VGIF’s Board of Directors is composed of leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sector who are dedicated to the organization’s mission of supporting women-led grassroots organizations that advance the rights of women and girls’ around the world.
VGIF Board of Directors
VGIF Officers: 2017-2018 Term
President | USA
Jeri Rhodes has worked for more than thirty years in all aspects of business and financial management in non-profit and for profit settings. She is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobbying organization in Washington DC. Previously, she served in the same position for Greenpeace USA. For several years, Ms. Rhodes served as Director of Finance or Executive Director in the legal Industry. Prior to working for law firms, she served as Treasurer of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.
Ms. Rhodes has also been active as a volunteer board member for many years, usually as the Treasurer or a member of the Finance Committee. She is completing her term as President of VGIF, an international women’s fund which provides grants that support community led projects designed to improve the lives of women and girls.
Ms. Rhodes earned a B.A in American History from American University and a Masters in Administration with a concentration on Finance from University of California, Riverside. She has also is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).
Executive Vice President | USA
Vice President, Project Grants | USA
President Elect | Canada
Vice President, Human Resources | USA
This is Dagmar McGill's third experience on the board, which began in the 1980's. She joined VGIF
from her leadership role as Vice President of Development for the AAUW Educational Foundation.
She began on the Nominating Committee and then the first Strategic Planning Committee. She
encouraged the creation of a Development Committee, along with an Annual Report and audit. Her
more recent experience has been on the Strategic Planning Committee and as the Chair of the
Executive Search Task Force.
Her 50 years of professional experience was focused on girls and young women within the Girl Scouts of USA and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. She retired as President/CEO of BBBS International. She encouraged VGIF to put "girls"; in its mission statement and to implement training for women to develop programs for women and girls focusing on outcomes and impact. In 1977 she was elected a Pennsylvania Delegate to the Houston conference on Women, and participated in the UN's Women Conferences in Mexico City, Nairobi, Kenya and Copenhagen, Denmark.
Treasurer | USA
Secretary | USA
Current VGIF Committee Conveners
Development | USA
Finance and Investment | USA
Governance | USA
Human Resources | USA
Nominating | The Netherlands
Project Grants | USA
United Nations | Canada
Audit Committee | USA
VGIF Board Members
Dr. Ranjana Banerjee, Associate Professor, is a faculty member in Loreto College’s Department of Education, where she has also served as the convener of Literary Society, the editor of the college magazine, coordinator for Internal Quality Assurance, coordinator of the Loreto College Women’s Study Society and member of the Loreto Board for Planning and Monitoring. Dr. Banergee also works as a visiting faculty member at Calcutta University’s B.Ed / M.A / M.Ed and M.Phil Education Courses.
Along with her role on VGIF’s United Nations Committee, Dr. Banerjee serves the Graduate Women International as Education Committee Convener. She has served as the Indian Federation of University Women’s Associations as Coordinator of International Relations (2008 – 2011), Scholarship Convener of the National Federation (2014 – 2017) and presently the convener of Education (2017 – 2020). She is an active committee member of a number of socio academic NGO’s, all of which cater towards issues regarding women and the girl child. A serving member and national editor of Soroptimist International, Dr. Banerjee has participated in a number of national and international seminars, panel discussions and workshops and has had papers published in a number of academic journals.
Dr. Sarada Krishnan is Director of Horticulture and Center for Global Initiatives at Denver Botanic Gardens, where she is responsible for directing the design and maintenance of the horticulture displays and collections, and for developing and leading global projects. Dr. Krishnan has a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture from India, where the focus was on tropical horticulture. She has a Master of Science degree in Horticulture from Colorado State University, with a research focus on the propagation of native Colorado flora specializing in plant tissue culture. Her doctorate research at University of Colorado, Boulder, focused on the conservation genetics of wild coffee in Madagascar.
Dr. Krishnan owns coffee plantations in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica and is a faculty affiliate with Colorado State University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. She serves on several local, state and national boards. She is a global expert on coffee and has published several papers on coffee and served on global projects. She is passionate about issues related to food security and women’s empowerment and is looking forward to making a difference through serving on the VGIF board and the Project Grants Committee.
Louise McLeod, GWI Marketing VP, has more than 30 years’ experience in the non-profit sector dealing with women’s issues at the local, national and international level. Ms. McLeod holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Toronto and a Graduate Diploma in Computer Science from Concordia University in Montreal. Ms. McLeod has spent the last 20 years developing websites for non-profits specializing in web-based database applications and non-profit communications and has worked in the business-to-business marketing sector.
Ms. McLeod’s particular interest is women’s issues at the international level - particularly Human Rights, Human Trafficking in all its forms and Women, Peace and Security. She is a founding board member and immediate Past President of Women Graduates-USA and currently sits on the board of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund where she serves on the Project Grants Committee, and the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition in Pennsylvania, USA. Ms. McLeod also serves as the VP-Marketing for Graduate Women International, based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ms. McLeod has three daughters and six grandchildren. She and her husband, Brian, live in Buckingham, PA.
Raime Leeby Muhle is the Chief Financial Officer of AlloSource, one of the nation’s largest providers of cartilage, bone, skin, soft-tissue and cellular allografts for use in surgical procedures and wound care to advance patient healing. Ms. Leeby Muhle oversees all of the finance, accounting, and information technology needs of the organization. Her role ensures we have the financial capabilities to honor donor wishes, as well as give back to our donation community partners.
With over 18 years of experience, Ms. Leeby Muhle’s background spans emerging high growth businesses to large and mature organizations. She has held various senior leadership positions with finance and operational responsibilities. Prior to AlloSource, Ms. Leeby Muhle held key leadership positions at Galvanize, Arrow Electronics and Level 3 Communications. She started her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Ms. Leeby Muhle is involved in several philanthropic initiatives and serves on the Board for the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation and the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, an organization focused on grants fostering women’s education and economic empowerment in developing countries. She is passionate about both education and the advancement of women in girls.
Dr. Esther Ngumbi is a post-doctoral researcher with the Entomology Department at Auburn University, Alabama. A native of Kwale County, Kenya, Dr. Ngumbi is very passionate about issues of hunger, gender, education, youth activism, sustainability and agriculture. She is a Food Security Fellow with Aspen Institute New Voices and has authored over 50 opinion pieces in outlets ranging from Time Magazine, CNN, NPR, Reuters and The Los Angeles Times. She is a Clinton Global University Initiative Commitment Mentor for Agriculture and a motivational speaker.
Dr. Ngumbi has established several programs benefitting Kenyan youth and enterprises, including Spring Break Kenya -an organization that is galvanizing young Kenyan students into service, and Oyeska Greens-a startup company that is revolutionizing agriculture at the Kenyan Coast. She and her parents established the Dr. Ndumi Faulu Academy in Kenya to ensure that every child has a solid chance at getting a quality education. Dr. Ngumbi was the recipient of the first-ever 2017 Emerging Sustainability Leader Award and a finalist for the President Clinton Global Hunger Leadership Award. She was named by One World Action as one of “100 Unseen Powerful Women Who Change the World.”
Dr. Eleanor Ann Nwadinobi is a medical doctor and a gender, health and human rights expert. She has a Masters in Human rights and Democratization from Venice, Italy. Dr. Nwadinobi started her career in anesthesia in the UK. An international development expert, she has worked in areas of HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, girl education, child protection, malaria, and women, peace and security. She is currently the Women, Peace and Security lead with Nigeria’s Foreign and Commonwealth office.
Dr. Nwadinobi sits on the boards of several International Organizations, including VGIF. She is a past Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Chair of the UN NGO/DPI Executive Committee and a current Chair of the MWIA centennial public relations subcommittee.
Dr. Nwadinobi has made numerous international conference presentations, including at the UK House of Commons and UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Author of several publications and recipient of numerous awards. Dr. Nwadinobi is also: President of Widows Development Organization (WiDO), Co-Founder Blossoms of the Vine fellowship, and Lady of Knights of the Good Shepherd, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. Dr. Nwadinobi is happily married and is a mother and grandmother.
An active member of both the Nominating and Project Grants Committees, Dr. Julie Pennington holds a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, a Certificate in Mandarin Chinese Language Studies from National Taiwan Normal University, a Masters in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management, a Masters in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University, and a Ph. D in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska. She currently works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Tampa, where she conducts research on agribusiness, food safety, human trafficking, and other subjects relevant to VGIF’s work. Before her career in academics began, Dr. Pennington spent 20 years in the international management and marketing industries – working in more than 65 countries on six continents.
Gerlinde Sarkar has a long history of working in post-secondary education, both as a teacher and manager. She taught courses in Corporate Finance and Economics at the University of Saskatchewan and was later employed at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic as Director of Research, Planning and Development for over 16 years. During that time Dr. Sarkar worked on numerous international assignments in many low and middle-income countries (Nepal, Philippines, Jordan, Egypt, and India), providing workshops in strategic planning, labor market research, and implementing evaluation frameworks.
After retiring from SIAST, Dr. Sarkar worked for the next three years in Doha, Qatar and later established a management consulting company, GEOMARC Technologies Inc., which works primarily with non-profit organizations developing strategic and business plans.
Dr. Sarkar’s special passion is helping women receive an education and other tools to secure a better economic future. This passion is what attracted her to become a member of VGIF. The matriarch of a very international family, Dr. Sarkar was born in Germany, but has lived in Canada for most of her adult life. Her late husband was from India, her three grown sons live in the US, Australia and Thailand, and the family was recently enriched by a daughter-in-law from Cambodia.
Jane E. Schukoske has worked in US legal academia, in Fulbright capacities, and in the rural development sector in India. Currently based in Arlington, VA, she consults for various development and higher educational organizations. A lawyer/law professor, she works on rural access to justice and good governance, with special interest in the roles of women in their communities. VGIF's support of women at the grassroots level attracted her to commit to Board service with VGIF.
Jackie Shahzadi has been a member of the Board of Directors of VGIF for over ten years and has served as Convener of the Connections Committee and the Nominations Committee. She has been an active member of the La Palma-Cerritos (CA) AAUW for over 30 years and has served on the Board of Women Graduates-U.S.A. She is very active in international groups such as Servas, an international peace and friendship organization, and People to People Ambassador Programs, for whom she has led delegations to Cuba, South Africa, and New Zealand and Australia. She has attended the last nine triennial conferences of the Graduate Women International.
Dr. Shahzadi retired in 2017, after 20 years as Campus College Chair for the College of Humanities and Sciences and faculty member for the Southern California Campus of the University of Phoenix. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Southern California.
Dr. Shahzadi’s interest in international affairs began with her 12-year residence in pre-revolutionary Iran. She is the co-author with her husband of a book about her life in Iran: Goldoon and Professor: Memoirs and Reflections of a Bicultural Marriage.
Johanna Sterbin serves as an Administrative Law Judge in New York City and is an Assistant Professor at Pace University. She feels that this combination enables her to fill her role as Board Member at VGIF, and as a member of Finance Committee.
Ms. Sterbin has a B.A. from the College of New Rochelle, an M.A. from New York University, a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, and an LL.M. from New York University Graduate School of Law. She has studied at the University of Bonn, Germany as the recipient of a Fulbright Grant.
Throughout her career, Ms. Sterbin has been involved in the fight for human rights and, in particular, gender equality. She has represented several NGOs at the United Nations, particularly the International Federation of Women Lawyers and the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers. She has been a speaker at many world conferences and always seeks to get students involved in education and advocacy in the pursuit of justice.
Anita Thomas has extensive experience working with both domestic and international Non-Governmental Organizations, specifically in the areas of advocacy, project management, development and membership affairs. Ms. Thomas currently serves as a member of VGIF’s Project Grants Committee and as VGIF’s representative to the Economic and Social Council of the UN focusing on Financing for Development issues.
Ms. Thomas also works as the Project Manager of Conquer Paralysis Now and serves as a Board member of the Princeton, New York YWCA. She formerly served as the NGO Representative to the United Nations for the World Association of Girls Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) for over ten years. In this role, she advocated on issues pertaining to women and girls specifically, HIV/AIDS and Child Rights.
Ms. Thomas is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Finance at the Simon Business School, University of Rochester. She is a Fellow of the Eagleton Institute of Politics and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs and Politics from the Bloustein School of Public Policy at Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree in Economics from Madras Christian College in India.
Ms. Thomas lives in Princeton, NJ with her husband, Abe, and their dog Blitz. Their two children, Aaron and Arielle, are both college students.
Gomathy Venkateswar has been an educator for more than 35 years and has been the principal of several prestigious private schools in India as well as in neighboring Nepal. Her expertise is in developing curricula that meet international standards, pedagogical methods and special education. Between 1999 and 2004, Ms. Venkateswar helped found the Malpi International School in Nepal. She designed the curriculum for the primary, middle and senior school – an extremely challenging task at a time when that country’s education system had been paralyzed by acute political instability caused by the Maoist insurgency.
Apart from her role as educator, Ms. Venkateswar has actively entered the world of International NGOs. She is currently serving her third term on VGIF’s Board, where she is a member of the Project Grants Committee.
Ms. Venkateswar holds an M.A. in History from Calcutta University, where graduated first in her class for Ancient Indian History and Culture. She was also a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Minnesota in 1987. In her leisure hours she loves gardening and has a special interest in rearing orchids. She listens to both classical Indian and Western music, and takes a keen interest in wild life conservation and protection programs.