A tireless advocate for women and girls’ empowerment, Melanne Verveer, the Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, has been named the Honorary Chair for the 2016 International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe.

“We are so honored to have Ambassador Verveer as the chair of the Market this year, said Jeff Snell, CEO of the International Folk Art Alliance. “She’s a champion to artisans and women worldwide, and her life’s work is an inspiration to us all.”

Ambassador Verveer most recently served as the first United States Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, a position to which she was nominated by President Obama in 2009. She coordinated foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic, and social advancement of women. As Ambassador she was instrumental in the creation of the Alliance of Artisan Enterprise, a public-private partnership with the US State Department and Aspen Institute. It is a collaboration of artisan businesses, support organizations, corporations, government, and others — including the International Folk Art Alliance — working to support the full potential of artisan enterprises around the world.

From 2000-2008, she was the Chair and Co-CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international NGO that she co-founded to invest in emerging women leaders, including artisan entrepreneurs around the globe. Verveer is also the co-author of “Fast Forward: How Women are Using their Power for Purpose.” The book includes the work of IFAA.

“The Market and IFAA make an enormous contribution to serving artisans’ groups with high potential from around the globe,” said Ambassador Verveer. “The artisan sector is one of the largest economic sectors in the developing world, but artisans often face enormous barriers to expanding their markets. Through the IFAA, they not only get to participate in the largest market of its kind in the world, but also get sound business training, mentoring, and other assists that will enable them to realize their full economic potential. For the artisans, the exposure and access to buyers is transformative.”

On Thursday, July 7, Ambassador Verveer will speak to the public at the annual community celebration at the Santa Fe BandStand at 5:30pm, followed by the much- anticipated artist procession and a free concert by Mamadou Kelly, who comes from Goundam and Niafunke in the heartland of Mali’s Niger River Delta. Ambassador Verveer will also have several opportunities to speak directly to the Market artists including at the private One World Awards Dinner, where she will present two Artist Awards, one for Living Traditions and one for Community Impact, as well as the Corporate Philanthropy Award, Individual Donor Award, and our “Friend of the Market” Award in recognition of Senator Tom Udall & his wife Jill’s hard work on behalf of the International Folk Art Market.

Market Logistics: The International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe opens on the evening of July 8 and runs through July 10, 2016, at the beautiful Milner Plaza on Santa Fe’s renowned Museum Hill. For detailed information go to www.folkartmarket.org. The IFAA also works with global thought leaders including the Clinton Global Initiative, the Aspen Institute, and the U.S. Department of State to support and grow artisan enterprises. This year the Market continues its highly successful training program, Mentor to Market, to provide an increasing number of folk artists with business and marketing expertise. Other partners include the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the City of Santa Fe. For more information, interview requests, and photos, please contact Clare Hertel at 505-474-6783 or clare@clarehertelcommunications.com for national press; or Gabe Gomez at 505-603-5677 or gabe@folkartmarket.org for New Mexico press.