Kim Arena, Events and Program Manager
Kim joined WOMEN’S WAY as the Development Officer in November 2012. In this role she leads in the planning and implementation of all special events including the Fall Gala and the Powerful Voice Awards. Kim also provides leadership to the WOMEN’S WAY Young Women’s Initiative. She fostered her passion for women’s rights early on while spending her summers working in case management, and later while interning at Women Against Abuse. Prior to WOMEN’S WAY, Kim worked in association management where she assisted four nonprofit associations by planning annual conferences and supporting the memberships’ daily needs. She holds a B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from Messiah College. Kim lives in Manayunk with her high school sweetheart turned husband and cat, Stella.
Gwen Hersh, Director of Development
Gwen Hersh joined WOMEN’S WAY as the Director of Development in November 2014. Gwen is responsible for overseeing the organization’s fundraising and development activities. Prior to joining WOMEN’S WAY, Gwen was the Director of Development and Communications at CareLink Community Support Services. Previously, Gwen worked with various charities in London, UK, raising awareness and funds for organizations focusing on Veterans services and homelessness. Gwen holds a B.A. from Rider University in Journalism, a M.S. in Public Communication from Drexel University and a M.A. in Event Marketing and Management from London Metropolitan University. Gwen lives in Queen Village with a very energetic puppy and spends her free time planning her next international adventure.
Debasri Ghosh, Director of Education and Communications
Debasri enthusiastically joined WOMEN’S WAY in July of 2012. In her role, Debasri is responsible for broadening the WOMEN'S WAY community through public education programming and providing leadership to the organization's public policy/advocacy initiatives. Additionally, she oversees the agency’s branding, communications and public relations. Debasri is passionate about WOMEN’S WAY’s dynamic mission, having spent the last ten years working to improve the social conditions of her beloved Philadelphia. Prior to WOMEN'S WAY, Debasri worked to empower women and girls in a variety of settings, most recently serving as the Director of Education and Community Relations at Women In Transition. Debasri’s diverse experience includes gender-based violence prevention, coalition-building, nonprofit communications, direct service delivery, community organizing and fundraising. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and has been recognized as a Visionary Leader by the Valentine Foundation. A fluent bengali speaker, she has served on the Executive Committee of the Bengali Cultural Society of South Jersey and currently serves on the Board of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. Debasri lives in South Philly with her charming husband and their grumpy cat.
Pam Jones, Manager of Database Systems
Pam joined the WOMEN’S WAY staff a little over 14 years ago. She began her time with WOMEN’S WAY as the front desk person before changing hats to become the Manager of Database Systems. You can generally find her tucked behind her computer processing names and numbers or, on occasion, looking reproachfully at the screen as she engages Ctrl+Alt+Delete. She received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Temple University and has a passion for writing, science, logic and PBS. When not juggling names, numbers and computer keys, Pam spends her time with friends and family, creating confections, snapping pictures and meeting the rigorous challenges of yoga, Pilates and aqua boot camp! Pam makes her home in Germantown where she routinely tries out her baked goods on unsuspecting neighbors.
Shelly Kessler, Interim Executive Director
Shelly Kessler joined WOMEN’S WAY as the Interim Executive Director in July 2015. She has worked as a nonprofit leader and consultant for over twenty-five years, and has deep expertise in strategy and business planning, organizational and leadership development, as well as program planning and assessment. Shelly also has experience serving as an interim executive director, with a particular focus on smoothly guiding nonprofits through leadership transitions. In addition to her work with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, Shelly has had a special interest in work related to gender issues for decades, beginning with creating income generating programs for village women in India while at CARE, consulting with groups around stopping the sex slavery trade globally, assessing reproductive rights programs in the US, and developing a business plan for a girl's resilience program both in the US and Kenya.
Romana Lee-Akiyama, Director of Grantmaking and Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives
Romana Lee-Akiyama enthusiastically joined WOMEN’S WAY as the Director of Grantmaking and Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives in June 2014. Romana is responsible for overseeing the Community Women’s Fund and WOMEN’S WAY Action Partners portfolios, as well as managing a technical assistance program for funded agencies. Prior to joining the organization, Romana was the Director of Capacity Building at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, where she focused on strengthening the nonprofit sector in the region. Romana started her career at the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, where she grew in her passion for advancing economic and racial justice in distressed communities, and then carried her passion to the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development based in Washington, DC, as their Deputy Director. Romana is the Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Chapter of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and is excited to support the diversity and inclusion efforts at WOMEN’S WAY. In her role, she hopes to further the organization’s critical examination of the intersections of race, gender and other differences in society. Romana holds a B.A. from Tufts University in International Relations and both an M.S.S. and a Master of Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. Romana lives in the University City section of West Philadelphia with her husband and daughter, and spends her summers swimming laps at the local pool.
Diana Marques, Public Policy and Advocacy Manager
Diana joined WOMEN’S WAY as the Public Policy and Advocacy Manager in July of 2014. In this role she leads in the planning of the yearly policy agenda and implementation of WOMEN’S WAY’s priority advocacy initiatives. Diana developed her passion for women’s issues while first working in the public sector for the Pennsylvania State Legislature as a Legislative Assistant and Research Analyst before moving into the nonprofit sector. Diana most recently served as the Policy and Publications Analyst for Pathways PA, where she participated in coalitions addressing economic self-sufficiency, health care access and other pressing issues affecting women and families. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Moravian College and is currently pursuing her MSW at Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Research. Diana lives in Radnor Township, where she enjoys the picturesque scenery, but always loves coming into the city!
Isabel Rieser, Office Manager
Isabel joined WOMEN'S WAY in September 2014 as the part time Office Manager. She loves supporting the dedicated women in their drive to support the organizations which empower women and girls. With her passion for equal rights for women and girls, people of color, LGBT folks and other groups, Isabel feels very much at home among her colleagues at WOMEN'S WAY. She is quickly becoming a whiz at bending the office machines to her will. When not locked in mortal combat with machines or various papers, she can be found at home with her long-time partner, Netflix, or singing musical medleys with her roommate in the kitchen.
Mary Scout, Controller
Mary has been the Controller at WOMEN’S WAY for over 16 years. She is a CPA and started her career at PriceWaterhouse in 1965 and then was with the Pitcairn Company in Jenkintown for over 17 years. In the 1980s, Mary served on WOMEN’S WAY’s Board of Directors. Mary is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She serves WOMEN’S WAY as its parliamentarian and also serves the NJ PTA and Dance Masters of America. Mary enjoys working with the young women at WOMEN’S WAY who are committed to the mission of the organization. It is WOMEN’S WAY’s mission that keeps Mary involved with the organization. Mary has served on the Boards of several women’s organization and is currently treasurer for her church. She is a graduate of Drexel University with a degree in Accounting. Mary is married and resides in Medford, NJ where she enjoys baking.