11/02/2010 02:04 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Caught in the Act: Diana Rowan Rockefeller Empowers Afghan Women to Lead (VIDEO)

Empowering and educating women is crucial to the development and improvement of societies all around the world. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting a leader in women's activism: Diana Rowan Rockefeller, founder of Afghan Leaders Connect.

Connect identifies and supports effective Afghan women-led nonprofits that deliver vital service to Afghan communities. Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Connect has invested $1 million in nearly 40 nonprofits, raising funds from over 40 donors. Highlights include smal business training courses and fast track classes to mainstream older girls into school, as well as projects that increase female voter participation and advocate against domestic violence and child marriage. Connect also funded the first women's resource center in Bamiyan and a center in Jalalabad, offering women a centralized, safe location to gain skills and literacy.

I recently met up with Diana in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to discuss Connect's most recent project: an innovative model that gives seven nonprofits one year of hands-on technical assistance by the Afghanistan Center for Training and Development to improve business practices.

How YOU can help:

Visit to learn how you can:

• Volunteer your time
• Help to conduct outreach
• Host an event
• Make a financial contribution

"Connect is an excellent example of an organization, which has the instincts and skills to identify good, productive indigenous Afghan NGOs and has shown the patience, imagination and empathy to help them flourish. In a development environment too often characterized by high rhetoric and waste, Connect is a model of an intelligent, powerful and respectful approach to development."
-Rory Stewart, British Member of Parliament, Trustee of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, and Author of NY Times bestseller The Places in Between (an account of his solo walk across Afghanistan)