WomenServe US Team

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Angela Benton
Operations Manager
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Lata Raman
India Country Advisor
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Nioma Sadler

WS US Board of Directors

Nioma Narissa Sadler Board Chair , Founder of WomenServe
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Nioma Narissa Sadler is the Founder of WomenServe, the Co-Owner of the wellness tea giant, Traditional Medicinals Inc. and the Co-Founder of the Traditional Medicinals Foundation. She has spent over ten years working on social change for women and girls.

Denied a formal education by nontraditional parents who believed in the wisdom of nature, Sadler longed for a formal academic education. Public libraries became Sadler’s refuge and classroom. She became obsessed with the stories and biographies of women and girls, and it was these stories that forged her lifelong commitment to storytelling as an authentic means of advocacy.

In 2006, her dedication to social work led her on a journey into Traditional Medicinal’s herb sourcing communities in Western Rajasthan, India. While listening to the stories of women and girls in these communities Sadler began to document their hardships through filmmaking in an effort to raise awareness and create opportunities. It was there and then that WomenServe’s work officially began.

Ten years later, Sadler’s advocacy has contributed life changing developments for over 12,000 beneficiaries in India alone. Nioma bases her community development philosophy on the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and takes her life mantra, “Love and Serve,” from India’s spiritual leader, Amma.

Laura Howard-Gayeton Secretary, Executive Director, The Lexicon of Sustainability
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Laura is the co-founder and Executive Director of “The Lexicon”. A social entrepreneur deeply rooted in the environmental movement, she founded Laloo’s, the first goat’s milk ice cream in the United States, a company based on principles informed by animal welfare, the clean farm clean water stewardship coalition, and the good food movement. Named a Top 10 Tastemaker by Newsweek, she continues to advise food companies after selling the Laloo’s brand to launch The Lexicon to work on larger agriculture and food systems. Prior to Laloo’s, Laura worked in television. She founded Slo.Graffiti, a consumer products branding company subsidiary of Palomar Pictures, and owns one technical patent for Tunnelvision, a proprietary storytelling system for subway systems. Laura is a graduate of Miami University where she rode for the Equestrian team and was president of the advertising club. She serves on several nonprofit boards including WomenServe, and Petaluma Bounty, a community farm. She is an active 4H Club Mom who is most proud of her daughter who is the Sonoma County Jr. poultry exhibitor champion and the apple of her eye.

Monika Agarwal Treasurer, Vice President, Global Corporate Banking, Bank of America
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With more than 15 years in global corporate banking, Monika is currently the Vice President and Seni­­or Relationship Manager of Global Corporate Banking at Bank of America, based in San Francisco. As a native of Rajasthan, India, Monika has long been involved in social efforts to improve the lives of women and girls in India. As a Founding Board Member of Shadhika, ‘Investing in Girls for India’s Future’, Monika was instrumental in growing the organization to its current state of self-sufficiency; in 2017, Shadhika was voted a ‘Top Rated NonProfit’ by charity watchdog, ‘Great Nonprofits’ and in 2018 received Platinum Status by Guidestar for their financial and programmatic efficacy, transparency and achievements.

‘Beyond Shadhika, I believe in serving rural Indian communities, opening doors for corporate donations, and getting buy-in from the affluent Indian community to support its own people. There is no doubt that a country that takes care of its needy, prospers together. From education to the arts, I am committed to serving. I have informally taken care of homeless people, provided career mentoring for the underprivileged, and will continue to fight for people’s rights and dignity to make sure they are better today than they were yesterday – that is spirituality to me.’ – Monika Agarwal


Elise Brownell, Ph.D Advisor, Founding Partner ZephyrBiotech
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Elise has spent the last 35 years in the bio/pharmaceutical arena where she has played key roles in Discovery, Development and Opportunity Assessment to drive innovation.

After completing her doctorate at Yale University, Elise’s career started at SUNY Stony Brook. She continued her interest in comparative molecular biology during her tenure at Frederick Cancer Research Facility and expanded her facility with molecular genetics while in various functions at Bayer Healthcare. Her efforts were widely recognized by promotion to Director, Project Management, where she led global cross-functional teams. Elise also became a member of the founding team of a venture-backed spin out (Aerovance, Inc), where she became head of project management.

Dr. Brownell serves in interim executive capacities for a number of emergent and highly innovative companies in the Life Science sector, and as a mentor to the entrepreneurs who run them.

Elise received her MS, MPhil and PhD from Yale University, and her BS from Allegheny College. She is also a certified Reiki Master in both the Usui and Karuna traditions.