Our Vision

ConnectHER envisions a world where women and girls are seen, heard, and encouraged to reach their full potential.

Mission

ConnectHER invests in women and girls by elevating their status through projects, stories, and film.

We accomplish this through:

1. Our Project Partners: Support women-led, locally run projects that advance women and girls globally.

2. ConnectHer Film Festival: Showcasing student-made films that address critical women’s issues through our annual film festival.

3. Youth Activism: Empowering youth to tell stories through film about global women's issues and catalyze change.

Our Story:

We launched ConnectHER, in the summer of 2011, with the goal of having a direct impact on women's issues by investing in female leaders that are making a difference in their local communities. To date ConnectHER has raised more than $500,000 for women's causes around the world. We are very proud of our accomplishments, yet there is still little visibility into many women's issues. This is one of the reasons why we started the ConnectHER film festival.

In collaboration with Harvard College students and groups, we started the film festival 2012. What began as a way to engage a wider audience in ConnectHER’s work has now evolved into a vibrant international competition for young filmmakers. We're thrilled with how the film festival is turning students into filmmakers—and filmmakers into activists. To date we’ve received more than 1,250 original films from 42 countries and have awarded more than $175,000 in scholarships.

Meet Our Team

 

Elaine Robbins

Communications Specialist


Elaine Robbins is a communications specialist for Connecther and the Girls Impact the World Film Festival. She edits magazines, books, and newsletters and has written articles for Utne, Planning, Huffington Post, and NationalGeographic.com.

 

Lila Igram

Executive Director


Lila founded ConnectHER with the purpose of authentically representing the voices and stories of women and girls around the world. ConnectHER invests in women-led projects and runs an annual film festival for students to tell stories about critical women's issues.

 

Marta Vizcarro

Visual Designer


Mother of 1. Wife of 1. Human of 2. Friend of Many. A Catalan living in Austin, Texas. Marta likes to spend her days experimenting with everything from children’s books illustration and pencil rendering to web design and print media. She is in continual pursuit of learning.

 

Nasima Akter

South Asia Program Director


Nasima Akter, a Bangladeshi resident, has completed her Master of Business Administration in Human Resources Management from the University of Chittagong in 2018. Nasima has ran emergency projects on child protection during the most recent refugee influx in Bangladesh. She has been providing her voluntary project management skills to ConnectHER.

 

Wedad Jaber

Director of Operations


Wedad is a seasoned operations and strategy professional, development and training enthusiast and entrepreneur. She is currently Operations Director for ConnectHer. She enjoys connecting with people.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Chelsea Toler-Hoffmann

Board Member


A true Longhorn, Chelsea graduated Phi Beta Kappa from The University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts Honors, Plan 1, and Humanities Honors and received her Masters of Liberal Arts with a focus on Grant Writing and Nonprofit Leadership from St. Edward's University in 2017. Chelsea serves as a member of NEXUS' partnership braintrust with the United Nations (UNFPA). Chelsea also serves as the President of the Keep Families Giving Foundation. She launched the foundation for her family and hosted the first intergenerational impact and philanthropy focused summit at Google in downtown Austin prior to SXSW in the spring of 2020.

Fayruz Benyousef

Board Member


Fayruz Benyousef is Founder and Principal of Fayruz Benyousef Consulting (known as FBC). She is passionate about the vital space philanthropic organizations hold in all communities and has made it her mission to support these organizations and their leadership, both professionally and personally. As a seasoned certified fundraising professional, she has leveraged her 25 years of experience to implement transformational change and sustainable infrastructure in a variety of non-profit organizations.

Gretchen Canter

Board Member


From the Caribbean to Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Gretchen spent her youth traveling the world while attending international schools. She grew up with kids from all over, and learned that while we may come from different places, we all have things in common. As an Austin Travel Advisor with Departure Lounge, Gretchen designs excursions to places near and far and believes that any destination holds endless opportunities, if only we are able to open our eyes to them. Her belief is that travel is the best education one can invest in.

Jenna Youssef

Board Member


Jenna Youssef is an exceptionally talented and passionate project and risk management professional, with more than a decade of project management and software deployment experience. Jenna is a hands-on visionary, reputed for delivering quality projects and services with a comprehensive understanding of organizational goals, objectives, and derivatives. Jenna graduated from Strayer University with a B.S. in computer information systems and a minor in marketing. She currently lives in Austin with her husband and children.

Dr. Saba Rizvi

Board Member


Dr. Saba Rizvi received her medical doctorate from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 2005. Dr. Rizvi felt drawn to emergency medicine because ER doctors are often on the frontlines in caring for the disenfranchised and abused. For six years she worked in a busy Level II Trauma Center ER in western Colorado. Dr. Rizvi brings a unique perspective on women's health issues to ConnectHER. She has insight into the psychological and physical trauma faced by women and girls who have been victims of domestic partner abuse, child abuse, and sexual abuse.

Meet Our Advisory Board

Dr. Alaa Murabit

Advisory Board Member


A medical doctor, Alaa Murabit is one of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Global Advocates, a United Nations High-Level Commissioner for Health Employment and Economic Growth, a TED speaker, founder of VLW, co-founder of Omnis Institute and a MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow. She was recently named a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30, an Aspen Institute Spotlight Health Scholar for her work in global health policy and a Harvard University Law 2017 "Woman Inspiring Change". Her TED Talk was named "TED Talk of the Day" and one of four "moving TED Talks to watch right now" by The New York Times.

Edna Adan

Advisory Board Member


Edna Adan was born in Hargeisa, the daughter of a prominent Somali medical doctor and was trained as a nurse in the 1950s in the United Kingdom at the Borough Polytechnic, now London South Bank University. In 1980 Edna Adan started building a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. However, due to the beginning of the Somali Civil war, she was forced to leave the country before it was completed. She was the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Nursing Advisor during 1986. From 1987 to 1991, she was the Regional Technical Officer for Mother and Child Health.

Munira Fareed

Advisory Board Member


Munira Fareed is a seasoned technology startup executive who has lived and worked in Austin, Texas for 20+ years. She is committed to giving back to the Austin community and serves on the board of KIPP Texas and the advisory boards for ConnectHER and Miracle Foundation. Munira also works with Keep Austin Fed and refugee support programs in Central Texas. Munira was most recently the chief marketing officer at Hive9, the marketing performance management company. She also founded and ran Appleseed Partners, a B2B marketing company providing fractional CMO services to technology companies. Munira has served as the VP of marketing at LifeSize, and in marketing and strategy positions at Motorola Ineto, Netpliance, and Trilogy Software. She holds an undergraduate degree in computer science and economics from Lafayette College, and an MBA from Cornell University.

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