Women’s History Month Panel

“The Increasingly Insightful Leadership that Women
Play in Resolving Global Challenges”
Friday, March 22, 10:30 a.m.

AAFSW cordially invites you to join us for our eleventh annual Women’s History Month panel entitled “The Increasingly insightful leadership that Women Play in resolving global challenges” which will take place on Friday, March 22 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 three highly accomplished women who have contributed to advancing women’s causes in important ways: Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao,
Mrs. Annie Simonian Totah, and Anne L. Howard-Tristani.

Please RSVP by March 19th 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 $10.00 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 (between C Street and Virginia Avenue NW). 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: Columbia Plaza — on the corner of Virginia Avenue and 23rd Street. Columbia Plaza may be entered from Virginia Avenue or E Street. Expensive — $24 for more than 2 hours.
There is a small parking garage at 2112 F Street NW, which is less expensive than Columbia Plaza, but space is limited.

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


H.E Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, African Union Ambassador to the U.S.A.
H.E Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao is the African Union Ambassador to the United States of America since December 1st, 2016. She was nominated by H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chaiperson of the African Union Commission, to lead the African Union Mission to the USA, the first bilateral diplomatic Mission opened by the AU in 2007.

As the African Union Ambassador to the U.S. Dr. Chihombori-Quao is fully committed to reinforcing the longstanding and deep historic, cultural and economic relations between Africa and the U.S. She plays a key role in reinforcing the African Union startegic partnerships with the United States, grounded on shared values and mutual interests. Ambassador Chihombori-Quao is a strong believer in the promise that the African Union- U.S. partnership holds and that a prosperous, peaceful and intergrated Africa is a shared strategic interest.

Prior to her appointment, Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao was a renowned family medicine doctor in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where she has been practicing medicine for the last 25 years. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao is known internationally for her diligent efforts to improve healthcare systems, particularly in countries in Africa, and to promote women’s rights around the globe. Nearly 20 years ago, at a conference organized by then Africa Resources, Presidents Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe presented the noted philanthropist with an Achievement Award.This was her first major distinction which she highly appreciates and cherishes.

In September 2013, Dr. Chihombori-Quao was one of four women who represented Africa at the International Conference on Women’s Rights, hosted by the Government of Argentina in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. She delivered a moving speech on the topic, “Violence against Women and its Worldwide Effects.” At this conference, Dr. Chihombori shared the stage with two Nobel Peace Prize winners: Rigoberto Menchu of Guatamala and Alfonso Perez Esquivel of Argentina.

Ambassador Chihombori-Quao has also been actively involved in various programs and projects of the African Union. Since 2012, she was the Chair of the African Union-African Diaspora Health Initiative (AU-ADHI) where she was involved in mobilizing the African Diaspora health professionals to assist in addressing the healthcare crisis on the continent of Africa.
In 2015 at the 25th AU Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr. Chihombori-Quao was one of the fifteen women who received the “Women of Excellence Award” alongside with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Mrs. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, and Mrs. Winnie Mandela, the former first lady of South Africa. And several other prominent and remarkable African women achievers.

It is worth indicating that upon graduating from Medical School in 1986, Ambasador Dr. ChihomborI-Quao did three years General Surgery at State University of New York in Brooklyn, NY, USA, and another residency in Family Medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Chihombori-Quao’s Awards:
Ambassador Chihombori-Quao’s contributions to the cause of Africa have earned her many prestigious honors and awards with the most cherished one being an achievement award from the late South African President Nelson Mandela in 1996. Among the numerous awards, mention can be made of the:
• African Women of Excellence Award, African Union Diaspora Africa Forum Johannesburg, South Africa, June 2015.
• April 2014: Dr Chihombori-Quao was crowned “African Diaspora Queen”. The Coronation was Officiated by Chief Dasebre Kwebu Ewuusi, Chairman of the Central Region House of Chiefs in Ghana.
• Bridge Builders Award, African Communications Agency, Lilongwe, Malawi, June 2013.
• Renaissance Award, Planet Africa- Toronto Canada, November 2013.
• The Axel C Hansen, MD, Distinguished Physician Award, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennesse, October 2013.
• Fisk University Society of Philanthropist Award, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, October 2013.
• Gold Circle Plus Award, Meharry Medical College, July 2012.
• African Personality of the Year, December, 2011.
• April 2011: ”Change Agent Award” from African Communications Agency, Durban South Africa.
• America’s Top Family Doctor, Consumers Research Council of America, 2009.
• Outstanding Practitioner Award, Pan Africa, Nashville, Tennessee, 2004.
• Achievement Award, Bristol Myers Squibb Company (presented at the 1995 American Academy of Family Medicine Scientific Assembly).
• Excellence Award, Tennessee Managed Care Network, Nashville, Tennessee, November 1994.

Ambassador Dr. Chihombori-Quao is a native of Zimbabwe who immigrated to the USA in 1977. She is also Ghanian by marriage and a proud Mother of five children.


Annie Simonian Totah
For over forty years, Mrs. Annie Simonian Totah has been a leading defender of human rights, a vocal advocate of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Armenian American community, and fundraiser in local & national politics, as well as a staunch supporter of cultural, charitable, religious, and education programs in the Washington, D.C. area.

A graduate of the American University of Beirut, with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Annie Totah’s life as a community leader and activist has been a “journey of dedication.” Mrs. Totah has served in leadership positions in several Armenian charitable, cultural, and humanitarian organizations. As the first and only woman to serve as Chair of the Armenian Assembly of America, Mrs. Totah is recognized as an effective spokesperson for Armenian issues on Capitol Hill. She was also Chairman of the Washington Chapter of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and National Chair of the Armenian Rights Council of America, as well as the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the largest Armenian American Political Action Committee (ARMENPAC).

Since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, Annie has worked tirelessly with Congress for the appropriation of more than $3 billion in foreign aid for the Republic of Armenia. Her contributions with the Armenian Assembly have included enactment of several pieces of legislations, the launching of numerous Annual Tribute Galas, and Missions to Armenia that have raised awareness, understanding, and funds both inside and outside the Armenian community. Mrs. Totah mobilized relief efforts for the homeless Armenian earthquake victims, and collaborated with the Marshall Legacy Institute to help raise $100,000 for the “Mine Detection Dog-Partnership” program in Armenia. She is affiliated with the U.S.-Armenia Task Force for Economic Cooperation, working to promote the economic development for the Republic of Armenia.

At the same time, with the encouragement of her late husband Sami Totah, Annie has also spearheaded countless Jewish initiatives, and has served as a bridge between the Armenian and Jewish communities. In 1999, she was part of an Armenian Assembly and American Jewish Committee delegation to Israel and Armenia, connecting the two communities. She was entrusted with managing the design, funding and construction of the only Moorish-style, Sephardic synagogue in the Nation’s Capital, to raising $6.5 million in Israeli Bond sales in a single event hailed as “Oscar Night” in Washington, D.C. She also conceived and executed a tribute gala for “Women of the Middle East Peace Legacy” honoring Mrs. Leah Rabin of Israel, Mrs. Anwar Sadat of Egypt, and Her Majesty Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran, with special guests Barbara Walters and Mike Wallace. The event raised $5 million for Save a Child’s Heart Foundation and $.25 million for the Tel Aviv University’s Center for Tolerance and Understanding, and was taped and televised nationwide. In addition, she has been the moving force behind galas, tributes, and fundraisers for the Magen David Sephardic Congregation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, American Friends of Hebrew University, American Friends of Tel Aviv University, American Sephardic Federation, Operation Embrace, and others. She was responsible for organizing the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Armenian Studies Department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where leaders from Armenia and Israel were honored. She has coordinated many historic events with the Ambassadors of Israel and Armenia, along with several dignitaries from the two communities at the Armenian Embassy.

Annie serves on too many Boards to enumerate. Annie’s fame and success has not been only in her charitable giving, but in her ability to conceive and produce spectacular and unique events for dozens and dozens of charitable causes like CARE, Washington Ballet, Heifetz Music Institute, Strathmore Music Center, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Marshall Legacy Institute, Young Concerts Artists, and more. She donates, networks, elevates the cause of the organization, and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions – for Washington Performing Arts Society about $1.0 million, Best Buddies with Anthony Kennedy Shriver $1.25 million, Susan G. Komen Honoring the Promise Gala $2.0 million, John Hopkins Sibley Hospital Gala $2.5 million, Israel Bonds Ambassadors’ Gala $6.5 million in bonds sales, and the list goes on. For chairing the Spring Gala of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the event was so spectacular that the Washington Post described it as “Annie Totah’s Show.”

Mrs. Totah is a breast cancer survivor and a supporter of Sibley Hospital. And through the Totahs’ generousity of $1 million, the Hospital has dedicated the Executive Wing in the name of Sami & Annie Totah Family Foundation. A major donor and supporter of political causes, Annie has hosted in her beautiful home several fundraisers for Democratic candidates, and has raised significant funds while serving on Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign.

Mrs. Totah is a recipient of many honors and awards, including:

The Ellis Island Medal of Honor
Movses Khorenatzi Medal, the highest honor given by the President of the Republic of Armenia, for outstanding achievements in the spheres of culture, art, literature, education, social sciences, and for advocacy regarding the general welfare of the Armenian people
Medal of Appreciation by the President of the Republic of Artsakh (NKR)
Encyclical of Gratitude and Appreciation by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Contributions to Human Rights by the United Nations
International Cultural Ambassador Award by Moment Literary Magazine
American Woman of Valor Award by Save a Child’s Heart Foundation
Distinguished Humanitarian Award by the Armenian Assembly of America,
Business Hall of Fame award from Montgomery County, MD
Shining Star Award from Johns Hopkins Sibley Memorial Hospital, and many others.


Anne L. Howard-Tristani
Anne L. Howard-Tristani is a Government Relations, International Public Affairs and Higher Education executive, with professional experience and accomplishments in the public, private and non-profit sectors. During her career she has worked at a senior and executive administrative level for two major Hispanic Serving Institutions of higher education, the state university and a private university, in Puerto Rico; for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce; for a U.S. Congressional Committee, an international public relations firm, a non-profit foundation and founded her own government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Howard-Tristani was promoted to the Senior Executive Service (SES) of the U.S. Government and awarded the SES Certificate of Recognition by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. She was also awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Congressional Liaison Work by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Mrs. Howard-Tristani is currently President of Howard-Tristani International Consulting and works as a private consultant in the areas of Government and Diplomatic Relations, Public Affairs, International Education and Cultural Affairs, Business and Organizational Development, Strategic Marketing and Fund-Raising. She is also continuing her work on an oral history and book project she commenced a decade ago about the lives and legacies of her late Uncle, former U.S. Vice-President and Senator from Minnesota, Hubert H. Humphrey and his sister, her late mother, Frances Humphrey Howard. The book project, entitled: Sibling Citizens: The Lives and Legacies of Hubert H. Humphrey and Frances Humphrey Howard, will provide new insights about the significance of the Humphrey-Howard public service legacies, including major innovations and institutional changes they pioneered and implemented in politics, government and international relations.

Mrs. Howard-Tristani served as the first Vice-Chancellor of International, Federal and Corporate Affairs (IFCA) of the Universidad del Este (UNE) of the Ana G. Mendez University System (AGMUS), in Puerto Rico, from 2008-2012. She served as Special Assistant to the President of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the first Director of the UPR’s Office of Federal and External Affairs from 1994-2003. Mrs. Howard was a Visiting Scholar of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, from 2004-2008. She was the founding Executive Director of the Felisa Rincon de Gautier Foundation, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, created as a living memorial to Puerto Rico’s first woman Mayor of San Juan, from 1990-1994.

Mrs. Howard-Tristani is a former Carter Administration official and worked as Special Assistant to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Deputy to the Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Commerce. Following her service in the Carter Administration, Mrs. Howard became Vice-President of International Affairs of Fraser-Associates, an international public affairs firm. She later founded and served as President of Anne L. Howard and Associates, an international government relations consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. until moving to Puerto Rico in 1990. Earlier in her career, Mrs. Howard was a Professional Staff Member of the U.S House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, Subcommittee on Economic Development and also worked at the Population Crisis Committee in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Howard-Tristani serves on the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of African Art of the Smithsonian Institution; the Board of Directors of The Embassy Series; the Advisory Council of the United Nations Association of the National Capitol Area (UNA/NCA) and, the Advisory Council of the Washington Opera Society.

Mrs. Howard-Tristani holds an M.A. in Political Science from Georgetown University, School of Government and a B.S. Cum Laude in Public Relations Journalism from Boston University, School of Public Communications. She is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executive Service Program for State and Local Government, at Harvard University. She is married to Dennis Chavez Tristani and they have three adult children.