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Human Rights Leader Taking Helm of Community Foundation

The Old Saybrook resident was a founding director of the nation’s first undergraduate human rights major and advocated internationally for women’s rights.

Maryam Elahi is the new president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. Credit: CFEC
Maryam Elahi is the new president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. Credit: CFEC

The following is a press release from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut

Longtime human rights leader Maryam Elahi will become the next president of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut starting Sept. 19, according to Paul D. Nunes, chair of its board of trustees. 

She was chosen after a six-month search to succeed former president Alice Fitzpatrick, who retired after 18 years at the end of June.

“Ms. Elahi brings a remarkable resume to her new role in community philanthropy,” Nunes points out. “She has spent 25 years in the international human rights community: as an advocate, teacher, and grant maker. She was most recently director of the International Women’s Program at the Open Society Foundations [OSF], where her grantmaking and advocacy focused on women’s empowerment.”

Prior to OSF, Elahi was the founding director of the Human Rights Program at Trinity College in Hartford, the nation’s first such undergraduate effort. During her ten years at Trinity, she established a human rights major and international human rights study programs in Cape Town, Santiago, Trinidad, and Hong Kong.

Before that, she served as the Advocacy Director on the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe for Amnesty International. She travelled extensively on Amnesty missions, gave testimony before Congress, and lectured widely, Nunes adds.

Elahi answers that she is pleased to take on a major challenge in her own ‘backyard’.

“My work over the last two decades has taught me that real and positive change is realized through local initiatives,” Elahi notes. “Everywhere in the world, people seek to improve their living conditions. Local agents of change at the neighborhood, town, and regional levels transform dreams into practice. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work in my home state helping local advocates to address their communities’ concerns.”

The next stage in the Community Foundation’s development

“The Community Foundation has been blessed with creative and visionary leadership,” Nunes says.

“She and the staff are already busily planning an exhaustive three-month ‘fact-finding tour’ to introduce her to the 42 cities and towns in eastern Connecticut.

“As we complete our 30th anniversary, I very much look forward to the exciting direction that Maryam and the staff, our dedicated Board, our committee members, and the charitable people of eastern Connecticut take us next.”

More information is available at the Community Foundation’s website: www.cfect.org.

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