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Government leader

Penny writes about: Foreign Affairs, Gender, Politics

Penny Abeywardena is New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs. As the City’s ambassador, Penny leads the agency serving the largest diplomatic corps in the world and is the primary representative to the United Nations, 193 permanent missions, 116 consulates, and 75 trade missions.  Since her appointment in September 2014, New York City has successfully implemented a series of initiatives and programs with the international community, which include youth empowerment and the leadership of cities and local governments on global issues like climate change and managing/rebuilding post the COVID-19 pandemic. During spring 2020, when NYC was the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, she was responsible for working with the United Nations and foreign governments to secure necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. 

Abeywardena is a lifelong advocate of women’s rights and a vocal champion for sustainability and social justice. Her contribution to social justice has been recognized and celebrated by the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and the French American Foundation, among others. Prior to the Mayor of New York City’s appointment, Penny was the Director of Girls and Women Integration at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Cities and local governments have proven their critical role in realizing a sustainable and equitable future. But we have so much more to do. Let’s make sure that we continue to have a seat at the table.


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