Sara Minkara

Founder & CEO

Biography

Sara Minkara is the founder and CEO of Empowerment Through Integration (ETI), a nonprofit committed to developing a more inclusive society through empowering youth with disabilities and transforming social and cultural stigmas against disability globally. ETI is committed to achieving inclusion for all people through groundbreaking initiatives that challenge stereotypes about people with disabilities. Sara strives to elevate marginalized voices and viewpoints and promote a robust, authentic respect for individual value through the organizations.

A Lebanese-American Muslim woman who lost her sight at age seven, Sara has transformed her unwavering passion for empowering persons with disabilities into innovative, empowering programs. ETI’s programs support individuals with disabilities to become catalysts for change in their own lives, their communities, and beyond.

Sara’s personal pledge to equip young people with disabilities with the confidence and skills to succeed as individuals and advocates blossomed as an undergraduate at Wellesley College. With support from the Clinton Foundation, she founded ETI in college and expanded its programs and mission while earning her master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Today, Sara is an internationally recognized advocate in the areas of disability inclusion, female leadership, and social entrepreneurship. Dynamic and memorable, she speaks and facilitates workshops across the globe, leveraging her personal background and professional expertise on disability inclusion, social entrepreneurship, empowerment, women’s leadership, and more.

If you would like to contact Sara for a speaking engagement, please email hfuentes@etivision.org.

Past speaking engagements include:

•      U.S. State Department Speaker’s Program (2018)

•      UNESCO’s Seventh ECOSOC Youth Forum (2018)

•      Second Annual Harkin International Disability Employment Summit (2018)

•      World Government Summit (2017)

•      TEDx (2017)    

•      Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2016)

Awards and Fellowships

·      Forbes "30 Under 30" (2017)

·      Echoing Green Fellow (2015–2017)

·      Halcyon Incubator Fellow (2015–2017)

·      Girls Impact the World Film Festival, First Place (2015)

·      Margaret Freeman Bowers Award (2011)

·      Massachusetts Institute of Technology IDEAS Global Challenge Award (2011)

·      Clinton Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award (2009)


TESTIMONIALS

"Sara Minkara earns 5 stars plus for her excellent speaking abilities. She is a rare personality who owns a room – has “presence” -- when she enters it.  Her graceful style, engaging body language, melodious voice and smooth intonation, all are qualities that combine to make her a gifted and talented speaker.  In sum, Sara is amazing!"

~ Jane C. Edmonds, Babson College, Vice President of Programming and Community Outreach

Certified since 2014 by the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School in teambuilding and negotiation, Sara also serves as the primary facilitator for ETI’s exclusive “In the Dark” series, a provocative and rewarding experience that fosters in participants a deeper, practical understanding of the complex nature of identity. Leveraging all aspects of her identity—as a Blind, Muslim, Arab-American woman—Sara uses artificial blindness as a tool to encourage guests to embrace their own and others’ multiple identities, ultimately leading to true empowerment and inclusion.

Through her expert facilitation, participants reconsider how they view and value themselves and others, within and beyond society’s many preconceived “–isms.” “In the Dark” events have been customized for clients including Airbnb, the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Exelon, and VitalVoices, among others.

Media Appearances

  • Featured in RedBull piece on Story Telling for Social Entrepreneurship, August 2018
  • Inkline Magazine Go-Getter's Feature, May 2018
  • Interview on a NTS Morning Show in Kyrgyzstan in the Kyrgyz Language, February 2018.
  • Featured Interview in Women in Foreign Policy Website, January 2018
  • Interviewed by Judith Heumann for Heumann Perspective Series, March 2017
  • ETI was featured on Lebanon's Ministry of Social Affairs website, February 2017
  • BBC Arabic radio, February 2017
  • Interview on the Lebanese show, Btehla El Hayet, January 2017
  • Profile on the New Arab, January 2017
  • Featured in the Daily Star of Lebanon, January 2017
  • Featured in Technical.ly DC, January 2017
  • Selected as a Forbes "30 Under 30" honoree, January 2017
  • Featured in The Tempest's #40WomentoWatch, December 2016
  • Profile of Camp Rafiqi on UCIP-Lebanon, November 2016
  • Article about Camp Rafiqi in Annahar Newspaper (Lebanon), November 2016
  • ETI's tree planting projected featured on Koura.org's Facebook page featured ETI's tree planting project, November 2016
  • Med News in Lebanon posted about ETI’s recycling project on its Facebook page, October 2016
  • Featured on Outlook AUB's website, October 2016
  • Article about Camp Rafiqi on Al Mustaqbal newspaper’s website, July 2016
  • Featured on Kourapress.org's Facebook page, July 2016
  • Camp Rafiqi featured on the National News Agency's website (Lebanon), July 2017
  • Two articles on Camp Rafiqi on koura.org (Lebanon). They can be found here and here. More information and pictures can be found on their Facebook page here
  • Named a Halcyon Incubator Fellow for her work growing ETI, June 2015
  • Profiled on the Harvard Gazette, along with the short film about her, "Losing Sight, But Gaining a Vision," February 2015
  • Mentioned in this piece from Bustle, along with the short film about her, "Empowerment Through Integration: A Portrait of Sara Minkara," December 2015
  • Selected as a finalist in the 2013 President's Challenge for social entrepreneurship at Harvard University, March 2013

Speaking Appearances

  • Invited Speaker, TEDxTysons (June 2017, Washington, DC)
  • Invited Presenter, 2017 Conference, The Society for Diversity (June 2017, Chicago, IL)
  • Invited Panelist, Conference of States Parties (COSP) to UN CRPD (June 2016, New York City, NY)
  • Panelist and Speaker, 2017 World Government Summit (February 2017, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • Keynote Speaker, Muhsn Gala (October 2015, Chicago, IL)
  • Invited Speaker, Isna Convention on Disability (September 2015, Chicago, IL)
  • Keynote Speaker, Women Empowerment Session for Anti-Arab American Discrimination Conference (June 2014, Washington, DC)
  • Commencement Speaker, Harvard Arab (Students) Graduation (May 2014, Cambridge, MA)
  • Invited Panelist, CGI U 3rd & 6th Annual Meeting (April 2013, St. Louis, MO; April 2010, Miami, FL)
  • Invited Advocacy & Awareness Mentor, CGI U 4th Annual Meeting (April 2011, San Diego, CA)