Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women's World Banking (WWB), the world's largest network of microfinance institutions and banks. Ms. Iskenderian leads the WWB global team, based in New York, in providing hands-on technical services and strategic support to 39 top-performing microfinance institutions and banks in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. WWB network members are diverse in geography, size and structure but are united in the firm belief that microfinance must remain committed to helping poor women access innovative financial products and services and information. WWB's network members consistently rate among the top three microfinance institutions in their countries serving more than 26 million clients, 80 percent of whom are women.
Ms. Iskenderian joined WWB in 2006 and has continued to strengthen the organization's position as the pre-eminent voice for women's leadership and participation in microfinance. WWB, under Ms. Iskenderian's leadership, works to ensure that women continue to be represented in this evolving industry as both clients and leaders.
Ms. Iskenderian has more than 20 years of experience in building global financial systems throughout the developing world. She is a leading voice for women's leadership and participation in microfinance, and a strong advocate for the role of capital markets in the sector. Ms. Iskenderian has spoken widely on microfinance at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Wharton and at numerous industry and banking forums including the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the Council on Foreign Relations and European Microfinance Week. She has been published in Forbes magazine and the Wall Street Journal and is frequently quoted in the media, including Reuters, Newsweek, Time, BBC News and the Atlantic.
Her recent awards include the 2009-2010 NYU Stern's Distinguished Citi Fellowship in Leadership and Ethics, the 2009 Isabel Benham Award from the Women's Bond Club, and the companion 2009 Women's Finance Award given by the Institute of Financial Services at Lucerne University, Switzerland.
Ms. Iskenderian serves on the Board of Directors of Kashf Microfinance Bank in Pakistan and is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was a topic leader in the area of "Empowering Girls and Women" for the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and is a judge for the IFC / Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards.
Prior to WWB, Ms. Iskenderian worked for 17 years in senior management at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, where her numerous leadership positions included Director of Partnership Development, Director of the Global Financial Markets Portfolio and Director of the South Asia Regional Department. Previously, she worked for the investment bank Lehman Brothers.
Ms. Iskenderian holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in International Economics from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.