Cara Elizabeth Yar Khan, born in India and raised in Canada, began her international career in 2001 Quito, Ecuador in with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) during which time she also served on the Board of the Canadian Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce. Cara’s international career then reached into the private sector for three years as a senior manager of corporate communications and government relations for Dell Inc. in Panama and then as a private consultant in China.
In 2007 Cara joined the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Angola as a Fundraising Officer who specialized in working with the Extractive Industries. Cara’s experience with multi-million corporate partnerships led to a year with UNICEF China to support the Sichuan Earthquake Emergency Response, followed by UNICEF assignments in Madagascar, Mozambique, Thailand and finally Haiti where she served as the Resource Mobilization Specialist and Disability Focal Point for two years after the devastating 2010 Earthquake.
In 2013 Cara moved to the USA as a UNICEF Child Protection Specialist spending most of her time as a spokesperson and international program advisor to the US Fund for UNICEF. Today Cara is the founder of her own consulting firm that serves local and international charities and corporations striving for sustainable and impactful social responsibility.
With a B.A. in International Development from the University of Guelph, Canada and a Masters in International Public Policy (MIPP) from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Bologna, Italy, Cara is also accomplished in languages, fluent in Spanish and working knowledge of French, Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese.
Porsche North America and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, awarded Cara the 2015 Driving Force Award which recognizes women who exemplify the spirit of activism and community engagement at the local and/ or global level.
Cara’s advocacy platform is called PRINCESS RISING, inspired by her Indian grandmother who was a Princess in India.
My grandmother Nafeesa Baig was a most elegant, poised and eloquent woman, who always told me to be graceful and independent and to work hard in my studies. At the age of 20 she married the brother of the Nizam (King) of Hyderabad, a union that lasted 10 years. Being the least pretentious of people, rarely referring to herself as a former Princess, the position provided a public platform to the qualities she had. Princess was a title, not a characteristic.
My grandmother was well educated and trained in classical piano, guitar and the sitar. In the 1940s, during the days of British colonial India, she gave a speech on freeing woman from the bondage of men, an especially bold and brave move for a woman of her time and position in society.
The love and admiration that people have for my grandmother goes deep down to her greatness as a person who inspired people with her willingness to adapt and deal with what life had to offer. An amazingly strong, bold, kind and graceful woman, her qualities were reflected throughout her life as she embodied and worked towards the values she believed in. These were the life lessons she bestowed upon me.
Hence “Princess Rising”
Cara Elizabeth Yar Khan will be taking on a 200 mile expedition through the Grand Canyon. She will horseback ride, hike and white water raft through the National Park while creating a documentary film “HIBM: Her Inescapable Brave Mission”. Please like and share this page in support of Cara as she sets out to shatter stigma and end discrimination against people with disabilities.
2015 Driving Force Award is presented by Porsche of North America in collaboration with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, to recognize women who exemplify the spirit of activism and community engagement at the local and/ or global level.
In today’s conversation, we dive into Cara’s extraordinary life to date. We explore how being of service became her driving purpose, and how her condition at once changed everything, but also changed nothing. And we talk about the critical difference between struggle and suffering, and how choice dances between the two.
After 13 years working for the United Nations and UNICEF as a spokesperson for children with disabilities in nine countries, Cara Elizabeth Yar Khan was forced to leave the field due to the deterioration of her rare and progressive muscle wasting disease HIBM. Watch Cara tell her story in this MSNBC feature.