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Stephenie Foster
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Stephenie Foster is an international expert on political participation and the role of women in policy advocacy. She has over 25 years of experience in domestic and international policy advocacy, government affairs, program development and training, and law. Since 1997, Stephenie has participated in numerous international programs and projects sponsored by the United States State Department, the Vital Voices Global Partnership, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and others. This work has focused on programs to increase core civic engagement skills, strategic planning, corporate governance and project planning and management.

Based on her experience in the design and evaluation of training programs, Stephenie has authored two manuals for Vital Voices, Advocacy and Running for Office: A Training Manual for Women and Ending Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking: A Guide to New Strategies (with Cindy Dyer), both published in March 2010. Her international work has taken her to more than 20 countries, covering every region of the world, and she has also trained numerous groups who have traveled to the US.

Prior to starting her consulting practice, Stephenie was Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at Legacy (formerly the American Legacy Foundation), where she focused on advancing the public health mission of Legacy with government officials, and was widely credited with building a strong and effective government affairs presence for Legacy.

Before joining Legacy, Stephenie served as Chief of Staff to two United States Senators (Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT)) and was appointed by President Clinton as General Counsel of the U. S. General Services Administration. Stephenie also served as the Vice President for Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).

Stephenie has served on community and organizational boards; she is currently a member of the board of directors of Women Thrive Worldwide and the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum. She also has experience in facilitating the interests of a variety of stakeholders as they endeavor to move toward a common goal.

Stephenie is an attorney by training and was a litigation partner at Steefel, Levitt & Weiss in San Francisco, California. She received a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.R.P. from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of California. She is also a Professorial Lecturer at the Women & Politics Institute at American University in Washington, DC where she teaches courses on women and public policy.

Entries by Stephenie Foster

On My Watch, Leadership, Innovation, and Personal Resilience

(3) Comments | Posted October 22, 2013 | 10:59 AM

Martha Johnson is passionate about innovation, creative and effective management and organizational culture change, and that radiates from her newly released book, On My Watch, Leadership, Innovation, and Personal Resilience. Martha Johnson is also a great leader. I should know. I worked for her twice: once in the Clinton Administration...

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Let's Lean In and Reach Out

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2013 | 5:13 PM

I just finished Sheryl Sandberg's bestselling book, Lean In. I know I am a bit late to the discussion, but I was out of the country for the past year! And, in any event, this isn't a book review.

I've read both criticism and praise for the...

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A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story

(0) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 3:03 PM

Afghanistan is a country full of compelling stories and people with unfathomable resilience against all odds. Qais Akbar Omar is one of the people with a compelling story, and his book, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story, is gripping. The backdrop of his story -- indeed much...

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Judging the Jessup in Afghanistan

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 9:39 AM

Stories about Afghanistan are often told in large set pieces about war, violence and regional history. And, in fact, those stories are critical to understanding the region, the country and the life that people live. But I am attracted to the small stories, the details that can easily be missed....

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5 Books on Afghanistan Worth Your Time

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 6:47 AM

I'm on an email list where, at each year end, we exchange lists of books we recommend to each other. This year, I decided to focus on books about Afghanistan, frankly because so many people ask me how to best learn about the country. This is in no way a...

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Sitting Down with Olympian Lorrie Fair: Reflections on Afghanistan

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2012 | 11:57 AM

U.S. Sports Diplomacy Envoy, Olympian and World Cup Champion Lorrie Fair visited Kabul, Afghanistan over Thanksgiving to show her support for Afghan women, and particularly Afghan women athletes, who face cultural, economic and security challenges but are dedicated to their sport. While in Afghanistan, Fair hosted sports clinics and discussions...

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Women Key to Shaping Afghanistan's Future

(0) Comments | Posted October 16, 2012 | 10:04 AM

Afghanistan has made significant progress over the last ten years, and in particular, Afghan women and girls have made great strides. Millions of girls are in school; the maternal mortality rate has dropped; and health care is being delivered to many more women and children. There are women Cabinet ministers...

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92 Years and Voting

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2012 | 8:58 AM

August 26 is Women's Equality Day, the 92nd Anniversary of women's right to vote in the United States. This remarkable day marks the culmination of years of struggle by women across America to exercise the fundamental democratic right to participate in decisions that are made by the people we elect...

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Building Blocks to Increase Women's Economic & Political Progress

(0) Comments | Posted July 4, 2012 | 3:02 PM

Virtually every day, someone asks me about how to engage women in projects and work in the economic or social spheres. My answer is always that women -- 50% of any country's population -- are critical to progress that benefits everyone in a society. Often, the conversation then turns to...

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U.N. Women's Michelle Bachelet: An Effective Advocate for the World's Women

(10) Comments | Posted May 14, 2012 | 4:48 PM

U.N. undersecretary Michelle Bachelet wasn't on the recently released Time 100 Most Influential People of 2012, but she's certainly on my list of the most influential people in the world. For those of you who don't know her, Bachelet is the first Executive Director of U.N. Women, and...

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The Lady and the Peacock: Aung San Suu Kyi and the Politics of Burma

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2012 | 5:34 PM

Peter Popham, the author of The Lady and the Peacock, a spellbinding biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, has great timing. Burma and Suu Kyi are in headlines, in large part because of Suu Kyi's compelling personal story and her party's electoral sweep in Burma's recent parliamentary by-elections. After the...

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Women's History Month: 5 Ways You Can Make a Difference this March

(3) Comments | Posted March 22, 2012 | 12:14 PM

March is Women's History Month, so there will be lots of events and celebrations celebrating women. There are so many inspiring stories of great work, often against overwhelming odds, to break down barriers to women's full participation in society, whether those barriers were created by social and cultural norms, laws...

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Women Advance the Fundamentals for Haiti's Future

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 12:10 PM

I just returned from Haiti, where I was working with women, convened by the Haitian group Femmes en Democratie, to develop a women's policy platform. In Creole, "nap vanse" means we advance, and it is critical that Haitians move forward together to build a stronger country and a...

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Cameroon's Kah Walla on Her Candidacy, the Arab Spring and More

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2012 | 4:50 PM

Last year, my friend and colleague, Kah Walla, ran for the presidency in Cameroon on the Cameroon People's Party line. I talked to her about that run, the Arab Spring and the challenges Africa faces. In her words, "change is such a simple word... and so difficult to...

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Hearts on Fire: Lighting the Spark for Social Change

(2) Comments | Posted January 31, 2012 | 3:00 PM

We live in complicated times and face a raft of tough and interconnected problems, from making sure that communities prosper to ensuring that people have access to health care and education and live in a clean and safe environment. But, as we all know, solutions at times seem ephemeral and...

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Eating Sushi in Yemen

(0) Comments | Posted January 30, 2012 | 3:17 PM

Yes, I did eat great sushi in Yemen, while there working on a project to address deficiencies in girls' education. Surprising, I know, because Yemen is not known for sushi. It's known for many other things: gorgeous stained glass windows, an amazing Old City, the bombing of the USS Cole,...

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12 Days Of Giving To Support Women And Girls Globally

(0) Comments | Posted December 25, 2011 | 7:46 PM

As we begin the Twelve Days of Christmas, and mark the fifth night of Hanukah, here are some organizations I recommend that help create sustainable change for women and girls worldwide. Happy holidays, with many wishes for a better world.

For the first day ("partridge in a pear tree"):

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Fighting Modern Day Slavery One Step at a Time

(1) Comments | Posted December 1, 2011 | 5:38 PM

Efforts to combat trafficking are diverse and growing. Businesses, NGOs, academics, politicians, governments and individuals all have a role to play.

It's worth setting out the basics. "Human trafficking" is an umbrella term for the issues of forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, debt bondage among migrant laborers, involuntary domestic...

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Afghan Young People Key To Their Country's Future

(0) Comments | Posted October 10, 2011 | 12:50 PM

I just returned from a two week trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, where I was working on a project focusing on reaching women as voters, candidates and election officials as the country plans for its next election in 2013. It was a challenging time for Afghanistan, as the attack on the...

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Women and the Arab Spring: What's Next?

(2) Comments | Posted September 20, 2011 | 11:59 AM

Revolutions have consequences.

Since the beginning of the year, we've seen longstanding and repressive regimes fall in North Africa, and continuing protests across the Middle East and Gulf. In real time, we are watching people struggle with how to structure new institutions, build democratic governments and rebuild (or build)...

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