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Global Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board

The Global Advisory Board is comprised of experts and professionals dedicated to supporting grassroots women and their work. Board members serve as ambassadors of the Huairou Commission, leveraging relationships on behalf of organization with a focus on fundraising and partnership opportunities.

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David F. A. Walker

Global Advisory Board Co-Chair

Regional Development Director, UNCF

New York, USA


David has over 25 years of resource development experience, and is currently a Director and Member of the Columbia College Alumni Association, serves on the boards of the East Harlem Tutorial Program and the Berkshire Farm Center & Services for Youth, and is a consultant to numerous organizations. He began his fundraising career in the mid-80’s as Director of Mail & Phonathon at The New School and serving with distinction as Director of Annual Giving at Polytechnic University. David was Vice President of Development at EARTH University (Costa Rica), where he served as the key resource to the President for all funding relationships worldwide. Prior to joining EARTH University, David was Vice President of Major Gifts and Planned Giving for United Way of New York City. In the mid-90’s, David was Regional Director of MIT’s $750 million “Campaign for the Future,” and served as the Chief Development Professional for Long Island College Hospital and President of The Brooklyn College Foundation, Inc. David earned his BA from Columbia University, where he completed a double-major in Psychology and French.

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Magdalena García Hernández

Global Advisory Board Co-Chair

Directora General, Bufete de Estudios Interdisciplinarios A. C.

Coyoacán, Mexico


Magdalena has served in many capacities during her career, including as a UN consultant, coordinating the Presidency of the Interagency Gender Group of the United Nations System in Mexico; a public servant; bank employee; professor and university researcher. She is a feminist with a background in public policy advocacy as a trainer of government personnel and in building women’s networks in Mexico and Latin America as a member of MIRA. Magdalena is very active in the urban space, having served as a Policy Unit Expert on municipal finance in the process leading to the Habitat III Conference, as well as having coordinated the Urban Thinkers Campus MIRA-Huairou-FEMUM, the largest of the first 26 Campuses in the UN-Habitat World Urban Campaign initiative. Currently she is a member of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Experts for New Urban Agenda follow up. Magdalena is an entrepreneur in the hospitality field, and is a consultant and CEO of the firm Bufete de Estudios Interdisciplinarios A.C. Magdalena is married, has two daughters, a son, and five grandchildren. She studied at the graduate level in Commercial Engineering and Economic Sciences from the Universidad de Chile’s Center for Research and Teaching of Economics (CIDE), and Economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She is also a graduate of URBAL, where she led research on gender at the University of Turin, Italy.

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Thelma Awori

Founder and Executive Director, Institute for Social Transformation

Kampala, Uganda


Thelma is currently the board chair for the Institute for Social Transformation. She was the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Director of Regional Bureau for Africa at UNDP. She has also held the positions of Deputy Director at UNIFEM and Executive Secretary for the Commission for Communication Education at World Association for Christian Communication. Thelma has been involved in funding and designing programmatic initiatives for peace-building, reconstruction, reconciliation and reintegration for African nations experiencing conflict, and played an active role in various inter-regional initiatives such as ACBF, SPA, ZERI, and PACASED. She serves as the chair on numerous boards including Isis-WICCE, Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, and the Institute for Social Transformation. She was awarded the 2012 Distinguished Alumina Award from the African American Institute.

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Erik Berg

Chair, Habitat Norway

Oslo, Norway


Erik is currently chairman of Habitat Norway and was Special Advisor for Urban Development in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 2013. He has written a numbers of articles, essays and books on foreign policy and development issues. Previously, he was a chairman of Asker Football Club and member of Asker Municipal Sports Council. He was employed by the Norwegian Directorate for International Development Cooperation and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), where he served as program officer in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Eritrea. He was Director of Evaluation in the MFA, and was elected chairman of the Norwegian Student’s Assistance Fund and board member of the National Committee for International Youth Work. Erik is married with three children and graduated with a BA from University of Oslo in European Languages and History, obtained his MA from University of Trondheim in Modern African History, and earned a MSC from NORAGRIC/ Norwegian University of Agriculture.

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Winifred (Winnie) Byanyima

Executive Director, Oxfam International

Oxford, United Kingdom


Winnie is a grassroots activist, human rights advocate, senior international public servant, a world-recognized expert on women’s rights, and serves as Executive Director of Oxfam International — a role that provides strategic direction and coordination for the worldwide confederation of Oxfam affiliates. Winnie has held roles that reinforced the governance of the African Union, and she influenced the international agenda at the United Nations through her leadership in many coalitions of civil society organizations. She is recognized for extensive work in peace-building, budget and electoral reform, and building social coalitions. She is also an authority on the gender dimension of climate change, economic policy-making, and social and economic equality. In her earlier career, she founded a still-thriving NGO in Uganda and served three terms as a member of the Ugandan parliament.

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Susan Farkas

President, Farkas Media

New York, USA


Susan is the head of Farkas Media, an independent production and consulting company, and a visiting lecturer at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Previously she worked at the United Nations, where she supervised radio, television and photo coverage of the UN system and launched an award-winning monthly TV magazine and a daily video news service focusing on human rights and development. In 2011, she was nominated for an International Emmy for her documentary Cambodia: A Quest for Justice. Prior to the UN, Susan was an Executive Producer at NBC News, overseeing the production of documentaries. She also served as Senior Producer at Dateline NBC. During her 17 years at the network, Susan won numerous awards, including six Emmys and a Robert F. Kennedy award for human rights journalism. She started her career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in her native Canada, and produced various radio and TV programs before being appointed to run the CBC’s New York office.

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Prema Gopalan

Founder and Executive Director, Swayam Shikshan Prayog

Pune, India


Prema founded and serves as Executive Director of Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), a learning and development organization working across four states in India to empower grassroots women as social and environment leaders and entrepreneurs. Since 1993, she las led large scale programs on disaster management, post-disaster recovery and disaster risk reduction, and over the last 5 years she has steered SSP into a robust network supporting 70,000 grassroots women to set up last-mile social ventures in clean energy, water, sanitation, health, agriculture and nutrition. In a career spanning over two decades, Prema has constantly innovated and strategized to bring women from poor communities from the margin to the mainstream. Her experience in seeding a market-based approach has gained wide recognition, both with the Indian government and global organizations. Prema has advised international institutions such as the World Bank and the UNDP on strengthening women’s leadership in development programs. Prema is an Ashoka Fellow and a Synergos Fellow. In addition, she and SSP have received a large number of global and national awards.
Prema is an Indian national and holds an M.Phil in Sociology and Research-Methodology and Masters in Social Work.

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Anne Lunde

Sociologist and Planner

Oslo, Norway


Anne is a sociologist and planner who has worked with all levels of authorities in Norway. She is a researcher, and has most recently worked in the slum areas of Kathmandu, Nepal, and in the Council of Europe, Strasbourg. She served on the Norwegian delegation to UN-Habitat from 1992 to 2007. Anne has been a member of Huairou since 1995. She played an active role in negotiating several gender resolutions at the Governing Councils of UN-Habitat, including the establishment of the Advisory Group on Gender Issues (AGGI) in 2012 and a gender unit in 1997. She was one of the main Norwegian negotiators in Habitat II in Istanbul 1996, and has since participated in three World Urban Forums and in several expert meetings. From 1992 to 2007, Anne was a senior adviser in the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, that country’s focal point for UN-Habitat. Anne is now retired.

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Dr. Achola Pala Okeyo

Anthropologist and Former U.N. Executive

Nairobi, Kenya

Achola is a renowned feminist anthropologist, researcher, writer and educator. Currently she works as an Independent Scholar in Kenya. She is the founding member of the Association of African Women for Research and Development, operating in 20 African countries. She is also a founding member of the Huairou Commission. As Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nairobi, she pioneered groundbreaking research on women’s rights to land and was part of the campaign for establishment of a Women’s Bureau (now the Gender Ministry) in Kenya. She previously served as Chief, Africa Section of the UN Development Fund for Women (now UN WOMEN), where she developed UNIFEM’s governance policy strategy and represented UNIFEM in external relations, world conferences and partnerships. As Senior Advisor at UNDP’s Africa Bureau in New York she led the gender mainstreaming initiatives and managed multiple project portfolios. She has edited, co-edited and contributed to several books and publications on gender issues.

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Birte Scholz

International Human Rights Law and Development Expert

San Francisco, USA

Birte is the former Law and Policy Advisor for the Huairou Commission, where she was responsible for shaping organizational policies and providing legal advice. She played a key role in defining the Huairou Commission’s global advocacy agenda and partnership strategy, while also serving as a liaison to various institutional partners. Previously, she was the Women and Housing Rights Program Coordinator at COHRE, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, a Geneva-based human rights NGO. She acted as the COHRE Ghana Program manager and focal point for the Women’s Land Link Africa (WLLA) Initiative, a collaborative project on strengthening grassroots women’s work on land in Africa. Birte is a licensed human rights lawyer and has worked in private litigation as well as public service. Birte received her J.D. with a public-interest-law emphasis from the University of San Francisco School of Law and received degrees in Psychology and Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Margaret Shaw

Sociologist and Criminologist

Montreal, Canada

Margaret Shaw PhD is a sociologist, criminologist and independent consultant. From 1999 until 2011 she was Director of Analysis and Exchange at the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) in Montreal, Canada. She now works as an independent consultant, including with ICPC. Prior to that she worked for the Home Office in Britain, and taught at Concordia University, Montreal. She has undertaken extensive research including on gender, women’s imprisonment, evaluation and crime prevention, and worked extensively with UN-Habitat and UNODC, as well as with UN Women and WHO. She is a Board Member of Women in Cities International, and member of the Advisory Panel of the UN-Habitat Global Network on Safer Cities. In 2013 she was awarded the Saltzman Prize for Contributions to Practice by the Division of Women and Crime of the American Society of Criminology, and in 2014 the G.O.W. Mueller Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Criminal Justice, from the International Division of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. She is a co-author of Building Inclusive Cities: Women’s Safety and the Right to the City (published in 2013 by Earthspan Routledge).

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Paul Taylor

Honorary Professor, School of Planning and Geography, University of Cardiff, Wales

Kilifi, Kenya

Paul is an Honorary Professor at the School of Planning and Geography at the University of Cardiff, Wales. He recently retired as Chief of the Office of the Executive Director for UN-Habitat. During his career in UN-Habitat, he was responsible for a number of global programs dealing with the urban environment, urban poverty reduction, disaster management and safer cities as well as the Global Campaign for Urban Governance. Before joining the UN, he was an international consultant working for a variety of multilateral and bilateral agencies in the developing world, specialising in urban issues and institutional development. Prior to that he worked for the Government of Papua New Guinea on low income housing, and sites and services and settlement upgrading schemes. He commenced his career working as a planner in East London, England.

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Nicholas You

Director, Global Partners and Programs, Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation

Nairobi, Kenya

Nicholas serves as the chair/co-chair of the Global Cities Business Alliance, the Urban Strategy and Innovation Council of ENGIE, and the International Mayors’ Communication Centre, and is the immediate former chair of the UN-Habitat World Urban Campaign Steering Committee and the Assurance Group for Urban Infrastructure of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. He serves as a board member of the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities, as an adjunct to the Centre for Liveable Cities in Singapore, and a director of the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation. He regularly advises governments, cities and leading technology companies on sustainability policies and practices. Prior to his current positions, he served as the Senior Policy Advisor to UN-Habitat. He is the author/editor of numerous publications on sustainable development. He is the founder of the “Messengers of Truth Project” that uses urban art forms and music to empower disenfranchised urban youth to improve their livelihoods.