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Evidence shows that gender balanced organizations contribute to diversified discussions and debates, as well as a healthy, productive work climate, which is good for business. This seminar raises the question, whether it is a problem for our corporate and organizational culture – and our GDP – that the innovation sector seemingly does not attract women?

Innovation is where foundations for new businesses are laid out. Innovation and female entrepreneurship empowers women and gives women a strong platform in market economy. In other words, women and innovation comprise an attractive match.

Recent research conducted by international organizations, academia and private sector businesses have found a significant underutilized opportunity for global economic growth by empowering women and promoting gender equality through business and female entrepreneurship. Last year, McKinsey launched the report “The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality Can Add $12 Trilion to Global Growth”, which – among others – found that if women’s participation in the workforce equalled men’s, the world’s GDP would increase with $20 billion by 2025. The promotion of gender equity is not just the right thing to do, it also makes business sense.

Johns Hopkins’ Center for Transatlantic Relations in cooperation with the Royal Danish Embassy will host a panel debate to explore the processes that lead to and advance female entrepreneurship and innovation with leading scholars, policymakers and female entrepreneurs.

Hosted by Amb. Andras Simonyi, Managing Director at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS, Johns Hopkins

Introductory remarks by Mrs. Ulla Rønberg, Senior Visiting Scholar, Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS, Johns Hopkins


  • Betty Bernstein-Zabza, Senior Advisor and Director of Operations at Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State
  • Kalpana Kochhar, Director at IMF’s Human Resources Department and co-author of “Women, Work, and Economic Growth: Leveling the Playing Field”
  • Annamaria Konya Tannon, Chief Evangelist, Innovation| Entrepreneurship| Invention, George Washington University
  • Ryan Ross, Director, Halcyon Incubators


Betty Bernstein-Zabza joined the Foreign Service in 1993 and has been posted to Europe and the Middle East. In Washington DC she joined the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues in 2013, and serves as Senior Advisor and Director of Operations. Ms. Bernstein-Zabza received a Masters of Arts Degree in Strategic Security Affairs in June 2013 from the U.S. National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs. She is a graduate of the Antioch School of Law and the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she received a BA in Political Science.

Kalpana Kochhar is currently the Director of the Human Resources Department of the International Monetary Fund. Prior to taking this position, she held positions as Deputy Director in the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF and in the Strategy, Policy and Review Department where she launched the IMF’s work on gender. Between 2010 and 2012, she was the Chief Economist for the South Asia Region of the World Bank. She has also spent time in the IMF’s research department.

At the IMF, she has led work on Japan, Korea, India, and a number of other Asian countries. Ms. Kochhar’s research interests and publications have been on emerging markets including India and China, and jobs and inclusive growth, gender and inequality issues, structural reforms, and regional integration in South Asia.

Annamaria Konya Tannon is the Chief Evangelist, for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, George Washington University. She is Hungarian-American technology entrepreneur and angel investor. She has been involved in technology enterprise creation for more than 18 years, predominantly in the Silicon Valley. She is the founder and CEO of Equita Accelerator, a not for profit corporation dedicated to advancing women-led technology companies.

Annamaria mentors and judges in many other startup competitions, including Astia, Springboard, Startup Chile and Hackathons. Annamaria has been a guest lecturer on cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship at Stanford University. She served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Stanford University’s Technology Venture Lab.

Ryan Ross is passionate about applying innovative ways of thinking to solve social problems. In his role as Program Director for the Halcyon Incubator, Ryan supports the development of the fellows’ ventures and establishes collaborative relationships and partnerships in support of the Incubator, contributing to the creation, growth and sustainability of the program.

Prior to joining the Halcyon Incubator, he was the Director of Business Development for, the first social platform for politics. Ryan’s past experience includes work at the Aspen Institute’s Impact Economy Initiative, Jefferson Government Relations, and Americans Elect, a national start-up with a mission of re-imagining the U.S. presidential primary system. He holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Economics from the University of Florida.

Ulla Rønberg is a senior visiting scholar at the Center for Transatlantic Relations. Her work focuses on design, innovation and creativity in the Nordic countries. Her background is in the areas of cultural diplomacy, she has been working in the Danish Ministry of Culture planning and organizing large scale cultural exchange projects and bilateral memorandum of understandings between the government of Denmark and foreign countries. Prior to that she worked in fine art museums in Denmark as curator and head of educational departments developing exhibitions, educational programs and learning strategies for children and teens.