The International Women's Association of Bucharest:  a volunteer run nonprofit association, bringing people together since 1978

IWA was founded in 1978, during the Ceaușescu dictatorship, by the spouse of a diplomat. We became a registered association in 2000.

IWA 1978: A Historical Background

Written for the celebration of IWA’s Pearl Anniversary, May 2008by Renee McDannel, then volunteering as IWA’s First Vice-President

Arcul De Triumf 1978

1978 was marked by many memorable and interesting events in Romania, such as the hosting of the 20th International Mathematics Olympiad, the 10th Anniversary of the 'Prague Spring,’ and the founding of the Ecologist Party. Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena were invited in 1978 to Britain to meet the Queen. This groundbreaking move marked the Romanian attempts to break free of Soviet control.

Ceaucescu and Queen Elizabeth

Romania's cultural policy in 1978 was marked by many as a continuation of the dramatic 1977 release of Paul Goma, who was arrested, silenced, and imprisoned for promoting basic professional rights and attacking official cultural policy. He was subsequently allowed to leave the country November 20th, 1977. For many this is regarded as a turning point in the country's post 1971 cultural development. It was a time of ambiguity in which actual practices often did not align with pronouncements.

Strada Turda Bucuresti 1978

Ceaușescu's orientation during this time fostered the "ideological education of the popular masses” and was constituted by giving preferences and rewards to those artists who obeyed and conformed to party line. It was a time of cultural policy that supported an anti-elite spirit.

Ceaucescu visit 1978

This was the backdrop of the times in which Evelyn Zivetz found herself. As the wife of Mr. Herman Zivetz the U.S. Cultural Attaché, she desired to support her husband's work and make a difference in the cultural society of Romania. In Romanian society during this time to have contact and friendships with foreigners was monitored closely and generally discouraged.

Piata Universitatii  

Evelyn's seminal idea to combat the social isolation in which she and the other diplomats' wives found themselves was to approach the Council of Socialist Culture and Education, lead by Mrs. Suzan Gadea and request permission to form the Bucharest International Women's Association (IWA). The primary function of IWA was to provide a social network amongst the wives of the diplomats serving in Romania. It was to be an environment in which they could mix not only with each other, but also have access to Romanian Society within the tight limits that were being imposed by the Romanian government.

Hotel Intercontinental 1978

Permission was given, however IWA was not given a legal status then and had to operate under unofficial statues until 1999; when it was legalized as an association. In addition, it was not until 1990 when membership to the association was opened to expatriates living and working in Romania other than diplomats' wives.

While IWA membership initiatives primary focused on creating venues in which the ladies could experience the cultural aspects of Romanian society, they also began their charitable work. The first project was to provide a monthly sponsorship of ten dollars each for a little girl & boy living in India under impoverished conditions. This was followed by an urgent response to send packages to Biafra. In the local community they donated $5000 each to 'Casa de Copii' number one and two in Bucharest.

Today, IWA continues this proud legacy of cultural and charitable work in the community. The IWA membership ranks have swelled to over two-hundred and charitable contributions under the auspices of IWA have judiciously found their way into Romanian based charitable organizations. There original ideals of IWA have proven to withstand the test of time; to create a safe and welcoming environment where women of diverse nationalities can find common unity in friendship, while making charitable monetary and volunteer service contributions to their host country.

Past Presidents

since IWA was registered in 2000

2021-2022 Samantha Petcu (Guyana / United States) 

2020-2021 Liana Minasyan (Armenia)

2019 - 2020 Terry O'Donnell Parsons (United States)

2018 - 2019 Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt (Ghana / Germany)

2017 - 2018 Ximena Alexandra Reyes (Chile / Sweden / Ecuador)

2015 - 2017 Terry O'Donnell Parsons (United States)

2014 - 2015 Jessica Townsend (United States)

2013 - 2014 Urga Denize (Mongolia)

2012 - 2013 Patti Golden (United States)

2011 - 2012 Anne Hutton (United Kingdom)

2009 - 2011 Erzsebet Bajtai (Hungary)

2008 - 2009 Irina Budrina Geets (Russia)

2007 - 2008 Tesca Barnett-Osman (United Kingdom)

2006 - 2007 Omaima Goher (Egypt)
and Josy Van der Stock Verrijt (Netherlands)

2005 - 2006 Peggy Bates (United States)

2003 - 2005 Sharah Shelee (United Kingdom)

2002 Nevena Milkova

2001 Mavis Mitchell

1999 - 2000 Ursula Groeger (Austria)

IWA became a legal voluntary, charitable, non-profit, non-political and non-religious organization at the turn of the century thanks to the dedication of:

Ursula Groeger (Austria)

Ruth Collins (Canada)

Bonnia Bezmalinovic (Croatia)

Angelika Kraus (Germany)

Heinze Kirtcheva (Germany)

Graf Heike (Germany)

Petra Mueller Demary (Germany)

Antoinette C. E. Moorrees (Holland)

Georgiana Pogonaru (Romania)

Lucia M. Ban (Romania)

Daniela Kammrath (Romania)

Melike E. Roman (Romania)
Iris I. Pungan 

Diana L. Zotescu (Romania)
Gertrude Stefan 

Marie Jeanne Joseph (Switzerland)

Naila Bangerter(Switzerland)

Sheilah Kast (United States)
Jemma V. E. Marlor (United Kingdom)

Joy P. Croome (United Kingdom)

Good times over the years... our friends may have moved on
to new homes, but they are always in our hearts.

IWA Volunteer Board/Council Members

IWA wouldn't exist without the hard work of many women over the years. These caring volunteers from around the globe gave their time, talent and smiles in order to help other families forge connections and feel at home in Bucharest. We love you and give you our heartfelt thanks!

June 2021 - May 2022


PresidentSamantha Petcu
(American - Guyanese)

Vice PresidentDelia Sfetcu (Romanian) 

Treasurer: Monica Puiu (Austrian)

June 2020 - May 2021


PresidentLiana Minasyan (Armenian)

Vice President Gillian Adamson (British) 

TreasurerSamantha Petcu (American - Guyanese)


Charity Chair: Delia Sfetcu (Romanian)

Membership: Alison Gritis (American)

Activities: Irina Moreno

(Canadian - American - Romanian)

May 2019 - June 2020 

: Terry O’Donnell Parsons (American)
Vice President: Deborah Harper-Christian (American)

Treasurer: Claudia Andrei (Romanian-American)

Second Vice President: Gillian Adamson (British-Irish)

Secretary: Irina Moreno (Romanian-Canadian)

Charity:  Delia Sfetcu  (Romanian)
CommunicationsZuzana Mandic (Czech), Kathrin Finke (German), Yuliana Garmash (Russian), Zoe Popa (Bulgarian-German), Monica Bommer-Neuner (Austrian), Suzanne LeBlanc (Canadian), Andreea Rusu (Romanian)       
MembershipWin Larsen (Filipino), Cheryl Shirzadi (American), Beatrice Cante (French),
and Alison Gritis (American)    
ActivitiesAna Zuravliova (Lithuanian), Jenny Busaidy (British), Tanya He (Norwegian/Chinese), Shirley Navone (Belgian), Silvia Margineanu (Romanian)

Fundraising/Coffee Mornings: Mary Stefan (Romanian-American)

Christmas Bazaar
Chair: Marina Coanda Bundac

May 2018 - June 2019 

: Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt
(Ghanaian / German)
Vice President: Strella Ahn (South Korean)

Treasurer: Lauren Willson (Canadian)

Secretary: Gillian Adamson (British)
Charity:  Delia Sfetcu  (Romanian)
CommunicationsKathrin Finke (German)
& Fatima Gruben (Portuguese)
Magazine Support: Zoe Popa (Bulgarian/German) & Claudia Andrei (Romanian/Amerian)       
MembershipRabia Degand (Moroccan/French) & Andreea Rusu (Romanian)     
ActivitiesAnna Tsekova (Bulgarian), Migyung Park (South Korean), Alecsandra Ecard (Romanian) & Johanna Traven (American/Irish) 

Christmas Bazaar
Chair: Marina Coanda Bundac

April 2017- April 2018  
President: Ximena Alexandra Reyes
(Chilean / Swedish / Ecuadorian)
1st Vice President:  Fatima Gruben (Portuguese)
Treasurer: Carmen Barta (Romanian)
Secretary: Andreea Salinas (American / Romanian)
Charity: Delia Sfectu (Romanian)
Website: Nancy Sage (Canadian / American)
Newsletter:  Kathrin Finke (German)
Membership: Terry O'Donnell Parsons (American) & Anouk Ragout (French) & Amel Ben Khaled (French)
Fundraising:  Maria Raets (French / Romanian)
Activities: Cintia Barreintos (Argentinian)
Cristha Reyes (Mexican)
Johanna Traven (American / Irish)

Annual Charity Christmas Bazaar
Honorary Bazaar Chair: Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt (German Embassy)
Bazaar Chair: Marina Coanda Bundac
(Romanian / American)

April 2016 - April 2017 

President: Terry O'Donnell Parsons (American)
1st Vice President:  Maria Raets
(French / Romanian)
2nd Vice President:  Ximena Alexandra Reyes (Chilean /Swedish / Ecuadorian)
Treasurer: Carmen Barta (Romanian)
Secretary: Ozge Gunes (Turkish) and 
Andreea Salinas (American / Romanian)
Charity: Lise Spriggle (American)
Website: Nancy Sage (Canadian / American)
Newsletter: Karine Lamy (French)
Membership: Banu Demir (Turkish)
&  Karima Radwan (American / Egyptian) 
Activities: Dana Abi Chahine
(Romanian / Canadian / Lebanese)
& Nicoleta Candea Muntean (Romanian)
& Amel Ben Khaled (French)
& Megan Ostuni (American / Italian)

Annual Charity Christmas Bazaar
Honorary Bazaar Chair: Mrs. Merica Vidiš,
Croatian Embassy
Bazaar Chair: Marina Coanda Bundac
(Romanian / American)

2015 - 2016 

President: Terry O'Donnell Parsons (United States)
First Vice-President: Manzar Huseynli (Azerbaijan)
Second Vice-President: Ximena Alexandra Reyes (Chilean / Swedish / Ecuadorian)
Secretary: Ozge Güneş (Turkey)
Treasurer: Carmen Barta (Romania)
Activities: Nicoleta Candea-Muntean (Romania)
Charity: Dana Abi Chahine (Romanian / Canadian) 
Website: Maria Raets (Romanian / French)
Newsletter: Banu Demir (Turkish)
Membership: Jessica Yambor (American)

Charity Christmas Bazaar Committee
Honorary Bazaar Chair: Adriana Ivama Brummell, British Embassy
Bazaar Chair: Marina Coanda Bundac
(Romanian / American)


2014 - 2015 

President - Jessica Townsend (United States)
1st Vice President - Sanem Türker Safi (Turkey) 
2nd Vice President - Irina Tretyakova (Russia)
Charity - Kathrin Hess Gedlicka (Germany)
Membership Coordinator - Fareha Khan  (Pakistan)
Newsletter Coordinator - Manzar Huseynli (Azerbaijan)
Activity Coordinator - Tania Marji (Jordan)
Website Coordinator - Samira Azhdarova (Azerbaijan)
Fundraising Coordinator - Yasmin Kahil (Turkey)
Ad Hoc - Terry O'Donnell Parsons (United States)

Charity Christmas Bazaar Committee
Honorary Bazaar Chair: Giovanna Brasioli, Italian Embassy
Bazaar Chair: Marina Coanda Bundac (Romania / United States)

2013 - 2014 

President: Urga Denize (Mongolia)
First Vice‐President:  Kazuko Nishiyama (Japan)
and Irina Budrina (Russia)
Second Vice‐President: Bouchra Jleilti (Syria)
Secretary: Olga Cridland  (Romania)
Treasurer: Ilinca Stefanescu Neagu (France/Romania)
Charity Coordinator: Daniela Gonzales (Brazil)
Membership Coordinator: Susan Webster (Canada)
Fundraising Coordinator: Sanem Safi (Turkey)
Activities Coordinator: Ozge Yokusoglu (Turkey)
Newsletter Coordinator: Manzar Huseynli (Azerbaijan)
Hospitality Coordinator: Marie‐Helen Karlsson (Sweden)
Website Coordinator: Izabela Bauer (Poland)

Bazaar Committee
Bazaar Chair: Irina Budrina

2012 - 2013 

June 2011 - 2012

President: Anne Hutton
1st VP: Sahar Behairy
2nd VP: Cristina Rusu
Treasurer: Jema Rahat
Secretary: Oxana Danilisin
Membership/Newcomers: Mihaela Gafton
Hospitality: Kim Vranceanu
Activities: Hagit Shai
Newsletter: Olga Fedina
Website: Gabriella Ranky
Charity: Dana Stamate
Fundraising: Oznur Ayman
Ad Hod / Communications: Felicia Lazar

2010 - 2011

President: Erzsébet Bajtai
1st VP: Sahar Behairy
2nd VP: Christina Rusu
Treasurer: Jema Rahat
Secretary: Anne Hutton
Charity: Silvia Bontas
Activities: Hagit Shair
Newsletter: Olga Fedina
Website: Gabriella Ránaky
Membership: Mihaela Gafton
Fundraising: Annaliese Bauer

2009 - 2010 

President: Erzsébet Bajtai
1st VP: Valeria Van Groningen
2nd VP: Marina Todoran
Treasurer: Jema Rahat
Secretary: Dagnija Lake
Charity: Sahar Behairy
Activities: Olga Fedina
Newcomers / Membership: Hazel Bretherton
Fundraising: Anneliese Bauer
Website: Gabriella Ránky

2008 - 2009

President: Irina Budrina-Geels
1st VP: Renee McDannel
2nd VP: Christina Nicorici de Escala
Treasurer: Anne-Chantal Bortnowski
Secretary: Lori Beckett
Charity: Tesca Bamett-Osman
Activities: Tania Marji Dahabreh
Newcomers: Hazel Bretherton
Newsletter: Chitra J. Irawan
Fundraising: Jenny March Lecoq

2007 - 2008

President: Tesca Barnett Osman
1st VP: Renee McDannel
2nd VP: Cristina Nicorici de Escala
Treasurer: Christine Lewis Radu
Secretary: Lori Beckett
Charity: Irina Budrina-Geels
Activities: Valeria van Groningen
Membership: Hazel Bretherton
Newsletter:Elena G. Santamaria

 2006 - 2007

President: Josy Van der Stock Verrijt (Netherlands)
1st VP: 
2nd VP: Laurence Roland
Treasurer: Christine Lewis Radu
Secretary:  Lori Rodgers
Charity:  Olga Rodica Cridland
Activities:  Valeria van Groningen
Membership: Hazel Bretherton
Newsletter:  Belkis Fernandez-Vogt

 May 2005 - April 2006

President: Peggy Bates
1st VP: Josy Van der Stock Verrijt
2nd VP: Salwa Al-O'moush
Treasurer: Renee Cagle
Secretary: Sabrina Ducceschi Gallo
Charity: Ioana Cause de Santivanez
Activities: Carmen Deaconu & Aline Gaborel
Membership: Olga Moldovan & Wendy Saffery
Newsletter: Claudia Lazar 

 May 2004 - April 2005

President: Sara Scheele
1st VP: Magda Hansen
2nd VP: Grete Ek Ulland
Treasurer: Renee Cagle
Secretary: Patricia Davies
Charity: Deborah Delare
Activities: Salwa Al-O'moush
Membership: Olga Moldovan
Newsletter: Inger Fugedi
Ad-Hoc: Lee Boehr & Vanda Calmeyer

2003 - April 2004

President: Sara Scheele (UK)
1st VP: Lotta Killander (Sweden)
2nd VP: Sylvia Petre (Germany)
Treasurer: Vanda Calmeyer (South Africa)
Secretary: Lee Boehr (Canada)
Membership: Lucia-Maria Popescu & Olga Moldovan
Activities: JoNell Lord  (USA)
& Salwa Al-O'moush
Newsletter: Elizabeth Dilts (USA) & Kim Hakkenberg
Charity: Deborah Delare
Ad-Hoc: Magda Hansen & Annette Moorrees


President: Nevena Milkova (Bulgaria)
1st VP: Lucia Ban (Romania)
2nd VP: Yoko Mitsuhashi
& Barbara Hiller (Germany)
Treasurer: Annette Moorrees (Netherlands)
Secretary: Vanda Calmeyer (South Africa)
Membership: Melike Roman (Romania/Turkey)
Activities: Sylvia Petre (Germany)
Newsletter/Evening Coffee: Elizabeth Dilts (USA)
Charity: Lee Boehr (Canada)


President: Mavis Mitchell
1st VP: Kirsten Born
2nd VP: Lucia Ban
Treasurer: Annette Morrees
Secretary Miriam Nossin
Charities: Lee Boehr
Activities: Silvana Hamra & Sheilah Rosapepe
Children's Activities: Yasemin Sipahi
Membership: Melike Roman
Newsletter: Elizabeth Dilts
& Kem Mitchell
Ad-Hoc: Blanca Tenorio & Margreet Wolthers & Diana Zotescu


President: Ursula Groeger
1st VP: Sheilah Rosapepe
2nd VP: Germaine Anghel
Treasurer: Jacqueline Collins & Angelika Kraus
Secretary: Naila Bangerter
Charities: Renate Sichert
Activities: Lucia Ban
Children's Activities: Petra Mueller-Demary
Newsletter: Annabel Peake & Elisabeth Dilts
Membership: Melike Roman
Ad-Hoc: Daniela Kammrath & Lavinia Shaw-Brown & Blanca Tenorio

 June 1998 - 1999

President: Sally Garner & Ursula Groeger
1st VP: Sissel Lindeman
2nd VP: Andreea Cohn
Secretary: Barbara Wustinger-Schrotta
Treasurer: Frances Crabbie
Charities: Germaine Anghel
Activities: Lucia Ban
Children's Activities: Petra Mueller-Demary
Newsletter: Annabel Peake
Membership: Tanveer Naim
Ad-Hoc: Daniela Kammrath, Marie-Jeanne Joseph, & Ran Park

 - June 1998

President: Hanne Mørch
1st VP: Sissel Lindeman
2nd VP: Georgiana Pogonaru
Secretary: Sally Garner
Treasurer: Frances Crabbie
Charities: Irene Sandved
Activities: Germaine Anghel
Children's Activities: Simona Cohen
Newsletter: Madeleine de Roy
Membership: Barbara Wustinger-Schrotta
Ad-Hoc: Marie Jeanne Joseph & Andreea Cohn


President: Hanne Mørch

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