WSB September Board Profiles

Bana Masri 27/08/2016 0Announcements

The Women’s Skills Bureau strives to have variety amongst our board members. When there is an opening on the board, we work hard to choose a qualified candidate who has a background or home country or community connect on that will help us to extend our reach into our diverse city. While we do choose carefully to ensure that the board members will have good synergy, we broaden our reach as much as we can; by not choosing friends, but by making new connections – choosing to have new faces and languages and cultures represented, in order to enable the WSB to serve our entire community as effectively as possible.

These are our current board members:

Sally Kennedy

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, USA. After graduating from University of Texas Medical Branch with a BS in nursing; I was lucky to work with a famous cardiovascular surgeon (Michael Debakey) and his associates in Houston Texas. Although demanding, I really enjoyed the work.

At the time, a contract was made between Baylor College of Medicine and King Faisal Hospital to bring in a team of specialists in three month shifts to operate in the Kingdom. Open heart surgery was not available and very high in demand; many cases were due to congenital defects and rheumatic damage. I had met my future Saudi husband through the fiancé of a friend of mine, so when I arrived in Riyadh for three months as part of the team we got to know each other better.

We eventually got married settled in Riyadh and a year and two months later my daughter Sarah was born….her sister 11 months later, brother 11 months after that and a final brother 23 months after. I now have two fields of expertise…..assisting in thoracic surgery and amusing small children!

When my youngest son was 2 years old I saw a niche in the market and in 1990 opened my own business the first children’s party shop in the Kingdom “The Good Ship Lollipop.” We have survived and grown and now also import and distribute balloons and party goods throughout the kingdom.

Being bi-cultural and friendly I was part of the original WSB “committee” that started in 2002 to address the issue of spouses moving to Riyadh with great qualifications and not being able to use their skills or develop professionally while here. The first WSB went dormant due to the Riyadh compound bombings in 2003 etc. But the idea was good and we brought it back with new board members a few years later creating the web site to allow people to post jobs and resumes. Responding to the community we started the newsletter, then organized events and orientations.

I am amazingly proud of the WSB. We are a real multi-cultural community organization that welcomes everyone in the kingdom – a bridge between everyone. We stay relevant as the women on the board (and they are always changing as it is such a transient society) represent the expat community in all aspects.

They are the heart and soul of WSB and continue to bring suggestions and needs of the expat families that should be addressed. We have always focused on “professional opportunities and development” for spouses here. Getting spouses settled, involved, and productive creates an environment that keeps families happy and satisfied making their experience in the Kingdom a positive experience for all.

When you are contributing to society you don’t feel so “foreign.” Instead of complaining about life in Riyadh if we see a “problem” we try to find a solution. A great way of seeing an example of “Western” values here. Instead of waiting for someone to solve your problem get busy yourself. My hope is the WSB can continue, evolve, and remain a positive, and a welcoming support network that brings Saudis and expats together.

Lama Ariss Tabbara

Lama obtained her Bachelor degree in Computer Sciences, from Northeastern University. After working for a few years in the industry she moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband and became a certified fitness trainer. She later managed a fitness center. Lama also started a business, The Outlet, to help high end fashion shops with their excess inventory. This business also helped a local women’s charity.

Currently, Lama is the Country Manager in Saudi with a US based company, Sneeze.it. A digital media company.

Lama is a Board member in Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) the Saudi Chapter, and of Women skills bureau (WSB), a Saudi initiative to support expatriate spouses looking for work in Saudi Arabia.

Lama leads an active lifestyle; she completed a 10 day hike to Everest Base camp in April 2015.

Lama is married and has 3 children. She is fluent in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.

Leigh-Jane Obermayer

Leigh moved to Riyadh with her family 3 years ago from Munich and loves all the joys and challenges that this unique city has to offer. Born in the UK and married to a German, they have 2 small children who attend the British and German International Schools in Riyadh.

Her background is in Business Management and Organizational Psychology. Before starting a family she was Director of European Operations for a large international company.  Her passion for travel, cultures and people thrived, constantly travelling around 13 countries looking at the best process and system practices, synergies between countries and helping them improve operationally. After getting married, she moved back to Germany and began freelancing in Business Management, setting up operations and systems for business start-ups.

As many, she describes Riyadh as the Magical Kingdom, because it brings people of all different nationalities, cultural backgrounds and interests together.  Helping people connect within Riyadh is more than a passion for her and she has recently started her own ‘Onboarding Business’ helping families settle as well as assisting individuals to ‘Thrive and Survive’

WSB, with its unique “Thrive and Survive’ program, is the perfect organization to reach out to those individuals.  Leigh intends to promote and strengthen this program by connecting individuals and finding synergies across the expat and local communities.

Florence Hughes

Florence is half-French, half-English and arrived in Riyadh from London with her Canadian husband and 3 children in 2009. Prior to the move, Florence worked for 10 years as director of her own internet agency in West London, managing creative and technical teams to produce corporate and ecommerce websites. She sold the business before moving to Saudi Arabia.

She became involved in the WSB shortly after arriving and was taken on to help develop the Bureau’s first website and launch a monthly e-newsletter. She subsequently joined the WSB board.

Florence saw that Saudi Arabia could be a challenging environment for expat spouses, but could also present many unique opportunities. She believes that with a little support many individuals could flourish, whether it’s by learning a new skill, changing careers, starting business or enjoying a long-loved hobby. She hopes that the WSB can provide that important support, network and inspiration and make a positive impact on the lives of many expat spouses.

Aside from the WSB, Florence runs her own business called Saudi Arts & Crafts which promotes local talent and collaborates with designers and artisans to produce gifts inspired by the region’s culture and heritage. In her spare time Florence enjoys travelling, within Saudi and beyond, going to art exhibitions, meeting creative people, exploring Riyadh learning about Arabic culture, reading and photography.

Lisa Ouazzani

Lisa was born and raised in the USA, primarily North Carolina. Prior to moving to Riyadh, she consulted for non-profit organizations during and after completing an MBA at the University of Houston. Before graduate school, Lisa was an IT Project Manager in the Finance and Banking industries with a bachelor’s degree in International Management from The George Washington University.

Lisa met her husband in her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina and together they have three young children. Her family moved to Riyadh in 2007 due to her husband joining an international law firm. Their two youngest children were subsequently born here.

Lisa started volunteering for the USA Girl Scouts of Riyadh in 2010 and met many expat families from all over the world. Interested in connecting with the broader expat community, she attended several intriguing WSB events and briefly served as the WSB Director in 2013. Eager to continue in serving the organization, Lisa joined the Board of Directors in 2014. She feels strongly about the need of the WSB in Riyadh and for the benefit which many Riyadh residents derive from our outreach.

Tamara Awwad

Tamara is a degree-qualified BA honors educated Jordanian specializing in Leadership and Management and Accounting. She has a career background in the finance and business sectors with positions held in Ernst and Young, one of ‘The Big Four’ audit companies as well as experience in Major Banking, Legal and Health sector companies.  Working and specializing in Accounting and Finance, Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness. Highly motivated and driven by the needs of others, Tamara brings a wealth of experience as a working female and fully understands the requirements and nuances of working as an expatriate in Saudi Arabia.  Tamara has great experience and knowledge in Marketing and Event Management where she has successfully delivered a number of high profile business and networking events here in the Kingdom.  Tamara’s interests include: horseback riding, swimming, reading and traveling.

Hala Oueini

I was born in Syria and grew up between Riyadh and Spain.

After getting a Bachelor degree in English from the University of Damascus, I got married and moved to Paris where I completed a Degree in Hotel Management.

I worked in various prestigious Parisian Palaces at the front desk before becoming Chief Accountant in a German company based in Paris.

In 2003, I moved to London were I had a financial position in an International firm.

In 2011, I moved to Qatar for my husband position and one year later to Riyadh.

By living in more than 6 countries, I quite enjoy multi-cultural environments. I am a board member of the WSB and happy to be.

I have 3 children and speak Arabic, English and French.

Anna Macia

Born in Vic, a small countryside city close to Barcelona. Anna holds a Bachelor degree in Political Science and International Relations and a Master in Corporate Communication. She has recently completed various certifications in Social entrepreneurship.

Anna’s first professional engagement was at the Catalan Government office in Madrid as Communications and protocol officer. After moving to Barcelona, she joined the External Communications and PR department of a national telecom in Barcelona. In 2000, she became the press manager for a member of the European Parliament, commuting between Barcelona and Brussels, experiencing a unique period in European relations. At the same time, she was a communication manager of a Political and Cultural NGO, leading, lobbying the PR efforts. In 2005 she joined a multinational PR firm, Porter Novelli at their new office in Barcelona, focusing on stock exchange, crisis communication, institutional relations clients, and public affairs. In 2008, she founded her own Communications and Marketing agency servicing multinational companies based in Spain and international communication projects in the areas of trade promotion and tourism.

Passionate for causes, volunteering and sport, she founded a nonprofit organization in Barcelona aiming to raise awareness on forest fires and raising funds to reforest them. The NGO received in 2011 a mention letter from the United Nations for successfully supporting the UN Year on Forests.

In 2013 she moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband and daughter. Being a strong believer in social entrepreneurship Anna has brought her professional communications, marketing, and PR background to support the different projects she has been involved with in Saudi. These projects include advising philanthropist efforts, hands on operations improvement of local NGO’s, and PR with local Saudi companies.

Anna joined WSB board last December, hoping to add value with her expertise.

Anna loves swimming, running and cross country skiing. She is passionate about Grand Opera.

Maria Cometti

I am originally from Syracuse, New York. I learned about business and cultivated my passion for entrepreneurship working for my father’s remodeling company. After spending years dreading the upstate New York winters, I moved to Florida to study business management at Eckerd College. It was at Eckerd that I befriended people from around the world and was inspired to travel and work abroad. I taught English in South Korea and then went on to work in sales for a media company based in Belgium. In the sales role, I had amazing and challenging experiences working on projects in Switzerland, the Philippines, Malaysia, and South Korea.

Since college I have been fascinated with the Arabic culture, and I was blessed to meet my Saudi husband while I was working in the Philippines. My husband and I spent a couple of years apart as I worked for my father’s company in Syracuse and my sister and I opened a vintage clothing and jewelry shop in Florida. After the birth of my daughter in 2013, we moved to Bahrain to be close to my husband and his work in Riyadh.

While in Bahrain, I started a group called Charity Connect Bahrain to connect volunteers with opportunities to serve the local community. My dear friend and I also started Amwaj Mamas, a group that organizes play dates for kids and learning opportunities for moms. I am blessed with a 2-year old daughter and 6-month old son.

My passions are social entrepreneurship and empowering women. Experiencing the unique challenges of expat mothers, I feel especially compelled to help other moms develop their passions while keeping their family a priority. Being a part of the WSB has helped me tremendously in adjusting to life in Riyadh, and I hope to help give other women the same opportunity.

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