Our Staff

Women of the World provides hope, support, supplies, education, and positivity to hundreds of women refugees and their families. We are proud of our team and their tireless efforts to continue to empower the forcibly displaced women of Utah throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As community health workers, we are on the front lines to support families during this time of crisis.

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SAMIRA HARNISH

Founder & Executive Director

 

Samira came from her native Iraq to America to study engineering. After getting her degree from Utah State, she worked for 17 years as an R&D engineer at the largest domestic manufacturer of semiconductor memory.

 

Samira founded Women of the World to fulfill a lifelong dream of helping women achieve self-sufficiency and her leadership has enabled WoW to become the preeminent women’s refugee service organization in Utah. Her leadership in the community resulted in being tapped by the SLC Mayor for planning committee leadership in preparation for the 2019 United Nations Civil Society Conference, where she also spoke on making peaceful societies.

 

Samira has received local, national, and international recognition for her service and non-profit leadership including: The Enlightened 50 Award from the Utah Community Foundation, the 2014 Salt Lake City Human Rights Award, the 2016 Ruby Award from the Soroptomists of Utah, the 2017 Emerald Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement, the 2019 American Red Cross Global Citizenship Hero Award, and the 2021 Utah Business Magazine’s Business Woman of the Year. In 2018, she was awarded the America’s Region Nansen Award from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland, she was chosen from over 450 international nominees. Samira serves as an Advisory Director for the Tanner Center for Human Rights.

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ZACH MALCARNE
Operations Manager

 

Zach joined the Women of the World team in 2020 and is excited to contribute to the community! He is a graduate of Utah State University with a BA in International Business and a BS in Environmental & Natural Resource Economics. Zach has worked in Ghana in Small Business Development facilitating microloans to rural communities with an emphasis on business plan development and sustainability. During his studies, he took advantage of international opportunities and developed a love for the world and its amazing cultures! In 2018, Zach was awarded an NSEP David L. Boren Scholarship which allowed him to live and study in the United Arab Emirates for one year. There he studied resources scarcity, Arabic, and international trade.

He has worked at many international, local, and governmental companies and institutions and is happy to be at Women of the World working directly with our amazing clients!

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Ryan Cook 
Operations Manager

 

Ryan finished her Masters at the London School of Economics studying Anthropology and Development. She found anthropology combined her passions of history, languages and the arts into one subject that focused on human complexities. In her experience, she has learned that sustainable change best comes from striving to learn about the vast and beautiful cultural differences that exist around the world. In the past, she has worked and done research with Amazonian Indigenous groups in Ecuador and with various cultural groups and NGOs in the US, UK, the Philippines and in Uganda. The majority of Ryan's past experiences revolved around empowering women in their surroundings and she is excited to bring what she has learned to the growth and support of Women of the World. 

 

She believes every encounter with someone new is an opportunity to learn and when not working is outside far more than inside.

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LUZ MARIA CARRENO
Senior Case Manager

 

As the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Luz has always been passionate about serving New Americans. After graduating from Utah State University with a BA in Sociology, Luz served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering refugee and immigrant communities in Logan, Utah. During her time as a VISTA, Luz focused her efforts on an after-school program called Galaxy Club. Galaxy Club provided homework help, college preparedness, service activities, and young female empowerment programs to refugee and immigrant youth.

 

Luz lived in Thailand for two years teaching English at Mae Fah Luang University as a Princeton in Asia fellow. Apart from being a Case Manager at Women of the World, Luz volunteers as a Crisis Counselor at Crisis Text Line. Luz is eager to be part of Women of the World and is looking forward to getting to know the women of WoW.

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GHINWA HNEIDE
Case Manager

 

Ever since she was a child, Ghinwa felt an urge to extend help to anyone in need. After graduating with a degree in English Literature from University of Damascus, she turned that urge into a career when she joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in her home country of Syria. In that capacity, Ghinwa helped refugees leave their shattered lives behind and head towards a brighter future in the United States through resettlement.

When the Syrian Civil War began, Ghinwa moved to the United States where she obtained a Master's degree in Coexistence and Conflict Resolution at one of the top ten social policy and management schools in the country, Brandeis University. Now, as part of WoW team, Ghinwa is doing what she has always been passionate about, helping others!

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ROXIE HARSHBARGER

Case Manager

 

Roxie is originally from Indianapolis, IN but has lived across the country and the world in Dakar, Senegal; Hamburg, Germany; Alaska, Wyoming and now in Utah. In addition to English, she speaks German, French and is working on learning Spanish! Roxie received a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies with a concentration in Human Rights and International Law from Indiana University and is passionate about immigration policy and community development. Her experience includes interning at La Revue Diplomatique magazine in Dakar and the ACLU of Utah, and she has worked with folks who are unhoused and at the Utah Refugee Services Office.

 

When she is not at work, she loves to be outside in the mountains or the desert, volunteering in the community, traveling, or spending time with friends. She is looking forward to meeting you!

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RACHEL THORNTON

Program Development, AmeriCorps VISTA

 

Rachel joined Women of the World in January 2021. Her mixed Asian American heritage brought her to appreciate cultural diversity from a young age. She recently graduated from Virginia Tech, where she earned a BS in Applied Economics and conducted socioeconomic research with Ecuador’s Ministry of Agriculture and National Institute of Agricultural Research. She was also afforded the opportunity to further her Spanish linguistics while studying abroad in Costa Rica.

 

Outside of research and academics, Rachel served as the leader of a collegiate women's organization, where she raised awareness and funds for a local child-advocacy nonprofit, NRV Cares, and their national counterpart, Prevent Child Abuse America. Rachel is looking forward to developing customized empowerment programs for staff and advocating for women of WoW.