Women’s History Month 2018

“The Vital, Expanding Role of Women in International Policy Making”
Tuesday, March 13 at 10:30 a.m.

AAFSW cordially invites you to join us for our tenth annual Women’s History Month panel entitled “The Vital, Expanding Role of Women in International Policy Making,” which will take place on Tuesday, March 13 at 10:30 a.m. at the Burns Auditorium in the George Marshall Center of the State Department in Washington, DC.

The event celebrates and promotes women’s history and empowerment to recognize the important role that women have been playing in our society throughout the centuries, demonstrating their exceptional vision and leadership in all spheres.

The panel discussion will feature several extraordinary women who have contributed to advancing women’s causes in important ways: Her Excellency Rev. Dr. Ocansey, princess of the Ocansey Royal Family of Ada, Ghana; Her Excellency Dina Kawar, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States; Shahin Mafi, founder and CEO of Home Health Connection, Inc.; and Lisa Schlager, Vice President of FORCE.

Please RSVP by Friday, March 9 to office@aafsw.org or 703-820-5420 to register. All attendees without a State Department badge will need to provide their date of birth and a driver’s license or passport number to submit to the Office of Security at the State Department. The charge for the program is $20.00 per person to cover catering costs. Please send your information and a check (made out to AAFSW) to our headquarters at 4001 North Ninth Street, Suite 214, Arlington VA, 22203.

Please come to the 21st Street NW entrance of the Department of State, close to the corner of “D” Street. As you enter rather than reporting to the main desk, please go to the table to your left where one of our members will check you in.

The closest metro is Foggy Bottom (Blue, Orange, Silver lines).
Parking: There is a small parking garage at 2112 F Street NW, which is less expensive than Columbia Plaza.
Columbia Plaza — on corner of Virginia Avenue and 23rd Street May be entered from Virginia Avenue or E Street. Expensive — $24 for more than 2 hours.

We will have an informal coffee (and tea) social time, which begins at 10:30 a.m., followed by the panel discussion, beginning at 11:00 a.m.

We look forward to seeing you.

Sheila Switzer
AAFSW Program Chair

Biographies of the Panelists


Ambassador Dina Kawar

Ambassador Dina Kawar was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States of America in June 2016.

Ambassador Kawar also served as the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations from August 2014 to June 2016. She has led the Jordanian delegation during Jordan’s non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council from 2014 to 2015 and became the first Arab woman to ever preside over the Council. In February 2016, she was appointed by the President of the General Assembly as a co-facilitator for the high-level meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly on the large movement of refugees and migrants to take place in September 2016.

Prior to her position in New York, Ambassador Dina Kawar served as the Ambassador of Jordan to France from 2001 to 2013, with concurrent accreditation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and to the Holy See, since 2002. She also served as non-resident ambassador to Portugal from 2005 to 2013.

Ambassador Kawar was awarded the Medal of Independence of the first degree by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and holds a number of decorations including the “Commandeur De La Legion d’ Honneur” from France, the “Medalha de D. Afonso Henriques” from Portugal and the “Insignes de Dame de Grand-Croix de l’Ordre de Saint Grégoire le Grand” from the Holy See.

Ambassador Kawar holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Mills College, both in the United States. She attended Harvard’s Center for International Affairs from 1986 to 1987. She speaks Arabic, French and English.

Lisa Schlager

Vice President, Community Affairs & Public Policy at FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. (FORCE is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer; no one should have to face
hereditary breast and ovarian cancer alone.)

Lisa manages advocacy, strategic partnerships and community relations for FORCE. She joined the organization in 2008 as Coordinator for the Washington, D.C. outreach organization. Since learning of her BRCA1 mutation in 1999, Lisa’s mission has been to educate others about the risks of hereditary cancer. Her recent successes include passage of National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week and National Previvor Day 2010; formulation of the EARLY Act, passed with the healthcare reform legislation in 2010; and testifying before the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Science on issues related to direct-to- consumer marketing of genetic tests. (Cancer previvors are individuals who are survivors of a predisposition to cancer but who haven’t had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor.)

Shahin Mafi, Founder and CEO, Home Health Connection

Shahin Mafi is the founder and CEO of Home Health Connection, Inc. (HHC), a provider of home healthcare services. The company has grown consistently since its creation in 1992 as a provider of adult and pediatric care. Currently, HHC serves a vast array of clientele with nursing services and physical, speech, and occupational therapy from its offices in Bethesda and Baltimore, Maryland and Reston, Virginia.

Ms. Mafi was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Her father, a pediatrician, loved helping children. He also served as a professor at the University of Tehran. Shahin’s mother is an artist and currently writing a book on Iranian history and the origins of the written word.

After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting from the Advanced Institute of Accounting in Iran and her MBA from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, she returned to Iran and became involved in women’s rights issues. Eventually Shahin moved to France to pursue graduate studies. While there, she briefly studied
development law at Sorbonne Paris XIII and completed the equivalent of a Master’s Degree in management information systems at Dauphine University. She also became involved with the French Committee Against Hunger, whose work focused on addressing food security issues in Africa. In 1990, Ms. Mafi moved to the United States to join her Family.

In addition to her many business ventures and nonprofit work, Ms. Mafi has a strong interest in human rights issues around the world. Drawing from her work experience in human rights and a desire to provide resources on a more impactful level, Shahin established the Azar Foundation for Children of the World in 2003 in order to promote the health and security of mother and child. The Azar Foundation was named after Shahin’s mother, who passed her longstanding passion for women’s rights to her Daughter.

Shahin Mafi is active in many organizations and is committed to serving her community. While she devotes much of her time to her work and family, Shahin is a dynamic, compassionate, and engaging person with a strong passion for interior design and painting portraits in her spare time. Her commitment to serving others, a trait that she inherited from both her mother and father, has informed her desire to help people in any way she can. She now resides in Maryland with her husband to whom she has been married since 1981.

HE Dr. Princess A.K. Ocansey

Her Excellency Dr. Princess A.K. Ocansey is a multiple award winning international investments consultant, USA trained professional Engineer and Businesswoman, a Canadian and Philippine trained Labour Migration Expert, a Theologian, Philanthropist, Author and Rural and Diaspora Development expert.

She is a product of Wesley Girls High School in Ghana, and a graduate of the USA Rutgers University – College of Engineering, with a Masters Degree from Packaging Science and Engineering- Rutgers University, with graduate training in International Trade and Finance from New York University, a Labour Migration Specialist from the Canadian Institute with practical training in the Philippines, with a Theology Doctorate from CICA University and Seminary of Canada, and a graduate of The Ed Deming Continuous Improvement : Total Quality Management School of PepsicoUSA, with several graduate training certificates in the area of Engineering, International Business, Film Production, Peace Building and Conflict Resolution.

She is a world renowned business mobilizer for high integrity trade and investment programs – the SOS Investment Drive Series- from the USA to Ghana which has brought several Hollywood stars and top level Fortune 500 US businesses such as Johnson and Johnson, QVC TV and more, resulting in multi million dollar deals ratified. She pioneered the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the Oil Sands of Canada, providing branded expert excess Ghanaian construction workforce to alleviate the skills shortages in BC and Albert’s Canada.

She is also a former TV show co-hostess of USA QVC-TV’s popular Destination:Africa home shopping TV show, the largest Afrocentric inspired TV shopping show where she grossed several million dollars for the show which she co- established and developed high sell out products. She is also the first African woman to own a clothing line and boutique in a major USA department store chain- Dayton-Hudsons and Marshall Fields- an experience she brings to sosjobs4women Ghana, a womens job creation program she founded with a focus on fashion and agric. As a Philanthropist, the Princess co-founded the rural Nekotech Center of Excellence -Ada, with the late,mega US star, Mr. Isaac Hayes- – with contributions from several of Hollywood’s top actors including Denzel Washington, Steven Seagal, Tom Cruise and Nancy Cartwright (Voice of Bart Simpson the number 1 cartoon in the USA).

She co-founded the multiple award winning Save a Million Lives (SAML)from HIV/AIDS Project with the African American National Medical Association and Student National Medical Association- saving millions of lives through HIV/AIDS awareness video series, free medical care and medications, and a food security Agric mobilization program in partnership FAO and Roy-Utah, USA farmers provide food to the rural poor.

The SAML project won several awards globally, including White House and Buckingham Palace recognitions. She led the University of Alberta, Canada’s response to the Ebola crisis – Co-organising an awareness symposium. She founded the Global Peace Chest initiative which sponsors youth to the UN to start them early in the peace Building mindset. She co-chaired the “We Support Peace” campaign to the United Nations and received a letter of endorsement from the then Secretary General: HE Ban Ki-moon.

Recognising that the one million jobs agenda will mostly be achieved through “successful entrepreneurs in an ecosystem of economic excellence” – Dr Ocansey developed the “12 SOS Keys to An Economic Ecosystem of Excellence” which coins her unique term: “Ojalawashikapreneurs” :” Ojalawashika” means “expensive money”. She cites that the chief cause of business failure in many cases in Ghana and Africa is due to ojalawa-shikaeneurial businesses being run with “ Ojalawashika” which provides very high interest rate loans 32-100% interest – therefore both banks and entrepreneurs fail. The SOS Investment Drive series is focused on attracting low interest rate banking loan systems to Ghana. Her primary focus is to create one million Shikapreneurs (defined as “trained successful good intentioned money making entrepreneurs with access to low income funds with a focus on turning a profit quickly) through one proven Agricultural program: Sweet on Stevia – a fast growing natural plant sweetener which is a healthy alternative to sugar.

She believes Africa’s real capital needing urgent development is her human capital and to accelerate this development, she advocates for the empowerment and decent opportunities for her women. She was recently named the GODSU Women’s Empowerment and Employment Champion 2017 in the USA. The World Bank made a documentary on her life in their docu-drama series: “Voices of a New Ghana”. She is indeed the voice of a new Ghana, fast emerging on a new track to success through inclusion.

With success comes persecution, Princess Asie Ocansey was falsely accused of Human Trafficking, for which she was acquitted and discharged, after going to court for two years, with not a single “victim” showing up. The Princess showed remarkable strength of character, resilience, integrity and patience during this difficult and trying period during which time she attained her Doctorate in Theology and formed a personal unbreakable relationship with God. The persecution deepened her conviction that total forgiveness is the way to Peace. She has learned the hard way to eradicate envy and provide human dignity an opportunity by giving a “hand up” to her people to come out of poverty instead of “hand outs”.

Dr Ocansey gained valuable working experience, working in Engineering and Consulting positions with USA Fortune 500 companies – Johnson and Johnson, Delmonte Corporation, PepsiCo, Avon Products, Ortho McNeil Pharmaceutical USA, plus the United Nations – UNDP & UNEP/ICT – in Renewable Energy for which she is a sought after international speaker.

The Princess was part of a 12 member Task force appointed by the then UN Secretary General, HE Kofi Annan, to look into ICT and Renewable Energy in rural communities globally. She has also held high level Governmental consultancy positions with the Ghana Export Promotion Center, Ghana Investment Promotion Center, Ministry of Mines-Salt Expert, Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare and currently is working on several consulting projects with Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President of Ghana.

Dr Ocansey has devoted her life to building human success bridges. She has won several awards, including the prestigious African Leadership AU DAF Bridge Builders awards during the White House US-Africa Leaders Summit, as well as the late Ron Brown Award for International Trade and Finance in the USA. She has been featured on several radio and TV shows in Ghana and overseas – such as CNN, BBC, ABC News Fox TV, CBS, Rogers TV Canada, Ghana’s GTV, Joy News and more.

She is the President of SOS Global Investments, a holding company with a diverse portfolio including SOSAgro products, SOS Labour, the Nekotech Center for Peace and Development and SOS-Vivabox Ghana- which holds the nations first IPTV license in partnership with the telecom giant, MTN.

Dr. Ocansey is a devoted mother to her daughter, Fumi Serwa and her adopted son John Sena, and several other adopted sons and daughters. She strives to live her life by the quotation, 1 Cor 16 v 14: “Do everything in love” – with excellence and determined success- for an intergenerational impactful legacy.