The Counsel of Leopards is Women Forward International's (WFI) convening of visionary and intrepid "leopards" quietly transforming the world through unity, collaboration, and service.


The Counsel is composed of inspired intellectuals, public servants, diplomats, and artists who have regularly put these principles into practice and can demonstrate and share their wisdom with the next generation, including all those who have participated in WFI's research projects to advance women to advance humanity. 

Intimate "fireside" chats allow our circle of new leopards to explore fresh ideas and collaborate with seasoned leaders to ignite real and positive change in the world. 


The name "Counsel of Leopards" comes from an ancient tradition of the Egyptians, who saw the leopard as a sacred being. Whenever a leopard passed in front of a human, the person was considered blessed. Leaders would consult the "Counsel of Leopards" to connect to the inherent wisdom of this spirit animal.


The Counsel of Leopards

Embodies Seven Principles: 











Women Forward International welcomes all who participate in its affiliated university research partnerships to join our Counsel of Leopards


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Ideas, Imagination, and the Transformative Power of Literature on International Affairs:

A Conversation with Azar Nafisi

On September 9, 2021, 12PM - 1PM EDT, award-winning author Dr. Azar Nafisi as she illuminated the power of Art and Music on human relations and international diplomacy. This event was hosted virtually by the WFI Arts Counsel.

Dr. Azar Nafisi is a lifelong champion and ardent supporter of the importance of Humanities and Liberal Arts and the role they play in the preservation and promotion of democracy. She is best known as the author of the national best-seller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students.

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January 7, 2021

The Hour

The Hour has arrived. The time is now to walk in The Vanguard. Honoring our 2020-2021 projects’ themes of the year, Women Forward International hosts The Hour, a private Counsel of Leopards networking event where student teams, faculty, and partner client organizations will have the opportunity to meet each other, discuss their projects, and get an exclusive sneak peek into Women Forward International’s exciting creative projects and events lined up for the coming year. Not to be missed, this event is one of many perks of being Leopard! 

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October 29, 2020

Counsel Of Leopards

A Call for a New Humanity

Wonder Womanism and the Power of Love

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All over the world, women—for no other reason than being who they are—are left behind in the call for justice. It took George Floyd’s death to raise outcry over the unjust violence of Breonna Taylor’s death, even though her murder occurred months earlier. When 16 mothers were killed with their newborn babies this summer in Afghanistan, the world did not rise up. Why? 


Together with changemakers and award-winning artists whose exhibitions put into question the status quo in their countries and speak the unspeakable, Women Forward International’s event, A Call for a New Humanity, will bridge the gap between the heart and the mind, demanding real change at this momentous time in human history.

Photograph “Monankim” by WFI featured artist Jenevieve Aken 

May 5, 2020 

Inaugural Counsel of Leopards

Featuring Guest Speaker : The Honorable Mary Beth Long 

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From 2007-2009, Ms. Long served as the first woman confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as Chair of NATO’s High Level Group (HLG), responsible for NATO’s nuclear policy. In her defense department roles, she also acted as Principal Deputy Secretary of Defense on the Middle East, Africa, the Western Hemisphere, Asia, and Southeast Asia; and was the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Counter Narcoterrorism with a budget of over $1 billion. To those credentials, she adds more than a decade of Central Intelligence Agency operational experience (1986–99) on terrorism and other security issues.

After leaving government, Ms. Long founded Metis Solutions LLC. Under her tenure as CEO, the company was recognized in Inc. Magazine’s List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2014, 2015, and 2016. She was recently featured in Forbes magazine’s Women Business Leaders. Ms. Long advises several Fortune 500 companies on international defense markets. From 2013-2016, she served as a Senior Subject Matter Expert for the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and as a Senior International Advisor to the Minister of Defense of Colombia.


Ms. Long has advised several Presidential candidates and appears regularly on Fox News, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera English and NPR on Middle East issues and the Intelligence Community. She is a licensed lawyer and, from 1999 until 2004, was an associate specializing in civil litigation matters at Williams & Connolly LLP. She is an Honors Graduate of Pennsylvania State University, magna cum laude, and in 2016, Ms. Long received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the University’s highest honor presented to its alumni. She received her J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law.