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Strong Female Leaders We Admire

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Bush Institute experts recognize trailblazing women in our leadership programs who are inspiring others.

Article by Sarah Gibbons and Ioanna Papas March 6, 2020 //   5 minute read
WE Lead scholars visit the Bush Institute in March 2019 to present their personal leadership projects and complete the program.

At the Bush Institute, we work to advance the rights of women here at home and around the world. We are proud to work with strong female leaders who are driving positive change in their communities. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Bush Institute experts recognize trailblazing women in our leadership programs who are inspiring others.   

1. Vijayar (Mi Hla Chaw), Liberty and Leadership scholar
By Jieun Pyun

Vijayar is a go-getter. She is an executive officer and founding member of the Jamoi Foundation, an organization that assists students in Mon State with study abroad opportunities. Although her remote village in Southern Burma discourages young people from pursuing an education, Vijayar determinedly fights for opportunities for young people today. As a Liberty and Leadership scholar, Vijayar seeks to create an internship program which brings ethnic nationalities together to promote unity among ethnic groups by learning about different cultures, political backgrounds, and traditions.

2. Monique Booth, School Leadership Initiative participant
By Anne Wicks

Monique Booth is determined. She is the principal of Salem Church Elementary in Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) in Virginia and a member of the CCPS team participating in the School Leadership District Cohort. Her commitment to ensuring that all students have access to a high-quality education is obvious, and she was recognized as CCPS Principal of the Year in 2019. I admire Monique for her commitment to student success - and for her clear-eyed perspective on what it means to support high quality principals. Monique’s leadership and ability to connect effectively with students, parents, and teachers make her an inspiration and a role model. The field needs more Moniques leading campuses and informing policy. We are grateful to work with her in our research project.

3. Claudia Beatriz Umaña Araujo, Central America Prosperity Project participant
By Matthew Rooney

Claudia Beatriz Umaña Araujo is principled. Claudia was El Salvador’s lead negotiator for the Central America Free Trade Agreement, a visionary effort to open a path to industrialization and prosperity for El Salvador. More recently, she is founder of Democracy, Transparency, Justice, a non-profit that teaches young people about political participation and encourages citizen engagement. She is also the coordinator of political and legal studies and Vice President of FUSADES, a social and economic policy think tank in El Salvador rated No 1 in Central America by Global Go To Think Tank Index Report. Claudia is remarkable for her commitment to principle, her graciousness, and her vision for her country’s future.

4. Lucy Lang, Presidential Leadership Scholar
By Katie Lynam

Lucy Lang is bold. While Lucy was in the Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program, she served as an Assistant District Attorney for the city of Manhattan for homicide. During the six-month program, Lucy developed a liberal arts style seminar for prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and soon-to-be-released inmates at Queensboro Correctional Facility. The participating prosecutors study and discuss criminal justice issues and together generate ideas for policy reform. All participants conclude the semester with a deepened understanding of one another, countering the tension between law enforcement and the community it serves.

5. Elizabeth Jamison, Stand-To Veteran Leadership scholar
By Brooke Dority

Libby Jamison is a trailblazer. She is an attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the co-founder of MISSIONLicense, an organization committed to helping professionals overcome licensing hurdles and advocating for occupational licensing reform. As the wife of a Navy helicopter pilot, Libby has moved frequently and has experienced firsthand the difficulties of transferring her professional license while supporting her husband’s military career. Through her participation in the 2019 Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, Libby worked to reduce occupational licensing barriers and increase workforce participation for military families. Libby was recognized as Military.com’s Military Spouse of the Year in 2019 and is currently a Congressional Fellow for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

6. Shahnaz Nasr, WE Lead scholar
By Natalie Gonnella-Platts and Farhat Popal

Shahnaz Nasr is driven. She inspires us with her passion for women’s economic empowerment in Afghanistan, and advocacy on behalf of the needs of the remote and rural poor. Shahnaz works tirelessly to ensure women in her community have the financial skills and resources to build a bright future for themselves and their families.