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International Women’s Day Conference

Stories of Achievement and Struggle in a Time of Global Turmoil

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Meet Our Panelists!


Ambassador Elena Poptodorova currently serves as the Vice President of the Atlantic Treaty Association (NATO-Brussels) and as the Vice President and Director for Euro-Atlantic Affairs at the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria (ACB). She served for two terms, a total of 13 years, as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United States of America; facilitating major investments by foreign companies in each economic sector in Bulgaria. Ambassador Poptodorova started the Bulgaria Caucus on the Hill, the corps of Bulgaria’s Honorary Counsels and she launched the Bulgarian Schools Network throughout the United States. Prior to her appointment as Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Poptodorova served as Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Director of the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Organizations Directorate. From 1990 through 2001 she was elected Member of the Bulgarian Parliament. Her impressive background includes numerous Board services including but not limited to: Bulgarian nongovernmental organizations, Atlantic Council of the United States, Washington Executive Council on Diplomacy, Women’s Foreign Policy Group, University Council of the American University in Bulgaria, Cultural Diplomacy Institute, Germany, TA company and many more. Presently, Amb. Poptodorova leads the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) program at the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and engages in public speaking on a variety of foreign affairs topics.

Pennsylvania Judge Carolyn Nichols

Carolyn is currently hearing and deciding appeals as an elected Superior Court judge since 2017. Judge Nichols is the only Black woman to serve as one of the 31 judges in the Pennsylvania appellate court system, including the Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth Courts. Former criminal court trial judge elected to the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in 2011 that conducted felony jury trials with equal justice for the accused and crime victims. Prior to election to the Bench practiced law as a criminal and civil trial attorney for over 20 years.
Active community involvement in mentoring and peace-building activities to stop the school to prison pipeline for our youth.
Committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity to transform our courts with procedural justice that respects justice-involved people with humanity focusing on trauma-informed justice approaches

Dr. Renu Joshi

Dr. Renu Joshi finished her MBBS degree from King George medical college India and moved to the USA in 1985. She finished her residency in Internal medicine and fellowship in Endocrinology at Hershey medical center.

 she moved to Pinnacle in 2001 and has become the chief of endocrinology and currently serves as Vice president of Chronic disease management population Health.
During her journey, she has focused her energy to improve Blood sugar control in Diabetic patients both in the hospital and outpatient settings. Through her efforts, Pinnacle obtained the Joint commission center of excellence for Diabetes certification in 2007.

Dr. Joshi is very passionate about the care of her patients especially women’s health and has won the best physician award several times and “Healer of the year” award from Harrisburg Magazine in 2014 and the Women of Excellence award from YWCA in 2018.

Hagir ElSheikh
Women refugees — surviving war and political violence.

 An entrepreneur, an electrical engineer, a registered nurse, the owner/CEO of HSE Staffing Agency, and Tomorrow’s Smile INC. 

She is best known for her Human Rights, Women’s Rights activism, domestic violence, and immigration advocacy. 

 Hagir experienced domestic violence after she fled political violence and torture in Sudan. She thought of herself as someone who could make a difference. After all, she was the spokesperson for the Democratic party during college. She fought a corrupted regime in Sudan among other activists that put her life in danger and she was forced to seek immigration to the US in search of a better life. 

Some of her accomplishment:

*Founder/CEO – HSE Staffing, LLC
*Founder/CEO – Tomorrow’s Smile, Inc
*Host – The Hagir Show
*Co-Host – TSO Live Talk Show
*Domestic Violence Counselor – Cumberland County, PA & Tomorrow’s Smile INC
*Clinical Instructor/Faculty – HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
*Member, Board of Trustees – HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
*Member, Board of Trustee- CWS, Church World Services
*Board member – Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness
*CPR/First Aid/AED Instructor – American Red Cross
*Women’s Rights Activist/Advocate – Tomorrow’s Smile, Inc
*Motivational Speaker – Tomorrow’s Smile, Inc
Volunteer – Meals On Wheels American

Hagir’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed by the community at large. She was recognized in 2017 by the Central Penn Business Journal (CPBJ) as a “Women of Influence.” According to CPBJ Publisher Shaun McCoach, nominations are independently scored based on their contributions to the community by judges who are selected from a list of past winners. “Based on her outstanding contributions to the community, it’s no surprise that Hagir won,” he said. It’s tough not to marvel at Elsheikh. Many wonder how she manages to pack so much into her schedule without falling apart at the seams, but the fabric of her life seems to be woven of Kevlar and she’s overcome adversity time and again with grit, determination, hard work, and resilience. She was featured in many magazines, newspapers, Documentaries, and TV shows in the US and internationally. Hagir was also the recipient of the health care hero award in 2017. Hagir’s company was named Readers’ Choice Simply the Best Staffing Agency in Central Pennsylvania for 2 years in the raw 2017 and 2018. Hagir was recently honored by the state of Pennsylvania on their Year of the Woman Recognition.

Hagir was also inducted into the GCU Hall of Fame, representing the College of Nursing 2019

In August 2019 she was named Simply the best community activist as the winner of the “Simply the best people award in Central PA” and she was honored at the end of the year.

In March 2020 she was on the cover of the Business Women’s Magazine and a short story was done on her life and achievements.

Nayab Khan
Foreign Affairs Officer/Regional Policy Advisor, S/GWI, Department of State

Nayab currently serves as a Foreign Affairs Officer/Regional Policy Advisor covering the South and Central Asia portfolio for The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI).  Prior to joining S/GWI she previously served for two and half years at The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP).  In addition to her job duties, Nayab also serves as the President for CCEP, Council for Career Enhancement and Professionalization, one of the employee Affinity groups at the Department.  Before her time at State Nayab served as a Public Affairs Intern with the state of Pennsylvania’s third-largest hospital system and before that she also did internships in the public sector and pursued short-term opportunities overseas in Pakistan while pursuing her first grad school degree. In the past, Ms. Khan worked with an NGO that works with the UN Department of Public Information and also worked as a Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and held various roles in the nonprofit sector. She is currently a student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and is pursuing her second master’s degree in Public Administration.  In addition to pursuing her MPA degree at Columbia University, she also holds an MBA degree with a focus in Management and Data Analytics, which she completed in 2017, and an additional certificate in Human Resources, having completed in 2019. In addition to her graduate education, she earned her B.A. from Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs in International Relations, with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. Ms. Khan is originally from Lehigh Valley PA and in her free time enjoys cooking, kickboxing, yoga, and traveling. She has an affinity for meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and languages. In addition to English, she speaks Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi fluently and is currently learning Farsi as time permits.  In the past, she has studied Arabic and Spanish and considers herself a servant leader who is committed to making not only the world a better place, but one that is a more inclusive and diverse place for all.

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