Speaker Biographies

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Lynn Pasquerella '80

A philosopher and ethicist who has combined teaching and scholarship with civic engagement, Lynn Pasquerella’s first four years as Mount Holyoke’s president have been marked by a robust strategic planning process, a commitment to a vibrant campus community, as well as outreach to off-campus communities and a global network of alumnae.

After graduating magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke in 1980, Pasquerella earned a PhD in philosophy from Brown University in January 1985. She then joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Rhode Island, rising to the position of vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the graduate school. In 2008, she was named provost at the University of Hartford. In 2010, she became the eighteenth president of Mount Holyoke College.

Pasquerella has written extensively on medical ethics, theoretical and applied ethics, metaphysics, public policy, and the philosophy of law. A celebrated teacher, she has found time to co-teach a class in almost every semester of her presidency, with faculty in departments as disparate as sociology, biology, and Africana studies. As president, she has focused especially on strategic planning, shared governance, long-term financial sustainability, access for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and increased visibility for Mount Holyoke across the nation and around the world. At the core of her career and her priorities is an abiding commitment to liberal education as a force for good, both for the individual and for civic society. Manifestations of that commitment include her work as senator and member of the executive committee of Phi Beta Kappa, and her role as host of The Academic Minute, a WAMC Northeast Public Radio program, and Difficult Dialogues: Voices from the Valley, a public access television show.

Maimuna AhmadMaimuna Ahmad ’09 is the founder and CEO of Teach For Bangladesh (TFB), a startup nonprofit organization working to eliminate educational disparity in Bangladesh by enlisting diverse leaders to spend two years as full-time teachers in low-income schools before going on to shape systemic change. A former Teach For America Corps member, Maimuna was inspired to start TFB by her experience teaching secondary school math at a public charter school in southeast Washington DC. Prior to this, she worked at a human rights organization in Dhaka leading research projects on children’s and indigenous women’s rights in Bangladesh. Maimuna holds a BA in international relations from Mount Holyoke College and an MA in teaching from American University.

Fahima-AzizFahima Aziz ’79 is the vice chancellor of the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Prior to coming to the Asian University for Women, Fahima served the endowed chair in International Business and Economics at Hamline University in St Paul, Minnesota. She chaired the Department of Management and Economics for ten years and concurrently chaired the Environmental Studies Program for seven years at Hamline University. Her research interests include micro-finance, poverty and income inequality, gender and race in the labor market, women and leadership, and, more recently, the scholarship of teaching and learning. Fahima is deeply interested in examining how students learn and the importance of instilling metacognitive skills in students for enhancing learning. She has numerous publications and presentations on her areas of research. Fahima has earned many awards at Hamline, including the Burton and Ruth Grimes Outstanding Teaching Award and the John Wesley Trustee Award for her outstanding leadership and contributions as a faculty. Recently, she was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award 2012 from the Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, and was awarded the prestigious Fellowship for Leadership in Higher Education from the American Council for Education, Washington DC. In Saint Paul, Minnesota, she served on the board of directors of Park Midway Bank and on the board of trustees at St. Paul Academy and Summit School. She was also president of the Minnesota Economic Association. Fahima earned a BA from Mount Holyoke College, an MS from the University of Massachusetts, and a PhD from the University of Minnesota, all in economics.

Lisa Belkin PhotoLisa Belkin is the chief national correspondent for Yahoo News, doing original reporting on social issues. She joins Yahoo after three years as senior columnist at the Huffington Post, covering life, work, and family. Belkin spent most of her career at the New York Times, where she was a Houston-based national correspondent, a medical reporter, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, and the creator of the “Life’s Work” column and the “Motherlode” blog. The author of several books, including Life’s Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom, Belkin was also the host of Life’s Work with Lisa Belkin on XM Radio, as well as a regular contributor on parenting topics to Public Radio’s The Takeaway and NBC’s TODAY Show.

Barbara CassaniBarbara Cassani ’82 started her career in management consulting and afterward held a variety of strategic and general management roles at British Airways, culminating in the start-up of London-based, low-cost airline Go. Using £25m in capital, the airline became profitable in less than three years. Go was known for its fun brand, low prices, good service, and great people, winning the UK’s top travel consumer awards. Barbara was named UK Businesswoman of the Year and coauthored the UK award-winning book Go: An Airline Adventure. Barbara established the successful London 2012 Olympic Bid as founding chairman then vice-chairman, hiring the winning team, creating the blueprint for the Games, and developing UK public support. She was awarded an honorary CBE (Commander of the British Empire) from the British government. She has served on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including Marks & Spencer and hotel group Jurys Inns. Barbara was a trustee of Mount Holyoke College from 1999–2004 and currently serves on the leadership group for Princeton University’s Women in Leadership Initiative. She is currently acting as mentor to a number of entrepreneurs. Barbara graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in international relations and received an MA from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in 1984. She lives in the US, in New Hampshire, and in London with her husband, Guy. Her two children attend university in the US. In every spare moment, she is invariably found on a horse as she is an avid rider, competing in the sport of eventing.

Robin Conn-1Robin (Northup) Conn ’78 has more than twenty years experience as a human resources manager, primarily in Asia. Her expertise includes coaching, training, talent development, employee relations, and compliance for global organizations. Robin began her human resources career in 1993 with DFS Hawaii in Honolulu, where she managed the recruitment and training departments. She developed innovative strategies to hire, train, and retain employees servicing the Japanese customer. In 1999, Robin joined Bloomberg L.P. in Tokyo to start up their Asia-Pacific human resources team, which she managed during a period of extensive business expansion across sixteen countries. In 2012, she moved to Singapore and has been managing the career development initiative for Bloomberg employees in the Asia-Pacific region. She has also worked closely with the philanthropy team to design and implement leadership-based programs to engage top talent by partnering with nonprofits. Born and raised in Japan, Robin has lived in Asia for most of her life and is currently based in Singapore.  She and her husband, Bill, have two children, Emily and Andre, who reside in London and Oregon respectively. Robin holds a BA in Asian studies from Mount Holyoke College, an MA in Japanese language and literature from Columbia University, and an MBA from Cornell University.

Mary Davis-1-croppedMary Graham Davis ’65 is chair of Mount Holyoke’s board of trustees. After graduating from MHC, Davis received a master’s degree in international economics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Harvard and Tufts. Davis has served as the vice chairman of Jannotta, Bray, and Associates; as head of the Jannotta Consulting Group; and as managing principal of their New York metropolitan area operating group. Subsequently, she was named managing vice president for People Tech, a division of Right Management Consulting, Inc., for whom she helped organizations implement change resulting from restructurings, high-growth opportunities, or leadership transitions. In 1996 she formed the Davis Consulting Group, LLC, and continues as its president. She works with leaders and their teams to align their business units’ long-term strategy with annual operating plan objectives. Davis has long been a volunteer for Mount Holyoke and is a past president of its Alumnae Association.

Vanessa FongVanessa Fong ’08 started working in the field of education after graduation, holding two educational assistant positions at the English Schools Foundation (ESF). During her time at the ESF, Vanessa received her post-graduate diploma in education, specializing in general studies from the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Vanessa quickly realized that teaching primary students was not her passion, and after pursuing her first master’s in education in comparative and global studies in education and development from the HKU, she landed a job as the college counselor at Hong Kong Academy. Vanessa is currently a university guidance counselor at Victoria Shanghai Academy, Hong Kong. Vanessa is continuing her pursuit of lifelong learning by also pursuing a second master’s of education in higher education from the HKU.

Pascale FungPascale Fung is a professor in the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering at HKUST and the founding director of InterACT@HKUST, a joint research and education center with Carnegie Mellon University. Pascale is a leading researcher in the fields of statistical speech, language, and music processing. She cofounded a company that launched the first Chinese natural language search engine in 2000 and her entrepreneur story was featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and other magazines. Her second company launched the first Chinese virtual personal assistant on a smartphone in 2009 and the first Chinese language automobile infotainment system with a 3G connection in 2010. Her company also invented a world-leading intelligent music technology engine that powers the digital music services to more than fifty million Chinese users. She has published more than 130 papers and book chapters and holds fifteen world-wide and Chinese patents and software copyrights. In addition to core engineering subjects, Pascale also teaches technology entrepreneurship to engineering students at HKUST. In 2011 she cofounded the Women Faculty Association at HKUST to push for diversity in academia. Pascale received her PhD in computer science from Columbia University in 1997.

Maria S Corina Gohoco-BautistaMaria S. (Corina) Gochoco-Bautista ’78 is currently senior economic advisor in the Economics and Research Department of the Asian Development Bank, on leave as professor of economics at the University of the Philippines School of Economics. She has published widely in the areas of open economy macroeconomics and monetary policy. She previously held the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Sterling Chair Professorship in Monetary Economics at the University of the Philippines School of Economics. She started her academic career as an assistant professor of economics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Other previous appointments include visiting research fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and senior research fellow at the Bank for International Settlements Office for Asia and the Pacific in Hong Kong SAR. She is a member and former chair of the Asian Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee and a board member of the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies. She received a BA in economics from Mount Holyoke College, magna cum laude, and was inducted into Mount Holyoke’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. She has a PhD in economics from Columbia University.

Samantha Ho KriegelSamantha Ho Kriegel is currently serving as the VP of Development for Teach For China, an educational NGO working in low-income communities in mainland China. Before joining TFC Sam worked for several years as a consultant for the global non-profit consultancy Brakeley and advised a variety of non-profit organizations on strategy and fundraising. Most of Sam’s professional experience has been as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co where she served both Asian and multinational clients in a variety of industries including pulp & paper, electronics, and healthcare. Sam holds an AB magna cum laude from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and an MBA from the Wharton School. She is the mother of two daughters aged 14 and 10.

erica MaErica Ma is community advisor at CoCoon, an entrepreneurship community with more than 100 entrepreneurs and freelancers in hardware, software, graphic design, social media, and more. As community advisor, she oversees CoCoon’s community development team. Erica graduated from Stanford with an undergraduate degree in communication and a graduate degree in psychology. After working in Silicon Valley at both Macys.com and eBay.com, she began her journey as an entrepreneur. Erica has experience in social media marketing, web analytics, search engine marketing, and product development.


SheilaMarceloSheila Lirio Marcelo ’93 is founder and CEO of Care.com. Sheila founded Care.com in 2006 and today the company is the largest online care destination in the world with more than 11.8 million members in sixteen countries. Sheila’s inspiration to found Care.com came from her own life experiences. A mother sandwiched at an early age between care for two small children and ailing parents, Sheila was challenged to find quality care and knew that technology was the answer. As Care.com has grown and scaled, Sheila has been honored with numerous accolades, including one of the “Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs” (Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, 2009), “Entrepreneur of the Year Award for New England” (Ernst & Young, 2010), one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” (Goldman Sachs’ Builders and Innovators Summit, 2012), “The Pinnacle Award for Achievement in Entrepreneurship” (Boston Chamber of Commerce, 2014), and “Entrepreneur of the Year” (New England Venture Capital Association, 2014). A frequent speaker on women in technology and female entrepreneurship and leadership, Sheila has spoken alongside President Obama at the White House Summit on Working Families (2014), with global political and business leaders at The World Economic Forum (2013), and to emerging female leaders at Harvard University (2013) and Northeastern University (2013). Sheila previously was at Upromise.com and TheLadders.com before serving as entrepreneur in residence at Matrix Partners. A Henry Crown Fellow, Marshall Memorial Fellow, and Young Global Leader for WEF, Sheila is also a board trustee of the Philippine Development Foundation. Sheila graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in economics and received her MBA and JD degrees and the Dean’s Award from Harvard University.

FionaKoturMarinFiona Kotur Marin is CEO and creative director of KOTUR. Known for its “small bags with big personalities,” KOTUR designs are celebrity favorites and constant editorial features. Comprised of a wide range of minaudieres and clutches, KOTUR also launched its debut shoe collection in spring 2014. Born and raised in New York, Fiona’s career in fashion has led her all around the world, and eventually to her second home in Hong Kong, where she founded KOTUR in 2005. After starting her career at Ralph Lauren designing hats and jewelry and eventually overseeing the department, she joined Gap to launch their new brand, Old Navy. Taking a larger management role at Old Navy, Fiona launched their accessories division and oversaw product development for the children’s and baby divisions as well. In 2008, Fiona was recognized for her achievements as a leader in the accessories design space when she was accepted into the CFDA. Fiona graduated from Wellesley College and studied at Yale and Parsons School of Design.

Jennifer MeehanJennifer Meehan has more than sixteen years of experience in the global microfinance and development industry. She most recently served as co-head of Global Programs and CEO Asia at Grameen Foundation USA (GF), a US$20+ million global non-profit organization that focuses on poverty alleviation through financial services and mobile technology. Among the initiatives she led during her eight-year tenure was developing a three-year strategy that redefined GF’s role in fighting global poverty and the structuring and launching in 2006 of GF’s efforts to connect microfinance to local financial markets. Jennifer has served as an investment committee member of the Aavishkaar India Micro Venture Capital Fund and as an analyst for Calvert Social Investment Foundation. She began her career with The Chase Manhattan Bank (formerly Chemical Bank) where she worked in corporate banking and project finance.  She currently serves as chair of Grameen Foundation India, co-chair of PathFinders HK, and board member of KHL Holdings Ltd. She also advises Advanced Merchant Payments, a HK-based fintech company that seeks to grow SMEs across Asia and beyond.  Jennifer graduated with an MA in international affairs with a concentration in international economics and a minor in French language from George Washington University.

Vijaya PastalaVijaya Pastala ’89 is CEO and founder of Under The Mango Tree (UTMT). Established in 2010 as a social enterprise, UTMT promotes beekeeping to increase agricultural productivity, enhance incomes, and improve livelihoods of marginal farmers in India. Vijaya’s passion lies in developing community based, pro-poor approaches for environmentally sustainable economic development in India. Before establishing UTMT, she worked as a development professional with the World Bank, KFW, European Commission, DFID, and the Aga Khan Foundation primarily on livelihood and natural resource management. A local of Mumbai, Vijaya took a gap year after school to travel across India as a hippie. She made her way across the country with the first edition of the Lonely Planet. Vijaya later earned her bachelor’s in international relations and women’s studies from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s in regional planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Besides helming UTMT, Vijaya tries to be the best possible mom to her 11 year old

Eva PausEva Paus is Carol Hoffmann Collins director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives at Mount Holyoke College.  The Center, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this fall, leads the College’s commitment to expand students’ global competence. Through courses, conferences, research, international internships, study abroad, and collaborations with external partners, students acquire the skills needed for citizenship and careers in today’s global world.

As a professor of economics, Paus is the author or editor of seven books and dozens of articles on economic development and globalization. Her current research focuses on the middle income trap, the implications of the rise of China for structural transformation in (other) developing countries, and the conditions under which foreign direct investment advances economic development in latecomers. Her latest book is Getting Development Right: Structural Transformation, Inclusion and Sustainability in the Post-Crisis Era (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2013). Paus has received many national grants and has consulted with a number of UN organizations. She has been a visiting academic at the German Institute for Economic Research (Berlin). the University of Costa Rica (San Jose), the Keough Institute for Irish Studies (Dublin), Sookmyung University (Seoul), and Universidad del Pacifico (Lima).

CatPurvisCat Purvis is director and cofounder of Exicon, a cloud platform for app and API management, with global clients including handset manufacturers, operators, brands, and enterprises. It is a 2012 Red Herring 100 Global tech companies winner. During her career, Cat has built companies, teams, and divisions all over the world, in the UK, and US as well as in China where she lived for five years. Previous roles include COO at Icon Medialab and GM at a start-up in Beijing, which was later sold to a global player. Born and raised in China, Cat is truly an international woman. Speaking English, French, Mandarin, and German, she has lived, worked, and studied in many places. A firm believer in the power of education, she studied management and statistics at St Andrews University and also has a diploma in marketing and qualifications in process re-engineering. Cat is also a regular swimmer in international master’s competitions including the World Master’s Championships in Sweden. Her dream is to do a family swim tour with her husband and four kids in the Greek Islands.

SCMP 21SEP12 SP WOMAN20  ESO_8054.JPGSu-Mei Thompson is CEO of The Women’s Foundation, a leading NGO dedicated to the advancement of women in Hong Kong through groundbreaking research, innovative community programs, and education and advocacy. She is also the founder of the 30% Club Hong Kong, a group of chairmen and business leaders committed to bringing more women onto corporate boards. In 2013, Su-Mei was appointed by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong to the Equal Opportunities Commission. Su-Mei started her career as a corporate finance associate at Linklaters before assuming senior management positions with The Walt Disney Company, the Financial Times and Christie’s. An alumna of Cambridge and Oxford Universities and IMD, Su-Mei is a non-executive director of HKEx-listed Natural Beauty Bio-technology Limited, an advisory board member of Intelligence Squared Asia, a board member of Opera HK, and a council member of The Cheltenham Ladies College, her alma mater.

Frances Waikwun Wong began her career at McKinsey & Company in the United States and later returned to Hong Kong to join Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. There, she was managing director of Weatherite Manufacturing Limited, CEO of Metro Broadcast Corporation Limited, and CFO of Star TV. She later became group CFO for the Pacific Century Group. In 2000, she founded the Independent Schools Foundation Academy in Hong Kong, where she currently serves as chairman of the board. Frances is an independent non-executive director of PCCW Ltd. and Pacific Century Regional Developments Ltd. She also runs the investment management portfolio of her family office. Frances was a member of the Central Policy Unit and has served on the boards of the Canadian International School and the Open University of Hong Kong. She has a bachelor of science degree from Stanford University and a master of science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Frances and her husband are the proud parents of four children.

unnamedWendy Xa ’93 is the founder and founding head of Presidio Knolls School (PKS), a Mandarin language immersion progressive independent pre-kindergarten to eighth grade school in San Francisco. The School’s mission is to educate and inspire students to become creative, confident, and engaged global citizens. The school has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, BBC, and CNN and honored by the Mayor of San Francisco in his 2010 State of the City address for its advanced programs in education. PKS had an enrollment of 240 students in fall 2013 and will increase a grade per year to a capacity of 500 students in total. Today, hundreds of students are on its waitlist. Wendy grew up in New York and New Jersey. She attended both public and private schools as a child. Prior to starting PKS, she was a regional vice president at financial companies including Morgan Stanley, Enterprise (acquired by Goldman Sachs) and John Hancock (subsidiary of Manulife, an investment firm in Canada). Wendy earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience (formerly psychobiology) at Mount Holyoke College. Most recently, she was recruited back into the financial industry by a company founded by two former Morgan Stanley executives.



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