Message- Elahe Amani WIN President

Greeting from Southern California, I cannot believe we are entering July and uncovering the veil of a new normal after fifteen months. It was a period of many challenges including but not limited to the concerns for the health of family and friends, those who lost their jobs during the hard-hit months of 2020-21, unpredictability, and an overload of virtual meetings in “Zoom land.” It was an intense physical and emotional period of our lives. Now, we seek to re-energize ourselves as we push forward, leaving the last fifteen months in the rearview mirror! 

As the new president of WIN, elected in January 2021, I would like to share my thoughts, hopes, inspiration, and a bit of my history with WIN.  First and foremost, I am honored and excited to work with the current board of WIN. The harmony, commitment, and synergy of the board makes me believe that together we will make change possible, connect women and girls across cultures and assure that all women and girl’s voices are heard in public forums for full participation in their governments, societies, and economies.  

My history with WIN commenced when I attended the Beijing Women Conference, much awaited for a decade as I missed the third International Women Conference in Nairobi due to illness of a loved one. On our long flight from San Francisco to Shanghai, China, along with more than seventy other women and girls from the Bay Area of California, I met Marilyn Fowler, the founder of WIN. After the Beijing Women Conference, Marylin and I stayed in touch.  As an active member of WIN, located in southern California, I was an advocate for “Bringing Beijing Home.” Through this initiative, I shared the lessons learned and my experiences not only at various campuses of California State University but also with ESL classes in downtown LA.  Along with community activism, I taught in the Women Studies Programs of CSU, two of my beloved courses, “Global Women’s Movement” and “Women in Cross-Cultural Perspectives.” With my students, in these courses, we examined, reflected upon, and unpacked UN Women’s Conferences, “The Beijing Platform for Action,” and “Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies.”   

As Chair and President of the Commission on the Status of Women at California State University Long Beach, and WIN board member,  I presented at the majority of the CSW NGO forums since 1995 along with other regional conferences including the first (1998) post-Beijing Latin America conference in Cuba.    Being an active part of WIN during conversations about : 1)establishing “Circles”, the “ Cities for CEDAW ” national campaign; 2) hosting Uganda delegation, being part of the WIN grassroots delegation to Afghanistan; 3) working closing with Afghan Women Network to select a delegation from Afghanistan women to visit California; and 4) having an all-day event, hosting the delegation from Afghanistan by (RIP) President Gordon of California State University Fullerton. These are but a few of many other memories weaved into my life during the last 26 years, which makes WIN an important part of my life and identity.  

As a women’s human rights advocate, CEDAW, The Bill of Rights of Women and Girls was important to me even before my path crossed WIN. I learned about CEDAW in 1984 as a result of an introduction to (RIP) Billi Heller, the founding member and chair of the national committee on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. So, clearly, when the Cities for CEDAW campaign was coined by the collaboration of the SF Commission on the Status of Women and WIN in 2013 at one of the informal gatherings of CSW, it was dear and near to my heart.

So here we are, in June of 2021, I am honored to serve an organization that I have been serving in different capacities in the last 26 years, I am committed to do what is needed to unmask the talents, commitments to gender equality, justice, and the creativity of the global network of WIN to make a meaningful, positive, impactful difference for women and girls.    

Now is the time that with collaboration and coalition-building we join efforts to ratify CEDAW locally and at the national level and ensure that the rights and dignity of every woman and girl are honored and protected. As the past chair of Global Circles of WIN, the goal of reinvigorating the circles of WIN and forming new circles is still at the heart of WIN.  

My goal with the post-pandemic of WIN is to continue to offer quality and diverse programming that helps the interest and needs of our members and WIN community. The quarterly newsletter will keep the community of WIN informed of the latest events and updates about our community organizing and CEDAW efforts at local, national, and global levels. As a mediator, I also value collaboration and coalition building amongst civil society entities that are striving to accomplish gender equality and justice, locally and globally.  

Meet the 2021 WIN Board Members

As the new president of WIN, I am thankful for the current board members willingness to continue to serve on the board and share their experiences, talent  and commitment to gender equality with our community.  My special thanks to Molly Klett who despite her other commitments, accepted to join WIN Board again. The Current Board members are as follow:

Elahe Amani President, Long Beach CA

Junemarie Justus Vice-President, Thousand Oaks, CA

Cathryn Harris-Marchescusi Secretary, Esq. New York

Charlie Toledo Treasurer, Napa, CA

Molly Klett, Assistant Treasurer, Oakland CA

Gail James, CitiesforCEDAW Committee Chair , Kansas City, Missouri 

AT Large:

Tricia Lindsey, Esq., New York

Wendy Pelle-Beer Esq., New York

Advisory Board:

Lenka Belkova, Toronto Canada

Julianne Traylor, Oakland CA

Elmy Bermejo, San Francisco CA

Elahe Amani

Elahe Amani is a gender equality, peace, and human rights, activist.  She served California State University System in the capacity of senior administrator and Women Studies lecturer for 31 years.  Elahe has been following the global women’s movement since the third UN Women Conference in Nairobi.  Elahe is currently the President of Women’s Intercultural Network, a global network with consultancy status with the UN.  Elahe is a trained mediator, conflict analysis, conflict management, and conflict transformation since 1992 and has been contributing to the efforts of  Mediators Beyond Borders (MBB), for more than a decade.    She is Faculty of MBB International Training Institute and on the Strategic Partnership Committee of the National Association of Community Mediation.  Elahe has served in many leadership roles at local, statewide and global level including  Chair, International Interest of American Association University Women (AAUW ), Chair Coalition of Women from Asia and the Middle East (CWAME ),  Founding member of ICWIN, Chair President Commission on the Status of Women at CSULB and other organizations and networks. 

Elahe is well-published in English and Persian.   Her articles are published by Women News Network,  Open Democracy,  TruthoutSafe World for WomenMediators Beyond Borders, UN Women Reporting Network, and many Iranian women / human rights publications.

Cathryn Harris-Marchesi

Cathryn Harris-Marchesi is a federal constitutional attorney who practices employment law as a Partner at The Noble Law’s New York City office.  Ms. Harris-Marchesi has extensive experience in litigation practice and mediation civil rights matters. Having worked as Senior Associate with the Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington for over a decade, she has a strong commitment to leveling the field for women and marginalized groups. 

After earning her juris doctorate, Ms. Harris-Marchesi grew versed in litigation, mediation, and negotiation involving mostly Title VII class action lawsuits as Litigation Fellow with a Washington D.C. based law firm. She, then, moved to Long Island, where she joined ERASE Racism and was appointed a board member to the Nassau County Rent Guidelines Board by then-New York State Governor George Pataki. Alongside a small team, Ms. Harris-Marchesi drafted new fair housing laws with enforcement systems that were enacted in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in January 2007 and conducted legal analyses of proposed community development plans and zoning ordinances. She frequently entered into negotiations with federal, state, and local government agencies, testified at several county legislative hearings, and frequently spoke publicly on fair housing law. Ms. Harris-Marchesi  serves on the Board of Advisors for Long Island Housing Services.

Dedicated to providing education that furthers ethical law practice, Ms. Harris-Marchesi has acted as guest lecturer at Touro Law School and Stony Brook University regarding public policy issues and gender equity. Additionally, she was invited to be a guest speaker at NYCLA to discuss “Predatory Lending and the Ethical Responsibilities in Foreclosure Actions.” She frequently participates in the Nassau County Bar Association’s CLE program to spread awareness of employment discrimination issues. 

Gail James

Dr. Gail James, from New Jersey, received her B.A in History and Political

Science, Elmira College, New York, and Ph.D in French Literature, University of Arizona and the Sorbonne, University of Paris.  Her academic career spanned 16 years as faculty and 20 years in administration, as Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs at several colleges. She received Fulbright Fellowship for study in India, National Defense Education Act Fellowship, and was selected for post-graduate study at Kennedy School of Government.  Dr. James retired from the University of Kansas, where she served as Director of Learning Communities and Academic Achievement Center.

She is a founding member of Women’s Intercultural Network, and has served on Boards of Directors: Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, Women’s Foundation, Alliance Francaise, United Nations Association. Currently, she coordinates Women’s Equality Coalition. Dr. James was recently inducted into the Women’s Political Hall of Fame.  

Junemarie Justus

Junemarie Justus is Founder and Director of The Acorn Project, a social justice advocacy organization. A retired technology executive with international and entrepreneurial experience, Junemarie’s latest venture combines her more than 3 decades of success with her lifelong commitment to human rights advocacy and activism. She serves as a United Nations delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women, and on the Santa Barbara council of Human Rights Watch. She also serves on the boards of Women’s Economic Ventures and Women’s Funding Network. Junemarie is a member of Women’s Economic Ventures’ League of Extraordinary Women.

Trisha Lindsey

Attorney Lindsay is accustomed to hard work and working for the interest of the people. As a young adult Attorney Lindsay worked with various religious institutions and community organizations to address the spiritual, educational, social and cultural needs of the communities of Harlem and Bronx, New York and Hartford Connecticut. 

A former schoolteacher of 24 years and life-long community activist, Attorney Lindsay  served the communities of the Bronx, Yonkers, and Harlem, New York and Hartford, Connecticut, working with underserved families to address the ever present social and educational disparities. Ms. Lindsay’s experiences in her long career in education fueled her desire to impact education on the national level by changing legislation.

Attorney Lindsay provides voice, advocacy, and legal representation for those who often go unheard. Ms. Lindsay’s passion has been centered on improving the lives of inner-city families, community building, and ensuring equity and justice in education, which includes empowering women and girls, ensuring fair representation in all areas of government and industry.  Once upon a time, she believed education was the key to equity and justice.  She now believes equity and justice will best be served in the Courts through organizations like WIN,  via due diligence, fair, fierce and collective representation. 

Charlie Toledo

 Charlie Toledo is of Towa descendant, native to New Mexico. She is the Executive Director of the Suscol Intertribal Council a community-based organization (501©3) incorporated in 1992 located in Napa, California. She has extensive experience as public speaker, presenter and community organizer in regional, statewide, national and international forums. She has over forty years in alternative healthcare fields, as well as background in consultation for mediation for individuals, families, and organizations. She has been an organic gardener since 1978. She has lifelong commitment to social justice and international work on Human Rights and Environmental social justice issues. she has traveled extensively as a WIN delegate working  for Human Rights for women and children and Indigenous communities. Since 1986 she has served on Boards at local, state and international levels.  Ahe has traveled extensively as a WIN delegate working for Human Rights for women and children and Indigenous communities. Since 1986 she has served on Boards at local, state and international levels.