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Voices of Courage:
Celebrating the Strength of Refugee Women 

April 21, 2016

Refugee women have a remarkable strength to rebuild their lives, their families, and their communities. They are the best authors of their own solutions.


Voices of Courage Award

Mina Jaf thumbnail

Mina Jaf spent her first 20 years as a refugee. Born during a chemical gas attack in 1988, in Iraqi Kurdistan, her family fled over mountains to Iran. She grew up keenly aware of the importance of bureaucratic details for the displaced: which line to stand in, what forms to fill out. Now an emerging leader and refugee advocate in Brussels, Mina Jaf enlists others to join her as a fierce ally for refugee women as they begin their new lives.

Cho Lay Mar thumbnail

Cho Lay Mar champions peace and inter-ethnic understanding in Rakhine State, Myanmar, where she was born and raised. She has dedicated herself to improving the lives of vulnerable populations, including Muslim girls and women, even in the face of great resistance in her role as Program Officer at Community and Family Services International. Her ability to build positive relationships with her government and her commitment to peace and diplomacy distinguish Cho Lay Mar as a true voice of courage.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Antonio Guterres thumbnail

High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has devoted his energy, diplomacy, and intellectual vigor to elevate refugee issues for the world’s 60 million displaced persons. A strong and impassioned advocate for the particular issues facing displaced women and children, he lived up to his call to “fight for a world where women and girls, are respected in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities, [where they can] walk freely, without fear.”

Corporate Leadership Award

Hamdi Chobani thumbnail

Hamdi Ulukaya

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Chobani
Founder, The Tent Foundation
Entrepreneur and philanthropist

Hamdi Ulukaya seeks to improve the lives and livelihoods of the 60 million people who have been forcibly displaced around the globe through the dedicated efforts of the Tent Foundation, which he founded in 2015. Tent advances its mission by funding direct assistance, investing in innovation, and promoting policies and partnerships to help the displaced realize their full potential.

Anka Wittenberg thumbnail


Award accepted by Anka Wittenberg Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, SAP SE

SAP, one of the world’s largest software manufacturers, shows an exemplary commitment to refugee rights. Its three-pillar approach to pressing refugee issues generates real solutions in a complex crisis. SAP provides humanitarian aid through corporate and employee giving, taps corporate innovation that brings to bear big data on expansive challenges, and fosters workforce integration to support long-term solutions for refugees and their families. SAP's leadership and robust corporate social responsibility program distinguish the company as a voice of courage.

Performers: Silk Road Ensemble

Silk Road Ensemble Cellist Yo-Yo Ma established Silk Road in 1998 to examine the role of the arts in fostering cross-cultural understanding. Under his artistic direction, the artists of the Silk Road Ensemble draw on a rich tapestry of traditions that make up our shared cultural heritage, creating a new musical language — a uniquely engaging and accessible encounter between the foreign and the familiar that reflects our many-layered contemporary identities. The Ensemble’s new album, Sing Me Home, will be released on April 22.



Global Sponsors

Tent Foundation

Martha Gallo


Principal Sponsors

The Frances Lear Foundation
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Microsoft Corporation


Major Sponsors

Annabelle Bexiga
Mimi Frankel
Goldman Sachs
TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank



Bloomberg Philanthropies
Beth Daniels
Dina Dublon
Barbara Hack
E. Carol Hayles
ICAP Information Services, Inc.
Jurate Kazickas
Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Tullett Prebon Information
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Susan F. Rice
Lily Safra
Thomson Reuters
Sandra Tully
Gillian Van Schaick
Marissa Wesely and Fred Hamerman



Anne Gundersen Foundation Trust and David Bohonnon, Trustee
Broadridge Financial Solutions
Joy Bunson
Josephine M. Eastman
Chris McConnell
David L. Phillips and Sarah Costa
Diane Sinti



Sherrell Andrews
Barry L. & Jan R. Zubrow Foundation
Elizabeth B. Dater
HIAS, Sandy Spinner and Ed Hand, Rana Mohmand and Sana Mohmand
Ellen M. Kealy
Regina Peruggi
Faye Richardson
Nancy and Miles Rubin
Sheri Sandler
Margaret Smith
Christine Wasserstein



George Biddle
Susan Blaustein
Lori Buchbinder
John Buretta
Carol and Jonathan Chace
Fidelity Charitable
Fiona Christeller
Kathy Crost
Julie Daum
Mr. and Mrs. Raul Esquivel
Virginia Decker Keith
Maria Hancock
Roberta Karp
Susan Kessler
Yong Kwok
Ruth Lazarus and Michael Feldberg
Sandra Lipsman
Judith Mayotte
Virginia A. Millhiser
Rosemary E. Newman
Sarah O'Hagan
Catherine Pierce
James Price
Catherine Shimony
Wendy Zimmermann and Steve Cutler



Susan Abramowitz
Sheppie Abramowitz
Karen AbuZayd
All Stars Project, Inc. and Gabrielle L. Kurlander, President and CEO
Marcia Allina
Mulan Ashwin
Diane Baer
Linda Barnett
Lori Bassman
Dale Bernstein
Jewelle W. Bickford
Virginia Botelho
Diana D. Bui
Dawn Calabia
Karen Chaplin
Grace Cheung
Mary Jessie Cosnard des Closets
Nuno Crisostomo
Lisa Dallmer
Joan K. Davidson
Jennie L. and Richard K. DeScherer
Ellen Dickson
Lisa DiMona
Linda D'Onofrio
Terence Dougherty
Jo Ellen Finkel
Helen Forster
Joan Gambro
Susan Geisenheimer
Alan Guarino
Clare Hart
Paula K. Hawkins
Lucile Herbert
Morrene Hubbard Jacobs
Carol Hymowitz
Susan Jonas
Anita Jorgensen
Frances Kraljic Curran
Marianne Lake
Geraldine Laybourne
Phyllis Lee Levin
Joan Lipton
Judy McElnea
Nancy R. Newhouse
Marilyn Nissenson
Karen Olin Heimann
Jane Olson
Sheila Platt
Anna-Mary Portz
Hazel Reitz
Anne Rogin
Debbie Rosenberg
Helene Rosenthal
Angelica Rudenstine
Dora Schriro
Heidi Schulman
Janny Scott and Joe Lelyveld
Donald Steinberg
Carol Stillman
Shauna Tarshis Denkensohn
Vivien C. Tartter
Deborah Tolman
Kate S. Tomlinson
Linda Walker
Frank and Denie Weil
Lois Weinroth
Carrie Welch
Mary White
Joanne Zaiac


Header photograph © Aneesa Photography