Karen Sherman

President, Akilah Institute

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Karen Sherman's Story

Karen Sherman brings more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, strategist, and executive level manager to her role as President of the Akilah Institute. Throughout her career, Karen has combined her expertise, passion, and transformative leadership skills to affect lasting change for women in conflict-affected countries and those in transition.

Prior to joining Akilah, Karen served as Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director for Global Programs, and, from Kigali, Rwanda, as Africa Regional Director at Women for Women International (WfWi), an organization that enables women war survivors to restart their lives. Under her leadership, WfWi tripled the number of women served, expanded field office staff to over 600 employees across eight countries, and grew from $5 million to over $20 million in total revenue in four years.

Previously, Karen served as the Executive Vice President at Counterpart International, a $130 million global development organization, where she was responsible for increasing the depth, scale, and impact of programs. Over her ten-year tenure, Karen worked to promote and strengthen small businesses, micro-enterprises, and women’s entrepreneurship globally. Additionally, she launched Counterpart’s for-profit subsidiary making equity investments in environmentally sustainable enterprises.

Across her different roles, Karen has worked with stakeholders at all levels, from community groups to corporate leaders and heads of state, to take programs from concept to scale. Most importantly, her work has resulted in measurable impacts on women’s income, health, decision-making, and social networks.

Karen has served as a thought leader and spokesperson on global women’s issues through the media, public appearances, and diverse social media platforms. She has been featured in multiple publications and was Executive Producer of The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope, published by National Geographic.

Karen holds a Master’s Degree in Russian and East European Studies from The George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Oregon. She serves as the Board Chair for Everywoman Everywhere, and sits on the Board of Trustees of Mary Baldwin College. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and three sons.