Maryana Iskander

Maryana Iskander (/ˌmæriˈænə ɪˈskændər/;[3] Arabic: ماريانا إسكندر; born September 1, 1975)[4] is an Egyptian-born American social entrepreneur and lawyer. In 2022, she became the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Wikimedia Foundation, succeeding Katherine Maher.[1] Iskander was the CEO of the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and a former chief operating officer of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York.

Maryana Iskander
ماريانا إسكندر
Photo of Maryana Iskander, smiling
Iskander in 2022
Born (1975-09-01) September 1, 1975 (age 47)
Cairo, Egypt
NationalityEgyptian, American
Alma mater

Early life and educationEdit

Maryana Iskander was born in Cairo, Egypt, where she lived before emigrating to the United States with her family at the age of four. Her family settled in Round Rock, Texas.[5] Iskander graduated from Rice University magna cum laude with a degree in sociology in 1997,[5] before earning her MSc from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 1999,[5] where she founded the Rhodes Association of Women. In 2003, she graduated from Yale Law School.[5]


After graduating from Oxford, Iskander began her career as an associate at McKinsey and Co. Following her graduation from Yale Law School, Iskander clerked for Diane P. Wood on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, Illinois. She then served as the adviser to the president of Rice University, David Leebron. After two years, Iskander left her job at Rice to take the role of chief operating officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York.[5] She has also worked as a strategy consultant for W. L. Gore & Associates, and a law clerk at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York, and Vinson & Elkins in Houston.[6]

After her time at Planned Parenthood, Iskander in 2012 became the chief operating officer of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in South Africa before becoming its chief executive officer (CEO) in 2013. Harambee is focused on connecting employers to first-time workers to reduce youth unemployment and increase retention. In 2015, Iskander made a commitment in New York City to the Clinton Global Initiative that Harambee would provide South African youth with 50,000 jobs and work experiences; by 2018, she was able to share with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, in Johannesburg for a visit, that Harambee had exceeded her commitment, delivering over 85,000 such opportunities.[7] Speaking at the 2019 Conscious Companies Awards in Johannesburg, Iskander explained that she wanted "business to understand that the hiring of young people in their first jobs is not a charitable exercise but talent ... We treat young people like customers and not like beneficiaries."[8] By building a large pool of workers that is easily navigable and proving that youth can be employed successfully using this method, Harambee was able to scale their efforts and effectiveness.[9] During her time as CEO, the non-profit connected 100,000 young workers with work opportunities in partnership with 500 businesses as of June 2019.[10]

On September 14, 2021, Iskander was named as CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, assuming her post on January 5, 2022.[11] She has stated in interviews that her priorities after taking her role were to diversify Wikipedia's volunteer writers and editors and to promote the Wikimedia Foundation's mission of advocating for access to information.[12]


Iskander has been the recipient of several awards and fellowships including the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Yale Law School Distinguished Alumnae Award.[13] In 2002, she was awarded the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans,[14] which is given to immigrants or the children of immigrants "who are poised to make significant contributions to US society, culture or their academic field".[5] She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship[2] and Harry S. Truman Scholarship. She was also a member of the 2006 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute, and of their Aspen Global Leadership Network.[15] Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and its leadership have been recognized with awards and funding from organizations such as the Skoll Foundation[16] and USAID.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Maryana Iskander". Wikimedia Foundation. January 4, 2022. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Rice Centennial Timeline". Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  3. ^ Maryana Iskander, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator. Devex. June 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Who's who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Vol. 62. Randall Publishing Company. 1996. p. 714.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Maryana F. Iskander, 2001". Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. P'unk Ave. Archived from the original on February 25, 2020. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  6. ^ "About Our Team". Harambee. Archived from the original on September 26, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  7. ^ Linington, Darryl. "Harambee's exceeds youth employment commitment to Clinton global initiative - IT News Africa - Up to date technology news, IT news, Digital news, Telecom news, Mobile news, Gadgets news, Analysis and Reports". Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  8. ^ "Conscious Companies awards applauds 2019 finalists". IOL. Independent Media and affiliated companies. Archived from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  9. ^ "Harambee, Youth Employment Accelerator, winner in NGO's category". Mail & Guardian. Mail & Guardian Online. May 24, 2019. Archived from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  10. ^ "Youth-owned township businesses complain of market access barriers". IOL. Independent Media and affiliated. Archived from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Lima, Cristiano (September 14, 2021). "Wikimedia taps leader of South African nonprofit as its next CEO". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on September 14, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  12. ^ "Wikipedia parent's new CEO wants to make it more global". The Seattle Times. September 27, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  13. ^ Edwards, Caryn (February 9, 2018). "Yale honours CEO of South African youth employment accelerator". The South African. Blue Sky Publications Ltd. Archived from the original on August 30, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  14. ^ "Maryana Iskander". University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Speaker Series. Clinton School. Archived from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  15. ^ "Maryana Iskander". AGLN. The Aspen Institute. Archived from the original on February 25, 2020. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  16. ^ "Skoll Awardees". Skoll Foundation. Skoll Foundation. Archived from the original on March 13, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  17. ^ "USAID Announces $18.4 Million in Support of Cutting Edge Innovations". USAID. USAID. Archived from the original on November 23, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2020.

External linksEdit