Meet The Team!

Board of Directors

Jaana Rehnström, MD, MPH, 


Founder and President of The Kota Alliance. Experience of leading cultural organizations in NYC; Physician (OB/GYN) and lifelong human rights activist. Eternally grateful to the Finland Center Foundation team who catalyzed Kota into existence: Zac Kelly, Suska Karjalainen, Meeri Koskialho, Daniel Todercan, and many other volunteers!



Leonard is an attorney specializing in nonprofit, intellectual property, arts and entertainment law who has taught courses at New School University, Princeton University, Columbia and Yale Law Schools. Holding an AB cum laude from Harvard College and a JD from Columbia Law School, he is a frequent lecturer and has been the Chair of several nonprofit organizations and remains affiliated as a director and/or trustee of many arts and cultural organizations. He is the former Director of Legal Services of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and has served as pro bono counsel to many nonprofit organizations.



In 2009 Helena co-founded the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). Her work on United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 and 1820 brought her to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nepal and Sierra Leone where she worked extensively with local women's organizations. Helena just completed her MS in International Affairs with a focus on conflict and security at the New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy.

Upoma Dutta, BBA

Strategy professional with track record of providing analytical and problem solving support to organizations across multiple industries (media & entertainment, clean tech, international development, etc.) and geographies (North America, South Asia). In her past role as a Consultant at International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group), Upoma helped to design advisory services to support financial institutions in expanding financial access among women and women-owned businesses in South Asia. In 2017, she also co-founded a mission-driven social enterprise catering to the unique development needs of women entrepreneurs and professionals in growth-oriented service sectors in Bangladesh. She was also a recipient of the Diamond Award at HSBC Young Entrepreneurs Award in Hong Kong.

Parisa Elahi, JD

Parisa is a lawyer at an international firm. She was previously a lawyer at a Human Rights NGO, and her previous experience includes pro bono work with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). Through participation with IRAP, she represented a client who had been denied refugee status, and ultimately presented the substantive points of the client’s appeal at the client’s appeal interview at UNHCR’s offices in Amman, Jordan.  Parisa has also worked with an Ashoka fellow on the implementation of a renewable energy project that emphasizes local community involvement, education and empowerment. Parisa is also a member of the Iranian American Bar Association Pro Bono Committee and the New York City Bar Middle East and North Africa Committee.


Jaclyn Evans, MBA


Jaclyn is a Management Consulting Manager for Financial Institutions with experience in enterprise and operational risk management across various industry verticals and an extensive background in third party liability and risk financing. She earned her MBA from New York University Stern School of Business and undergraduate degree from Lehigh University majoring in Political Science with a concentration in micro-finance and political/economic inclusion. Jaclyn is a passionate advocate of human rights and women’s empowerment and has worked to advance gender equality through both corporate and non-profit channels. 


Sari Gold, MD, 


A psychiatrist working for a not-for-profit organization Brownsville Multi-service Family Health Center, as well as in private practice. The majority of her work for 8 years was conducting psychiatric assessments at a homeless women's shelter. Since 2011 she has been working with Empower Nepali Girls foundation. ENG, established in 2001, which provides scholarships to over 280 marginalized and at-risk girls in dozens of villages around Nepal. It's mission is to empower young women through education, support and mentoring.


Richard Lui, MBA

Richard is a journalist and news anchor for MSNBC and NBC News. He was formerly at CNN Worldwide. His enterprise reporting has focused on humanitarian issues including gender equality, human trafficking, and affordable housing. His charity work in the same spaces has led him to work with Plan International USA as a global ambassador for its Because I am a Girl campaign. He is also an ambassador for the Epilepsy Foundation, and sits on the president’s council for America’s largest food source to the poor, Food Bank for New York City. Lui’s work and reporting on humanitarian issues spans 30 years and six continents. He has received civil rights awards from organizations including AAJA, WWAAC, and OCA.

Lenka Moore, MA

Lenka holds an MA in International Studies and Diplomacy. She is an Adjunct Professor of International communication and a strategy and project adviser to non-profits and social enterprises with proven multinational strategy-setting, team, project and change management skills. 


Danielle Redmond, BA

Danielle has a B.A. in International Business and Management from Gannon University.  She comes with a wealth of business experience over the years in both the corporate and non-profit sectors.  In her early career, she started in Operations and Management which led to managing 24 facilities and under 100 employees.  Most recently she works as a Human Resources professional at a non-profit organization.



Chante Harris, BA

Chante currently works as a strategic consultant with Capalino+Company where she advises entrepreneurs, tech and innovative companies, and sustainability businesses on how to enter and expand in the New York market. During her time at the American University in Washington D.C. she worked to advance policy and campaigns on the national level with Congressman John Conyers. Chante supported legislative staff in gaining co-sponsorship for a bill aiming to reduce maternal mortality rates, and assisted in organizing a women's issues summit. As a member of Generation Progress’ Action Team at Center for American Progress, she conducted outreach to over 500 students across the country looking to get involved with The White House’s initiative against sexual assault, resulting in over 200,000 new pledges online and over 200 events, setting a new record for the team. She is an alumna of the Coro Fellowship Program in Public Affairs in New York City and a Little Rock Nine Scholar.



Jaana Rehnström, MD, MPH, 

Interim Executive Director


Saba Ismail, 

Program Director

Saba Ismail is a feminist and a peace activist who co-founded “Aware Girls” at the age of 15. She is in charge of Kota’s gender-based violence programs in New York, currently focused in gender-based violence in immigrant communities.  


Sonja Liukkonen, Administrative Assistant

Sonja is A master`s Degree student at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki majoring in Economics. She has also done exchange studies at Stockholm University studying Political Science. Sonja is interested in gender equality and the relation between women empowerment and economic development.


Suvi Helko, Program Assistant

Suvi holds a M.S. in Education Science from University of Turku, Finland. She is a promoter of peace who has worked and studied in 6 different countries so far and is currently focused on gender equality and refugee rights.



Advisory Board

Deborah Landey

Gwendolyn Quintana

Heather Evans

Edward LaGrassa

Francia Smith

Jim Lawrence

Judithe Registre

Katherine Gledhill

Lauren Winarsky


Lisa Macbeth

Mari Malek

Mari Simonen

Mark Severs

Matthew Bozzetto

Michelle Stern

Minna Aslama-Horowitz

Nancy Fritsche Eagan

Pablo Freund

Ramya Varma

Sarah Follen

Staci Alziebler-Perkins

Steven Cutting

Titta Riikonen-Guy

Win Chamberlin

Xian Horn