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Barbara Ann Ferris

President, International Women’s Democracy Center

Barbara Ferris is the founder and president of the International Women’s Democracy Center (IWDC) which was established to ensure that women worldwide have the necessary tools and skills to participate in politics, policy and decision making within their own democracies.  Responsible for overall organizational management, fundraising and program design, Ms. Ferris works closely with the foundation, corporate and multinational agency communities to support the organization’s mission.   IWDC works in partnership with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide training, education, technical assistance and research/analysis in campaign management, leadership, advocacy and technology to women leaders around the world with a focus on increasing their participation in the politics, policy and decision making within their own governments. 

Prior to establishing IWDC, Ms. Ferris served as the Women in Development Director for Peace Corps for five years where she designed, managed, monitored and evaluated economic development programs in over 90 countries.  She institutionalized programs designs across all sectors of the economy with a gender perspective to ensure that women worldwide had access to the resources of the Peace Corps Volunteers.  Additionally, Ms. Ferris facilitated workshops and seminars for women in leadership, management, credit, health, business, agriculture, natural resource management, and organizational development.

Ms. Ferris served as the advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for three years.  In June 1990, she presented a paper at the First Sino-American Conference on Women’s Issues in Beijing, China.  She has consulted in management, education, program design and evaluation in over 100 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East where she also designed financial management models for the public sector.

In 1980, Ms. Ferris served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco working in education and primary health care.  Prior to her Volunteer service, she served as a legislative assistant to a Member of Congress where, at the request of the Speaker of the House, she was a member of a fact-finding mission to Syria, Lebanon and Israel.  Prior to her work on Capitol Hill, Ms. Ferris worked for the Ohio Youth Commission.

Ms. Ferris has addressed universities, colleges, corporations, and civic organizations and appeared on numerous radio and television programs worldwide providing information, resources and expertise on how governments, organizations and communities can ensure that women are equal partners in the economic, social and political development of their own countries. She is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards for her work in democracy and economic development around the world and continues to consult to both multi-national corporations and international non-profit organizations.  She has crossed the Sahara Desert, trekked in the Atlas, Andes and Himalayas and continues to travel the world.  She serves on the board of directors to international organizations and corporations.  She served as Chair of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Peace Corps (2001), is the Co-Founder of The Peace Corps Fund, founding President of Gilda’s Club Greater Washington (1999) and was a Candidate for the United States Congress (2004).

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Last modified: 10/17/11.