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Global Fund for Widows announces Shannon Isaacs as Executive Director

Isaacs to Lead Impactful Economic Empowerment Programs for Widows

I was drawn to the Global Fund for Widows because of their incredibly impactful programing around the economic empowerment of widows.”
— Shannon Isaacs

NEW YORK, NY, USA, March 16, 2023 / -- The Global Fund for Widow’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has named Shannon Isaacs as its new Executive Director effective January 18, 2022. Isaacs has over eight years of senior nonprofit executive leadership experience including strategic planning, international affairs, finance and philanthropic experience at national and international nonprofits. She previously served as the Director of Development at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and Director of Advancement at Pendle Hill.

“I was drawn to the Global Fund for Widows because of their incredibly impactful programing around the economic empowerment of widows. I share the Global Fund’s vision for impact through financial inclusion and driving systemic change through legislative reform. I am so excited to be joining this amazing team and supporting the Global Fund for Widows’ extraordinary work. ”

Isaacs brings a wealth of nonprofit, international, gender equity, and management experience to this position. Selected by the Clinton Foundation to serve as a 2022 University Fellow, additionally she previously served as a board member at Wilmington College, The Greater Cincinnati Women’s City Club, Social Enterprise Alliance, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and others. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Hope for Arirang Foundation. Shannon was a recipient of the 2016 YWCA Rising Star Award. She has an undergraduate degree with honors from Cornell University in Industrial and Labor Relations.

Ms. Isaacs’ brings a track record of success in growing organizations that serve humanity and a deep understanding of the impact of economic factors on gender equality in developing countries.

The organization’s founder, Heather Ibrahim-Leathers will move into a new role as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors after 15 years serving as the organization’s Executive Director. Ms. Ibrahim-Leathers has spearheaded the widowhood human rights issue, leading social innovation and impact, and empowering nearly 100,000 widows and their children. In 2022, Ms. Ibrahim-Lathers led the adoption of the world’s first UN General Assembly resolution on Widowhood. For her leadership of the Global Fund for Widows, Ms. Ibrahim-Leathers has received numerous accolades including Financial Catalyst Award from the Business Council for Peace, Excellence in Financial Innovation from Acquisition International, and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“It has been the honor of my lifetime to serve widows and female heads of households of the world over the last 15 years. I am excited to deliver the Executive role to Ms. Shannon Isaacs, who shares our passion for the mission of economically empowering widows, and thereby resolving poverty at its source. Our innovation in financial inclusion – the Widows’ Savings and Loan Association (WISALA) – has forever changed the lives of nearly 100,000, and with nearly 30,000 widows on our WISALA waitlist, our work is just getting started. At this critical juncture, I am confident that Shannon Isaacs will be able to lead GFW into further catalytic growth and social impact.”

The Global Fund for Widows Board is confident that under Ms. Isaacs’ leadership, the organization will continue to drive transformative change and achieve its mission.

Visit The Global Fund for Widows to learn more.

About the Global Fund for Widows
Global Fund for Widows (GFW) is the world’s largest international organization dedicated to economically empowering widows. Headquartered in New York, GFW has operations in 8 countries including Malawi, Kenya, India, Egypt, and others. Founded in 2008 by Heather Ibrahim-Leathers upon the passing of her grandmother, who was a young widow in rural Egypt, GFW is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Utilizing evidence-based programmatic, GFW pioneered the award-winning WISALA bank model. GFW has impacted nearly 100,000 widows and their children around the world through their financial inclusion programs. In 2022 GFW successfully advocated for the passing of a United Nations General Assembly resolution regarding widowhood and human rights. Global Fund for Widows and its founder Heather Ibrahim-Leathers have received numerous awards for their work including a 2021 nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.


Elena Saenz Feehan
Global Fund for Widows
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