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I am really excited to announce confirmation of Marga Fripp as a guest speaker during the upcoming residency. She will share her
inspiring story about empowering women through the arts and promoting social justice in Romania and in Maryland. Read on to learn more.

Marga Fripp, the Founder and President of Empowered Women International, is an award-winning social entrepreneur and international consultant in women’s leadership and empowerment. With over 20 years of experience in solving social problems through the arts, innovation and entrepreneurship, Marga is passionate about empowering women to pursue their dreams. She has worked with thousands of women in the US and internationally to start or grow their micro-businesses. A former journalist and a native of Romania, Marga produced programs that focused on women’s equality, human rights and integration solutions for orphans and street children during the difficult first years of Romania’s transition from communism. She was banned from broadcasting in Romania in 1996 due to her critical portrayal of social policy of the post-communist Iliescu government.

This TEDx talk says it all – Finding Purpose.

In 1998, at the age of 23, Marga founded and developed a successful women’s service and advocacy organization – The Association for the Promotion of Women in Romania (APoWeR) – to counteract violence against women and provide economic opportunities for women in Romania. As part of her strategy of development, Marga formed and led a multidisciplinary team of lawyers, judges and prosecutors to draft a domestic violence bill (2001). She then mobilized citizens, politicians and non-profit activists to advocate for it. In 2000, Marga also produced and hosted a TV talk show to address women’s human rights in Romania. The talk show’s popular debate format for discussions of discriminatory practices towards women, combined with APoWeR’s three years of legislative advocacy efforts, led to a national Domestic Violence Bill signed into law by the Romanian Parliament in May 2003.

With her American husband, Marga left her life in Romania behind in 2001 to bring their newborn son to the US for treatment after suffering a brain stroke two days after he was born. It was during this most stressful time in her life, as she struggled to find her own way in the US, learn the language, care for her baby and eight year old daughter, and with a husband whose work frequently took him out of the country, that Marga began to find other immigrant women with the same struggles with belonging and integration. Hearing their stories and similar plight, Marga began to envision a community of women for women, who could help one another succeed and support each other; where others can hear and see their culturally rich and vibrant stories. Read Marga’s Story here.

In May 2002, Marga created Empowered Women International (EWI) to give voice and create entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrant, refugee and other marginalized women. Over the past decade, Marga’s effective and passionate leadership turned EWI from a volunteer-run program to an award-winning organization with more than 3,500 supporters, over 3,000 women beneficiaries, and more than 1 million dollars generated in donated services. Marga has completed a graduate certification in Business Administration at the Open University, U.K., and holds a BA in Communication/Journalism from the University of Maryland University College. She is married to Jesse Fripp, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Romania and currently an executive with ShoreBank International Ltd. They have two children and live in Bowie, Maryland.

Marga will speak to the Welch Center community on Thursday, January 15th at 7:00 PM. Be inspired by Marga’s passionate talk on what sparked her imagination and vision for Empowered Women International and what drives her purpose for social change.


skillman-headshot1-300x276Amy Skillman, M.A.
Academic Director
As a folklorist, Skillman works at the intersection of culture and tension, where paying attention to culture can serve to mediate social change. She advises artists and community-based organizations on the implementation of programs that honor and conserve cultural traditions, guides them to potential resources, and develops programs to help build their capacity to sustain these initiatives. Drawing on extensive research and documentation, Skillman has developed a variety of public programs that bring awareness to issues of importance in these communities. Her work has included an oral history/leadership empowerment initiative with immigrant and refugee women in Central Pennsylvania, a Grammy-nominated recording of old time fiddlers in Missouri, and a yearlong arts residency with alternative education high school students rooted in the ethnography of their lives. Skillman recently curated a major traveling exhibition that examines the role of folk arts as a catalyst for activism in communities throughout Pennsylvania. She received her Masters degree in Folklore and Folklife from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University in a self-designed major in Cultural Minorities and the Immigrant Experience.

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Marga Fripp Featured in Goucher College’s Community Speakers Series
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