Mary Symmonds is an international economic and social development practitioner. She over 30 years of experience working with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its Regional Bureau for Africa specializing on economic and social development in Africa. Mary served in various capacities, including Country Director in Uganda, Deputy Resident Representative (Programme) in Nigeria, Country Advisor in NY. She has lived in seven Sub-Saharan African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe.
Mary’s work experience has focused on both development issues and on developing and managing country programmes as well as building leadership capacities. She has worked on developing programs in such areas as Good Governance, including electoral support, Poverty reduction, micro finance, Crisis response and management, disaster risk reduction and area development. Ms. Symmonds earned a BA in Political Science from Hunter College of the City University of New York and MS in International Affairs (Magna Cum Laude) from the New School for Social Research, focusing on conflict prevention and management. She has also done extensive work on transformational leadership currently works on leadership issues and developing leadership and mentoring programs. She coordinates an initiative aimed at promoting leadership in the Caribbean. She has also partnered on a similar initiative for the Pacific and Oceania. Mary is committed that people should be empowered to live productive and fulfilled lives. Mary is passionate about young people and developing leaders. She is the founder of the Global Leadership Coalition which aims to foster a new brand of leader who is ethical, entrepreneurial, connected to their society and taking actions to transform their society.
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY & GROWTH
Kristin Ellington is an innovative executive with extensive success in managing startups and rapidly evolving businesses. An early digital entrepreneur, Kristin started her career by bringing computer-aided design to the fashion industry, developing the original digital communities for AOL/New Line Cinema, and then launching one of the first successful e-commerce businesses for Time Life Medical. Joining forces with the founders of Funny Garbage, she propelled a tiny creative team into an international powerhouse digital agency. After almost two decades of creating groundbreaking technology, content and digital communities, Kristin was the key architect in the acquisition of the Funny Garbage and led the successful transition of its staff and operations to FROM, The Digital Transformation Agency. Kristin next worked with the British charity Comic Relief, bringing their iconic fundraising campaign Red Nose Day to the United States. Partnering with Walgreens, Mars M&M, NBC and the Gates Foundation, her team raised over $260M for children living in poverty in the US and around the world while establishing an independent base of operations for the US branch of the charity. Most recently, Kristin has launched a consulting business A Call To Act where she supports female entrepreneurs with business strategy, operational planning, brand and market positioning, digital content marketing, and product development.
Kristin has collaborated with Mary Symmonds over the life-span of the Global Leadership Coalition, focusing on growth strategy, entrepreneurship curriculum, and participant communications. Kristin has also led the entrepreneurship training component for two of the Entrepreneurship Challenges and enjoys traveling to Ghana and the Caribbean to develop entrepreneurs on their home ground.