:

To bring together women in leadership positions throughout the United States to engage in and to encourage people-to-people contact throughout the world.

To participate in delegations to other countries to meet with political and business leaders, women’s groups, and non-profit organizations.

To engage in study programs, including self-study, organized reading, and group study or meetings, to gain knowledge and understanding of national and international problems.

To maintain communication between AWIU members and the people we meet through delegations, exchanges and events hosted by AWIU.

To attempt, by all these means, to build bridges of understanding, goodwill, and cooperation between women leaders throughout the world and thus to share, however small, in the building of international goodwill and reduction of friction by means of non-political, non-governmental, voluntary citizen action.

AWIU Fact Sheet


AWIU was founded over fifty years ago to foster international understanding through personal connection. We strive to build goodwill through non-partisan, female-led, voluntary citizen action.

Our Identity

We are a community of women from a wide variety of backgrounds who care about improving international understanding. Firm in the belief that knowledge promotes understanding, our programs provide opportunities to support and learn from groundbreaking women around the world, while inspiring and mentoring the next generation of female leaders and learners.

What We Do

AWIU supports and advocates for the work that women leaders and female-oriented non-profit organizations are doing around the world to build a more just, economically sound and humane society. Through our impactful programs, AWIU provides synergistic opportunities for reciprocal leading and learning among women globally.

  •  Delegations: Since 1968, AWIU has sponsored more than 55 delegations, including over 100 country visits, on every continent except Antarctica. Our delegations aim to foster understanding between the United States and the host country on a personal level.
  • Micro-Grants: AWIU has awarded nearly $380,000 in micro-grants to nonprofit organizations focused on training and empowering women and girls in the areas of leadership, technology, health care and journalism. Recent grants have highlighted women-owned businesses in developing countries.
  • International Women of Courage Celebration and Grants: Beginning in 2008, AWIU has been uniquely honored to host the International Women of Courage (IWOC) Celebration in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, and has awarded over$400,000 in grants to support the work of these extraordinary women. Typically held each spring in Los Angeles, AWIU’s IWOC Celebration honors and supports the groundbreaking work of these courageous women.
  • Passports to the Future: AWIU sponsors young women interested in international affairs as Passports to the Future members. Our “Passports” enjoy meaningful networking and mentorship opportunities as they learn and lead alongside our Grantees and members.
  • Career Opportunities in International Relations (COIR) Symposium: To encourage young women to seek careers in international relations, AWIU hosts this annual one-day program in Washington, DC with participation from the U.S. Department of State, which provides young women the opportunity to engage with professionals and leaders
    in the field.
  • Speakers and Conversations: AWIU hosts speaker events, panel discussions and informal conversations among members, Grantees and friends from around the world. Organizational Structure: National membership with chapters in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Northern California, Orange County, California, and Washington, D.C.

AWIU Board of Directors

Officers 2023

Margaret Heflin Sabbag


Nancy McAniff Annick

First Vice President

Ambassador (retired) Eunice Reddick

Vice President

Barbara Rubio

Vice President

Gayle Graham Morin


Noelle Newton


Jing Bao

Barbara J. Disko

Magda Fehema-Sharkasi

Mary Pat Garr

Ambassador (retired) Tatiana C. Gfoeller

Betty Houbion

Kathleen Huston

Ingrid Johnson

Chun-Chieh Lin

Diane M. McGlinchey

Cynthy Moffatt

Robin Winter Odem

Pooja Chandra Pama

Julie Pantiskas

Maria Emmi Schory

Joan M. Starr, Ph.D.

Janice Meagher Trojan

Carol Ann Warren

Jane Mursener Wetzel

Support AWIU

As nonprofit 501(c)(3), all donations made are tax deductible

American Women for International Understanding
1900 East Golf Road, Suite 950
Schaumburg, IL 60173
phone: 202-643-1196 | email: info@awiu.org

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