BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Allison Blais is a Director and Associate General Counsel in Adobe Inc.’s legal department where she leads the company’s mergers and acquisitions, governance, and federal securities law practices. At Adobe, Allison is a member of the legal department’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and serves as a mentor to several female employees. She has also served as a coach for Adobe’s Women’s Leadership Circles program. Prior to joining Adobe, Ms. Blais spent much of her career in the financial sector, including time as a Chief Risk Officer for a broker-dealer and investment advisor and as in-house counsel at the financial regulator, FINRA. She holds a JD and MBA from Quinnipiac University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree with a concentration in Finance from Harvard University.
American Cancer Society
Alexx Goeller was born and raised in Utah. She has been working in the international government and non-profit sector for the past 10 years. She graduated Cum Laude from Westminster College with a degree in International Business and French in 2011. She then went to serve in the United States Peace Corps working on community economic development, particularly through female empowerment, in Senegal from 2012 - 2014.
After her return from Senegal, she began working in the Refugee Services field here in Utah. She managed the youth program at the International Rescue Committee for a year before moving on to working on federal programs, youth programs, grant writing, partnership development and community development for 4 years at the State of Utah Refugee Services Office. During her time working with refugees here in Utah, she also achieved her masters degree from Westminster College in Global Community Leadership and Nonprofit Management. After a harrowing cancer experience where she lost her father in 2019, she left refugee services to pursue a community development management job with the American Cancer Society which is where she works currently. In her personal time, she enjoys reading, writing, cooking, baking, relaxing, hiking, camping, traveling, and exploring with her husband, Leo (newly married in 2020!) and their sweet pitbull, Miss Betty White.
JOELLE KNASHEPOLSKY, MM
Joelle Kanshepolsky, MM is a highly successful fundraiser, consultant, change-maker and inspiring executive leader with 24 years of professional nonprofit experience in: resource development; communications; facilitation; strategy development; capacity building; governance and board relations; and event planning. In the fall of 2013, Joelle established Crossroads Consulting to more formally assist local nonprofits in connecting their mission to results. Prior to establishing her business, Joelle served as Executive Director of Local First Utah and Vice President of Development and Communications at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts.
Joelle is now on staff of Conservation Legacy as the Interim National Development Strategy Director and a consultant with Pathway Associates, supporting local nonprofits.
Most recently, she served as Director of Development and Communications at The Children’s Center as well as Interim CEO. Between 2011 and 2014, Joelle taught nonprofit management as an Adjunct Professor at Westminster College in the Gore School of Business. Joelle has been active in several community organizations including currently serving on the Board of The McGillis School and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, formerly as the Vice President of the Board of Jewish Family Service and chairing the Development Committee, raising funds and supporting Planned Parenthood, and sitting on the Professional Development Committee and a Strategic Planning taskforce at Utah Nonprofits Association. In 2016, Joelle was the recipient of the "Changing Lives" Award from Jewish Family Service.
A first-generation American and daughter of a refugee, Joelle is conversational in Spanish and has lived and volunteered in four different countries, and has traveled to an additional 50. Joelle received her Master's Degree from the Heller School of Management at Brandeis University in 2002 and her BA from Tufts University. Joelle moved to Salt Lake City from Boston in 2008. In her spare time, Joelle enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle, hip hop dancing, reading, being with friends, cooking and baking, traveling, and adventuring with her two children and her husband.
University of Utah
Julie McAdams is an Associate General Counsel at the University of Utah, working in areas such as intellectual property and real estate. Julie graduated from Columbia Law School in 2002 and worked at Baker & McKenzie in New York City until 2005 practicing federal securities compliance and corporate governance. She worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Chief Justice Christine M. Durham of the Utah Supreme Court. Julie is a community mediator and has taught mediation courses as an adjunct law professor at Columbia Law School and the University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law. Julie enjoys spending time with her family, which includes shuttling her four children to and from their extra-curricular activities and cheering them on at their sporting events.
Julie has been an avid supporter of Women of the World since 2015 when she attended an awards ceremony for women who had achieved their self-improvement goals. She loves supporting Women of the World because of its unique, personal approach to empowering refugee, immigrant, and asylee women and girls to achieve self-reliance in Salt Lake City.
Born and educated in the UK, Debbie and her husband emigrated to the US in their twenties. Salt Lake City was where they landed, and where they raised their three children.
Debbie’s UK career was spent in HR, where she also obtained a master’s degree. Once in the US, she followed her passion for art and design and ran her own successful decorative painting business for several years before returning to education and graduating with a second master’s degree in professional communication at Westminster College. She has been in the nonprofit world for 20 years and has worked in senior roles at Make-A-Wish, Children’s Miracle Network and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, where she was Executive Director.
In 2015, personal circumstances took Debbie and her husband back to the UK, where her primary occupation became caring for close family members diagnosed with life-limiting conditions.
During that period she still found time to serve the community as a board member for a local hospice. Debbie returned to Utah in 2020 and, eager to resume her career, recently joined Pathway Associates as a consultant, specializing in event planning. She loves the beauty of Utah and spends much of her spare time outdoors, hiking, snowshoeing, and playing golf. Other pastimes include yoga, reading, music, and cooking, especially for friends and family. Having lived in Paris for a year, Debbie speaks fluent French, has traveled widely internationally, and enjoys learning about new cultures and customs. Debbie is proud to be associated with Women of the World and its compelling mission to support the strong and resilient refugee women who now call Utah their home.
An immigrant from Nepal, Swati is a US-trained Attorney who received both her Juris Doctorate and Undergraduate degrees from Brigham Young University (BYU), Utah. She currently works on the Legal Team at Adobe. Inc. Outside of work, Swati volunteers on various Adobe projects that promote equality, diversity, and cultural awareness.
Swati is an ardent promoter of Human Rights. As a legal intern, she worked at United Nations Development Program-Center for Constitution Development, helping draft the new constitution of Nepal. In that role, she stressed the importance of gender equality, LGBT and Women’s rights, and those of minorities.
Post Law School, Swati worked with top Human Rights Attorneys at Cohen Milstein Seller &Toll, a Washington D.C. based International Plaintiff Law Firm, to represent the families of 12 Nepali workers murdered by terrorists in Iraq. The suit asserts that the Nepali workers were lured to Jordan with the false promise of well-paying hotel jobs, and were then trafficked to Iraq to work for KBR, a US Military contractor. As a little girl in Nepal, Swati remembers being traumatized after watching a video of those murders. Being able to work on their cause years later was a shining moment in her career, and Swati has since dedicated her life to helping those with little to no resources.
After moving back to Utah, Swati had the opportunity to meet and come to love refugee families from all over the world and was deeply inspired by their stories of courage that always brought her to tears. In these interactions, Swati rediscovered her passion for Human Rights and service. Swati is acutely aware of the problems currently faced by the refugee population and continues to work on innovative ways to address their needs, such as transportation, basic healthcare, legal aid, etc. Swati hopes to be able to contribute in many ways to the vision and energy of this remarkable organization and brings herself to serve with unparalleled passion.
Michael Best & Friedrich
Evan Strassberg is a partner with the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich and works out of the firm’s office in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Evan is a civil litigator who holds active licenses in both Utah and California. He has extensive experience in a wide variety of litigation matters. He has successfully argued cases in both the Utah Court of Appeals and the Utah Supreme Court and appears regularly in Utah’s state and federal courts. He is also frequently published and regularly speaks on cutting-edge legal issues, including the latest developments in cryptocurrency litigation, as well as the regulatory enforcement and legal landscape surrounding cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offerings.
Evan was raised in Salt Lake City and received both his Bachelor’s and Law degrees from the University of Utah. He currently resides in Sandy, Utah with his wife, two children, and three dogs. Evan serves the Utah legal community as a Co-Chair of the Character and Fitness Committee of the Utah State Bar and as a member of the Utah State Bar Admissions Committee. He also sits on the Utah Supreme Court’s Working Group on Bar Admissions. Evan was introduced to the Utah refugee community through his pro bono work with the Refugee Justice League, and he is thrilled to expand his involvement as a member of the WOW Board of Directors.
Mary was the Director of Creative Services at KUED Channel 7 and host of "Contact," which airs weeknights at 9:55 p.m. on KUED. She is an award-winning writer, journalist, activist, and playwright who has won numerous professional awards including a Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy, as well as honors from the New York Film Festival, PBS, the Society of Professional Journalists, and others. Her first full-length play, “Exposed,” played to sold-out houses and critical acclaim during its 2007 world premiere at Plan B Theatre in Salt Lake City. It was nominated by the American Theatre Critics Association as the best new play produced outside New York. The Deseret Morning News named it the Number One Drama of 2007.
She has worked on issues of peace and social justice for more than 30 years. She was named Wasatch Woman of the Year in Community in 2008 and received a 2014 Utah Women’s Leadership Award from Sundance. She was recognized by the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility in Washington, D.C. For her lifetime work on behalf of downwinders from atomic testing. Since 2009 she has been a host mom to students from the Middle East who come to the United States to learn English and pursue university degrees.
Finicity, A Mastercard Company
Justin Harnish is a writer, engineer, and non-profit co-founder. He is the author of the books “Meaning in the Multiverse: A Skeptic's Guide to a Loving Cosmos” & “Dance to Spawn A Galaxy: Poems of Purpose.”
Justin is a free-range thinker, a futurist, mindfulness practitioner, and a speculative Natural Philosopher.
He studied engineering and philosophy at Montana State University. For the last 21 years has tried to live an examined life: as a semiconductor engineer and technology strategist; as a practitioner of mindfulness; and in service to his community.
Utilizing the life optimizing strategies outlined in Meaning in the Multiverse, Justin helps people detail their passions and align their life and professions to achieve their greater purpose.
Justin serves his community as the Creative Director of Women of the World, a non-profit women refugee service organization he founded with his lovely wife Samira Harnish.
Justin lives with his wife, the UNHCR award-winning non-profit executive, Samira Harnish, and their silky terrier.
Kimberli is passionate about social inequities and strives to impact long-term change in underrepresented communities. As a freelance journalist working in the banking industry, she fell in love with community development - a space where corporate philanthropy intersected with government and the non-profit sector to address social issues. Kimberli has served her communities in many different capacities and takes great pride in her public service.