Penny Abeywardena

Penny Abeywardena


Penny Abeywardena is New York City's Commissioner for International Affairs.

As head of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, she leads the City’s global platform from which it promotes its goals for a more just and accessible society, showcases the diversity of New Yorkers, and shares policies and best practices with the world.

Since her appointment in September 2014, the International Affairs team has launched a series of initiatives focused on connecting New Yorkers and City agencies to the diplomatic community as well as more effectively serving NYC’s diplomatic corps, which is the largest in the world. Prior to joining Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, Penny was the Director of Girls and Women Integration at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). During her tenure, she advised multinational corporations, philanthropists, NGOs and multilateral institutions to increase investments in gender-focused development initiatives while expanding the community of CGI members who incorporated the gender lens in their work. Before joining CGI, Penny worked in both development and programmatic areas for Human Rights Watch, the Funding Exchange and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.

Penny is a World Economic Forum 2016 Young Global Leader and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Development Corporation. In her personal time, Penny serves on the Innovation Advisory Committee for 92Y and on the Founding Member Committee of Lincoln Center’s Global Exchange. She has previously served on the World Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development, and the Boards of Directors of Sakhi for South Asian Women, and Global Partners, Inc. Penny was a contributing author to Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change, and in 2012 was recognized by the United Nation’s Decide Now Act (DNA) Summit as one of 101 Global Innovators for her work to put women’s rights on the global political agenda. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and completed her Master of International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.