Key Staff

Lisa Herb, Executive Director

Lisa Herb is the founder and executive director 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.

In addition to working with AIWR, Lisa also continues to practice law with the Summit Law Group, where Lisa’s practice focuses on commercial litigation. Lisa is also the busy mother of a very active young son.

e-mail: lisaherb@aiwr.org

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.

e-mail: lauraw@aiwr.org

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.

e-mail: jeannep@aiwr.org

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.

e-mail: anned@aiwr.org

Gayle Zilber, Mentor Program Director

Gayle Zilber is a lawyer with a passion for international human rights, women's rights, and gender equality. In the early 1990's she taught English to Tibetan refugee students and edited English publications at a Tibetan university in India before obtaining her law degree in 1997 from the University of Michigan Law School. She juggled commercial law and a civil litigation practice with human rights work, including coordinating a Tibetan children's rights project and running an international women's rights conference. Gayle has been a legal mentor for AIWR since 2008, and has worked with an Afghan woman senator and many Afghan attorneys who work in women's rights, human rights, and on eradicating corruption. Gayle has overseen the Mentor Program for AIWR since 2014, expanding the program to benefit more women leaders throughout Afghanistan.

e-mail: gaylez@aiwr.org

Scarlett Chidgey, 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 on technology 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.

e-mail: scarlett@aiwr.org

Board Members

Lisa Herb, Founder, Director and President of the Board

(See bio above)

e-mail: lisaherb@aiwr.org

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.

Photo courtesy of Sky McLaughlin