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International Women’s Day 2021

Please join us to honor immigrant leaders


Roxann Cooke

New England and Pennsylvania Managing Director of Consumer Banking, JP Morgan Chase


Kathrin Knauf

Vice President of Project Management, Moderna


Kanika Soni

Chief Commercial Officer, Tripadvisor


Tiziana Dearing

Host of Radio Boston on WBUR

About The Event

On March 8, 2021, the International Institute will host a virtual International Women’s Day celebration to honor the achievements of women leaders.

International Women’s Day is a global phenomenon, and we celebrate in a festive, supportive atmosphere that honors immigrant women and daughters of immigrants who have made a profound difference in New England and the world.

The event highlights the impact refugee and immigrant women have on our economy and our communities, and it celebrates the achievements of women everywhere. Our speaking program features a conversation with our honorees about their life experiences. International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed around the world since the early 1900s It is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity.

The International Institute of New England has been celebrating IWD since the early 2000s as a way to showcase immigrant women and their advocates. Past honorees include: Rep. Nikki Tsongas, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Dr. Charlotte Yeh, Colette Phillips, Christina Qi, and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

IWD Celebration

Why International Women’s Day?

IINE serves nearly 2,000 refugees, asylees, and immigrants in Boston and Lowell, and Manchester, NH each year.

Fifty percent of IINE program participants are women enrolled in refugee resettlement, job training and placement, English language classes, and legal services. 

The women we meet in IINE programs protected their families as they fled war and violence in Somalia, Congo, Iraq,  El Salvador, Bhutan, and other countries. Since 2016, more than 150 families served by IINE list a woman as their head-of-household. IINE programs are designed to be responsive to and respectful of the unique lived experiences of women who have faced and fled persecution and distress.

We are very proud to honor three outstanding immigrant women in 2021.

Roxann Cooke

Roxann Cooke

New England and Pennsylvania Managing Director of
Consumer Banking, JP Morgan Chase

Dr. Aoife Brennan is an experienced physician, scientist and drug developer responsible for the successful clinical development and registration of multiple transformative medicines. She has served as Synlogic’s president and chief executive officer since May 2018. She joined Synlogic in September 2016 as chief medical officer. Prior to Synlogic, Aoife spent six years at Biogen, most recently as vice president and head of the Rare Disease Innovation Unit, developing programs from pre-clinical to commercial.

A first-generation college graduate, Aoife was born in Kilkenny in the southeast of Ireland, and moved to Boston “for one year only” 16 years ago.

“I have a few formal and informal mentors, but the one who influenced me the most personally is my late grandmother, Ina Smith,” Roxanne said in an interview with the Boston Business Journal. “She was an entrepreneur who owned a grocery store and a seamstress business in Jamaica and taught me some valuable lessons that I remember vividly. She would have customers come in who didn’t have the ability to pay and they would give her an IOU and she would never bat an eye. I learned so much about customer service and managing and building relationships and caring for customers and community. She taught me how to be compassionate.”

Kathrin Knauf

Kathrin Knauf

Vice President of Project Management, Moderna

Sandhya S. Douglas leads a global team at Wellington Management which operates at the intersection of all the investment functions and acts as a strategic engine powering a strong, dynamic, and global investment platform. Before joining Wellington Management in 2006, she was a senior vice president at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

Sandhya was born in Chennai, India, lived there until she was ten years old, and then lived in Singapore until age 18, before coming to college in the U.S. in 1989.

“I’m so driven by my overall curiosity that I tend to ignore my gender identification as it relates to my actions and leadership,” she said in an interview for Women’s Day in 2020. “That doesn’t mean I’m blind to the fact that our industry has more work to do towards equality across gender and other factors… For me, the bigger question is ‘How can we generate interest in areas like manufacturing and show that it is highly creative and heart-based work?’ This way, we can reach a broad range of people overall.”

Kanika Soni

Kanika Soni

Chief Commercial Officer, Tripadvisor

Julisa Salas, as Chief of Staff, is responsible for driving Toast’s operating system and working alongside the executive team to manage strategic initiatives. Prior to her role as Chief of Staff, Julisa established and led the Go-To-Market Strategy and Operations department at Toast. Julisa was an early employee at Toast, joining in 2016 and serving as Chief of Staff when the company went public in 2021. Before joining Toast, she worked at J.P. Morgan, where she provided financial advice to ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Julisa was recognized by El Mundo’s “Latino 30 under 30” in 2016 and was awarded the Toast Founder’s Award in 2019.

A Dominican-American, Julisa was born and raised in Washington Heights, New York. Her parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic 34 years ago in search of the American dream.

“They left behind the only community they had ever known,” she says, “And everything they had built through years of hard work. If only they had more support or a more structured way to help cope with their new reality and integrate into the community, they could have avoided a lifelong struggle building their identity from scratch again.”

2022 Corporate Citizen Award

State Street

The Corporate Citizen Award is awarded in recognition of State Street’s progressive policies, community partnerships, and ongoing investment in their employees. The award is given annually to an organization that advances women institutionally and in the world; to implement structures that build women’s advancement into the institutional framework.
2022 International Women’s Day Celebration Host

Tiziana Dearing

Host of Radio Boston on WBUR
The Corporate Citizen Award is awarded in recognition of State Street’s progressive policies, community partnerships, and ongoing investment in their employees. The award is given annually to an organization that advances women institutionally and in the world; to implement structures that build women’s advancement into the institutional framework.

2021 International Women’s Day Committee

Committee Co-chairs

Colette Phillips, CEO, CPC Communications

Cathy Schmidt, CEO, McLane Middleton

Committee Members

Paul Ayoub, Partner, Nutter and Chair Emeritus, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

Pam Chang, SVP, Welch & Forbes

Michael Douvadjian, Senior Vice President, UBS

Beth Grous, Chief People Officer, Tripadvisor

Avak Kahvejian, Ph.D, General Partner, Flagship Pioneering

Theo Melas-Kyriazi, Executive Partner, Flagship Pioneering

Charlotte McKee, VP, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Bob Rivers, CEO, Eastern Bank

Raj Sharma, The Sharma Group at Merrill Lynch

Jane Steinmetz, Managing Principal, EY Boston

Kat Tzouganatos, Principal, Deloitte

Women's Day Committee

Advocate Sponsors

Promoter Sponsors

Ally Sponsors

AE Events
Agios Pharmaceuticals
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
American Tower Corporation
Zoltan and Cristina Csimma
Deborah Dunsire and Michael Hall
Flagship Pioneering
Jean Marie Hynes and Mark Joseph Condon
JPMorgan Chase
Leader Bank
McLane Middleton
Taeiss Mojazza
Lisa and Theo Melas-Kyriazi
The Sharma Group at Merill Lynch
South Shore Health
Stoke Therapeutics
Thuy and Tuan Ha-Ngoc
Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Friend Sponsors

Casma Therapeutics
Tara and Gray Chynoweth
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
KSQ Therapeutics
William O’Reilly and Elizabeth Ross
Pappas & Pappas
Rubius Therapeutics
Skanska USA, Inc.
The TJX Companies, Inc.
Welch & Forbes, LLC

Supporter Sponsors

Beate Becker
Benson Executive Search
Christina Bai and Shaw Chen
Charlotte McKee
Colette Phillips Communications
Ernest Mudarri Haddad
Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy
Kathy and Bill Gillett
Ginger Gregory and Nicholas Cochrane
HR Knowledge
Loren Moran
Michael Douvadjian
Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Lisa and Jim Valone
Vista Higher Learner
Mary Ann Williams
Joan Wood and Jim Geraghty


Jessica Bethoney
Brown and Grill Household
Fairlane Properties, Inc.
Barbara Lemperly Grant and Fred Grant
Priti Patel
Procter & Gamble

International Women’s Day Past Honorees

Colette Phillips, Founder & CEO, Colette Phillips Communications
Razia Jan, Founder & President, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation
Eveline Buchatskiy, Founder, One Way Venture
Dr. Nawal Nour, A Sudanese-American, founded the African Women’s Health Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Founder & Chair of Women Waging Peace
Malalai “The bravest woman in Afghanistan” Joya, refugee, activist and politician
Marie St Fleur, Vice Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, attorney, and advocate for issues affecting lives of women, children, and families
Jeanne Shaheen, Former NH governor, and current US Senate member
Rya Weickert Zobel, Federal Judge of the US District Court, District of MA
Dr. Charlotte Yeh, CMO of AARP
Geeta Ayer, President, and Founder of Commonwealth Management Asset
Rupa Shenoy, Host and reporter for NPR and founder of Otherhood podcast