Champions for Innovation

The GICC is a dynamic partnership between UN Women and key representatives from the private sector, academic and not-for-profit institutions focused on ensuring women and girls can fully benefit from technological innovation in our increasingly digitally-driven world.  

In March of 2018, UN Women announced the appointment of eight Champions for Innovation on the occasion of the Innovation Norway, SAP and UN Women’s commemoration event of International Women’s Day. This included fashion designer Rachel Roy, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, actress Zoe Saldana, former NFL Player Wade Davis, inventor Joy Mangano, founder of S.H.E Summit and Globl Media Claudia Chan, historian Dr. Nina Ansary and partnership advisor Shaloo Garg. These champions use their platform to support the flagship innovation programs of the Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) throughout 2018 and 2019.

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The UN Women Champions for Innovation will support the work of the GICC through the following activities:

  • Advocating for UN Women’s activities that support women and girls' opportunities in areas related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation;
  • Raise awareness of the barriers to women and girls’ increased participation in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship;
  • Provide substantive input and expertise to the Global Innovation Coalition for Change flagship initiatives;
  • Use their respective platforms to share and promote UN Women’s works on innovation.

Through the engagement of the Champions for Innovation, UN Women expects to further help women and girls to design, shape and benefit from the technological transformations and innovations changing our world.

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Who Are our Champions?

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Rachel Roy

Founder and Creative Director of Rachel Roy

Rachel Roy is the founder and creative director of her eponymous brand and a tireless activist for using your voice to encourage change and to design the life you wish to live. Created in 2004, Rachel has built her ready-to-wear and accessories business into a globally recognized brand with product categories including contemporary, curvy, outerwear, jewelry and swim.

Rachel is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Rachel founded Kindness Is Always Fashionable, an entrepreneurial philanthropic platform to help women artisans around the world create sustainable income for their families and communities. Rachel nurtures young design talent globally through her work with the Who’s Next/Vogue Mexico, WoolMark Prize and CFDA incubator programs.



Sarah Michelle Gellar is a Golden Globe nominee and Emmy winning actress. In October 2015, Gellar stepped into a new role as entrepreneur, co-founding Foodstirs along with Galit Laibow, and Greg Fleishman. 

Gellar is also an Author, she released her first book last year, Stirring Up Fun with Food, filled with over 100 recipes and food-crafting ideas to be creative in the kitchen. Off screen, Gellar lends her time and support to child and hunger organizations as an advocate and activist. She works closely with No Kid Hungry and Good+ Foundation as well as the non-profit organization CARE.


Sarah Michelle Gellar

Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder Foodstirs


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Wade Davis

Former NFL Player and Corporate Inclusion and Culture Advisor

Former NFL Player Wade Davis is a thought leader, public speaker, and consultant on gender, race, and orientation equality. Wade is the NFL’s first LGBT inclusion consultant and currently consults for numerous professional sports leagues on issues at the intersection sexism, racism and homophobia. Beyond sports, Wade currently consults for tech giant Google and advises other Fortune 500 companies on creating inclusive cultures.

He has partnered with Planned Parenthood, the Ms. Foundation and HuffPost Women, separately, launching initiatives and PSA’s to define, establish and achieve the political, social and economic equality for women and men. A former national surrogate for President Obama, Wade is also a former professor at NYU and Rutgers and received an honorary Doctor of Public Service from Northeastern University.



Dr. Nina Ansary is a bestselling author, historian, and leading authority on women's rights in Iran. Her book Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran received international attention and has garnered multiple awards - including the 2016 International Book Award in ''Women's Issues''.

She is the recipient of the 2018 Trailblazer Award from Barnard College, Columbia University. She has also been recognized as one of "14 Privileged Women to Change the World" by Marie Claire, been featured in Angeleno Magazine's ''Living Legacies of 2016'' and selected as one of ''Five Iranian Visionaries You Need to Know'' and ''6 Women Who Build Bridges Not Walls'' by The New York Times.


Dr. Nina Ansary

Bestselling Author, Historian and leading authority on women’s rights in Iran


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Zoe Saldana

Actress and Founder BESE

Zoe Saldana is the epitome of a true star in Hollywood, and has built her reputation as a versatile and respected actress by choosing roles that she feels passionately about. In 2018 Saldana launched the digital platform, BESE to bring greater diversity to Hollywood and 'share the real stories of Latin Americans.

Saldana is also the Global Ambassador for Shot@Life. Shot@Life aims to ensure that children around the world have access to life-saving vaccines. Through education, advocacy and fundraising, they strive to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life no matter where they live. It is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, which builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach.



Joy Mangano is one of the most-successful and celebrated product inventors of her time. As President of Ingenious Designs LLC, the company she founded in the back of an auto-body shop, she has created and sold nearly $3 billion of product to women across America.  She is the author of inspirational WSJ Best Seller memoir “INVENTING JOY: DARE TO BUILD A BRAVE & CREATIVE LIFE”, and her life was the subject of the 20th Century Fox feature film “JOY”, starring Jennifer Lawrence in an Oscar-nominated performance as Joy.

Joy is also the founding director of the Joy Mangano Foundation, and has overcome incredible odds to experience great success. She was named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People”and her products have been profiled on Good Morning America, 20/20, the TODAY Show, The View, and numerous consumer publications including Good Housekeeping where Joy’s products have regularly obtained the outlet’s award seal.


Joy Mangano

Founder of Ingenious Designs LLC, Award Winning Inventor and TV personality, Best Selling Author



Claudia Chan

Founder S.H.E Summit and S.H.E Globl Media

Claudia Chan is a recognized leadership expert and social entrepreneur dedicated to activating individuals and organizations to lead culture change and accelerate equality.

Claudia founded the award-winning global leadership conference, S.H.E. Summit, making the advancement of women’s leadership and inclusive culture change accessible and actionable. Year after year, the event connects, educates and activates change agents and champions of equality.

Claudia also leads S.H.E. Globl Media, a corporate platform helping Fortune 1000 companies by providing strategic and operational tools to empower and activate ALL employees in creating permanent culture change.