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Women’s History Month Celebration

March 6 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST

$11.00 – $16.00


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The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) warmly extends an invitation to you for our fifteenth annual Women’s History Month panel discussion, “Challenges and Opportunities for Women Leaders.”

The event is scheduled for March 6th at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, in the Burns Auditorium at the George Marshall Center of the State Department, Washington, D.C.

This event celebrates and promotes women’s history and empowerment, acknowledging the significant roles women have played in our society over the centuries and showcasing their exceptional vision and leadership across all domains.

The panel discussion will include four distinguished women who have made significant contributions to advancing women’s causes: H.E. Mariangela Zappia, Italian Ambassador to the U.S; Evan Ryan, White House Cabinet Secretary; Oris Sanjur, Deputy Director of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.

Please sign up below by Friday, March 1st. The venue can be accessed via the 21st Street NW entrance of the Department of State (330 21st Street NW, Washington, DC, 20006). The participation fee is $15.00 per person for non-members and $10.00 for members (the final cost includes a small processing fee). Please provide your driver’s license number, passport number, or diplomatic ID, along with the expiration date and date of birth.


Evan Ryan, Cabinet Secretary, The White House 

Evan Ryan currently serves as White House Cabinet Secretary, leading the Office of Cabinet Affairs. Before joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Ms. Ryan served as Senior Adviser to the Biden Transition and before that as Executive Vice President of Axios. Previously, she served in the Obama-Biden Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. From 2009 to 2013, Ms. Ryan worked in The White House as Assistant to the Vice President and Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. Before that, she served as Deputy Campaign Manager for then-Senator Joe Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Ms. Ryan began her career in The White House, serving from 1994 to 2000 as Deputy Director of Scheduling for First Lady Hillary Clinton and as Special Assistant to the First Lady’s Chief of Staff. She then served as the Director of Scheduling for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign. From 2003 to early 2004, she was the Deputy Director of Communications for John Kerry’s presidential campaign and then went on to serve as the Deputy Chair for the governance track of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Ms. Ryan previously served on the board of directors of Peace Players International from 2003 to 2008. She is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ms. Ryan holds a B.A. from Boston College and an M.I.P.P. from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.


Dr. Oris Sanjur,Deputy Director, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Dr. Oris Sanjur is the Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, a unit of the Smithsonian Institution headquartered in Panama City, Panama. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes understanding of present and past biological diversity by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.

Dr. Sanjur supports an operation with more than 400 employees, an annual budget of $35 million, and the Institute’s research facilities throughout Panama and field sites in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In addition to its resident scientists, the Institute’s facilities are used annually by some 1,400 visiting scientists, pre- and postdoctoral fellows, and interns from academic and research institutions around the world.

Dr. Sanjur’s relationship with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute spans three decades. In 1989, she was a research assistant for two years working on her undergraduate thesis project. After earning a B.S. in Biology from the University of Panama, she completed a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

She returned to STRI as a postdoctoral fellow in 1998, studying the relationships between wild and domesticated crops such as squash and pumpkin. She then spent ten years as manager and researcher of the Molecular Evolution laboratory, after which she took on the role of Associate Director for Science Administration at STRI. In this position, she became responsible for maintaining high standards of scientific operational support for the Institute’s research programs throughout a decade. In 2020, she was appointed STRI’s Interim Director, a position she held for a year while the institution searched for a new Director. In 2023, she was given a six-month appointment as Acting Deputy Diversity Officer for the Smithsonian Institution, during which she supported the establishment of a Smithsonian-wide Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) office. She has represented STRI in national and international events, highlighting the value of science and the importance of the research being conducted at STRI to increase our understanding of tropical ecosystems.

Dr. Sanjur’s commitment to the advancement of science has marked her entire career. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and presented more than 20 papers at scientific meetings. She has sponsored postdoctoral students, advised predoctoral students, served on the Advisory Committee of master and doctoral students, and served as a mentor of more than 100 undergraduate and predoctoral students from various countries. From 2006 to 2009, she served as President of the Panamanian Association for the Advancement of Science and currently serves on the board of the City of Knowledge Foundation, the Coiba National Park Biological Station, the Institute for Scientific Research and High Technology Services (INDICASAT AIP), the Center for Historical, Anthropological and Cultural Research – AIP (CIHAC – AIP), and the Rainforest XPRIZE.

In 2013, she was selected as one of the ten pioneering women in science in Panama; in 2014, as one of the nine members of the National Electoral Board for the Panamanian Presidential elections; and she was honored as “Distinguished Woman of the Year 2015” by the Panamanian Association of Business Executives. In 2019, she was included in the book “Those Who Inspire – Panama” and in 2020 was named one of the most powerful women in Central America by Forbes Magazine. In 2021 she was recognized with the Smithsonian Institution Secretary’s Gold Medal Award for Exceptional Service, and also awarded with an Honoris Causa Doctorate by the University of the Americas (UDELAS), in Panama.

She is currently a member of the Panamanian Association for the Advancement of Science (APANAC), Ciencia en Panamá (CeP), the Panama Director’s Association (ADP), and the International Women Forum (IWF).



March 6
11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST
$11.00 – $16.00




Burns Auditorium
330 21st St NW (between C and Virginia)
Washington, DC 20520 United States
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