Women of the World Staff


Samira Harnish
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. The women that WoW serves have gotten advanced educations, continued to be promoted within their companies, formed their own small businesses, and even returned back to their home countries to teach some of the lessons that WoW has taught them. Samira’s life-saving efforts truly have a global reach.

Samira has received local, national, and international recognition for her service 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, and the 2019 Red Cross Heroes Global Citizen Award. 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.


Sarah Gibson
Office Manager

I am excited to join the staff at Women of the World as an Office Manager. I studied International Relations and Diplomacy, with a focus on economic empowerment. I went on to work for a presidential campaign, and then local issue campaigns, to organize, engage, and empower communities at every level to raise their voice for change.

I have seen that investment in women equates to investment in the community at large, and I'm excited to work with an organization that is committed to meeting the needs of such a resilient and beautiful group of women.


McKenzie Cantlon

Experienced Research Assistant with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Strong research professional with a Bachelor’s Degree focused in Political Science, Psychology, Legal Studies from State University of New York University at Buffalo.


Jana Richardson
Case Manager

I have always been focused on working with non-profits with an international scope. I earned two bachelor degrees in International Studies, Mid-Eastern History, and Sociology, with a certification in Criminology and Corrections. Most recently, I developed and piloted the Housing Stability AmeriCorps position at the International Rescue Committee. Now, I am a case manager at Women of the World, where I get to work every day with refugee, immigrant, and other populations of women toward shared goals of empowerment and belonging. I have lived in Salt Lake for about 7 years, previously I lived in Oregon and then New Mexico.

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William Lindsay

I am the new AmeriCorps VISTA at Women of the World. After graduating from University of Utah with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, I volunteered as a Peer Mentor with Youthlinc in 2016. In August, 2018 I was conferred my Master of Science in Cultural and Social Anthropology with an Applied Anthropology specialization from Universiteit van Amsterdam, where I collaborated with local refugee community organizations to learn about integration and the concept of home. Today, I am working with Women of the World to assess refugee women's needs and develop processes to automate the work of Case Management.