Cathy Raymond, Executive Director
Cathy Raymond is an ESL/EFL teaching professional with extensive ties to Afghanistan. In 2005, Cathy worked as the ESL and TESOL Methodology Specialist for a Fulbright Educational Exchange between Indiana University and Kabul Education University – Afghanistan. From 2006 to 2008 she worked as TESOL Coordinator for the Afghan Higher Education Project (HEP). During this time, Cathy travelled to Afghanistan to interview and recruit students for a Master’s degree program. She also developed teacher training workshops for Afghan faculty and designed and taught graduate level courses as part of that program. On a separate project with Afghanistan, Cathy also conducted pre-deployment training for English teachers going to Afghanistan in 2013.
Cathy established the AIWR Nepal program in 2015 after travelling to Nepal to develop language materials as part of an English Language Specialist project through the State Department in 2014. While in Nepal, Cathy was able to set up a partnership between AIWR and the American Corner location in Biratnagar, Nepal.
In 2011, Cathy volunteered as a teacher in AIWR’s English Program and in 2013 she moved into the role of AIWR English Program Director. In January of 2017, Cathy generously agreed to serve as AIWR's volunteer Executive Director.
In addition to working as AIWR's Executive Director, Cathy also works as Assistant Director of English Language Programs at Washington University in St Louis.
Laura Waters, English Program Coordinator
Laura Waters was living in Nunavut, Canada when she started with AIWR as a volunteer teacher. From that remote area she was able to help students in Mongolia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan toward their goals of learning English. Moving to Ontario, she continued in this capacity, until last year, when she became a coordinator of the English Program, helping with the scheduling and administrative needs of the Program.
Jeanne Pizarro, English Program Coordinator
Jeanne Pizarro had recently returned to her hometown in the Midwest of the United States when she eagerly accepted the opportunity to work with AIWR. She has taught ESL around the world and has worked as a project manager in the translation industry. Working with the women in AIWR’s Afghanistan program fuels her passion for social justice, women’s rights, and language learning. A student of languages herself, Jeanne has experienced how empowering it is to connect with people and cultures around the world by speaking another language, and she firmly believes that education is the most powerful tool we have to change the world. As an English Program Coordinator, Jeanne oversees communication between the AIWR English teachers and Afghan Coordinators and assists with the scheduling and administrative needs for AIWR’s afternoon shift.
Anne Damiecka, English Program Coordinator
Anne Damiecka is a professor of ESOL at Lone Star College in Texas. She became involved with AIWR in 2015 as a volunteer teacher and has tremendously enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with Afghan students. Currently, Anne works to coordinate communication between AIWR teachers and Afghan coordinators for AIWR’s second afternoon shift.
Gayle Zilber, Mentor Program Director
Gayle Zilber is a lawyer with an interest in international human rights law, women's rights law, and gender equality. She spent several years teaching English to Tibetan refugee students and editing English publications at a Tibetan university in India before obtaining her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. She has juggled a civil litigation practice with human rights work, coordinating a Tibetan children's rights project, running an international women's rights conference, and working on Tibetan immigration and prisoner sexual abuse cases. Gayle has been a legal mentor for AIWR since 2008, working with an Afghan woman senator and Afghan attorneys who focus on women's rights and human rights. More recently, Gayle took over directing the Mentor Program for AIWR, overseeing scheduling and logistics for the Mentor Program while expanding the program to benefit more women leaders throughout Afghanistan.
Scarlett Chidgey, Communications and Technology Director
Scarlett has been involved with AIWR since 2006, when she served as an In-Country Volunteer in Mongolia. She joined the AIWR staff in 2007 as a Program Manager, in which she coordinated a variety of volunteer projects, assisted with the English Program, and managed and developed the AIWR website and organizational database. Currently, her primary focus is communications, fund development, program support, and technical support. Scarlett holds an MA in International Studies from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, with a concentration in Gender, Human Rights, and Development. In 2011, she was an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow in Uganda, and supported a women's maternal health project in Ethopia. She is currently a Program Associate for a nonprofit organization in San Francisco, CA.
Michele Mathis, Volunteer Appreciation Coordinator
Michele Mathis is currently obtaining a Bachelors of Arts in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies with a focus in political science and philosophy. After graduation, she will be working towards obtaining a Masters of Social Work focusing on Interpersonal Mental Health. Michele joined the AIWR team in 2017, where she serves to coordinate volunteer appreciation all over the country.
Lisa Herb, Founder and President of the Board
Lisa Herb is the founder of AIWR. Although Lisa’s professional life has focused on practicing law, her love of travel and passion for women’s rights led her to many opportunities to travel and live in Asia where she was able to learn first-hand about the experiences of women in many Asian and Central Asian cultures. Lisa’s inspiration for founding AIWR and its long-distance Empowerment Programs came from Mongolian women’s rights advocates with whom Lisa worked while she was living in Mongolia in 2003 and 2004. Upon her return to the U.S. in 2005, Lisa’s Mongolian acquaintances asked if she could continue to support them long-distance, through email and Skype and Lisa realized that she could indeed continue to work with Asian women leaders despite being thousands of miles away. Based on this experience, in 2005 Lisa founded AIWR for the purpose of providing long-distance capacity building support to women leaders and future women leaders in Central Asia. In 2007 Lisa traveled to Afghanistan and after witnessing first-hand the challenges faced by Afghan women and girls, AIWR decided to focus its primary resources and energy on its Afghanistan programs.
Lisa served as AIWR's Executive Director from 2005 through 2016 and continues to serve AIWR as President of the Board. In addition to working with AIWR, Lisa also continues to practice law, telecommuting long distance from her upstate New York office to a Seattle law firm, the Summit Law Group, where Lisa’s practice focuses on commercial litigation. Lisa is also the busy mother of a very active young son.
Peter Zahler, Board Member and Vice President of Strategic Planning
Peter Zahler has lived and worked in northern, western, and Central Asia for over a decade. This includes running or supervising wildlife and community conservation projects in the Russian Far East, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and northern Pakistan. He is currently the Wildlife Conservation Society's Assistant Director for Asia. In addition to serving as a board member, Peter also serves as the Alliance's Vice President of Strategic Planning.
Denise Ashbaugh, Board Member and Vice President
Denise Ashbaugh is a partner with a Seattle law firm. Denise has extensive experience in employment law and gender discrimination in addition to commercial litigation. Denise is also active as a volunteer attorney who serves her community by proving free legal services for low income individuals.
Carolyn Douglas, Board Member and Media Relations Specialist
Carolyn Douglas is a public relations and communications specialist in Seattle with more than a decade of broadcast communications experience. She has covered national and international news while working as an anchor and reporter at television stations throughout the country. In addition to being a board member with AIWR, Carolyn is also an active member of Rotary and involved in community fundraisers in the Seattle area.