International Women’s Forum Convenes Global Leaders in Houston for 2017 World Leadership Conference

Leaders from Around the World Assemble to Discuss Extreme Weather, Energy Economics, Global Health, Space and Other Critical Issues

HOUSTON--()--On October 25th, the International Women’s Forum (IWF) World Leadership Conference in Houston will bring together nearly 1,000 women experts and innovators from 40 nations to discuss the world’s most pressing challenges. The two-day conference provides an important platform for women thought-leaders from across the globe to engage on topics ranging from infectious diseases and public health to space exploration. These influential leaders convene to exchange ideas and develop strategies that result in meaningful change. This year’s theme, Global Citizens: Interconnected, Inquisitive, Engaged, will explore the definition and significance of global citizenship in today’s often polarized world.

The World Leadership Conference is held each year in a North American city which is playing a critical role in shaping the future. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, there is no better context than Houston to discuss issues of global significance from energy economics to extreme weather.

“IWF Texas and Houston are ready to welcome leaders from around the world. Our city’s resilience and hospitality will be on display as the conference program showcases our diversity, economic importance, scientific innovation, and cutting edge cultural context,” said Annise Parker, Former Mayor of Houston & Conference Co-Chair.

The conference ends with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony co-hosted by IWF’s charitable entity, the IWF Leadership Foundation. Each year, the event honors women from around the world who are diverse in their achievement but are united in their support of the next generation of women leaders.

This year, Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the Hall of Fame inductee and nine women will be honored with the Woman Who Makes a Difference Awards.

“World Leadership Conferences are unique opportunities for some of the world’s leading thinkers to share knowledge and solve problems--from the perspective of women,” said IWF President & Merrill Lynch Managing Director, Teresa Weintraub.

“This year’s gathering is remarkable in its relevance and local context. From the town hall session on human trafficking, to impact investing by philanthropists,” added Weintraub. “This is truly an example of the connection between local and global.”

Select speakers include:

  • Sumaiya Balbale, Vice President of E-Commerce, Mobile and Digital Marketing for Walmart US and Vice President of Marketing at
  • Jayshree Desai, Chief Operating Officer of Clean Line Energy Partners
  • Gracie Cavnar, Founder and CEO Recipe for Success Foundation, IWF Texas President and Conference Co-chair
  • Mary Glackin, Director of Science and Forecasting Operations, The Weather Company, Watson Content and Internet of Things Platform at IBM
  • Matt Harrington, Global Chief Operating Officer at Edelman
  • Allyson Maynard Gibson, human rights advocate and former Attorney General of The Bahamas; member of IWF Bahamas
  • Katherine Miller, Founder of Chef Action Network and Senior Director of Food Policy Advocacy at the James Beard Foundation
  • Ellen Ochoa, PhD, Director of the Johnson Space Center, former US Astronaut, and member of IWF Texas-Houston
  • Rebecca Richards-Kortum, MD, Director of Rice 360: Institute for Global Health and Founder of Beyond Traditional Borders at Rice University
  • Julia Stasch, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and member of IWF Chicago
  • Ersilia Vaudo-Scarpetta, Chief Diversity Officer at the European Space Agency and member of IWF France

The Houston conference takes place Wed., October 25 - Fri., October 27. To stay up to date on the conference and join in on the conversation, follow @IWFGlobal on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

About the International Women’s Forum & Leadership Foundation

IWF is an invitation-only, membership organization comprised of more than 6,500 diverse and accomplished women from 34 nations on six continents. IWF members are dedicated to building better leadership across careers, continents, and cultures. IWF’s charitable arm, the Leadership Foundation, supports high-potential women through two leadership development programs – the Fellows Program and the EY Women Athletes Business Network (WABN) Mentoring Program. For more information on IWF and LF visit and follow @IWFGlobal on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.


International Women’s Forum
Media Contact:
Megan Milam, +1 336-402-0847
Davis Thompson, +1 202-387-1010

Release Summary

Women leaders from around the world will assemble in Houston this month for the International Women’s Forum (IWF) World Leadership Conference.


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International Women’s Forum
Media Contact:
Megan Milam, +1 336-402-0847
Davis Thompson, +1 202-387-1010