Mission Statement

WIIS-NY is a WIIS U.S. Chapter based in New York, New York.  WIIS-NY, formally established in 2009, benefits from its proximity to the United Nations, US Military Academy at West Point, NYPD Intelligence and diverse organizations and individuals working in various aspects of international security.  We define “security” broadly to encompass a range of issues from technology, counterterrorism, defense and arms control, conflict prevention, peace building, human rights, infrastructure, the built environment, climate impacts, etc.

The NY-Chapter of Women in International Security (WIIS – pronounced “wise”) is to advance/promote the leadership and professional development of women in the field of security and safety.  WIIS-NY sponsors events and networking programs focused on security and related subjects; and supports creating a diverse community of security-conscious individuals by raising awareness of relevant global and local issues.

Education, leadership training, and mentoring are an integral part of WIIS’ mission; including support of initiatives related to security and gender, security and technology, and security and the environment.

The overall goal of WIIS-NY is to:

  • Raise local awareness of global issues as it pertains to the current events surrounding gender and security;
  • Investigate and uncover issues that are not getting enough attention locally or globally;
  • Strive to be at the forefront as they are uncovered;
  • Strengthen and foster a community-centric diversity in the greater NYC area.

WIIS-NY is committed to providing a platform where people can examine opportunities, enhance their “quality of life”, but mostly to eliminate barriers and misconceptions in security-related fields.


Min Kyriannis

Min Kyriannis


Min Kyriannis has 25+ years in converged, global, information technology, cybersecurity and physical security, as well as risk management across the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Asia. With her ability to speak multiple languages and love of learning, she loves meeting and listening to new people to gain their perspective. Ms. Kyriannis is passionate about empowering women and the less represented groups to have a platform to speak and develop.

Ms. Kyriannis is serving as the cybersecurity and technology business development lead at JB&B. She is focused on promoting cybersecurity, security and technology as an integral part of all building technology systems as well as collaborating and developing relationships with key members of their organizations to ensure systems are designed with security in mind.

She also serves as Chair of SIA’s Cybersecurity Advisory Board and Vice-Chair of SIA’s New Product Showcase and sits on the Advisory Board for SecuritySpecifiers. In 2019, she received the Platinum Award for “Excellence in Cybersecurity” by the Astors Homeland Security Awards.

Elisa M. Mula

Elisa M. Mula


Elisa Mula formed EM Designs, LLC in 2004 to achieve her vision of creating a consulting business and to pioneer efforts that would challenge existing paradigms in business management. Focused on an industry in which she had extensive education and years of experience – Mula was able to leverage her expertise for the benefit of EMD specifically and her overall professional goals.

Physical Security is one to which Mula has dedicated more than a decade of her life, developed an unparalleled network of professional colleagues, and demonstrated an unrelenting work ethic.  During her immersion in the Physical Security industry, Mula worked on the manufacturing, integration, and consulting aspects of the industry, while simultaneously securing her Masters’ Degree in Protection Management from John Jay College.  During this time, Mula expanded her knowledge in the area of video surveillance, access control, biometrics and artificial intelligence; and more specifically, how these technologies play a larger role in developing best practices within a variety of security programs.

Her depth of experience allowed her to develop her practice with both public and private sector security professionals. These partnerships have imparted a distinctively fresh and inimitable perspective that allows Mula and EMD to offer a new means of recognizing, evaluating, and remediating threats and vulnerabilities.

Maxinne Rhea Leighton

Assoc. AIA, Vice-President
Maxinne Rhea Leighton

Assoc. AIA, Vice-President

Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA, Vice-President


Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA has held leadership roles in design firms for the past twenty years. She is pioneering research on the impact of climate change on design and planning professionals in completion of her PhD. A senior-level strategist in business development, marketing and communications for Jaros, Baum & Bolles, she has facilitated panels on building infrastructure and climate change at the United Nations and the NYC AIA.


Ms. Leighton’s passionate commitment to advancing peace and security in the built environment was intensified post-9/11. As a member of the initial ground zero planning team, Leighton served as a liaison between the design/planning professionals and the victims’ families. Post-Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy she was part of a number of recovery efforts. It was there that the nexus between communities segregated by class and culture in the post-disaster recovery and the role of security was further underscored.

An Honorary Council Member for the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization Global, she is a member of the New York AIA’s Design for Risk and Reconstruction, Advisory Council Member for Save Ellis Island and an advisory board member for A Movement in Water, an interactive multimedia public art installation on the reverence and reciprocity of water.

Leighton is co-author of Educating for Social Justice, A Dangerous Game: Matilda Joslyn Gage Center (Journal of Museum Studies), a suffrage’s fight for social justice and co-editor for The Future of Cities: An Integrated Approach to Urban Challenges (2016), based on the February 2015 conference at UN Headquarters in New York City; co-author of Grand Central: Gateway to a Million Lives (recipient of Chartered Builders of the United Kingdom Silver Literary Awards) and author of An Ellis Island Christmas, a book for children about immigration.

Leighton earned a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Binghamton and a Master of Arts in Urban Studies at New York University. In 2018 she was recognized with WBC’s “Outstanding Women in the Building Industry” award as well as being honored as one of New York’s Power Women.

Bethan Saunders

Director of Outreach
Bethan Saunders

Director of Outreach

Bethan Saunders is an analyst for Morgan Stanley’s Senior Relationship Management team, where she focuses on client strategy and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impact investing.  Bethan graduated cum laude from Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she majored in International Politics and Security. As an undergraduate, Bethan was a research fellow for the Mortara Center for International Studies and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. Her research focused on gender, post-conflict reconstruction, and UNSCR 1325 National Action Plans. While in DC, Bethan interned for the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls, the U.S. State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues, and the Office of Religion & Global Affairs. Now living in New York City, Bethan is a United State of Women Ambassador and volunteers with the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which galvanizes private sector funding for women peacebuilders in conflict zones. Bethan also serves on the junior board for Restore NYC’s Young Supporters Network, which empowers female survivors of sex trafficking in New York City.

Dania Risheg

Director of Strategic Alliances
Dania Risheg

Director of Strategic Alliances

In her role as a Business Development Manager, Dania engages in a variety of tasks, including threat assessment, system design, sales, project management, coordination, strategic planning, relationship management, negotiation, project budgeting, leadership and innovative development of opportunities. She has been in the Enterprise Security Industry for 16+ years.

Dania is passionate about sharing the latest trends and technological developments as well as discussing the most recent life-safety concerns and how the security industry is tackling them. Some of her professional goals include but not limited to educating the space occupants and those who are responsible for providing protection and arm them with best practices to ensure everyone's safety in the workplace.

Dania is an Associate AIA member and a LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty Credentials BD+C. Her experience in the field extensively encompasses Security Systems Engineering and Integration, Green Design, and Commercial Construction and Design.


Dania is a strong advocate of Women’s rights in the workplace and supports women’s accessibility to leadership positions and equal pay.

Brette Brier

Social Media Coordinator
Brette Brier

Social Media Coordinator

Brette grew up in Summit, NJ and attended the Morristown-Beard School. For undergrad, she attended Connecticut College and graduated as a triple major in Government, History, and American Studies. After graduation, Brette entered the security industry as an Intelligence/GSOC Analyst with Gavin de Becker & Associates in San Francisco, CA. She then worked for Pinkerton as a Protective Intelligence Analyst in the Bay Area. Brette returned to New York, NY in November 2018 and currently works for Facebook as a Protective Intelligence Analyst.

Past Events

A Luncheon Discussion with Dr. Edit Schlaffer

Wednesday, April 2 - 1-3pm

Dr. Edit Schlaffer is a social scientist, author, and activist. Her research focuses on women in international politics, women as agents of change in politics and civil society, and interpersonal relationships in the modern world. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Women without Borders, which works to empower women in achieving positive change around the world.

In 2008, Women without Borders launched a global campaign – Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) – a platform that brings together women, mothers especially, to contribute to a safer and more secure world.  SAVE currently has projects in countries across South Asia, North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

The lunchtime discussion will also include a brief screening on SAVE’s work.


Global Center on Cooperative Security
747 Third Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10017


About our host and co-sponsor:
The Global Center on Cooperative Security works with governments, international organizations, and civil society to develop and implement comprehensive and sustainable responses to complex international security challenges through collaborative policy research, context-sensitive programming, and capacity development. In collaboration with a global network of expert practitioners and partner organizations, the Global Center fosters stronger multilateral partnerships and convenes key stakeholders to support integrated and inclusive security policies across national, regional, and global levels. For more information, please visit www.globalcenter.org.


A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems… Where Governments Cannot

Speakers: Alice Korngold, Matthew Bishop

Thursday, March 20 – 6:30-8:30pm

Please join Women In International Security’s New York chapter for a book talk, signing and reception featuring Alice Korngold, author of A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems… Where Governments Cannot. The discussion will focus on the various ways in which companies are promoting respect for human rights, environmental protection, poverty reduction and other factors that lead to more peaceful societies.

Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief of The Economist will moderate.

Copies of A Better World, Inc. will be available for purchase.


SHOWCASE: To be or not to be an entrepreneur

A discussion with Kimberly Weisul, Editor-at-Large for Inc.com andVeronique Cardon, Cardon Health Care and Wellness Consulting. Both speakers have pursued an entrepreneurial path, though in different ways and at different stages in their careers. They'll speak to us about their own experiences in pursuing their passions and what it takes to become an entrepreneur.


The offices of Cohn & Wolfe
200 5th Avenue, 7th floor, New York, NY 10010

Date and Time:

Wednesday 19th February 18:30


Monday, December 9, from 6-8pm Women In International Security-New York and Global Action to Prevent War will be hosting our final roundtable on women's mentorship. The discussion will focus on the impact of aging and generational differences on relationships among women.

Below please find resources that can be used to inform our discussion. I've included links to the full articles as well as excerpts that highlight relevant points from each source.

The discussion will be held at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4050, located on the Northeast corner of East 48th Street and First Avenue.

These off-the-record conversations will be used to develop a guidebook on women's mentorship.


The Tyranny of the Queen Bee

Peggy Drexler, The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2013

Millennials: The Me, Me, Me Generation
Joel Stein, Time, May 20, 2013
Avoiding Inter-Generational Gender Traps
Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War Blog, August 14, 2013
A close look at the male gaze
Jane Caro, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 24, 2013
Queen Bee Syndrome False: Women Help Other Women Advance In The Workplace, Study
Emma Gray, Huffington Post, June 12, 2012



Monday, November 18, from 6-8pm Women In International Security-New York and Global Action to Prevent War will be hosting the third roundtable in our series of discussions on women's mentorship. The discussion will focus on sponsors, the influential people who will advocate on your behalf and personally help you ascend to leadership positions. Possible questions for discussion include: What makes an effective sponsorship and how do these relationships differ from traditional mentorship? How are relationships with sponsors cultivated, and what are reasonable boundaries for sponsors or mentors to set with their protégées?

A second discussion on the topic will be held over breakfast on FridayNovember 22nd, from 8:30-10am for those who cannot attend our evening sessions.

Below please find resources that can be used to inform our discussion. I've included links to the full articles as well as excerpts that I believe include important highlights from each source.

The discussions will be held at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4050, located on the Northeast corner of East 48th Street and First Avenue.

These off-the-record conversations will be used to develop a guidebook on women's mentorship. More details on the initiative are included in the attachment.


 1. Changing companies minds about women

Joanna Barsh and Lareina Yee, McKinsey Quarterly, September 2011

2. Making a career power play

Lillian Cunningham interviews Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of (Forget a Mentor), Find a Sponsor, The Washington Post,October 31, 2013

3. Seven Essentials for a Happy and Fulfilling Career

Kathy Caprino, Forbes, August 26, 2013

4. Make Yourself Safe for Sponsorship

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Harvard Business Review, October 7, 2013


5. Little surprise here: women expected to do more at home – and at work

Heidi Moore, The Guardian, November 1, 2013



AEGIS: An art exhibition and benefit

Please join Women In International Security on Friday, November 15, from 6-9pm for an art exhibition and benefit supporting the Women, Peace and Security program of Global Action to Prevent War.

Global Action has been an integral part of WIIS-NY's work since the chapter was formed in early 2009. They've generously hosted our meetings, provided guidance on our programming ideas and offered their expertise on gender and security issues.

This event will be hosted by Leonard Tourné Gallery, located at 46 East 65th Street between Park and Madison avenues. We hope you can join us and other Global Action supporters for a fun evening with good conversation, networking, cocktails and art.

The evening will benefit the Women, Peace and Security program of Global Action, a United Nations-affiliated 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Women, Peace and Security works internationally—on the ground and through diplomatic channels—to promote women's full participation in political and social life and to bring an end to impunity for violence against women.

For additional details, please click here.

Date: Friday, November 15, 2013
Time: 6-9pm
Location: 46 East 65th Street (between Madison and Park avenues)

The Role of Corporations in Promoting Global Security

WIIS New York and The International Crisis Group

Wednesday, December 10, 6-7:30 pm

International Crisis Group
708 3rd Avenue, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Please write to wiisny@wiisglobal.org with your name, title and affiliation.

There has been growing recognition in recent years of the positive impact corporations can have on global affairs, with businesses becoming more and more engaged in promoting human rights, poverty reduction, women's empowerment and more. Yet business can also create or exacerbate conflict, particularly in areas that need stability and economic development the most. How can the resources and expertise of business be leveraged toward global security and conflict prevention? What are the risks in engaging private actors, and how can those risks be mitigated?

Join us on Human Rights Day for an interactive conversation on the role of corporations in promoting global security. WIIS-NY will be joined by Christine Bader and Jessica Robinson who will discuss their expertise on the topic as well as their experience with career transitions, authoring books and more.

Light refreshments will be served.


Christine BaderChristine Bader is the author of The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil (Bibliomotion, March 2014). She is a visiting scholar at Columbia University, where she co-teaches a course on human rights and business, and a human rights advisor to BSR. After earning her MBA from Yale in 2000, Christine joined BP and proceeded to work in Indonesia, China and the U.K., managing the social impacts of some of the company’s largest projects in the developing world. In 2006 she created a part-time pro bono role as Advisor to the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for business and human rights, a role she took up full-time in 2008 until the U.N. mandate ended in 2011. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; The OpEd Project; and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. Christine's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review and numerous other outlets, and she has given talks to conferences, companies and universities around the world, including a TEDx talk entitled "Manifesto for the Corporate Idealist." She lives in her native New York City with her husband, son and daughter.

Jessica RobinsonJessica Robinson is a gender-focused Safety and Security Consultant and certified coach. She promotes global consciousness of violence against women and girls at the intersection of humanism, security, women and leadership. As a safety and security advisor, Jessica provides trainings and solutions for individuals and businesses on how to protect themselves and employees against data and physical security threats. Jessica spent eight years in the private sector, where she was responsible for leading and supporting a $600 million business in the area of Assets Protection and has also worked in the area of public-private partnerships with an emphasis on training and development. Jessica currently serves on the board of the international non-profit World Pulse, the Emerging Global Leader Circle with IMPACT Leadership 21, and on the UN Women Committee on Public-Private Partnerships. Jessica was a 2014 Fellow with IMPACT Leadership 21, completed an Executive Education certificate at Columbia University Business School in 2013 and was a Fellow with the Impact Center in 2012. She received her Master’s in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and earned an East Asian Studies Certificate. She received a B.S. from Western Illinois University where she graduated with honors. Her co-authored book, Mission Unstoppable, with George Fraser and Les Brown is a #1 Amazon Best Seller in 7 categories.


International Crisis GroupThe International Crisis Group is widely recognised as the world’s leading independent, non-partisan source of analysis and advice on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. Crisis Group uses expert field-based research to create practical policy solutions paired with advocacy at the highest levels to advance the cause of peace and security in over 70 conflicts worldwide.