Layla Yu

Layla Yu

Lila Igram

Lila Igram

Lila put together a bootstrapping, volunteer team that together donated over $50K of in-kind services to launch, a global communication and crowd-funding platform focused on advancing women and girls globally. Connecther provides a diverse communication platform, including the Girls Impact the World (GITW) Film Festival, to spotlight critical issues facing women and girls throughout the world.

Prior to that, Lila worked for FLOW, a nonprofit which advocates Conscious Capitalism.

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family led to Lila co-founding her first company in 2004, a t-shirt company which advocated for social justice.

Lila was born and grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa. She has traveled extensively in the Middle East, South America, Africa and Europe -- living in Cairo, Egypt for one year. She currently lives in Austin, TX with her husband and three kids.

Contact Lila at

Azmina Karim

Azmina Karim

Azmina graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies in 2013 from Asian University for Women (AUW). She is currently directing Connecther's efforts in Southeast Asia including managing Connecther's Global Fund for Girls Education. Previously, Azmina was a research study coordinator at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. This research project, funded by the Ford Foundation and the AUW, looked at the impact of educational and economic opportunities for women on gender relations in the family.

While earning her B.A. in Asian Studies, she has conducted research on the empowerment of female garment workers and domestic workers in her country, Bangladesh. She is an individual who portrays hope, passion and determination to bring about positive changes in the community in issues of gender and social justice, and passionate to tackle, with a positive outlook the persistent challenges regarding gender and development. As part of working towards bringing about positive change, she has recently taken a step forward and been accepted at the University for Peace for their Masters Program degree on Gender and Peace Building.

Board of Directors

Dr. Saba Rizvi

Dr. Saba Rizvi

Dr. Saba Rizvi graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2001 with degrees in biology and philosophy. She pursued a degree in medicine to integrate her passion for the humanities with her love of science. She 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. While Dr. Rizvi and her family loved their time spent in beautiful Colorado, two years ago she her husband and two small children made the move to Austin, Texas. Dr. Rizvi currently serves as the medical director of Westlake Hospital.

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. While serving on our board, Dr. Rizvi wants to help raise the status of women and girls through preventive and support strategies. She is also deeply involved in raising the status of women in the medical profession, especially in the development of young doctors for leadership roles. She remains active in other philanthropic projects and is also a full-time mom. When she is not working, Dr. Rizvi enjoys traveling, reading, dining, and spending time with her family.

Dr. Meena Vendal

Meena Vendal

Dr. Vendal is a board certified eye physician and surgeon. She specializes in glaucoma treatment, cataract surgery, PRELEX surgery, and comprehensive eye care.

Dr. Vendal grew up in Plano, Texas with her father, an executive at an engineering firm, her mother, a retired professor of sociology, and her sister, Sarah. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and received her B.A. in biology in 1996. At UT, she was consistently on the Deans List & Honor Roll and served in the premedical honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta.

Dr. Vendal then attended medical school at UT Health Science Center - San Antonio and received Lions Research scholarships to perform vision research in the areas of glaucoma and macular degeneration. As a resident in ophthalmology at Penn State University, she also received a travel grant from National Eye Institute to present her ongoing research. At Penn State, Dr. Vendal met and married Dr. Mustasim Rumi, a board certified spine surgeon. They currently have three children.

At Westlake Eye Specialists, Dr. Vendal and her staff will strive to make their patients their #1 priority. We look forward to serving you and your family!

Shadia Igram

Veronica Forsyth

Shadia attended the University of Iowa and majored in political science. She began her entrepreneurial career in 2004 when she opened her first restaurant in Cedar Rapids, IA. While in Iowa, she also managed accounts at Cedar Graphics, a commercial printer in Hiawatha, IA.

In 2008, Shadia moved to the UAE where she worked as the office manager in the Dubai office of K-12 Inc., an online provider of home schooling curricula and programs. The office serviced students from the entire Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

She has been involved with numerous philanthropic and community based organizations including: Fifteen and Five selection committee, a local Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce initiative and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. In 2008, after the Cedar River flooded the city, she was a part of the GCRCF's Flood Committee to help rebuild local non-profit groups. She is currently involved with Connecther as a fundraiser in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Shadia lives in Bethesda, MD with her husband and daughter. They will be moving to Austin in summer 2013.

Gretchen Canter

Gretchen Canter

Shameem Azizad

Shameem Azizad

Dr. Shameem Azizad is a second-generation Afghan-American and joined the board of ConnectHer October 2017. She is keenly aware of the perfect mix of factors that enabled her to achieve success, and believes it comes down to access - to healthcare, education, emotional support, role models and mentors. She is committed to helping foster environments that support women everywhere and has found immense inspiration in ConnectHer. She is a diagnostic radiologist specialized in cardiothoracic imaging with an MBA in healthcare administration. Her undergraduate focus was bioethics and leadership in medicine. Living in Austin, she enjoys yoga, the outdoors, brunching, fundraising, tacos and spending time with her toddler and husband.

Board of Advisors

Dr. Alaa Murabit

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 Instituteand a MIT Media Lab Directorís Fellow. She was recently named a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30, an Aspen Institute Spotlight Health Scholarfor 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.

Nicknamed the "Libyan Doogie Howser" by Jon Stewart, Alaa was driven by her desire to create inclusive processes and institutions and founded VLW at the age of 21. With a strong focus on challenging societal and cultural norms and utilizing traditional and historical role models Alaa champions womenís participation in peace processes and conflict mediation. Her programs, such as the groundbreaking "Noor Campaign" have been replicated internationally.

She currently serves as a trustee for The Malala Fund, International Alert, Malaria No More, Keeping Children Safe and is an advisor to ConnectHer. Named The New York Times "International Trust Women Hero 2014", Alaa is an Ashoka Fellow, Alaa is the youngest Marisa Bellisario International Humanitarian Award recipient, a Newsweek "25 under 25 to watch", a BBC News "100 Top Woman", the 2015 SAFE Global Hero and a Virgin Unite Changemaker.

Muna Abusulayman

Due to a diverse cross-sectors work experience over the past 16 years, AbuSulaymanis selected as one of the Most Influential and Powerful Arab women in various lists from 2009-2012. AbuSulayman has successfully launched, managed, and scaled multiple businesses and foundations throughout her career and is continuously placed in lists naming her one of the most influential Arabs in the world. She is internationally recognized as an expert in the fields of Management, Education, Sustainable Development, Communications, Middle East, and Female Empowerment. She is ranked as the Most Influential Arab in the World in Social Media by Klout and Top 100 Arabs.

Muna Abusulayman had the honor of being the 1st Saudi UNDP Good Will Ambassador.

She loves reading and sharing information

She thinks the most important skill for our kids to add to their curriculm is information managment.

Fayruz Benyousef

Fayruz is a seasoned professional who has successfully helped numerous organizations and their leadership achieve success. She is a philanthropy advisor and expert working with nonprofit executives for over 20 years. Fayruz has an extensive background, serving as the CEO of an international NGO, Psychology Beyond Borders, a Partner with Dini Partners, a national consulting firm, where she was the youngest in the firm to make Partner, Development Director with Ballet Austin, and the Associate Director of Annual Giving at her alma mater, Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Now she has her own consulting practice, working with a variety of organizations at the local, national and international levels. She served two terms as Board President for AFP - Austin where she helped to shape and implement the organization's strategic goals, leveraging the fundraising profession and ethical philanthropic practice in the Austin community.

Tarik Aossey

Tarik has 20 years of experience in a wide range of business and technology roles, including with double and triple bottom line companies. He is currently an IT Director at Dell, Inc running strategic global programs for Dell's manufacturing and product fulfillment division. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa's business program, having also taken graduate courses there. Tarik is passionate about social and environmental improvement.

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