"Our focus is poverty reduction and giving women hope, self-esteem and the ability to control their lives and destinies."
- Winifred Cox, Co-Founder, Women's Empowerment International
Board of Directors
Melissa Bond, JD, MPA
Melissa is Director of the Community Justice Initiative of the Office of the San Diego City Attorney, managing and supervising a portfolio of diversion and alternative sentencing programs that promotes restorative justice principles in the criminal justice system. She was previously Senior Program Manager of the Women’s Entrepreneurship NYC Initiative, managing two financial inclusion programs related to credit and capital planning. In this role, her team served 1,500 women entrepreneurs, in a first-of-its kind economic development model in an American city. Committed to women's rights issues and social justice, Melissa enthusiastically serves on the WE Board and is a member of the Research and Education team. Melissa received an AB from Brown University; JD from Yeshiva University, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; and an MPA from Columbia University.
Judith Fullerton, Ph.D., CNM, FACNM
Judith's educational background and career experience allow her to bring an international perspective to WE’s deliberations. She offers broad experience in measurement and project evaluation in both developed and developing countries. She is a retired Professor of UCSD School of Medicine and the University of Texas El Paso, College of Health Sciences, and currently serves as an international consultant of midwifery, reproductive health, measurement and evaluation for such agencies as PCI, USAID, Jhpiego, International Confederation of Midwives and the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization. She has conducted independent research in the measurement of reproductive health outcomes. She received the American College of Nurse-Midwives 2015 Dorothea M. Lang Pioneer Award, and the 2000 Hattie Hemschemeyer Award (ACNM’s highest individual honor), and the National Perinatal Association’s 2006 Stanley Graven Award (NPA’s highest individual honor in recognition of a life-body of work). Judith sustains her personal and professional commitment to caring for women through engagement in WE’s mission, and by contributing her expertise in measurement as a strategy for documentation of project outcomes and impact.
Tracy Johnson, M.Ed., LPCC, CFRM
Tracy works for UC San Diego as the Director of Development for the Arts & Humanities division. For the past 10 years, she served as Executive Director of San Diego Women’s Foundation. She just wrapped up her term on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network, a national organization supporting the creation, development, and expansion of women’s collective giving nationwide. Tracy’s background includes extensive experience in non-profit management, philanthropy and social service. Previously, Tracy was the director of sexual assault services at the Center for Community Solutions’ Rape Crisis Center in San Diego. In 2010 she was nominated as a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, in 2011 was named as a finalist for “San Diego’s Young Influential” award, and in 2005 was awarded the San Diego County SART “Response with a Heart” award. She holds a Masters of Education in Counseling degree from the University of Maine and is a California State Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.
Deborah Jean McGraw, M.A., Research Methodology and International Trade
Debbie has been a long-time friend of Women's Empowerment. Since 2014 she has served as the Chair of the Finance Committee and currently is a liaison to WE partner project, ESTIMA. She recently retired from UCSD, where from 1998 to 2015 she was Assistant Vice Chancellor for Resource Administration for the office of UCSD Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Previously, she was Assistant Dean for Fiscal Affairs for the School of Medicine from 1985 to 1998. Debbie received her Master of Arts from the University of Denver, Graduate School of International Studies and Public Policy, focused on Research Methodology and International Trade. She also has been an active volunteer in San Diego for Catholic Charities of San Diego, San Diego Creative Weavers Guild, and Sandy Point Homeowners Association.
Winifred Cox is Co-President of WE and a Co-Founder of WE, Chair of the Fundraising Committee, a member of the Finance Committee, and a Co-Founder of a WE Giving Circle. She is a partner of Cox & Associates Communications, a full-service public relations agency. Previously she was the public relations director of the University of California, San Diego, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and Crosby-Arens Advertising.
Julie Freeman is a licensed marriage and family therapist with an emphasis in women's empowerment and transformational development. She has extensive experience working in trauma with clients from around the world, and is passionate about gender equality, social justice and human rights. She is particularly interested in the empowerment potential of greater educational and microfinance opportunities for women. She is thrilled to be serving an organization that has a positive impact on the lives of women both locally and internationally. Julie currently serves on the Fundraising Committee.
Christy Hendrickson M.D. has an educational background in Psychology, Emergency Medicine, and Educational Therapy. She worked for 20 years as an Emergency Room physician and the last 15 years as an Educational Therapist. She served on the Board of SD International Dyslexia Association and was a speaker at multiple dyslexia conferences. Having retired this past year, she now volunteers at a non-profit in Solana Beach that offers after school tutoring to the Hispanic community. She has been an ardent supporter of WE since its inception and has held four introductory groups to spread the word. She made a WE site visit to the Grameen de la Frontera project in Sonora, Mexico where she was impressed by the hard work loan clients committed to improving their lives. She embraces the model of microfinance as a sustainable option for helping women help themselves out of poverty and would be honored to serve on the board of WE.
Annie Wuerth Lieberman's extensive experience in national and local political, governmental and non-profit sectors reflects her strong commitment to empowering women. The Corporate Citizenship Representative for Northrop Grumman, Annie previously served as Director of Individual Philanthropy at Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Director of Protocol for the US Secretary of Defense, Development Director for Vital Voices Global Partnership, and Director of the Women's Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee.
Carol Clause is a past President of WE and has served as secretary and co-chair of the Board Development committee. She was a Marriage and Family Therapist who worked with the YMCA for 25 years. While she now spends most of her time in efforts to fulfill the mission of WE, she also volunteers and supports several other philanthropic organizations. Carol has a great passion for empowering women and is inspired by how, with both financial and social support, they can more fully realize their potential. Their efforts not only improve their own lives, but also positively impact the lives of their families and communities.
Ruth Covell is associate dean emeritus and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health (V) at the UCSD School of Medicine. Her passion for the underserved/stigmatized is reflected in her long time board involvement with San Ysidro Health Center which she helped establish, the Epilepsy Foundation, Mental Health America, PCI (Project Concern International) and the Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled. Her involvement with WE is the result of her admiration of Win Cox and what she and the impressive army of WE volunteers have achieved.
Jean Fort, a WE Founding Director, is Vice President for WE's programs and partnerships with microfinance organizations and is a member of the Finance and Research and Education committees. She is retired from UCSD where she served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies. With long-standing interests in international affairs and social justice, Jean has a strong desire to help reduce poverty.
Janet Hamilton has been Secretary of WE for three years and is a member of the Infrastructure and Fundraising committees. A retired executive assistant, Jan brings exceptional organizational, communications and team-oriented skills to her volunteer work for WE. She was drawn to WE for its dedication to the poorest of the poor, its personal contacts with microfinance partners and clients, and because even the smallest donations can help women work their way out of poverty.
Rhea Kuhlman is WE's current President. She has served as co-liaison for WE’s pilot San Diego micro-savings program in partnership with Project Concern International, and is a past board member and Treasurer of WE. She is a rare book dealer and appraiser, and participates in numerous volunteer activities in her spare time. She is committed to the economic, social and political empowerment of impoverished women both here and abroad, and feels privileged to have the opportunity to serve with an outstanding San Diego based organization such as WE, which has had positive impacts both locally and internationally.
Teresa Wang, M.B.A., brings 25 years of experience in financial, business requirement analysis and project management to her role as a Director for WE. She currently serves as Treasurer. Teresa is a Project Manager for Terra Vista Software and has held numerous positions in finance, product development and clients relations over the course of her career. Teresa also brings international experience and perspective having lived abroad for 12 years. She is fluent in Cantonese and earned her BA from the University of Michigan and MBA from Bowling Green State University.