Conference Speakers


Panel Moderator: Megan Shea, WLP 2001

Cynthia Steele Vance


Meghan Shea is a director & producer of films. She focuses her lens on the work of individuals and organizations that are creating positive social impact in the world.  Meghan is a co-founder of Persistent Productions, which has offices in Boston and in Singapore. She draws from a background in the arts to create films that examine issues from multiple viewpoints and global perspectives. Her work focuses on both national and international social issues and she produces content for broadcast, streaming, and educational distribution.

Meghan’s documentary portfolio includes: “Under the Turban”, a film that examines the Sikh religion and premiered at The United Nations Film Festival; “In the Spirit of Laxmi”, a film about the rewilding of a leopard in Rajasthan, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, went on to win Best Short Documentary at The Gold Coast Film Festival, and screen at numerous festivals around the world. Her most recent work, “How I Live”, looks at the survival gap in global childhood cancer screened at The United Nations General Assembly and went on to win Best Director at The Chambal International Film Festival and Best Feature at the United Kingdom’s Fisheye Film Festival. 

In her client-driven work Meghan creates compelling, research-based, visually driven stories. Meghan’s client work includes The BBC, Sony Music, USAID, Out Leadership, Dana Farber/ Boston Children's Hospital, Aman Resorts and Nikon, among others.

Meghan graduated with a Master’s in Fine Arts from The George Washington University during which time she was the graduate teaching assistant for the International Arts and Culture Cohort of The ESJ Women’s Leadership Program.

Panelist: Nazenin Ansari, MVC 1980

Jennifer Lawless


Nazenin Ansari is Publisher and Managing Editor of two independent online media publication focusing on Iran.  Kayhan London ( in Persian) and Kayhan Life ( in English) offer in-depth news coverage of Iran’s news and culture in Iran, and the Middle East.  She is also a contributor to BBC World’s Dateline London.

She was the executive producer and moderator of a news discussion programme on Manoto Television called, <This Week>. She was also a Producer/Special London Correspondent for Voice of America for over six years.

Nazenin is the founding Trustee of Persia Educational Foundation which fosters learning for women and students of Iranian descent. In 2017 Persia gathered hundreds of women leaders from the world of media, finance, politics, arts and well-being to the first-ever Iranian Women’s Leadership Conference in London. It also set up the Mirzakhani Scholarship for Women to support education of a female student enrolled in a MS or final year of a Phd programme studying STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics).

Nazenin was elected to the governing Committee of Foreign Press Association in London in 2002.  Presently a Trustee, she served as President, Vice President and Chairwoman of the Media Awards. Highlights of her tenure included launching the “Dialogue of Cultures” award, and organising a symposium on "Women as Agents of Change” with the Commonwealth Secretariat,  to mark the centenary year of International Women's Day.  Nazenin also served as a Judge for the UK Parliamentary Press Gallery award to a journalist considered to have made the greatest contribution internationally to the 'protection, promotion and perpetuation of parliamentary democracy.’  

Nazenin received her BA in Public Affairs and Government from Mount Vernon College now George Washington University and Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University in International Relations and Comparative Politics (the Soviet Union and the Middle East).

Panelist: Jenna Ben-Yehuda, WLP 1998

Megan Beyer


Jenna Ben-Yehuda is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Truman National Security Project and the Truman Center for National Policy. She is also the founder of the Women’s Foreign Policy Network, a global membership organization of five thousand national security professionals in one hundred countries. A former State Department official with private sector experience, Ben-Yehuda is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on U.S. national security and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She also serves on the advisory boards of National Security Action and the Leadership Council for Women in National Security. Ben-Yehuda is a frequent media contributor on women’s leadership and U.S. national security. She holds bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and Spanish from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, where she served as an adjunct professor, and master’s degrees from National Defense University and National Intelligence University.


Panelist: Olivia Elder, WLP 2015

Heera Kamboj


Olivia Elder is a nonprofit professional, organizer, and dancer based in Washington, DC. Raised in Houston and New Orleans, Olivia moved to DC to attend The George Washington University, where she studied International Affairs with a concentration in Contemporary Societies and Cultures. During her undergraduate studies, she focused mainly on faith-based and minority communities, particularly on the role that faith has on social movements. Currently, she leads the Families and Incarceration program at, is a guest lecturer at Church of The Epiphany, and sits on the board of a DC-based service organization.



Panelist: Chloe King, WLP 2016

Jennifer Porter


Chloe King is a PADI Divemaster and avid ocean advocate, leading marine research projects in Indonesia and Timor-Leste as a Boren Scholar, Projects for Peace Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. Adopting tools from political ecology, behavioral economics, and marine science, her research analyzes the interactions between traditional tenure systems, sustainable tourism, and common-pool resource governance to achieve long-term marine conservation goals. As a 2019-20 Fulbright Scholar, she worked in Wakatobi National Park analyzing how various tourism operators influence the resilience and adaptive capacity of surrounding socio-ecological systems and their access to livelihood capital in response to crises like climate change and Covid-19. 

Chloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. During her time at GW she co-founded Last Call, an online platform that shares end-of-day restaurant deals with students to combat food insecurity and food waste, winning $145,000 worth of prizes at GW’s New Venture Competition her senior year. She is currently based at the University of Edinburgh, studying to obtain a Masters of Science in Marine Systems and Policy as a Marshall Scholar. Chloe also works as a Conservation Project Manager for Solimar International, a sustainable tourism consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. In her free time she enjoys freediving, running, and rock climbing, making homemade pesto and hummus, and dreaming of adopting an unrealistic number of dogs.