The Women of Concern Awards Luncheon is a celebration of the accomplishments of women and girls around the world. Every year, Concern is proud to recognize the achievements of exceptional women who are using their platform to amplify the voices of women and girls worldwide. 

This year, we urge our supporters to envision a world where gender equality is not just a dream but a tangible reality. A world where glass ceilings simply don't exist, pay parity is reached, and a household is supported not by one head or even two, but by a whole village.

We hope you will join us for the Women of Concern Awards Luncheon that has for 25 years propelled us towards an equitable future while paying tribute to those who embody justice, generosity, and compassion in their work and daily lives.

All proceeds support Concern Worldwide’s Women & Girls Fund, an always-on approach to collecting and deploying funds that reach women and girls who are disproportionately impacted by conflict, climate shocks, extreme hunger, and economic instability within the communities we partner with across 26 countries.

Host: Katie Waller

Katie Waller, Host, Women of Concern Chicago

Katie has worked at the intersection of community participatory methods and innovation for over a decade across a variety of sectors in Concern’s 25 countries of operation. As Director of Strategic Partnerships, Katie stewards collaboration and strategic partnerships with a portfolio of corporate and foundation donors. Katie received her MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education and a certificate in global health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.


As Humanitarian Programs Director for Concern Worldwide US, Rachel Isely leads Concern’s Humanitarian Training & Research Unit which has provided capacity building and system strengthening trainings to more than 120,000 humanitarians working in nearly every type of humanitarian context today. In her tenure, the unit has expanded significantly and is now comprised of three unique training and research programs, including the USAID/BHA funded research project, Beyond Barriers, which aims to provide an evidence base for advancing locally-led humanitarian action through more equitable power dynamics in the humanitarian system.

Rachel also manages and instructs in training programs such as the National NGO Program on Humanitarian Leadership (NNPHL), and the Building a Better Response Project (BBR) - joint initiatives of Concern, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and International Medical Corps - which aim to strengthen the leadership capacity and engagement of NGOs in the international humanitarian coordination system during complex emergencies.

During her time at Concern, Rachel has served as interim Program Director for Concern Afghanistan based in Kabul, and has worked on emergency response and development programming with Concern’s country teams in Somalia, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Republic of Sudan, and South Sudan. Rachel holds a Master’s Degree in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London, where she focused her studies on labor economics and workers’ rights in South Asia.

Saara Bouhouche

Saara Bouhouche is a humanitarian affairs, peacebuilding, and inclusive security expert, and an anti-racism, social justice, and gender equality activist. Her 20+ year career has been shaped by her personal and professional commitment to fighting against inequalities, structural violence, and discriminations, and advocating for intercultural dialogue, and the protection of women and minority groups’ rights.

As an intersectional feminist, she is the founder and strategic associate of several French and international projects and organizations focusing on women rights, minority rights and social justice. Strategist and strong believer of collective actions, Saara leverages her remarkably rich background to achieve positive impact and builds upon her unique vision and approaches to reach her objective of a more just and equal world.

Saara is currently the Humanitarian Policy Advisor at Concern Worldwide. In her role, she leads Concern’s global policy, global strategy, and institutional technical support to country program teams on conflict transformation, including themes related to conflict sensitivity, social cohesion, peacebuilding, the HDP-nexus, and akin. She is also an active member of Concern’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Steering Committee.

Auctioneer: John Walcher

John Walcher, Auctioneer, Women of Concern Chicago

John P. Walcher is a Senior Specialist and auctioneer for Rago Wright LLC and Toomey & Co. Auctioneers, and joined the company in 2013. Since joining the company, John has managed and curated numerous collections at auction and helped oversee many important collections, including: The Collection of Ira Simon: Sold to Benefit the Art Institute of Chicago, The Paul and Terry Somerson Collection of 20th & 21st Century Metalwork and JewelryThe Warshawsky CollectionThe Estate of Candice B. GrootThe Collection of Governor Jim Thompson and The Estate of Robert E. “Butch" McGuire, among others. He also regularly assists many charitable organizations by offering his services as a professional auctioneer and has been helping Concern raise funds since 2018.


Trinity Irish Dance Companyhas significantly changed the direction and scope of Irish dance, re-introducing the art form as the phenomenon it is today. Founded in 1990, this innovative, nonprofit, repertory company was created to celebrate the pioneering work of Founding Artistic Director Mark Howard. Considered an American treasure by critics and enthusiasts worldwide, this internationally-renowned company is the birthplace of 'progressive Irish dance', an innovative movement genre which "ushered in a new era for Irish step dance." (Chicago Tribune) With a unique blend of uncompromising power and grace, TIDC sends a consistent message of female empowerment with a repertory that has elevated the art form for more than three decades.

Kwanli Kladstrup talking at podiumColleen with attendees Decor on tableWomen talking at tableVenue