One of AWIU’s grantees, Modern Model Residential School, has done an incredible job reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Modern Model Residential School is in rural Nepal and focuses on educating orphans and underprivileged children. Founder Prakash Bista reopened the school this year with a focus on safety: the classrooms have been limited to 50% capacity, Bista added bunk beds to the hostel for increased distancing, and he is distributing soaps and hand sanitizers to more than 50,000 children this month! Modern Model Residential School now has advanced technology in their school as well. Keep up the good work!

AWIU wishes to congratulate Mellody Hobson, the 2017 Honorary Chair of AWIU’s International Women of Courage Celebration, on being named Chair of the Board of Directors for Starbucks. Ms. Hobson is the co-CEO of Ariel Investments and a director at JP Morgan. Last month, Princeton University, her alma mater, announced it would be re-naming a residential college for Ms. Hobson. She is a recognized advocate for women, children, education, the arts and financial literacy and investment education through her work and her community outreach. The Wall Street Journal said that her Starbucks’ appointment establishes Ms. Hobson as “among the most prominent Black leaders on US corporate boards.”

Her community outreach includes serving as chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago teens with high-quality, out-of-school time programs. She is a board member of The Chicago Public Education Fund, George Lucas Education Foundation, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and Sundance Institute, where she has been appointed emeritus trustee. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. She was named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world and has received numerous honorary degrees.

We salute Ms. Hobson for her extraordinary leadership and for her support of AWIU’s mission.

Meet iconic international relations experts and global advocates to hear their stories and receive personalized information on careers.

About this Event
American Women for International Understanding invites you to our
Career Opportunities for International Relations
5th annual symposium

November 13, 2019
9:30 AM to 2:00 PM
United States Institute of Peace
2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037

JOIN US and ENGAGE with global women charged up with PASSION, POWER, PURPOSE, and PEACE Hear informative conversations and personal stories by iconic women in international affairs Learn about global careers, internships , events, travel and volunteer and advocacy opportunities Participate in small group mentoring sessions

Network with featured speakers:

  • Dr. Josephine “Jody” Olsen, director, U. S. Peace Corps
  • Leslie Schweitzer, founder and president of Friends of the American University of Afghanistan
  • Hon. Aurelia Brazeal , U.S. Diplomat, former ambassador to Kenya, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia
  • Pauletta Walsh, international relations officer, Office of Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
  • At the podium, they discuss using their voices to make tough decisions that make a difference
  • After their presentations, you can meet them and talk with them

In addition, we welcome recruiters and mentors from many agencies:

  • U.S. Peace Corps
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. African Development Foundation
  • Georgetown University
  • American University
  • Howard University

for small-group speed-mentoring sessions to share the nuts and bolts of the international and global arena and to discuss topics about global-readiness

Our Young Women Global Impact Awards & Ceremony honors 10 young women 18-45 years for their outstanding global advocacy and contributions to equity human rights, education, health, economic development and the arts for women and girls. Recipients are nominated by the international community based in the United States.

Please register by Wednesday, November 6, for a free lunch

The 2019 International Women of Courage Celebration

“Each one of you is a hero. Give it time to think how you can get this hero out to serve the world,” Magda Gobran Gorgy, the founder of a non-governmental organization in Egypt that serves the most impoverished urban slums and rural villages regardless of their color creed, or faith, and a 2019 International Woman of Courage Awardee, encouraged the capacity crowd at the 12th annual International Women of Courage Celebration at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles. The Celebration was hosted by American Women for International Understanding together with the U.S. Department of State and the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles. “Mama Maggie” abandoned her life as a college professor to found Stephen’s Children, which feeds, clothes, educates and mentors children, as well as provides vocational training for adults. Mama Maggie shared the story of a woman who started singing as a 90-year-old. “It’s never too late,” she reassured the audience.  “Don’t let your singing die in you.”

Each one of you is a hero. Give it time to think how you can get this hero out to serve the world

Fellow International Woman of Courage Awardee, Anna Aloys Henga, a human rights lawyer from Tanzania, affirmed Mama Maggie’s call to action: “This award has fueled me and my colleagues and my fellow awardees even more.” Ms. Henga has dedicated her entire professional career to advancing human rights in Tanzania, with a particular focus on women and children. She coordinated Tanzania’s Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Coalition, mobilized lawyers to defend the human rights of women in Maasai communities, and encouraged women candidates to run for office in the 2015 general election cycle. “We are very passionate about our work,” she explained, “but we did not know there are people watching and appreciating what we do.” Ms. Henga thanked the U.S. Department of State for the award, but, she reassured the crowd, “We are still fighting.  We’ll fight up to the end.  As Mama Maggie said, we’ll continue singing after our last breath.”

This award has fueled me and my colleagues and my fellow awardees even more

Since 2007, the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award honors women who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality and social progress around the globe.  Awardees traveled to the U.S. for an award ceremony at the State Department in Washington, DC on March 7, 2019 and had an opportunity for cultural exchange through the International Visitors Leadership Program. The honorees completed their stay in the United States at AWIU’s International Women of Courage Celebration on March 19th. The Celebration provides an evening for the IWOCs to connect with AWIU members from around the country and Los Angeles-based patrons who support women’s global issues. In addition, AWIU provides each honoree with a grant to continue her vital work in her home country.

I firmly believe that women’s empowerment is the key to promoting international peace and security

Pamela Pryor, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, introduced the 2019 International Women of Courage.  “I firmly believe that women’s empowerment is the key to promoting international peace and security,” Ms. Pryor declared, as she introduced the awardees. This year’s honorees included Razia Sultana (Bangladesh); Naw K’nyaw Paw (Burma); Moumina Houssein Darar (Djibouti); Magda Gobran Gorgy (Egypt); Khalida Khalaf Hanna al’Twal (Jordan); Olivera Lakic (Montenegro); Flor de María Vega Zapata (Peru); Marini de Livera (Sri Lanka); and Anna Aloys Henga (Tanzania).  Sister Orla Treacy (Ireland) was not able to attend the Celebration in Los Angeles.

Others in attendance from the U.S. State Department included:  Rahima Kandahari, Acting Director, Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues; Anne Grimes, International Visitors Leadership Program, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs; Hannah Duke, Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues; Caitlin Bettendorf, Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues; Augusta Philbin, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs; and Myra Best, Meridian International.

Nancy Annick, the 2019 IWOC Celebration Chair said, “We were honored once again to host the International Women of Courage Awardees in Los Angeles.  We were moved and affected by the stories of the honorees, but we were also proud to embrace them with the support of our Los Angeles sponsors and patrons.  Every guest left the evening feeling humbled, but also inspired to continue to care, and to start singing!”  The evening was emceed by AWIU member and IWOC Committee member, Cynthy Moffatt.  CBS This Morning Co-Host, Norah O’Donnell, was the Honorary Chair of the evening.

There are many women who will never have the opportunity to sit in this room, who need us not to forget them, to recognize that the only way we will make a difference is to continue to care

AWIU also presented the 2019 Internationalism Award to the Honorable Ertharin Cousin. An expert on food insecurity and hunger, Ms. Cousin has served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, as well as Executive Director for the World Food Programme. She was recognized for her commitment to the disparities of hunger and her advocacy for long-term solutions worldwide.  Ms. Cousin thanked, congratulated and reminded. First, she thanked AWIU for the award, and acknowledged AWIU’s work ensuring that voices are heard.

Second, she congratulated the International Women of Courage, who represent so much of what is possible in the world.  “I am inspired by you,” Ms. Cousin told the IWOCs. “I congratulate you, I am humbled by the work that you do and your representation of your countries here tonight.” Third, she reminded the audience, “There are many women who will never have the opportunity to sit in this room, who need us not to forget them, to recognize that the only way we will make a difference is to continue to care.” She went on, “It is not enough for us to just save lives, we need to help change lives. We need to ensure that people have the access to tools and to the support that is necessary for them to build their livelihoods.”

As a powerful group of women, we continue to Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Brilliant to Be Better in order to responsibly embrace the opportunities that address the issues affecting the equity and humanity of women around the world and around the block

The Bernice Behrens Founders Award was presented by AWIU President Maria Schory to long-time AWIU members, Diane Mitchell Henry and Robin Winter Odem. Ms. Henry was honored for her work in the governance of AWIU and the enhancement of its mission, including her role in providing opportunities for young women in the D.C. area to attend an educational symposium on international careers. Ms. Henry said about AWIU, “As a powerful group of women, we continue to Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Brilliant to Be Better in order to responsibly embrace the opportunities that address the issues affecting the equity and humanity of women around the world and around the block.”  Ms. Odem was also honored for her role in the governance of AWIU and her dedication to women’s issues, as well as for her role at the chapter level in promoting woman to woman understanding. Reflecting on her experience in AWIU, Ms. Odem stated, “AWIU is a small, but powerful organization. There are many important attributes to being a member, but the most important to me is AWARENESS. AWIU provides an opportunity to be aware of the problems of others and to do something about it!”

The Presenting Sponsor of the 2019 International Women of Courage Celebration was Deloitte for its ninth consecutive year. A leader on the global stage, Deloitte is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, embracing the idea that a diversity of perspectives helps us look deeper to find answers. Additional sponsors included: Hahn & Hahn LLP, O’Melveny, The Walt Disney Company, Wells Fargo, Ariel Investments, JAMA and the JAMA Network, Northwestern Mutual Los Angeles, Providence Foundations of Southern California, UCLA Anderson School of Management; and US News & World Report.


The 2019 Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award committee is happy to announce Ms. Diane Mitchell Henry and Ms. Robin Winter Odem as the recipients of 2019 Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award. 

Our committee has chosen Ms. Diane Mitchell Henry and Ms. Robin Winter Odem for their extraordinary efforts to implement the mission of the organization. Both have provided AWIU with opportunities to continue to create an international network of women to foster understanding and goodwill.

Ms. Diane Mitchell Henry is being awarded the Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award for her work in the governance of AWIU, enhancement of its mission as well as for her role in providing opportunities for young women in the D.C. area to attend an educational symposium on international careers and for her efforts to provide young women with career opportunities in international relations through Career Opportunities through International Relations (COIR).

Ms. Robin Winter Odem is being awarded the Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award for her contributions to the governance of AWIU, enhancement of its mission, for her dedication to women’s issues as well as for her role at the chapter level in promoting woman to woman understanding and for her role in educating her chapter members in international understanding.

Diane Mitchell Henry

Diane Mitchell Henry is a global social justice advocate, humanitarian entrepreneur and marketing consultant. Diane joined American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) in 2012.  From 2012-2018, she served as a member of the AWIU Board of Directors and Chair for the Los Angeles County Chapter (LACC).  Diane is currently Co-Chair of the LACC. Other AWIU committee positions held include the International Women of Courage (IWOC), Internationalism Award (Chair), Nomination (Chair), Development and Finance.

Passionate about youth global engagement, Diane is the Founder and Chair of the AWIU Career Opportunities for International Relations (COIR) Program, an empowerment leadership initiative designed for students and young adults interested in engaging in projects, events and activities that offer international career and diplomacy options, internships, volunteer and entrepreneur opportunities. COIR started in 2015 and for the past 4 years COIR and the U.S. Department of State have collaborated to offer the program in Washington, D.C.

Mindful of the AWIU mission Diane introduced and coordinated several programs and events in collaboration with other local and national individuals and organizations engaged in international relations and diplomacy.

Diane Mitchell Henry is honored to receive this award and to be a part of AWIU, “The AWIU organization is a dedicated transforming cornerstone in the global arena. As a powerful group of women, we continue to Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Brilliant to Be Better in order to responsibly embrace the opportunities that address the issues affecting the equity and humanity of women around the world and around the block.”

Robin Winter Odem

A native of Iowa, Ms. Odem owned property in Wapello, Iowa until recently.  She graduated from and University of Iowa and received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Nebraska.  Ms. Odem’s first job was at University Hospitals in Iowa City where she was the first social worker in Iowa evaluating patients for kidney transplants before coverage by Medicare.  Then she was with the Adolescent Unit before becoming the Acting Director of the Division of Behavioral Sciences at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and ending her career as a Licensed Clinical Worker for the Chicago Public Schools.

Upon retiring, Ms. Odem joined the President’s Club at the University of Iowa and developed a Scholarship Program in 1998 in memory of her mother and husband to help students with their education.  Ms. Odem has helped 40 students, and was recognized by the University of Iowa Center for Advancement and the students for twenty years of contribution.  Ms. Odem is Film Discussion Chair for International Women’s Association (500 members) and was Social Committee Chair and played tennis for the Chicago Advertising Tennis Society. Ms. Odem founded the Social Work Dinner Club and is a Friendship Force hostess for incoming foreign visitors to Chicago.

Robin Winter Odem joined the Chicago Chapter of the American Women for International Understanding in late 1995.  Ms. Odem was interested in how AWIU decided to help women worldwide in their daily activities and to make a living.  Ms. Odem was mentored by Ms. Pat Hutar and Ms. Martha Atherton, legends in AWIU history.  Ms. Odem learned from ‘experts’ about AWIU and history of the organization.

Becoming Co-chair and Chapter Chair many years ago, was a daunting task, but time for consistent new activities.  An Executive Planning Committee was developed, and an email list was initiated to bring in new members.  We were the first Chapter to have a relevant program on Human Trafficking with a dynamic speaker, showing movies, going to the theater, having AWIU night, having fundraisers, as well as hearing from actual participants.  We even partnered with International Women’s Association on showing an Award winning movie on Human Trafficking.

Also, in addition to other activities on the local level, Ms. Odem has been on the Board of Directors and served on many committees, such as the Delegation, Membership, Chair, Berneice Behrens Committee, Attended IWOC Celebrations, Hostess at IWOC, Legacy Award in 2006, Heritage member, and participated in eight Delegations.  The 50th Anniversary of AWIU held in Chicago received many compliments, as have other National activities in Chicago of which Ms. Odem was the host.  Ms. Odem was recently elected as a  2019 Board Member.

American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) proudly announces the selection of Hon. Ertharin Cousin, Global Food and Agriculture Expert as the 2019 recipient of the prestigious AWIU Internationalism Award. Former Ambassador Ertharin Cousin is a Distinguished Fellow of Global Agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Also, Hon. Cousin holds the following positions at Stanford University: Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Distinguished Fellow at the Center on Food Security and the Environment, and Distinguished Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

With over 30 years of national and international leadership and experience addressing hunger and food security strategies, Cousin has exemplified a life-long dedication and commitment to the disparities of hunger. She previously served as executive director of the World Food Programme from 2012 until 2017. In this role, Cousin led the world’s largest humanitarian organization with 14,000 staff serving 80 million vulnerable people across 75 countries.

Before her global hunger work, Cousin helped lead the US domestic fight to end hunger while serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer of America’s Second Harvest (now Feeding America). In this role, Cousin led the operations, budgeting, and expenditures as well as the human resources, IT, and training activities of this national confederation of 200 food banks across America serving over 50,000,000 meals per year. In 2009, Cousin was nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate as the US ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. A Chicago native, Cousin, is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago; the University of Georgia Law School, and the University of Chicago Executive Management Finance for Non-Financial Executives program. Cousin has received honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the globe. She has been listed numerous times on the Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women” list, as the Fortune “Most Powerful Woman in Food and Drink,” on TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list, and as one of the “500 Most Powerful People on the Planet” by Foreign Policy magazine. She maintains relationships with global government, business, and community leaders. She has published numerous articles regarding agriculture, food security, and nutrition.

The AWIU Internationalism Award is bestowed upon individuals who have exhibited outstanding work and commitment which set the individuals apart by every standard. The candidates address the concerns and issues facing women worldwide. Past recipients are: Anita DeFranz, Olympian and member of the International Olympic Committee; Harriet Mayor Fulbright, President of the J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center; Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize Winning Science Journalist; Melanne Verveer, First U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Marie Therese Royce, Senior Director of International Affairs, Alcatel-Lucent (Presently Asst., Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs, Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States and Doris Buffett, Founder and President, The Sunshine Lady Foundation.

AWIU is honored to present the Internationalism Award to Hon. Ertharin in Los Angeles, CA at AWIU’s annual signature event, International Women of Courage Celebration in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State in late March 2019 to commemorate International Women’s Month. AWIU, a national non-profit has been at the forefront of citizen diplomacy for over 50 years, building bridges of understanding, goodwill, and cooperation among women leaders throughout the world.

Written by Diane Mitchell Henry

American Women for International Understanding is pleased to announce that our Honorary Chair for the International Women of Courage Celebration 2019 is Norah O’Donnell, an award-winning journalist and advocate for women.

Ms. O’Donnell will join a list of other distinguished women on the Honorary Committee offering their support to AWIU’s Celebration in the spring of 2019. The exact date of the International Women of Courage Celebration will be determined by the US Department of State in early February 2019, but our committee is honored to work with Ms. O’Donnell as we plan our event.

Norah O’Donnell is the co-host of “CBS This Morning.” She also contributes to “60 Minutes.” O’Donnell joined “CBS This Morning” in July 2012. Prior to that, she served as CBS News Chief White House Correspondent. As a journalist for more than two decades, she has covered six presidential elections and traveled around the globe to interview some of the world’s most notable figures.

Since joining “CBS This Morning,” O’Donnell has conducted numerous interviews with newsmakers including President Donald Trump, President Barack Obama, Vice President Mike Pence, and Speaker Paul Ryan. She has sat down with some of the world’s most influential leaders including South Korean President Moon Jae-in, His Royal Highness Prince Harry of Wales, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and the Dalai Lama. In March, O’Donnell spent a week reporting in Saudi Arabia where she interviewed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The conversation was his first American television interview. The last time a Saudi leader gave an interview to a U.S. network was in 2005. She won The Merriman Smith Memorial Award for excellence in presidential news coverage for her exclusive “60 Minutes” interview with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden on his decision not to run for president in 2016. O’Donnell also landed exclusive interviews with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise for “60 Minutes” and an interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the height of the league’s domestic violence scandal. She covered the historic election of Pope Francis in Vatican City as well as his first Apostolic Voyage to the United States. She also reported from the scenes of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Houston; the country’s worst mass shooting in Las Vegas; the terror attack in San Bernardino, and the Boston Marathon bombing. She was also part of the CBS News team that received an Alfred I. DuPont Award for the network’s coverage of the 2012 Newtown massacre.

O’Donnell earned a Gracie Award and was named best national news on-air talent for the year 2018 and 2016. Her reporting on sexual assaults in the United States Air Force Academy was nominated for an Emmy award and won an honorable mention in the Edgar A. Poe Award from the White House Correspondents’ Association. She was also named “Broadcaster of the Year” by the New York State Broadcasters Association in 2014 and received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast of 2017. Prior to joining CBS News, O’Donnell worked for more than a decade at NBC News, where she covered the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House. Her assignments took her around the globe: she reported from every continent except Antarctica with the either the President of the United States or the Secretary of Defense.

O’Donnell has covered a number of breaking news stories throughout her career. She reported from the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, and received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Breaking News Coverage for a “Dateline NBC” story titled, “D.C. In Crisis.” In the months following the attacks, she traveled extensively with then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, including on his first trip to Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks.

O’Donnell was NBC News White House Correspondent during the 2004 presidential elections, covering the campaigns of then-President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry. Prior to covering the White House, O’Donnell was NBC News Congressional Correspondent, reporting on the lead-up to the Iraq War. She also covered the 2000 presidential campaign. In all, O’Donnell has covered six presidential campaigns and reported from every political convention since then.

She began her career as a print reporter for Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, for which she covered the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and traveled the country covering congressional elections.

A firm believer in empowering women, O’Donnell sits on the Board of Directors of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Born into a military family, O’Donnell grew up in San Antonio, Texas; Landstuhl, Germany; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy as well as a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. She is married to Geoff Tracy, a restaurateur in Washington, D.C. They have three children.

For the past few years the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) and the U.S. Department of State have jointly held what is known as Career Opportunities in International Relations (COIR) at the State Department in Washington, D.C. This past week AWIU and the DOS held the event in the Harry S. Truman Building with a reception later the same day at the Meridian House.

The whole purpose and mission of the event is to expose young women in high school, college and post-college to current career opportunities with the government in International Relations.

As a new member of AWIU, I had the opportunity to serve as the moderator for the reception at the Meridian House where we had a panel of three distinguished women, Ambassador Swanee Hunt (Eleanor Roosevelt lecturer, Public Policy, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author); Dr. Louise Shelley (Professor, Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed chair, Scyhar School of Policy and International Affairs, George Mason University and author); and Sabrina Hersi Issaa, (CEO, Be Bold Media, Award Winning Human Rights Technology). The 2018 Impact Awards were also presented to five young women that were nominated by various individuals across the country. Forgiving For Living was proud to have one of our girls, Amaya Neely, from Los Angeles (now attending Cornell University) to participate and to be one of the five young women honored.

Oftentimes our girls are left out of being exposed to these opportunities and it is important for us that have access to make sure they are not only in the room, but also at the table. AWIU members such as president Maria Schory, Diane Mitchell Henry and Heather Joy Thompson from the DOS, among others, are making sure as much as possible that no girl is left behind on their watch. With the current climate of the world, we have to empower our young women to understand their worth and strength more than ever. There’s an African Proverb that says, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.”

As a coach I work with people regularly who “don’t know what they don’t know.” Life and opportunities are so much about who we know, what we know and what we are exposed to. The events this past week at the Department of State and the Meridian House talked about the importance of being and having a mentor. I also think it is important for us to be and have a sponsor. The difference a sponsor brings to the table is that they are invested in your success. We have to share knowledge and information when we know it can help open doors for others.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “you must do the things you think you cannot do.” I am blessed to be involved in many different organizations and groups, and I am determined to make sure young girls and women know their full potential and achieve the unimaginable. If all of us are willing to do the same, there will be many “young women rising!”

Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on!

By Wendy Gladney

Visit and Wendy is a coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at

Member Spotlight

Diane Mitchell Henry

Los Angeles County Chapter Chair
COIR Program Chair

Tell us a bit about your professional/career background: I have a marketing and sales background and have served in several social services and real estate positions. I’m a licensed California Realtor of 32 years.   Currently, most of my time is spent volunteering as a global community organizer with several civic organizations.

How did you learn of AWIU? What was your inspiration to get involved? Since junior high, I have always had an interest in international affairs and considered becoming a missionary or joining the Peace Corps. During a conversation while having tea to “catch- up” on life with my longtime friend, Jane Mursener Wetzel, I learned she was President of AWIU, an organization of women engaged in international relations. I expressed interest and she invited me to a meeting she hosted.  The guest speaker was Elizabeth Conway Symons, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, PC. I was impressed with the notion that women were discussing important global issues. In 2012, I accepted the invitation to join AWIU, went to a retreat, met many of the members and was later invited to become a member of the Board and serve as the AWIU Los Angeles County Chapter Chair.

You are the driver for the COIR Program – Career Opportunities for International Relations. How did that begin? AWIU has had the privilege of collaborating with DOS in Celebrating the International Women of Courage (IWOC) for 11 years. The 2015 Celebration was held at the National Press Club Ballroom in Washington, D.C. An AWIU IWOC committee member suggested using the National Press Club ballroom balcony and invite students to witness this event. Being sensitive to the interests of young adults, since AWIU had not booked a popular “rock” star for the IWOC Celebration, the idea of providing information for employment/careers was offered to attract students. COIR was created.

What achievements in COIR are you most proud of?

I would say being able to maintain the increasing support and encouragement of the AWIU membership for 4 years. I have been entrusted with the responsibility to represent a 51 years old organization with the international community. I don’t take wearing the AWIU hat lightly. I have been fortunate to be mentored by some great sheroes. Another achievement is having the privilege of maintaining a collaborative relationship with the U. S. Department of State for 3 consecutive years in Washington, D.C. I have met some phenomenal people. The most important achievement is being in the position to provide the opportunities for young people to engage with senior international professionals who have a genuine interest in sharing their stories, experiences and guidance.

What is your short-term goals for COIR?

I see COIR becoming a global platform for the intersections of the youth community from around the block and around the world and conducting webinars, social media and more live events. It would be great to organize an international youth summit using Zoom.

Finally – tell us a fun fact! What do you enjoy as a hobby or recreational activity?

One of the things I enjoy is boating. A couple of years ago at the spare of the moment for my birthday I invited 5 girlfriends to meet me at the Marina for a boat ride. We all packed some snacks to share, boarded the boat called the “Duffy” had a young man explain how the boat operated and then he left. I positioned myself at the helm and announce that I was Captain for the day. Well one of my friends excused herself because she lost her “adventurous” energy. And the rest of the crew continued for a lovely sail around the Marina with great food, friendship and fun with a birthday toast. We had a ball. I plan to take sailing lessons and crew for a couple of friends. I love the energy of being on the water. And oh, just for fun I want to go parasailing in South Africa before I hit the “big” one.

Diane Henry is the Chair for the upcoming COIR Program in conjunction with the US State Department June 28, from 3 pm – 5 pm. This meeting is open to the public and AWIU members and friends are encouraged to participate and share this information with anyone who might be interested. In the Fall, in Los Angeles, there will be a COIR meeting in collaboration with Mt. St. Mary’s College. Watch upcoming AWIU newsletters for more information