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A Most Powerful Woman – Nora Haleem Fares

Article by Charity Wallace October 15, 2013 //   3 minute read

Tomorrow, Nora Haleem Fares will present her story of struggle and success at Fortune’s The Most Powerful Women conference in Washington, DC, sharing the stage with some of the world’s most well-known and accomplished female political leaders, CEOs, journalists, actors and legends.  I remember meeting Nora for the first time in November 2011 when I was in Cairo interviewing women for the Bush Institute’s inaugural class of Women’s Initiative Fellows.  Nora was shy and slightly unsure of herself, but her story was compelling.  Nora’s husband unexpectedly passed away at a young age, leaving her with two teenage sons and a publishing business.  She knew very little about running a business, and living in a male dominated society such as Egypt, the challenge was even greater. The hill she was facing was steep and seemingly impossible.  But Nora was determined to try to take on the business – and at least sustain it. 

When I met Nora, she had just graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program where she learned business skills critical to her success.  During her interview, I saw a woman of substance, determination, and great potential.  Nora was selected as one of 14 women from Egypt for the Bush Institute’s 2012 Women’s Initiative Fellowship.  When she first arrived in Dallas in March 2012, Nora asked me, “What did you see in me?  Do you think I can really be a leader?”  I encouraged her daily, pointing out that she was a leader with incredible potential.  Throughout the first week of classes at SMU, I began to see Nora blossom.  She grew in confidence each day, and throughout our journey across the United States from Dallas, TX to Washington, DC, New York and the Silicon Valley, Nora’s self-assurance increased.  Like each Fellow, Nora was paired with an American mentor for the year.  Nora met her mentor, Lynette Lewis, during her four weeks in the United States.  The two were a perfect match, and because of Lynette’s consistent encouragement, guidance, and support, Nora’s project and goals expanded. 

When Nora graduated in March 2013, it was amazing to reflect on the woman she had become over the course of the year.  Nora is confident, proud, a savvy and extremely successful businesswoman … and a role model.  Nora’s influence continues to grow.  She has blossomed into a powerful woman.

Nora will speak at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Conference on Wednesday October 16, 2013 at 9:15 a.m. ET. Click here to watch the live webcast.