Caren Grown is Senior Gender Advisor in the Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning, where she leads USAID’s efforts to integrate gender equality and female empowerment throughout the agency’s policies and programs. Dr. Grown is on leave as Economist-In-Residence at American University, where she also co-directed the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics. Formerly, she was Senior Scholar and Co-Director of the Gender Equality and Economy Program at The Levy Economics Institute at Bard College and Director of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Governance team at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). She is the author of several books on gender issues in trade, public finance, and development, and her articles have appeared in World Development, Journal of International Development, Feminist Economics, Health Policy and Planning, and The Lancet.
Sarah Thorn is primarily responsible for managing international policy issues at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In this capacity, she advocates for Walmart priorities in legislation and trade negotiations that impact the company’s worldwide sourcing and retail distribution rights. Sarah also led the strategy team that developed Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, which is focused on empowering women throughout Walmart’s global supply chain. Before joining Walmart, Sarah worked at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and served as an international relations representative with AMP Incorporated. She holds a Master of Arts degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative area studies and comparative literature cum laude from Duke University.
Elizabeth A. Vazquez is the CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International, a global non-profit that helps to facilitate sustainable economic growth by increasing opportunities for women-owned businesses to succeed in the global value chain. The WEConnect International network represents over $700 billion in annual purchasing power. As the CEO of WEConnect International, Ms. Vazquez is responsible for working with partners in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, China and Peru. She has been a speaker and conducted numerous trainings on globalization, value chains, diversity and inclusivity, trade, technology, advocacy, certification, and women’s entrepreneurship. She has a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she studied development economics and international negotiation as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.
Sourcing from women-owned businesses increases supplier diversity for multinational retailers such as Walmart, for whom the majority of employees and customers are women. Yet there are still a range of challenges to be overcome before many women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can meet the standards of shifting global supply chains. In this seminar, Caren Grown of USAID will moderate a panel discussion with Sarah Thorn of Walmart and Elizabeth Vazquez of WEConnect on early lessons learned from Walmart’s initiative to double sourcing from women-owned businesses globally, especially in the context of developing countries. Following presentations by the panelists, there will be a moderated discussion, with both the in-person and webinar audiences.