Alyse Nelson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Voices Global Partnership. A co-founder of Vital Voices, Ms. Nelson has worked for the organization for 15 years, serving as Vice President and Senior Director of Programs before assuming her current role. She has worked with women leaders to develop training programs and international forums in over 140 countries and interviewed more than 200 international leaders. Prior to Ms. Nelson’s work with VVGP, she served as the Deputy Director of the Vital Voices Global Democracy Initiative at the State Department where she aided Former First Lady Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s commitment to promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy objective. Ms. Nelson worked with the President’s Interagency Council on Women at the White House and U.S. Department of State from July 1996 to July 2000. She attended to UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995 and served as an advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She completed her graduate degree work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and she is a former Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Alyse serves on the Board of Running Start, which helps young women in the U.S. get involved in politics. In 2006, she was named one of “Ten Women to watch” by Washingtonian Magazine, and was honored by Emerson College with the Distinguished Leader Award in 2007.
There have been several women Prime Ministers in Europe, why hasnīt there been a woman President in the United States? Are there different barriers to access to higher office ?
In recent years, we’ve certainly seen an increase in the acknowledgment and engagement of women leaders. From the International Monetary Fund to the African Union, women are assuming superior positions in organizations with internationally significant mandates. I think progress develops at a different pace in different countries, but it’s become clear that women are an emerging force for leadership, and if we advance equality and create opportunities for women’s participation as leaders, we will see gains for all.
What can people do in their everyday lives to promote gender equality and support womenīs empowerment?
I think there’s no perfect time to lead change—we’re all called to contribute, to do our part. I think leadership begins with recognizing that each of us has a voice and has the power to advance equality and empowerment in our own communities, whether through mentorship of the rising generation or in changing mindsets by sharing the stories of women leaders who are having real impact around our world.