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Women's rights advocate from Old Saybrook to head Community Foundation

By Lee Howard

Publication: theday.com

Published September 03. 2013 12:00PM   Updated September 03. 2013 11:18PM
Courtesy Community Foundation
Maryam Elahi

Maryam Elahi of Old Saybrook, founding director of the first undergraduate human-rights program in the country, has been named the next head of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.

Elahi, who will start her new role Sept. 19, replaces Alice Fitzpatrick, who retired from her post as president and chief executive of the New London-based foundation at the end of June. The choice of Elahi followed a six-month search.

"Ms. Elahi brings a remarkable résumé to her new role in community philanthropy," Paul D. Nunes, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees, said in a statement released Tuesday.

Elahi, a longtime advocate for women's rights, also has fulfilled the role of teacher and grantmaker. She most recently served as director of the International Women's Program at the Open Society Foundations, focusing on advocacy for the empowerment of women.

Previously, she helped establish a human rights major at Trinity College in Hartford and international human rights study programs in four cities worldwide.

She also has spent time as advocacy director on the Middle East, North Africa and Europe for Amnesty International, traveling and lecturing widely as well as testifying before Congress.

"My work over the last two decades has taught me that real and positive change is realized through local initiatives," Elahi said in a statement. "I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work in my home state helping local advocates to address their communities' concerns."

The foundation plans a three-month tour to introduce Elahi to residents in the 42 cities and towns in eastern Connecticut that the organization serves.

For more information, visit the foundation's website at www.cfect.org.

l.howard@theday.com

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