University | Who we are
  • Our mission


    The Asian University for Women seeks to graduate women who will be skilled and innovative professionals, service-oriented leaders, and promoters of intercultural understanding and sustainable human and economic development in Asia and throughout the world. The AUW Support Foundation, a 501(c)(3)-registered nonprofit organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the principal source of funding mobilization for the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh.


    Founded in 2008, the Asian University for Women (AUW) is an independent, international university in Chittagong, Bangladesh seeking to educate a new generation of leaders in Asia. AUW admits students solely on the basis of merit, regardless of their family’s income level, and nearly all students are on full scholarship with many as the first in their family to attend university. AUW offers two pre-collegiate bridge programs called the Access Academy and Pathways for Promise, as well as a three-year undergraduate program based in the liberal arts and sciences. The University is committed to graduating generations of women leaders who will tackle their countries’ social, economic, and political issues while collaborating across cultural, ethnic, and religious lines. We have approximately 650 students enrolled from 15 countries in Asia and the Middle East. For more information on AUW including academics, curriculum, and admissions, please go to the university’s website here: Information on the trademarked AUW logo is available here.


    The story of AUW began well before its inaugural Access Academy class entered in 2008.  The idea for the University grew out of the World Bank/UN Task Force on Higher Education and Society in 2000, which concluded that developing countries must improve the quality of their institutions of higher learning, in both governance and pedagogy, in order to compete in today’s increasingly globalized, knowledge-based economy. For more information on the history of AUW, click here.

    AUWSF Staff

    • Kamal Ahmad, President and Chief Executive Officer
    • Damaris Johnson, Controller
    • Katsuki Sakai, Managing Director
    • Sarena Chan, Senior Program Officer
    • Kiko Wemmer, Program Officer
    • Stephanie Ovitt, Program Associate
    • Ingrid Lustig, Policy Advisor


    The Asian University for Women is an independent international university chartered by the Parliament of Bangladesh.  The AUW Charter was designed to ensure that the university enjoys full institutional autonomy and academic freedom.  The Board of Trustees which can number up to twenty-three members (including two Government of Bangladesh officials serving as ex officio members) is responsible for all aspects of the governance of the institution including appointment and termination of the Vice Chancellor.  Separately, a number of independent “support foundations” have been created in different tax jurisdictions around the world to help mobilize financial resources for the university.  Such support foundations currently exist in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States.  We also work with partner organizations in Japan and elsewhere. The U.S.-anchored support foundation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the AUW Support Foundation, is by far the most important source of funding mobilization for the University.  It is governed by its own Board of Directors (several of whom also serve on the AUW Board of Trustees). In addition to the Board of Trustees of the University and the Board of Directors of the AUW Support Foundation, the University benefits from a number of advisory bodies.

    Kapil Jain Partner, Capital Markets & International GAAP, Ernst & Young; Treasurer of the AUW Board of Trustees
    Kapil is a Partner in the Assurance and Advisory Business Services practice in Ernst & Young's New York City office and is presently with Ernst & Young's India practice. He has over 20 years of international experience in working with high growth companies in a broad range of industries advising and assisting them resolve financial, managerial and operational issues. He has been involved in advising both private and publicly held businesses achieve the next level of growth - including managing growth, mergers and acquisitions and access to private and public markets. Currently based in India, Kapil leads Ernst & Young's Capital Markets practice in India and also serves as the global coordinating partner on key strategic clients based in India. The Capital Markets Practice is principally focused on advising companies involved in cross-border transactions and IPOs. Kapil has a Bachelors degree in accounting and an MBA from St. John's University. He is a Certified Public Accountant from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey and is also a member of professional organizations such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of CPAs. In addition to working with local civic and charitable organizations, Kapil has served on the Board of Directors of Oxfam America and currently chairs the audit committee at American Embassy School - New Delhi.
    Meenakshi Gopinath Former Principal of Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi; the Founder and Honorary Director of WISCOMP
    Meenakshi Gopinath is the Former Principal of Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, where she also teaches at the Department of Politics. She is also the Founder and Honorary Director of WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace), an initiative that seeks to promote the leadership of South Asian women in the areas of peace, security and regional cooperation. She was the first woman to serve as member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) of India. Dr. Gopinath is a member of multi-track peace initiatives in Kashmir and between India and Pakistan including the Neemrana Peace Initiative and the Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy. She has authored Pakistan in Transition, and co-authored Conflict Resolution: Trends and Prospects, Transcending Conflict: A Resource book on Conflict Transformation, and Dialogic Engagement. She has contributed chapters and articles about Gandhi, the politics of Pakistan, conflict resolution, and gender and peace building. Her interests include issues of human rights and gender, conflict transformation and Buddhist and Gandhian philosophy. In recognition of her contribution to the field of women’s education and empowerment, she has received several awards including the Padma Shri Award; Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi Award; the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in Education; the Mahila Shiromani Award; the Delhi Citizen Forum Award; Qimpro Platinum Standard Award for Education; Celebrating Womanhood South Asian Recognition Award for Social Harmony; and International Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding work in the field of justice, Equity, Peace and Progress. Dr. Gopinath also received the L.M. Singhvi Fellowship Award at the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies at the University of Wales. Dr. Gopinath serves on the Governing Boards of various research institutes, NGOs, and educational institutions. She is a member of The Club of Rome, the Indo German Consultative Group, the Conflict Transformation Collaborative, the University for Peace, Asia Leaders Programme, and Track Two initiatives in the South Asian region. She has been a Fulbright scholar and has received several other fellowships, including the Australian International Education Foundation Fellowship and the University Grants Commission Indo-Israel Exchange Fellowship.
    Dr. Meredith Woo President, Sweet Briar College
    Meredith began her tenure as Sweet Briar College’s 13th president on May 15, 2017. She served as the Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia (2008-14). As dean, she oversaw 11,000 undergraduate students, 1,600 graduate students and 800 full-time faculty, and was a noted innovator and reformer of its graduate programs, international partnerships and fundraising operations. Annual philanthropic support for the College nearly tripled under her leadership. Most recently, Woo has been in London working as director of the Higher Education Support Program for the Open Society Foundations. This program is responsible for creating and supporting more than 50 liberal arts colleges in the former Soviet bloc and supporting higher education for refugee populations in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. Prior to UVa, Woo was the associate dean for social sciences at the University of Michigan and a tenured professor of political science. She was a visiting scholar at the Ministry of Finance in Tokyo. She also taught at Northwestern University in Illinois and at Columbia University in New York. Woo holds a Ph.D. in political science as well as an M.A. in international affairs, both from Columbia University, and a B.A. from Bowdoin College in Maine. Her specialty is international and comparative politics with a focus on East Asia. A native of Seoul, Korea, she speaks Korean and Japanese and is proficient in Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese. She has authored or edited six books and numerous scholarly articles, and she is the executive producer of an award-winning film, which premiered at the Smithsonian Institution in 2006.
    Laura Deal Lacey Executive Director, Milken Institute Asia
    The Milken Institute, headquartered in Santa Monica, is an international, nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank committed to increasing global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health. The Milken Institute Asia is based in Singapore and it produces cutting-edge research and convenes influential decision makers and leaders in finance, public policy and academia through customized peer-to-peer programs. Prior to joining the Institute, Lacey was the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, the largest American chamber in Southeast Asia. She and her team organized 300 business events a year, hosted regional business missions, and released research and white papers on policy issues. She reported to a board of governors comprising 18 regional CEOs of large U.S. companies. Acting as the face of the organization, Ms. Lacey represented the interest of U.S. companies in Singapore and helped advance policy and business issues that American companies face in Southeast Asia. Before moving to Asia, Lacey was based in New York. She worked as a vice president for Edelman's corporate social responsibility and sustainability practice. Lacey started her career in Europe. She worked for six years at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva. She held several roles including senior partnership manager, head of corporate affairs and co-founder of WEF's Women Leaders Programme, aimed at increasing the participation of women leaders at WEF events and ensuring that issues affecting women were addressed by the organization’s programs. Lacey is an independent, non-executive director on two corporate boards the Singapore Exchange (SGX) listed company Pacific Century Regional Development (PCRD) and the insurance company FWD Singapore. She is an associate member of the Singapore Institute of Directors. A dual citizen of Brazil and the U.S., Lacey holds a B.S. from Arizona State University and an M.S. from Columbia University. She is married and has three children.
    Jack R. Meyer CEO, Convexity Capital Management; AUW Co-Founder and SF Board Chairman Emeritus
    Jack R. Meyer is Senior Managing Partner at Convexity Capital Management L.P. located in Boston. He co-founded the firm with managing partners, Dave Mittelman and Maurice Samuels in July 2005. Before Convexity, Jack was President and CEO of Harvard Management Company, which manages the University's endowment assets, pension funds, charitable trusts and pooled income funds totaling in excess of $31 billion by the end of his term. Prior to HMC, Jack was Treasurer and Chief Investment Officer of the Rockefeller Foundation where he managed the Foundation's endowment, valued at $2 billion. Before the Foundation, he was Deputy Controller of New York City, where he managed $20 billion in total assets, including the City's pension funds, sinking funds, and treasury funds. He also held various investment management positions with Lionel D. Edie, a New York City investment firm and at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. Jack is the Co-Founder of AUW and currently serves as the Chairman Emeritus of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation, and the Chair of the Boston Ballet. He also is on the Board of Directors of The Boston Foundation. Previously, he served as a Director of the Investment Responsibility Research Council, and on the investment committees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Massachusetts State Pension Fund, and the Atlantic Foundation. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Denison University. In 2004 Denison awarded him an honorary doctorate degree. He received his Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He is married, has two children and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    Betty Chen Commissioner, New York City Planning Commission, City of New York
    Betty Y. Chen is an architect in New York City and serves as a New York City Planning Commissioner. As Vice President for Planning, Design and Preservation at the Trust for Governors Island, she oversaw the planning for the redevelopment of Governors Island (172 acres) in New York Harbor. Prior to joining the Trust, Ms. Chen was Vice-President of Planning at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation where she was responsible for the development of the multi-billion dollar World Trade Center Master Plan and various other large-scale planning projects in Manhattan. As a former Project Architect with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, she has extensive experience in design, project management, and construction administration of institutional, residential, and cultural facilities. Prior to moving to New York City, she worked in the Facilities Planning Department of Yale University on campus planning and infrastructure projects. In 1993 she won the competition to design the San Jose Veterans' Memorial along with her partners in Manhattan Projects. The memorial was built in a public park in downtown San Jose and dedicated in 1997. From 2000 - 2005, Ms. Chen served on the Public Art Network Council advising on issues in the field of Public Art. She has taught in the art history and architecture departments at Yale University and served on numerous design juries. Ms. Chen has served on the Harvard University New York City Schools and Scholarships Committee for over 12 years. She is co-chair of the NYC American Institute of Architects Design Awards Committee. She was appointed to the New York City Charter Revision Commission in 2010 by Mayor Bloomberg. Ms. Chen holds a Masters degree in Architecture from Yale University, a Bachelors degree from Harvard University, and a Commercial Horticulture Certificate from the New York Botanical Garden. She is a registered architect in the State of New York.
    Sheena S. Iyengar S.T. Lee Professor of Business, Columbia Business School;
    Sheena S. Iyengar is the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business in the Management Division of the Columbia Business School. She has taught on a wide variety of topics, including leadership, decision making, creativity, and globalization, earning an Innovation in the Teaching Curriculum award along the way. Considered one of the world's experts on choice, Sheena has written her own book, The Art of Choosing, in which she explores topics such as why choice is powerful and where its power comes from, the ways in which people make choices, and the relationship between how we choose and who we are. Sheena's book has gained much recognition, including being chosen as a finalist for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2010 award. In 2002, Sheena was the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Social Scientists. Her work has also been published in premiere academic journals and is regularly cited in the popular press, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Time magazines, the BBC and National Public Radio, television programs such as the Today Show and the Daily Show, and in bestselling books such as Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Sheena knows firsthand how the power of choice can transform lives. When she was three years old, she was diagnosed with a rare form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease of retinal degeneration. By 6th grade, Sheena had lost the ability to read, and by 11th grade, she had lost her sight entirely and could only perceive light. She was told by her high school guidance counselor that she shouldn't bother applying to college; no matter what, she would eventually end up on SSI. Not only did Sheena choose to go to college, she graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in economics and a B.A. in psychology. She then earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford. Currently a resident of New York, Dr. Iyengar is married and has a five year old son.
    Kathy M. Matsui Managing Director and Chief Japan Strategist; Co-Director of Pan Asian Investment Research, Goldman Sachs (Japan) Ltd.
    Kathy is head of Economics, Commodities and Strategy (ECS) Research in Asia, chief Japan equity strategist and co-head of Asia Investment Research. She serves on the Asia Management Committee and the Firmwide Diversity Committee. Kathy joined Goldman Sachs in 1994 and was named managing director in 1998 and partner in 2000. Kathy was ranked No. 1 in Japan Equity Strategy by Institutional Investor magazine in 2000, 2001 and 2006 and No. 2 by the Nikkei Analyst Ranking in 2000. In 2007, she was chosen by the Wall Street Journal newspaper as one of the "10 Women to Watch in Asia" for her work on the "Womenomics" theme. Prior to joining the firm, Kathy worked as the chief Japan strategist for Barclays de ZoeteWedd Securities for four years, and she worked as the Export-Import Bank of Japan's Washington, DC office for two years. She served as a committee member for the Finance Agency's Tax Research Committee as well as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Industrial Structure Committee. Kathy is a board member of the Asian University for Women (AUW) Support Foundation, a trustee for the American School in Japan, and a member of Keizai Doyukai, a leading Japanese business organization. She also serves on the advisory council for the Japan Society Fund Against Breast Cancer. Kathy earned a BA, magna cum laude, in Social Studies from Harvard University and an MA from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. She has conducted research on Japanese foreign policy at Kobe University Graduate School on a Rotary Scholarship.
    Catherine Watters Sasanuma Formerly of Washington State Department of Health
    Catherine Watters Sasanuma grew up in Seattle, WA. After receiving a BA in History from Seattle Pacific University, Catherine worked at a statewide non-profit organization focusing on Kindergarten-12 grade education. At Citizens Education Center Northwest she worked with the migrant community and inner city schools, advocated for better funding for schools with the state legislature, coordinated statewide projects with organizations allied to improve kindergarten through grade 12 educations. She also assisted in fundraising for the organization. In 1988 Catherine attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and received her Master's in Public Administration. After returning to Seattle, she joined the Washington State Department Health. She worked on parent-child health, directing grants and planning for statewide services for children and families. In 1993 Catherine married her Kennedy School classmate Taisuke Sasanuma and moved to Japan. She received a Certificate for Intensive Japanese Language program from the Franciscan Language School in 1995. In Japan Catherine worked for the think tank, GSEC at Keio University in 1980-2. Taisuke and Catherine have two sets of twins, ages 14 and 11. Three of the four children attend Japanese schools. Catherine now co-chairs Japan AUW Committee with Kathy Matsui and Saniya Bloomer. She joined the AUW Support Foundation Board in 2009. In 2011 she joined the Board of Trustees for the American School in Japan. She is a member of the College Women's Association in Japan. She was formerly a board member of the Foreign Executive Women in Japan.
    Zheng Yu Huang Former Chairman and Co-Founder, Business Connect China
    Zheng Yu Huang is the Former Chairman and co-Founder of Business Connect China, a provider of expert consultation, market intelligence, advisory services, and investments for the China market. Prior to co-founding Business Connect China, Zheng was the Managing Director of Intel Corporation's Telecommunications office in China. There he established a wireless technology standards co-development platform with leading Chinese telecom vendors including China Mobile, Huawei, ZTE, Datang Mobile, and the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Research, with formal support from the Ministry of Information Industry. Before this position, Zhang worked at Intel as a Product Manager and a Rotation Engineer. Zheng holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, as well as a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, all from Stanford University. He also holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Harvard Business School, where he graduated with Distinct Honors. At Stanford, Zheng was the President and Founder of the Stanford Society of Asian American Engineers from 1997 to 2000, during which period the Society's membership grew from 2 to over 1,000. In 2009 Zheng was selected as a White House Fellow, where he served from 2009 to 2010 as special assistant to the Administrator at the US Agency for International Development. Zheng currently lives in San Jose, California.
    Tayeb Kamali Vice Chancellor, The Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates
    Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, has spearheaded education, training, research, and applied technology programs in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East for more than two decades. He has been with the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) since 1989, and founded the school's Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training. Dr. Kamali has played a significant role in the introduction of numerous international conferences, focused on leadership, education, innovation and entrepreneurship, such as Education without Borders, Festival of Thinkers and the HCT Global Entrepreneurship 2010. He serves as chair of the UAE Federal Mobile Learning Initiative, which distributes tens of thousands of mobile learning devices to university students. Dr. Kamali received his Ph.D. in engineering from George Washington University in the United States and holds an honorary Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Canada. He is a board member of institutions including Tanmia (The National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority); ICT Fund (Telecom Regulatory Authority); the Future Centre for Special Needs, Abu Dhabi and the Higher Education Sports Federation. Dr. Kamali is the recipient of India's Human Resource Leadership Award and France's Palmes Academiques and the Human Resource Leadership Award from the World Human Resource Development Congress.
    Cora Neumann Director of Policy & Advocacy,, Inc.; Founder, Global First Ladies Alliance, United States
    For more than 10 years, Cora Neumann has collaborated with local and national leaders in more than 30 countries to help them refine and implement their strategies to improve the health and development of their communities and nations. Neumann currently oversees policy and women's initiatives at She is founder of the Global First Ladies Alliance (formerly the RAND African First Ladies Initiative) and co-founder of Women Up. These initiatives, implemented in partnership with Secretary Clinton's International Council on Women's Business Leadership, RAND Corporation, McKinsey and aim to build individual and collective leadership capacity at scale, forging an active community of women leaders. Ms. Neumann's First ladies programming, developed in consultation with the offices of U.S. and U.K. First Ladies Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Sarah Brown and Cherie Blair, scaled to serve 24 First Ladies across Africa and Asia. Through annual leadership training and on-going mentoring, she directly advised First Ladies on programmatic and policy initiatives, best methods for aligning with Presidents' offices and ministries, and also facilitated productive collaborations between First Ladies and numerous global institutions. Ms. Neumann recently completed a Franklin Fellowship at the U.S. Department of State, where she focused on women's leadership and entrepreneurship policy across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She holds a MPH in global public health from Columbia University, and is completing her doctorate in international development at University of Oxford, UK. She sits on the following advisory committees: Institute for Global Engagement, Asian University for Women, WIE Africa, the Millennial Trains Project and Advanced Development for Africa.
    Seinenu Thein-Lemelson Founder and President, Institute for Democratic Education and Leadership (IDEAL)
    Dr. Seinenu Thein-Lemelson is a recent PhD, writer, research psychologist, and president of the Institute for Democratic Education and Leadership (IDEAL). Seinenu received her BA with highest distinction in general scholarship and high honors from the department of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Seinenu began her PhD at New York University, where she received her MA in social psychology, before transferring to the psychology department at the University of California, Los Angeles so that she could immerse herself more fully in cultural research and conduct fieldwork in Burma. Seinenu received her PhD in developmental psychology, with a specialty in culture and development, from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013. Seinenu has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the Greater Good Science Center Goldberg Fellowship, New York University Dean's Fellowship, New York University Mackracken Fellowship, UCLA-CONNECT University Elementary School Graduate Student Fellowship, UCLA Psychology Research Mentorship Fellowship, UCLA Graduate Division Research Fellowship, and The John and Beatrice Whiting Award for Excellence in Cross-Cultural Research. Since completing her PhD in 2013, Seinenu continues to engage in academic research, specializing in the following areas: cultural variation in parenting and caregiving practices, food and grooming as forms of cultural socialization, and how social change and democratization impacts human development. Seinenu is currently working on a book and film project about the 1988 democracy movement in Burma and is the founder and president of the Institute for Democratic Education and Leadership (IDEAL).

    financial report

    Audited Financial Statements

    The auditors for the Asian University for Women Support Foundation have released the following annual Financial Statements and Additional Financial Information for the respective periods. Click to download in PDF:

    Also released are the audit reports for the Asian University for Women. Click to download in PDF:


    our partners


    We are fortunate to have the support of a number of respected organizations and corporations who contribute to the AUW mission in varying ways. Our earliest supporters, such as Open Society Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation, showed great vision by providing seed funding before the University had opened. Today, some partners assist with recruitment, such as Grameen Bank, the Daughters for Life Foundation, and BRAC Afghanistan. The Goldman Sachs Foundation and JP Morgan Chase have both made contributions to university programs, such as the Access Academy, which enabled the university to open its doors in the early years. Finally, many sponsors cover the full cost of select students’ education. These partners include the IKEA Foundation, L’Oréal, Chevron Corporation, the U.S. Department of State, and UNIQLO.


    Open Society Foundations

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

    The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

    The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

    The Rockefeller Foundation


    Abbott Fund

    AbbVie Foundation

    AmazonSmile Foundation

    Ananta Group

    The Daughters for Life Foundation

    Hitachi, Ltd.


    Incepta Pharmaceuticals

    Indus Capital Partners, LLC

    Japan Support Group

    Lee Foundation Singapore

    The Maybank Foundation

    MetLife Foundation Ltd

    Mohammadi Group

    NPO Empowering Women Empowering Society

    UNIQLO Co., Ltd

    United States Government Agencies

    Victor and William Fung Foundation

    Vitol Foundation




    Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw LLP

    MediaOutReach (Newswire partner)

    Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP