Nationalities: USA, Ireland

Languages:  English, French


September 2006 – present: Resident Scholar, Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC), Brandeis University

September 2004 – present: Visiting Faculty, Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS), Boston University (BU) – Boston, Massachusetts

September 2006 – August 2010: Adjunct Professor of the Practice, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Sustainable International Development Program, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts;

September 2004 – August 2006: Visiting Scholar, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University

September 2003 – August 2004: First Visiting Scholar, Boston University’s Women’s Studies Program; designed and teaching the Seminar on Gender and International Development

1998 – Mid 2003: United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative – India.  Led the development cooperation with India, UNDP’s largest single partnership in the world.  Secured and managed several hundred million dollars in UNDP grant assistance for the Ninth and Tenth Plan periods to help the country address the vital concerns of technology and sustainable livelihoods; community-based pro-poor initiatives and policies; management of development/governance; energy and the environment; humanitarian disaster prevention and recovery; and promoting human development and gender equality.  Responsible for coordination of operations of UN organizations in India.

1988-97: Executive Coordinator of the United Nations, Volunteers (UNV).  Led and managed the Geneva then Bonn-based UNV program with nearly 4,000 UNV specialists from over 130 countries serving worldwide. Oversaw programming and negotiations with Governments and donor partners for technical cooperation programs and projects in the economic and social fields, community-based initiatives for self-reliance, humanitarian relief and rehabilitation, and civilian components of UN peace-keeping and peace-building operations.

1982-88: UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Jamaica.  Refocused operational activities for development in Jamaica to support Government’s economic reform – notably programs and resource mobilization for employment generation/pro-poor growth, environmental protection and public sector modernization.  Also responsible for UNDP cooperation with The Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

1979-82: UNDP Senior Policy Analysis Officer, Division for Policy Coordination and Procedures, Bureau for Programme Policy and Evaluation, New York. Developed new initiatives such as increased involvement of national personnel within UN-supported programs and improved program/project design, including UN Agency consultations and presentation to UNDP’s governing bodies.

1972-79: UNDP Assistant Resident Representative; Programme Officer, Burkina Faso. Responsible for country programming with focus on basic services; also action-research, area of women and development.

1971: Research Associate, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Consultant, African-American Labour Centre, New York

1970-71: Research Aide and Research Associate,
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, Massachusetts

1967: Economist, International Economics Division, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (ESSO), New York

1966-67: Teaching Assistant, Department of Economics, Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts
Research Assistant, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

1966: Economic Analyst, Office of the Special Representative to the President for Trade Negotiations, The White House, Washington, D.C.
Assistant, The Edward R. Murrow Centre, Medford Massachusetts.


1979: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, Massachusetts, Ph.D. – Development Economics

1970: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, Massachusetts, M.A.L.D. – Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy

1967-69: University of Paris, Institute d’Études Politiques – Fulbright Scholar; Study, plus Country-level Research in Africa (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso), on International Development Assistance

1965-66: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, Massachusetts, Master of Arts

1963-64: University of Geneva – Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences; Graduate Institute of International Studies and the Institute of European Studies

1961-65: Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, B.A. History.


Granted a United Nations career lifetime Award (Medal of Honor First Class), by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, UN Week, October 2008

Awarded in 1997 the Médaille de Chevalier de l’Ordre National from the Government of Burkina Faso, in tribute to the leadership and work of the UN Volunteers

Prime Minister of Jamaica’s Medal of Appreciation, 1988


Designated a “Legendary Local” in Legendary Locals of Allston-Brighton (Arcadia, Charleston, 2013)

Appointed Founding Member representing North America on the Advisory Board, Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender, 2011

Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa, Lackawanna College, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, May 2007; Commencement Speaker

Appointed to the Advisory Board for the United Nations Development Programme’s Third Regional Cooperation Framework for Africa, 2007

Doctorate of Humane Letters Honoris Causa, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California; Commencement Speaker and Board of Directors, 1994

Fulbright Grantee, Institut d’Études Politiques, University of Paris, 1967-1969


Distinguished Career Award, Needham High School, Needham Massachusetts, 2013

Recipient of Student-Scholar Partnership Grants, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University – 2013 and numerous prior years, commencing in 2005

Work on Women of Vision selected by UNESCO for the cultural project: ‘Women in African History: an E-Learning Tool’ – 2013

Appointed to the Council of Advisors and a Founding Member Artist, Unbound Visual Arts, Brighton, Massachusetts, 2012

Designated by UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) as the Focal Point for Women and Gender at Boston University, 2011

Designated as a “Famous Person” in the Brighton Allston Community by the Brighton-Allston Historical Society, in light of contributions to global development and human rights, 2010

Invited to teach ‘Gender Mainstreaming’ for the Virtual Development Academy of the United Nations Development Programme, 2008

Designated as Co-Coordinator of UNESCO’s UNITWIN (University Twinning) Network on Gender, Culture and People-Centered Development, August 2007-August 2015

Elected Founding Convener, Gender and International Development Initiatives (GaIDI), Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, 2005, see

Founding Member, UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN (University Twinning) Network in Women’s Studies and Gender Research, Paris, 2005

Elected to the Board of Directors of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society, and as Founding Chairperson, Women’s History Group (BAHS), 2004

Elected Academician of the International Informatization Academy, 2002


Brenda Gael McSweeney, Editor: Gender Perspectives in Case Studies Across Continents, Volume II, for UNESCO Paris and Buenos Aires, 2014

Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré with Cassandra Fox, “Another View of Africa: A Photo Essay on Female Education and Empowerment in Burkina Faso”. Buenos Aires: Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender, 2013

Patriarchy, Power, and Paradox: Dreaming Gender Equality & Development by Shahla Haeri and Brenda Gael McSweeney in South Asia, 2060: Envisioning Regional Futures (Anthem Press, 2013)

Gender Perspectives in Case Studies Across Continents (Gloria Bonder and Brenda Gael McSweeney, Editors): UNESCO, Paris and Buenos Aires, 2013

 Srihaswani – 5 Years On: A Gender Case Study Update (Krishno Dey, Chandana Dey, and Brenda Gael McSweeney): UNESCO, Paris, 2011

Women’s History Initiatives: Gender, Culture and Development (Editor, Brenda Gael McSweeney): UNESCO, Paris, 2010

Publisher, Burkina Faso: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, 2009 – present; see

Publisher, UNITWIN Network:  Gender, Culture, Development, 2007 – present; see

Forgotten Pioneers: on the trail of remarkable women in Brighton-Allston by Brenda Gael McSweeney, published in the inaugural issue of reSEARCH, the e-zine of the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, on the topic of Great Women of Boston (2009)

Publication by UNESCO Paris in 2008 of Another Side of India: Gender, Culture, and Development (Editor, Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney)

Feature article: Burkina’s Women Shape Progress by Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré, on, the Gender Mainstreaming Policy Portal (2008)

Web Book: McSweeney, Brenda Gael, Development Cooperation: Some Personal Thoughts on Challenges and Direction – India and UNDP, 1998 – 2003: in partnership with Government (UNDP, New Delhi, 2003)

Publisher, UNDP News, India, 1998-2003; UNV News, 1989-1997

Jamaica: Adjustment Lessons published by UNDP Kingston in 1988

Journal articles in the areas of gender and development, non-formal education, appropriate technology and time-budgeting published by: UNESCO, UNITWIN Portal (2008 to present); Social and Human Sciences Portal (2007); Literacy Portal (2006)

Boston Women’s Heritage Trail (2006)

The Population Council, Studies in Family Planning

UNICEF, Assignment Children

The Comparative and International Education Society, The Comparative Education Review

International Technology Development Group, Appropriate Technology Journal

Numerous press articles, organization reports and speeches.


Participant in The Context of Community at Unbound Visual Arts at the Harvard Ed Portal, Allston, Massachusetts: 2015 (UVA Artist Page)

A Story in Photographs by Brenda Gael McSweeney: West African Women’s Empowerment,

a solo exhibition at the Boston Public Library, Oak Square Brighton, Massachusetts: 2014

Participant in the Song Cycles group exhibition of Unbound Visual Arts (UVA), Honan Library, Allston, Massachusetts: 2014

All Things Change, participant in a UVA group exhibit at Boston City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts:  2013-2014 (then travelled to the Harvard Allston Education Portal)

Unbound Visual Arts, Members’ Exhibition, Harvard Allston Education Portal, 2013

Curator, ‘Women’s Causes around the World, year Round’ permanent photo exhibition at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts


Book in preparation with Scholastique Kompoaré on access of women and girls to education in Burkina Faso, drawing on their work and research across three decades, with contributions from Prof. Fernand Sanou and Cassandra Fox; also a companion photo-book. Leading an assessment of the legacy of the UNESCO/UNDP/Government of Burkina “Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education” set in three rural zones in Burkina Faso, and of the influence of the Multi-Functional Technology Platform on women’s workloads, livelihoods and empowerment; brings the findings into publications with the Project’s National Coordinator; see papers at and

Ongoing WSRC research initiative:  a collaborative series of Gender Case Studies on Srihaswani or Creative Manual Skills for Self-Reliant Development based in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India, showcasing women’s priorities and empowerment, and the boosting of community self-reliance

Under UNESCO’S UNITWIN (University Twinning at Boston University), compiling a series of occasional papers on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development in India, West Africa and Boston, Massachusetts, USA with scholars and activists from BU, three prestigious Indian Universities and several Non-Governmental Organizations – for publication by UNESCO Paris and Buenos Aires and on two UNESCO/UNITWIN blogs

Follow-up to the Gender Case Study “Irish Women Today: Perspectives from Galway to Dublin on Gender Equality,” focusing on a spectrum of perspectives on the status of Irish women today. The case study published in December 2014 explored some of the underlying factors influencing gender disparities in labor force participation in Ireland and was based on interviews conducted during field research across Ireland

Leading Women’s History Initiatives: the Brighton-Allston Women’s Heritage Trail presentation, shared as the flagship event during Annual Meetings of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society (2007 and 2014), along with the Women of Vision Heritage Trail Guide, and accompanied by a Women’s Heritage Museum Exhibition for eighteen months, as part of the town’s Bicentennial Celebrations. This Women of Vision initiative has since been evolving in Burkina Faso (see, and is in the initial phase with UNESCO/UNITWIN partners and affiliates in India.  The Heritage Museum hosted multimedia displays on Women of Vision, Burkina and famous Brighton author ‘Fanny Fern’.