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.
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.
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 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.
Nancy Arnold-Hunting, Mentor Program Coordinator
Nancy first joined AIWR in 2007 as a volunteer teacher in the English Program and has volunteered in the Mentor Program since 2015. In January of 2018, Nancy generously agreed to join our core team by stepping into the role of Mentor Program Coordinator. Nancy has a life-long interest in languages and cultures and a passion for social justice. She holds a BA in French and a Post-Graduate Certificate in TESOL. She experienced the challenges of language acquisition and integrating into new cultures while living and working in Europe, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Mexico. Her professional experience includes teaching English to adult immigrants and refugees, disadvantaged children in developing countries, and teacher training. As a Mentor Program Coordinator, Nancy oversees the matching, scheduling and reporting for the volunteer mentors and mentees.
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 with AIWR 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 Director of Development at Shanti Project, in San Francisco.
Lisa Herb, Founder, Director and President of the Board
(See bio above)
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.