WASHINGTON, DC, September 10, 2019 – WEConnect International is delighted to announce the appointment of four new senior members of our growing global team of experts: Katie Farhat as the Vice President of Development, Patricia Langan as the Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East, Stephanie Fontaine as the Country Director for Canada, and Mrinalini Venkatachalam as the Regional Director for Southeast Asia and Oceana.
“We are thrilled that with our tremendous growth in 2019, we are able to welcome such successful and remarkable leaders to continue to strengthen and amplify our work and impact,” says WEConnect International CEO & Co-Founder Elizabeth A. Vazquez. “The combined talents of this team, along with our community of passionate stakeholders, has us poised for continued expansion as we work to connect our member buyers with women-owned businesses seeking access to local and global market opportunities.”
Katie Farhat is a fundraiser and global corporate social impact engagement specialist. Having started her career firmly in the publishing and ad-tech startup scene in NYC, she has spent the last 5 years building a network and experience focused at the intersection of storytelling and social impact. "I am grateful for the opportunity to work with cross-sector partners to drive growth for WEConnect International and help scale the movement to empower women entrepreneurs in global value chains," says Katie. "I look forward to leveraging my experience and passion for pioneering innovation in impact storytelling and stakeholder engagement alongside some of the world's most visible brands in the effort to accelerate impact in women's economic inclusion." Katie specializes in building business cases for consumer-facing advocacy and connecting corporate-supported initiatives with NGO campaigns.
Patricia Langan has served various leadership roles at Save the Children, International Youth Foundation, Making Cents International, and the consultancy Consulting for a Better World, where she has led strategy, capacity building, and fundraising for global and local non-profits, foundations, governments and corporations in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the former Soviet Union. “I’ve met innovative and energetic women-owned businesses over 20 years working in Africa and the Middle East. Too few of them sell to global buyers or even to each other. Building on WEConnect International’s accomplishments in these dynamic economies, I look forward to working with WEConnect International staff, corporate members, women-owned businesses, and government partners to grow our footprint with quality so more women-owned businesses in Africa and the Middle East succeed in global value chains,” says Patricia.
Stephanie Fontaine, A well-known leader in the supplier diversity community, has spent the last 6 years working closely with entrepreneurs, corporations, non- profit organizations, and government to increase procurement opportunities for diverse suppliers. As a business owner herself, Stephanie knows the importance a small gesture can make, and she has long been committed to empowering others through the sharing of knowledge and connections. Following a decade in the corporate world, where she held operations, sales, and procurement roles, Stephanie went on to assist some of North America’s largest corporations to fulfill their objective of a more diversified supply chain. “I’m thrilled to start this new journey with WEConnect International in Canada. It’s an amazing opportunity for me and my team to serve a community we know well and value tremendously. We have exciting plans for Canada and I invite all women-owned businesses, corporations, and partners to join forces with us and claim their role in this powerful global network,” says Stephanie.
Mrinalini Venkatachalam, has been a part of the WEConnect International team for over a year and with experience spanning over a decade, Mrinalini has worked to bridge the gap between unmet social needs and service providers, giving large corporations, government agencies, community organizations, and social enterprises the platform to create measurable social impact. “Women are a significant economic entrepreneurial force whose contributions to local, national, and global economies are far-reaching. I am honored to be given the opportunity to play a larger role in enabling women-owned businesses in Southeast Asia and Oceana to scale through structured market access,” says Mrinalini. Serving as a thought leader in the role gender equality plays in achieving a more sustainable world for everyone, the expansion of her role will help WEConnect International continue to build a strong infrastructure in Asia.
About WEConnect International
WEConnect International helps women-owned businesses succeed in global value chains. It identifies, educates, and certifies women's business enterprises based outside of the U.S. that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women, and then connects them with member buyers. WEConnect International members represent over US$1 trillion in annual purchasing power and a commitment to supplier development and inclusive sourcing. The result is a network of corporate buyers working with women business owners based in over 115 countries that are learning, collaborating and winning new business.
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