- Global Operations
- Market Operations
Elizabeth A. Vazquez
Elizabeth is a serial social entrepreneur and world leader in global supplier diversity and inclusion. As the CEO of WEConnect International, Elizabeth is responsible for mission delivery and impact. WEConnect International corporate member annual revenues exceed US$3.6 trillion. The WEConnect International team promotes women-owned businesses in over 90 countries and supports local representatives in 17 countries--Australia, Brazil, Chile, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Turkey, and the UK.
Elizabeth is the co-author of the book, Buying for Impact: How to Buy from Women and Change Our World. She sits on several Boards of Directors, including the Global Banking Alliance for Women, the Cornerstone Capital Group, the Eisenhower Fellowships Board of Trustees, and is also an Advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative. Elizabeth was born in Mexico and has a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University where she studied development economics and international negotiation as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.
Read Full Bio...nectinternational.org/en/elizabeth-v
Jean is Chief Operating Officer for WEConnect International, helping to connect women business owners with global markets and to strengthen corporate supply chains through diversity. She brings more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit management and international development to the daily operations of WEConnect's mission and rapidly growing portfolio. She has helped business groups around the world to grow markets in challenging political environments by engaging on policy reform issues that create a better working ecosystem for small business.
As a speaker and trainer, Jean brings knowledge from her experience in dozens of countries and her enthusiasm for building nonprofit capacity in a wide array of skills necessary to better serve member constituencies. She focuses on thoughtful strategic planning and dogged follow-through in implementation as keys to great performance in areas such as advocacy, governance, businesswomen’s leadership, small business growth, proposal writing, and project evaluation, among others.
Jean serves as co-chair of the Society for International Development-Washington Civil Society Working Group and is on the Board of the Woman’s National Democratic Club Educational Foundation, fostering political engagement of women and girls at the local and national levels. She holds a BA in German from the University of Georgia, an MA in International Commerce from George Mason University, and an MA in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University.
Alexandra Di Cocco
Belisa de las Casas
Belisa is in charge of the Latin American operation. She has more than 20 years of experience in the public, private and international development fields. Her previous experience includes managing an international trade company and dealing with value chain management, supply chain and operations as well as marketing. She worked as a program officer for an export readiness and market linkages project for small and medium enterprises (SME) at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and has designed export readiness projects for the LAC region for the IADB's Multilateral Investment Fund.
Most recently, she was the Senior Advisor Latin America for Vital Voices Global Partnership, where she collaborated in the development of the regional strategy, the conception of the LAC Business Women's Network and worked on the design of capacity building programs for regional Chapters. Belisa is originally from Peru. She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Lima and an MBA from George Washington University. She is an avid and disciplined gym-goer and natural networker who is passionate about women's empowerment as a channel to change society.
Recent Interviews: Oportunidad de negocios para mujeres emprendedoras, conócelas! ; El valor de conectar
Liz Cullen Whitehead
Liz Whitehead is the Director of Women’s Business Development for WEConnect International. Along with providing certification to qualifying women owned businesses, WEConnect International provides tools and resources for leveraging the certification to gain visibility from major purchasing organizations, strengthen business relationships, and grow an enterprise.
In addition to managing WEConnect International markets in Europe, MENA, and Caribbean, Liz oversees the WEConnect Academy curriculum, an online series of trainings focused on doing business with major purchasing organizations. Her areas of expertise include supplier diversity and inclusion, small business marketing, building a network, bootstrapping an NGO, and perfecting your presentation. With these topics and more, she hosts WEConnect Academy Live which provides an interactive platform for market leaders, women business owners, and corporate representatives to share knowledge and expertise about the global marketplace.
Prior to joining WEConnect International, Liz worked for nine years at the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization, most recently as the Executive Director of the Washington DC region, where she directed the WBENC certification operations for women business owners and provided training for women business owners to access corporate supply chains. Liz’s educational background is in gender issues and economic development. She received an award from the Small Business Administration as the Women’s Business Champion of the year for the DC Metro region in 2009. She has also received a Salute award from WBENC in 2008. She received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and her master’s in international affairs from Columbia’ School of International and Public Affairs. She lives in the DC area with her husband and son.
Anne joined the WEConnect International team as Operations Manager in January 2013. She provides fiscal and administrative oversight of organizational activities and programs, working to ensure the efficient and effective financial management and operational structure of the organization. Previously, Anne managed the operations of a Washington DC-based nonprofit focused on HIV prevention and education.
Anne has worked on efforts relating to multiculturalism and diversity, homelessness and addiction, and youth empowerment. While her professional activity focuses on non-profit finance and administration, she continues to be driven by a passion for supporting and empowering others and improving communities.
Kerri Murphy manages the certification and self-registration of women owned businesses globally and works closely with all of the in-country teams. She previously worked at the William James Foundation where she focused on programs to support fledgling social entrepreneurs around the world and organizational management, and Women Thrive Worldwide on advocacy and fundraising.
She is the first individual to graduate from American University with an MA in Social Enterprise, holds a BS in International Business from Bryant University, and a Certificate in Business Studies from Grenoble Ecole de Management. She is a Startingbloc fellow, and has formerly been a Women Effect Investments Fellow with the Criterion Institute and Investor's Circle. Kerri is originally from New York and is a Pilates devotee.
Michael 's focus is Business Development, Corporate Relations, and the support of Strategic Planning, Finance and Operations. Michael is also COO and Co-founder of IVS Solutions, a Supplier Diversity Data Management firm. Most recently, Michael was the Chief Operating Officer for Electro-Media Design, an Audio-Visual and Acoustics design firm. His prior experience includes Marriott International as Sr. Director of Supplier Diversity where he developed Marriott’s formal supplier program.
Other positions with Marriott included Hotel Controller, Director of Purchasing and Food & Beverage Director. Michael also worked at Walt Disney World where he oversaw hotel Food & Beverage operations. He has served as Chair of the Maryland/DC Minority Supplier Development Council, Chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council's Hospitality Industry Group and was an active member of the Procurement Committees for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Michael resides in Mount Airy, Maryland with his wife Christine and is an avid blue-water sailor.
Cate leads WEConnect International's global marketing efforts, which include traditional media outreach, social media engagement, web development, and production of publications. She brings with her nearly eight years of experience managing and supporting communications strategies for international non-profits focused on human rights and development.
Cate holds a bachelor's degree in Russian language and literature from the University of Notre Dame and a master's degree in Eurasian studies from Georgetown University. She speaks Russian and Ukrainian and has extensively researched women's business development in Central Asia. She and her husband have a shared passion for international travel and are avid kayakers.
Maggie is the Executive Director for WEConnect International in Europe and joined the team in December 2012 – she has lead responsibility for the management, leadership and development of WEConnect International in Europe. Her role involves developing corporate and public sector support as well as growing and developing the database and network of registered and certified women business owners across the UK and Europe. Previously, Maggie was the Managing Director of womenintechnology.co.uk – an online job board, recruitment and networking forum for women working in the technology profession in the UK. She was involved from Women in Technology's inception in the autumn of 2004, managed all aspects of the website and the networking activities Women in Technology organised and she continues to run the Women in Technology Network on an informal basis. In March 2012 Maggie was honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and she is currently serving as a Global Agenda Council Member on Employment for the 2012-2014 term. In July 2011 she was listed as one of 15 UK-based TIAW (the International Alliance for Women) World of Difference Award winners and in July 2010 she was included in Management Today's '35 Under 35' list. She is also a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. In August 2014, Maggie was interviewed by Global Invest Her about entrepreneurship and the future of WEConnect International in Europe.
Sucharita is the Executive Director for WEConnect International in India. Prior to joining, Sucharita was responsible for two special initiatives as a Senior Director for NASSCOM: The Diversity and Inclusion initiative, and the Mentor Program for small and medium enterprises. She has a wealth of experience in not-for-profit organizations, establishing Madhyam and VOICES and functioning as Founder & Director until 1999. Her work was instrumental in the introduction of FM community radio in India. Sucharita started her career with global ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. Her training and experience in Communication and Policy Advocacy has enabled her to create focused strategies to reach agreed objectives, connecting and enrolling key stakeholders as major contributors to their success. Sucharita is continuing her efforts to support corporations align their corporate goals with the Triple Bottomline of Profit-People-Planet, thus creating sustainable and responsible businesses. Sucharita is based in Bangalore, India, and loves to travel and experience different cultures.
Su Cheng Harris Simpson
Su Cheng is the Executive Director for WEConnnect International in Greater China. Su Cheng works actively to build partnerships and expand opportunities for women owned businesses in China. A large part of this effort is accomplished through outreach initiatives in collaboration with local Chambers of Commerce. Su Cheng has been working in Beijing in the areas of event planning, project management, and fundraising since 1997. As an active member of Beijing's business community and charity organizations, Su Cheng has built up a strong professional and personal network within China. Su Cheng has a degree in International Business from the University of Washington, and an MBA from Seattle Pacific University. Su Cheng is an active golfer & tennis aficionado. She is Co-Chair of AmCham China golf committee and is always looking for the chance to improve her game.
Jennifer Iverson is the Executive Director of WEConnect International in Brazil. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Brazilian training and consulting company Primavera Consultoria, working in the areas of sustainable value chains, community relations and SME development. Her professional background combines 10 years in the financial markets at Lazard in New York and London and at UBS in Switzerland with over 6 years in the Brazilian social sector focusing on social enterprise and civil society development. She speaks fluent Portuguese, French and Italian. She graduated from the University of Missouri in St Louis with Bachelor´s degrees in both French and Political Science and is finishing her MBA at Insper in São Paulo. Jennifer is on the Board of Directors of Brazilian youth training organizations Incores and Vida Jovem and is an active member of the 85 Broads Brazil Chapter.
Claudia is WEConnect's lead representative in Peru. She aims to facilitate linkages and networks for Peruvian women entrepreneurs in order to create opportunities for them to improve and grow their businesses. In addition to her work at WEConnect, Claudia is a provider of marketing services for small businesses and is the WPO Chapter Chair for the Lima Peru Chapter. In years prior, Claudia has worked for large corporations like HP and Belcorp and has a strong professional background in business administration and marketing. She holds a degree in Business Administration with a marketing specialization from the Universidad de Lima. After a busy day at work Claudia says there is nothing more rewarding than spending time with her three children. It is not only a good excuse to have a fun moment, but also the best way to remember what hard work really is!
Luz Maria de la Mora
Luz Maria de la Mora is the Executive Director of WEConnect International in Mexico. She is also the Managing Director and Founder of LMM Consulting, a partner of WEConnect International, which specializes in market intelligence and strategic thinking for business development, as well as cooperate programs to support women entrepreneurs. She is an expert in foreign trade relations and international public policy, and has held multiple posts within the Mexican government representing their interests in foreign trade negotiations, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy. She headed Mexico’s trade offices in Brussels and Montevideo, and worked at the NAFTA office in Washington, DC. She has a BA in International Relations from El Colegio de Mexico, an MA in International Political Economy from Carleton University in Ottawa, and a Ph.D in Political Science from Yale University.
Dr. Suryani Motik
Dr. Suryani Motik is the Executive Director for WEConnect International in Indonesia. She is the principal of IndoPrima and has established an enviable track record as an advisor, trainer and consultant to both government and the private sector. Her opinion on SME issues, which is often called upon by the media as President of the Indonesian Women's Business Association (IWAPI), is much respected. Ms. Motik, a graduate of both George Washington and University of Maryland in the USA, is also a business owner and leader.
Yaneek Page is the Co-Executive Director for WEConnect International in Jamaica and a social entrepreneur. She is the founder and managing director of Future Services International, the pioneers of legal funding & enterprise risk management in the Caribbean. She was an awardee of the prestigious Gleaner/PSOJ 50UnderFifty awards which honoured business leaders under fifty years old shaping Jamaica's future. She has received numerous other awards including Female Business Leader of the Year and Nation Builder award in the category Women in Business.
A certified trainer in entrepreneurship and workforce innovation, Yaneek is also the creator & executive producer of The Innovators reality TV series which transforms struggling business & promotes entrepreneurial activity to drive economic growth. She has represented Jamaica in the US Department of State's esteemed International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP), focusing on entrepreneurship and small business development. She was a participant of the Centre for International Private Enterprise mentoring women business leader program and is an alumni of the UK based Cherie Blair Foundation mentorship program. She was also a special invitee at the Women Entrepreneurial Network Event hosted by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Dominican Republic in October 2011. Yaneek is also an executive of the Women Entrepreneurs Network Caribbean.
Comfort Avunze Sakoma is the Executive Director of WEConnect International in Nigeria and the Founder and Publisher of Poize magazine, a bi-monthly publication created to invigorate women’s entrepreneurial ambitions. She is also the presenter on the Africa Business Channel's newest talk show Genuine Lights — a 30 minute program that advocates for policy and programs that enhance women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship and expanded leadership.
Passionate about an inclusive and prosperous Africa, Comfort was instrumental in the appointment of the first African company, Access Bank, onto the global board of directors of WEConnect International. To date, she has successfully initiated partnerships between WEConnect International in Nigeria and the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Commercial Agriculture Development Program, the Initiative for Global Development, and the Federal Government of Nigeria’s GWIN program — an initiative that gives visibility to projects that support the needs of hard-to-reach girls and women. These partnerships will result in more than 150 women business owners bidding for contract opportunities with over 50 Fortune 1000 companies from Africa, North America, Europe and Asia.
Comfort is also the Founder and Managing Partner of Avunze & Adisa, a dynamic and innovative Nigerian-based company that secures entry for organizations wishing to access the burgeoning Nigerian market by identifying, defining, and exploring profitable opportunities, and helping them tackle operational and strategic challenges while sustaining value.
Comfort has a BA Honors in Political Science and African Studies from the University of Toronto, Canada. She is fluent in both English and French and conversational in Hausa.
Antonina Sequeira is the Executive Director of WEConnect International in Costa Rica. A woman entrepreneur herself, she aims to create opportunities for women business owners. She knows first hand the challenges and obstacles they face and is eager to connect women businesses with corporations. She is the co-owner of Bright Solutions, an agency focused on alternative media, marketing and advertising. She previously worked for Kraft Foods and holds a Bachelor degree in advertising from The University of Texas at Austin.
Anne Tesch is the Executive Director of WEConnect International in Australasia. She is a highly experienced marketing communications professional and business manager. As Principal of Tesch Communications for more than 15 years, her company has designed and successfully delivered strategic communications solutions across a diverse range of industries comprising well known national and international brands. Overseas travel has been incorporated into her role as it was when Anne previously worked as a communications executive in the hospitality industry for major five star hotel chains and later for the Foster's Group (now part of SAB Miller). She also has actively sought to empower women. A career highlight was her establishment of an innovative training school catering initially to female students making the transition from school to work and later those requiring new skills to re-enter the workforce. Anne is an avid devotee of the arts and a classically trained pianist.
Francisca Valdes is the Executive Director for WEConnect International in Chile. She is also the Executive Director and co-founder of "Mujeres Empresarias" (Entrepreneurial Women) and the Public Relations Represenative for the profesional institute IPEVE at Diego Portales University. She studied Corporate Communications at Pontifical Catholic University and has a diploma in business Management from Catholic University in Chile.
In 2002, Francisca Valdes and her partner Carolina Eterovic formed "Mujeres Empresarias," which has been helping develop a suitable environment for entrepreneurial women in Chile ever since. Today, "Mujeres Empresarias" has more than 3,000 executive and entrepreneurial members.
Currently Francisca Valdes is a board member for Transportation Chile, the Chilean chapter of Transparency International, USEC (Social Union of Christian Entrepreneurs), and is the board president of the Villa Maria Academy High School Foundation.
Astrid is widely recognized in Canada as the “god mother” of supplier diversity and inclusion. In 2008, she co-founded and served as executive director of WEConnect International’s work in Canada to introduce women’s business enterprises to the global supply chains of large multi-national corporations.
Astrid has had a distinguished career as a senior executive in Canada’s foreign service, and for the past 20 years has been a global thought leader in the area of gender, leadership, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. She has also been widely recognized for her leadership in the area of women and international trade. She created the first Canadian International Trade Mission for women entrepreneurs and the first high-level Canada-US Women’s Business Summit. Her consulting company, Feminomics, has worked with organizations around the globe on policy and programs to enhance women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship and expanded leadership.
Ana M. Guevara
Ana M. Guevara is on the Global Advisory Board of WEConnect International, and is leading the efforts to open a chapter in Colombia. With extensive experience in international trade and development, Ms. Guevara is a respected figure in both government and business sectors. She has been a Vice President for two fortune 50 companies, small business owner, and U.S. Senate confirmed presidential appointee and high-level government official.
Currently, Ms. Guevara is President of AVENTI Associates, a strategic trade and development advisory firm in Miami, Florida. Her vision is to help organizations be more successful in their global ventures by complimenting their business and operations with strategies that build strong local public and government support, leverage strategic partnerships, and invest in projects that contribute to social prosperity in the communities they serve.
Multi-lingual, Ms. Guevara has led numerous successful teams in multi-cultural situations. She is a seasoned public speaker who has represented her organizations before media and events in the USA, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Ms. Guevara was born in Colombia, raised in Chicago, and received her degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University.
Since January 2013, Nilay has had lead responsibility for the management, leadership, and development of WEConnect International in Turkey. Her role involves developing corporate support as well as growing and developing the database and network of certified and self-registered women's business enterprises in Turkey.
Previously, Nilay worked for Accenture as both System Integration Manager, and Turkey Office Corporate Citizenship (CC) Team Lead. Starting in 2012, she led the CC Team and managed the program to establish and execute the WEConnect International model in Turkey to support women business owners.
She is also working as freelance with a local technology company called Intellica, delivering BI technologies in various sectors.
For enquiries about corporate membership and partnerships or if you’re a woman business owner who would like to find out more about WEConnect International certification, please contact Nilay.
Jean is a strategic communications expert with over 25 years corporate communications experience, over 10 of those years were spent in the African Mining sector where she worked as vice president communications and external affairs Africa for Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold and Placer Dome. Prior to this she worked for 7 years at senior management level in CSIR. During this time her corporate portfolios supported businesses in South Africa, Namibia, Guinea, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, DRC, and Tanzania, this also includes working on various acquisitions and divestments on the continent. Born in Zimbabwe, raised and educated in the UK, Jean has lived an amazing life and worked in Africa for the last 20 years. She has in the last 2 years set up her own consulting company, partnering with other highly experienced Africans.
The team is focussed on using their knowledge & expertise and passion for the continent, to facilitate companies and investors to do business in Africa. Their work involves business facilitation & intermediation; providing valuable insights into African countries; in-depth research & reports; understanding business legislation & changes; investment support; unpacking opportunities and challenges; creating powerful and profitable networks; training professionals; creating experts & enhancing skills; and coaching future African leaders.
Jean has also for over 10 years represented Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold & Placer Dome at senior executive levels in the Chamber of Mines Executive Committee; Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA); World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa; Nepad Business Forum (NBF); African Union meetings; Mining Indaba and various other wide-ranging forums, conferences, government meetings and engagements on the continent, and internationally.
She is passionate about entrepreneurship in Africa, and coaching women & young professionals to play a growing role in Africa’s development; and, as part of this she continues to sit on the Board of Junior Achievement Africa (JA Africa).