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Woman Extraordinaire Award 

Since 1996, IWA has presented the Woman Extraordinaire Award to a woman with ties to Chicago whose international humanitarian efforts have advanced the welfare of women and children and inspire constructive action by others. Past recipients include Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and Major Tammy Duckworth (now a member of the U.S. Congress). To view the entire list of past honorees CLICK HERE

Thank You to all sponsors, members, and guests who supported

2023 Woman Extraordinaire

Honoring Katrina M. Adams

on October 5, 2023!

Past Recipients

Katrina Adams was honored for her many achievements within the world of tennis that have impacted organizations worldwide. She was the 1st African American to lead the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 1st two-term Chairman and President of the USTA, and the 1st former player to hold that honor. Under her direction the USTA has reached several major milestones that launched an unprecedented outreach into underserved communities. Adams currently holds many positions: Vice President of the International Tennis Federation, Chairman of the Billie Jean King Cup Committee, Chairman of the Gender Equality in Tennis Committee, and Executive Director of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, continuing her legacy as an agent of global social change.

Nancy Economou is the founder and CEO of Watts of Love, a global nonprofit bringing people the power to lift themselves out of the darkness of poverty through solar lighting and financial literacy training. Watts of Love was founded in 2013 when Nancy went on a business trip to the Philippines and saw the devastating effects of kerosene after seeing a childʼs face burned. Compelled as a mother, Nancy set out to bringher patented solar lights to the nearly one billion people living in the darkness of poverty and teach financial literacy to change communities. Over the last nine years, Nancy has delivered solar lights and the Watts of Love program to 52 countries, giving 77,554 lights, and changing 542,878 lives forever.

Amy Maglio is the Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP), an international NGO focusing on girls’ education and gender equality. Amy is on a mission to enroll every girl in Africa in school. She is a tireless activist who campaigns for the advancement of underserved girls and women. Her organization WGEP subverts the traditional top-down, big development approach by operating on micro-levels within communities to identify girls who are not in school and provide them with the tools necessary to enroll and excel in school. 

Shermin Kruse was honored for her many accomplishments as an international human rights activist focusing on women and children and for her dedication to cross-cultural peace dialogue and negotiation, diversity, and women in leadership.  Ms. Kruse is a director of RefuSHE, the international refugee center formerly known as Heshima Kenya, and co-founder and director of the Pasfarda Arts and Culture Exchange, which promotes understanding between Iran and the United States through the arts. She has worked to strengthen cross-cultural understanding and to empower refugee women, even traveling to the Turkey-Syria border. Additionally, she is an Emerging Leader Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a director of the ACLU of Illinois, and a partner in the law firm of Barack Ferrazzano.

Kimberly Jung, CEO and Co-Founder of Rumi Spice

Kimberly Jung is an Army veteran and passionate international entrepreneur.  A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who served in Germany and Afghanistan and then earned her M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, Kim is the CEO and Co-Founder of Chicago-based Rumi Spice, www.rumispice.com. Named after the 13th century Persian poet, Rumi began with a mission to cultivate peace in Afghanistan and does so by partnering directly with Afghan farmers to grow exceptionally high quality saffron and export the precious spice to customers around the world.  

Vicki Escarra is Global CEO of Opportunity International, the premier non-profit financial services organization for the poor. Escarra leads a network of 20,000 staff members and 30,000 donors who are helping 14.3 million clients in 24 countries work their way out of poverty. More than 95 percent of Opportunity’s loan clients are women who would otherwise never have access to financial services because of legal and cultural gender inequities in most developing nations. Escarra was formerly President and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Prior to that, Escarra rose to Chief Marketing Officer at Delta Air Lines, becoming one of the highest-ranking women in the aviation industry at the time.

Karen Koning AbuZayd currently serves as a Commissioner of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, informing the United Nations on the refugee problems arising out the current conflict in the Middle East. She began her humanitarian career in the Sudan in 1981, dealing with Ugandan, Chadian and Ethiopian refugees fleeing from war and famine in their own countries.   From 1991 to 1993 Ms. AbuZayd directed the South African repatriation operation and the Kenyan-Somali cross
-border operation. She was Chief of Mission for two years during the Bosnian war—four million war-affected people were kept alive by UN’s airlift and convoy activities.  From 2005 until 2010 she was Under Secretary-General as UNRWA Commissioner-General.  Based in Gaza, she helped to oversee the education, health, social services and microenterprise programs for four million Palestinian refugees.
Sheila Roche is an international marketing, communications and public affairs/advocacy consultant. She launched the (RED) AIDS organization in 2006 for its founders, Bono and Bobby Shriver to help provide a sustainable flow of money from the private sector to fight AIDS. To-date, (RED) has generated $250M+ and is the largest business sector contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the investor of (RED) money in African AIDS programs).

Funmi Olopade, M.D. Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago; breast cancer specialist; 2005 MacArthur Foundation fellow. 

Connie K. Duckworth Trailblazing business leader and founder of ARZU STUDIO HOPE, an organization empowering women, families and communities in Afghanistan through its unique social business model.

Marjorie Craig Benton Lifelong activist working on behalf of women and children and for community development, she also worked extensively on arms control and disarmament. Among numerous civic posts, served as Ambassador to UNICEF, and is currently involved with Partners in Health, which seeks to raise the standard of care for the poor worldwide.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt As Vice President for Global Corporate Citizenship at Chicago-based Boeing Company, she led a network of U.S. and international community investors to address the needs of selected communities around the world.

IWA has also presented the Rising Voice of Woman Award to the following outstanding and inspirational women:

Mary Robinson First woman President of Ireland; former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Realizing Rights founder.

Prudence Bushnell Diplomat and educator; U.S. Ambassador to Kenya when the embassy was bombed by Al-Qaeda; State Department official, who worked to prevent the genocide in Rwanda; long focused on improving the status of women, especially in developing countries.

Molly Melching Founder and Executive Director of Senegal-based Tostan, a non-governmental organization dedicated to community education and empowerment in several African countries. It is perhaps best known for virtually ending female genital cutting and forced child marriage in those countries.

Kathryn Bolkovac Human rights activist and former police investigator who worked with Human Rights Watch in Bosnia to expose the abuse committed against young girls forced into prostitution and used as sex slaves by U.S. military contractors, other police, and various international organizations.

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