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University of Iowa News Release


May 26, 2010

Community can mingle with African women leaders June 3

Eleven African women leaders -- ranging from the mayor of a town in Burkina Faso and an attorney from Botswana to a human rights activist from Mauritania and a high school teacher from Cameroon -- will meet with members of the community during an informal mingling opportunity.

The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at SHARE Wine Lounge and Small Plate Bistro in the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Iowa City.

The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities and the Iowa United Nations Association are sponsoring this opportunity as part of new and casual monthly get-togethers that focus on international topics and people-to-people exchanges.

“Since CIVIC’s mission is about building global relationships in the heartland, this event is a wonderful opportunity for our Iowa community to connect with these incredible women from all over Africa,” said Sharon Benzoni, executive director of ICFRC and CIVIC, both which receive support from International Programs at the University of Iowa.

The women, who represent Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Sudan and Tanzania, are visiting the U.S. to examine grassroots political organizing, empowerment of women and girls, women in the media and the local school system. Their Iowa City visit on June 3 and 4 is just one of six stops on their visit across the U.S. They will also visit Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Phoenix and New Orleans.

During their two-day visit, the women will participate in a roundtable discussion with the following: Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek; Iowa City Mayor Pro Tem and City Council Member Ross Wilburn, Rep. Mary Mascher, who is serving her seventh term in the Iowa House of Representatives, Janet Lyness with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office; Doug Beardsley, director of Johnson County Public Health; and Jean Lloyd Jones, former CIVIC president and former Iowa state representative and state senator.

They will also visit South East Junior High in Iowa City to learn about the U.S. educational system and school leadership and the United Action for Youth to learn about the role of UAY in the development of Iowa City youth. Other highlights include visiting the Mother Mosque of America and the Islamic Center in Cedar Rapids and visiting with KCRG TV 9 television journalist and news anchor Beth Malicki.

The group’s visit to Iowa is organized by CIVIC and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as part of their International Visitor Leadership Program. Marianne Weiss and Peggy Houston are planning the group’s visit.

For more information on the informal mingling opportunity or special accommodations to attend, call Benzoni at 319-384-2260 or 319-621-5434.

NOTE TO EDITORS. Members of the media interested in covering this visit must make arrangements 24 hours in advance, according to U.S. State Department media guidelines. To arrange an interview and get more details about this group’s schedule, call Benzoni at 319-384-2260 or 319-621-5434.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sharon Benzoni,, 319-384-2260; or Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,