Media Matters for Women Board of Directors

Sharon Bylenga is Founder and Executive Board Chair of Media Matters for Women. She was inspired to set up Media Matters for Women after working for an international NGO partnered with the United Nations which builds public service radio stations in post-conflict and crisis zones.  She founded MMW to demonstrate that used together, mobile phones and solar rechargers are highly effective and significantly less costly than radio in meeting the information needs of Africa’s rural women and girls.  Sharon earned her master’s degree in agricultural economics and has extensive experience combining economic analysis and project development in Rwanda, Turkey, Macedonia, West Bank and Gaza, Bosnia, Zambia, Timor, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea Bissau.  She also served with the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service for ten years.

Katharina Samara-Wickrama has been an Executive Board Member of Media Matters for Women since our founding in 2010.  Katharina is the Director of the Issues Affecting Women Programme (IAWP) at Oak Foundation in Geneva. In that role, she leads Oak’s support for women’s grassroots organisations across the globe to build stronger women’s movements and to address violence against women in their homes, workplaces and in crisis situations. She is connecting and strengthening MMW’s relationships with organisations promoting women’s meaningful participation in peace and security processes. Katharina trained as a lawyer in Australia and has over 25 years of experience working in the humanitarian and development sector. She worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for over a decade in their legal division and in the Refugee Women and Gender Equality Unit where she focused on developing programmes to enable refugee women to better access their rights as well as mainstreaming a gender equality perspective across UNHCR’s programmes.  Katharina then spent four years setting up systems and trainings for NGOs to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse of beneficiaries. She also worked with NGOs to ensure that their programmes were accountable to communities affected by disasters and crises.

Delia Perez-Paya is an Executive Board Member of Media Matters for Women.  She has extensive experience in global business and is a recognized leader in the field of corporate transformation specifically Pricing and Sales. She earned a master’s degree in Economics from the European University in The college of Europe in Bruges (Belgium) with a full scholarship from the Foreign Ministry of Spain.  She began her career with Accenture in Spain in the consumer goods sector and was then hired for Lafarge’s management and financial audit team. After ten years Delia was promoted to Lafarge’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing with oversight for Commercial excellence +9 Billion Euros in annual sales teams in several countries, including Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea, US, Irak, Egypt, Spain. She currently works at Etex as Global Pricing and Sales Excellence. She has been recognized for her work in setting up innovative programmes and managing commercial transformations to improve bottom-line performance.  Delia speaks four languages and lives in Paris with her husband and two young daughters.

Anton Mifsud-Bonnici is an Executive Board Member and Mentor to Media Matters for Women.   Anton is a Maltese national with 25 years of international political and extractive sector experience. He is also an independent corporate relations adviser and advocate. He served with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the Balkans and Great Lakes, Africa.  Previously he served as Vice President for Communications & External Affairs of BP, London, Russian Federation and Iraq, and Project Manager (non-technical) of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline Project, Greece, Italy and Albania.

Liz Umlas is an International Advisory Board Member of Media Matters for Women. Lizis an independent researcher and consultant with extensive experience in the field of business and human rights, and a particular interest in labor rights issues. She spent several years as a senior analyst in socially responsible investment research, and has also worked for Oxfam America and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She is a co-founder of Sustainable Finance Geneva, and most recently has designed and taught masters courses in business and human rights at the University of Fribourg and Oxford University. Liz has a doctorate in political science from Yale University.  

Lisa Farley Sebree is an International Advisory Board Member of Media Matters for Women and Chair of MMW UK’s Board of Trustees.  She received her degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas and her law degree from Georgetown University.  Her career as a lawyer has ranged from criminal defense work to commercial matters to import/export law.  As in-house counsel for a multinational telecommunications corporation, she had global responsibility for international trade issues.  More recently, Lisa worked with ECPAT International to produce its Global Legal Review on Sexual Exploitation of Children Online, a comprehensive tool for prosecutors and human rights activists worldwide. 

Ellen B. Marshall is an International Advisory Board Member of Media Matters for Women.  Ellen is a legislative advocate with over 30 years experience representing clients before federal, state, and local governments.  While her Washington, DC-based practice focuses primarily on tax and financial services issues, Ms. Marshall also has extensive lobbying experience in real estate, bankruptcy, and electronic commerce concerns and has written extensively on issues involving municipal finance.  Ms. Marshall has staffed presidential election campaigns and is adept at translating technical issues into straightforward talking points for legislators and voters.

Muaz Cisse is an International Advisory Board Member of Media Matters for Women. He is an experienced leader in information technology (IT), including eight years heading the implementation of complex IT infrastructures for Fondation Hirondelle, a global nonprofit which partners with the UN to build nation-wide media projects in Africa, including Radio Okapi in the DRC. Mr. Cisse earned his master’s degree from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He recently joined New Access in Geneva. His goal is to leverage his IT expertise to work as an effective leader in the revitalization of his continent and promote sustainable development.

Kristi James is an International Advisory Board Member and Director of Communications for Media Matters for Women. She is a leader in strategic communications with more than twenty years experience in story telling and fundraising. She is currently a change management consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) and does speech prep with some private clients. She has worked in communications for a variety of industries such as shipping and logistics, intellectual property, and medical.

Leah Jewett is an International Advisory Board Member. She is a writer, editor and the founder of Outspoken Sex Ed, a social enterprise focused on encouraging parents to talk openly with their children about sex and relationships issues. Leah studied at Columbia University and for 20 years was Deputy Chief Sub-Editor on the Observer Magazine of The Guardian. She founded and directs Outspoken Sex Ed.

Greg Saunders is an International Advisory Board Member. Greg is a seasoned international policy practitioner with more than 30 years of experience amid multiple postings in both French and Portuguese-speaking Africa, with the UN in the Middle East, in Asia and Washington, DC. After a 26-year career in the US Army, Greg worked for BP as the head of communications and external affairs in North Africa and then headed BP’s international team in Washington, DC. He graduated from US Military Academy at West Point and from the French Ecole de Guerre in Paris. He has an MBA from George Washington University and an MA in International Relations from the Naval Postgraduate School. He presently lives in Hawaii with his wife, a family practice Physician Assistant.