Women to Watch Spotlight: Malala Yousafzai

April 30, 2013

Here is a sneak peak of our 2013 Women to Watch Awards honorees.  This year we are thrilled to honor four inspirational women who are making a tremendous impact in politics, media, philanthropy, and activism.  These women are not only exceptional in their fields, but are also inspiring role models for young women around the world.

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Role Model: Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai HeadshotAt just 15, Malala Yousafzai showed amazing bravery and persistence in the face of an assassination attempt by the Taliban.  She refused to back down from her heroic activism for girls’ education, not allowing her serious head injury from the attack to dampen her commitment to her cause.  Malala’s courage proves that you are never too young to make a difference, which is why she has earned our Role Model Award.  In fact, Malala started very young, speaking out at age 11 about the atrocities committed in her hometown under Taliban control.  Her work has earned her much-deserved accolades:  in addition to TIME magazine recognizing her as a runner-up for Person of the Year 2012 (the top honor ultimately went to President Obama), they recently named her one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People.  She is the youngest person to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and is the inspiration for a United Nations petition that demands that there be no children left out of school by 2015.

We hope that Malala’s spirit and conviction will spur young women everywhere to become leaders and take action about issues they are passionate about.

Introduced by: Alyse Nelson

Alyse NelsonRunning Start Board Member Alyse Nelson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Voices Global Partnership.  As co-founder of Vital Voices, Alyse has worked for the organization for 15 years, serving as Vice President and Senior Director of Programs before assuming her current role in 2009.  Alyse has worked with women leaders to develop training programs and international forums in over 140 countries and has interviewed more than 200 international leaders, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Presidents Mary Robinson and Bill Clinton, as well as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, and Muhammad Yunus.  Under her leadership, Vital Voices has tripled in size and expanded its global reach to serve a network of over 14,000 women leaders in 144 countries.

Vital Voices established the Malala Fund on behalf of Malala and her family, continuing Malala’s work for the right of every child to an education.

Previously, Alyse served as Deputy Director to the Vital Voices Global Democracy Initiatives at the U.S. Department of State.  Her position aided former First Lady Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s commitment to promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy objective.  From July 1996 to July 2000, Alyse worked with the President’s Interagency Council on Women at the White House and U.S. Department of State, and serves on the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society.

Alyse is the author of the best-selling book Vital Voices:  The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World, which shares the stories of remarkable, world-changing women, as well as the story of how Vital Voices was founded, crossing lines that typically divide.

Alyse has been featured in international and national media, including the Washington Post, Financial Times, the Miami Herald, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Reuters, and has appeared on BBC, PBS, CNN, NPR, FOX, News, and CNBC.  In 2006, Alyse was named on of “Ten Women to Watch”, by Washingtonian Magazine and was honored by her alma mater, Emerson College, with the distinguished speaker award.  In 2011, she was featured in Newsweek as one of “150 Women Shaking the World,” and in 2012 she was TIAW World of Difference 100 Award recipient.

And by:  Andrea Walton

Andrea Walton Photo

Andrea Walton, 19, is a proud 2012 alumna of our Young Women’s Political Leadership program. She is currently finishing her freshman year at American University before heading back to her hometown of Princeton, Indiana for the summer.  She is majoring in political science and developed a strong interest in  government and politics through serving as a U.S. House of Representatives Page for two summers, sponsored by former Indiana Congressman  Brad Ellsworth in  2010 and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2011.  At the age of 18, Andrea was chosen as her county’s delegate to the Indiana Democratic Convention and went on to be elected Indiana’s youngest delegate at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Beginning when she was 16 she worked as an intern on the Ellsworth for Senate campaign in 2010 and volunteered for gubernatorial and Congressional races in 2012.

Taking advantage of all the opportunities Washington, DC has to offer, Andrea has continued to stay politically involved at American University.  As a member of AU College Democrats, she has volunteered for Senate and gubernatorial campaigns in Virginia, as well as for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.  Andrea has also been thrilled to have the opportunity to serves as an intern for her hero and mentor, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, this semester. Reflecting Running Start’s mission, she hopes to run for office at a young age in order to rise to a position of leadership. Andrea’s ultimate goal is to serve as a Member of Congress representing her home state of Indiana.

 Stay tuned for more weekly spotlights on our Women to Watch honorees!

Click here for more information and to reserve your seats at this year’s awards!

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