Mary Ellen Iskenderian

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Mary Ellen Iskenderian
Mary Ellen Iskenderian Headshot.jpg
President and CEO of Women's World Banking

Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women's World Banking, the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks.[1]

Iskenderian leads Women's World Banking's global team, based in New York, in providing technical services and strategic support to 39 microfinance institutions and banks in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.[2] Iskenderian joined the organization in 2006.

Iskenderian has more than 20 years of experience in building global financial systems throughout the developing world. She is a strong advocate for moving microfinance beyond credit by providing low-income women with a full suite of financial products and services and a proponent for the role of responsible investment in the microfinance sector. Iskenderian has spoken widely on microfinance at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Wharton and at numerous industry and banking forums including the annual conference of Cercle des économistes, the Council on Foreign Relations, the IDB Foromic and the Microcredit Summit. She has been published in Forbes magazine and The Wall Street Journal;[3] is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review blog; and is frequently quoted in the media, including the Financial Times, Newsweek, Time, BBC News and the Atlantic.[4]

Prior to joining Women's World Banking, Iskenderian was a senior manager at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group and held leadership positions including Director of Partnership Development, Director of Global Financial Markets Portfolio and Director of the South Asia Regional Department. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Kashf Microfinance Bank in Pakistan and is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves as an Advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative and is a judge for the annual Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards. She was also recently invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a member of the US delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) 2011 Women and the Economy Summit.[5] Iskenderian is a past recipient of NYU Stern’s Distinguished Citi Fellowship in Leadership and Ethics,[6] the Isabel Benham Award from the Women’s Bond Club, and the companion Women’s Finance Award given by the Institute of Financial Services at Lucerne University, Switzerland. Previously, she worked for the investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Iskenderian holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a B.S. in International Economics from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.


  1. ^ "Gates Foundation allocates $38M in banking grants". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 13 January 2010. Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "What We Do | Women's World Banking". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  3. ^ "Five Lessons for the Microfinance Industry - The Source - WSJ". 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  4. ^ "Thinking Big-and Small: Mary Ellen Iskenderian". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  5. ^ "APEC Women and the Economy Summit" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  6. ^ "NYU Stern | News | NYU Stern's Citi Leadership & Ethics Program Selects Mary Ellen Iskenderian as Distinguished Fellow". 2009-11-12. Retrieved 2014-02-02.