Board of Directors

Catherine Gelband, President

Catherine’s interest in education and empowering girls has defined her career and volunteer involvement. She serves as Board President of Girl Scouts of Western Washington and recently retired from over 25 years of service to Pacific Crest School, a Seattle Montessori School, including serving as Board chair and Admissions Director. She began her legal career as a corporate lawyer at a large Seattle law firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions. After the arrival of her two children, she began a private practice. Catherine attended Yale College and Northwestern University School of Law. She retired from the practice of law in 2006.

Eliza Hurlbut, Secretary

Eliza has always had a passion for education. She has dedicated much of her time to the Pacific Crest School. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the school and has been instrumental in transforming its fundraising structure. As a board member she has been involved with strategic planning, fundraising, and reviewing the finances of the school. Eliza has a degree in Art from the University of Vermont and has worked in many different mediums including fabric, metal and glass. She is a parent of two children in Seattle.

David Miller

David Miller is a founding member of Miller Hull Partnership LLC and a nationally-recognized architect known for pursuing innovative sustainable and high performance design strategies while responding to each site’s unique conditions. David served in the Peace Corps after graduating from Washington State University which laid the foundation for his interest in housing design. David is a professor in the the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington. He is the author of, Toward a New Regionalism, and the chair of the National AIA’s Committee on the Environment. He is the recipient of the Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award and the BetterBricks Designer Award.


Anne Theisen

Through her work with Sahar, Anne seeks to build a path to greater social, political and economic influence for girls in Afghanistan. As owner of Form Marketing & Design, Anne brings a wide range of depth of marketing and organizational experience to the Sahar board. Anne’s career began with many years in product management and marketing the high tech sector in Seattle. Launching Form in 2002, Anne works with a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit clients, helping to articulate their vision and grow their brands. Anne holds a BS from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota and a MS in Market Research from the University of Washington.

Nadia Hashimi

Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician, an internationally bestselling author, a first generation Afghan-American and an advocate for women and children. She has written three acclaimed novels for adults and two for children inspired by the history of Afghanistan and the ongoing struggles of families affected by conflict. She is the first Afghan American to run for US Congress and a member of the US Afghan Women’s Council.  She graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Biology and Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and obtained her medical degree from SUNY Downstate. She completed her pediatric residency at NYU / Bellevue Hospitals, and then relocated to the Washington, DC area. She lives with her husband and four children in Potomac, Maryland.

Merle Steiner

Merle Steiner’s post-graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of International Relations heightened her life-long interest in the emerging nations. She spent many years living in the former Yugoslavia, Germany, and the former Soviet Union on assignments as a Foreign Service wife, since married women could not serve in the Foreign Service in those days. Upon returning to the States, she began a long career as Chief of Staff at the Montgomery County, Maryland, Legislature. As a Regional Leader at Dining for Women as well as a Chapter Co-Leader for one of the very early Chapters, Merle has worked very hard to empower, educate, and inspire women throughout the world.

Dr. Shinkai Hakimi

A native of Afghanistan, Dr. Hakimi fled her homeland with her family in the early 1980’s and they eventually immigrated to the United States. She  went on to complete her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and medical school at the University of Iowa. During her medical training, Dr. Hakimi received a Global Health grant to create a health education program for migrant workers in rural Iowa. She also spent time in rural hospitals in South America and the Sea Islands. Dr. Hakimi is enthusiastic to create programs to better the lives of young women in Afghanistan. She believes that every child should have the same extensive educational opportunities she received, regardless of gender.

Tracy Klinkroth

Tracy Klinkroth is a serial entrepreneur, striking out on her own over 20 years ago. She founded her first company, Epiphany Research, in 1995. Several years later, she spun off ChickChat to address the women’s market by providing consumer insights to companies both large and small. In 2018 she founded, The Power of She to give more exposure and opportunities to women-owned businesses. In addition to her marketing research firms, Tracy also launched Epiphany Events, where she has created, managed and hosted eclectic parties, networking, social and corporate events for over 13 years. Tracy is particularly passionate about making sure girls at home and around the world have access to a quality education. She has volunteered as a mentor at the Seattle Girls School, sponsors a Nepalese girl’s education and has volunteered for over 10 years with Page Ahead.

Elizabeth Kronoff

Elizabeth Kronoff has worked in non-profit and international development for over fifteen years, including over three years on the ground in Afghanistan. She began her career in Russia as a Peace Corps Volunteer in education, and worked on integrated development programs across Central Asia and Europe, notably Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Program. She recently re-joined the impact committee of Insaan, a philanthropy fund which seeks funds early-stage and innovative social enterprises in the Indian Ocean region. Her experience is primarily in strategic planning, impact measurement, and theories of change. Elizabeth earned her BA in Philosophy from WWU and an MPA from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at UW. In addition to her philanthropic work, she currently manages analytics programs at Microsoft.

Margaret Sprug