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Karen Sherman


Karen Sherman brings more than 25 years experience as an entrepreneur, strategist, and executive level manager to her role as Executive Director of the Akilah Institute for Women. Throughout her career, Karen has combined her expertise, passion, and transformative leadership 

skills to affect lasting economic and social change for women and their communities in developing countries around the world. Prior to joining Akilah, Karen served as Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director for Global Programs, and, from Kigali, Rwanda, as Africa Regional Director at 

Women for Women International (WfWi), an organization that enables women war survivors to restart their lives. Under her leadership, WfWi tripled the number of women served, expanded field office staff to over 600 employees across eight conflict-affected countries, and grew from $5 

million to over $20 million in total revenue in four years.


Previously, Karen served as Executive Vice President at Counterpart International, a $130 million global development organization, where she was responsible for increasing the depth, scale, and impact of programs. During her ten years at Counterpart, Karen promoted and strengthened small businesses, micro-enterprises, and women’s entrepreneurship globally, as well as launched Counterpart’s for-profit subsidiary, engaged in equity investments in environmentally sustainable small and medium-sized enterprises. Karen has served as a thought leader and spokesperson on 

global women’s issues through the media, public appearances, and diverse social media platforms. She has been featured in multiple publications and was Executive Producer of The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope, published by National Geographic.


Karen is currently a Senior Associate at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Principal at KB Ventures, a social investment fund that catalyzes women’s employment through new business development in East Africa. Across her different roles, Karen has worked with stakeholders at all levels, from community groups to corporate leaders and heads of state, and managed complex negotiations and organizations, often across borders and oceans, to take 

programs from concept to scale. Most importantly, her work continues to result in measurable impacts on women’s income, health, decision-making, and social networks. Karen holds a Master’s Degree in Russian and East European Studies from The George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Oregon. She serves as Board 

Chair of FAIR Girls and on the Board of Trustees of Mary Baldwin College.

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