Meet the Match

A Taekwondo Champion on a Mission

Two years ago, Caroline Maher became the first woman of Arab, Egyptian and African descent to be inducted into the Taekwondo Hall of Fame. The achievement was especially significant to Caroline because of the difficult obstacles she overcame prior to her induction.

By her mid-twenties, Caroline was an Egyptian martial arts icon; ranked as high as third overall in her weight class by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), with more than 130 medals in 38 countries collected in national, regional and international competitions dating back to the age of 10. But, after these successes she unexpectedly came under investigation for suspected use of performance enhancing drugs.

After hearing the news of a two-year suspension, Caroline felt the ground shaking beneath her feet. Her parents, supportive throughout her entire athletic career, told her to summon the energy to contest the charges. Caroline raised the money necessary to hire a lawyer and took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In the end, it was worth it. The CAS ruled in her favor and cited several examples of misconduct, including “lack of any reliable evidence,” ordering the WTF to reimburse Caroline for her legal fees.

“Through this I learned that you should never, ever give up,” Caroline says. “If I didn’t stand for myself, I would’ve lived my whole life dealing with the shame even though I was falsely accused. If you’re right, you have to fight for yourself.”

Caroline, who completed her MBA in human resources management from Victoria University in Switzerland in early 2015, continues to be involved with taekwondo, on top of her full-time role as a human resource manager for CDCM sole proprietor at Peugeot in Egypt. She also volunteers with Helm, a non-profit organization for people with disabilities, where she aims to introduce new disability sports programs. She recently approached the Egyptian Taekwondo Federation about launching a Para-taekwondo national team in time for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Caroline is unafraid of challenges. She is the youngest manager at CDCM. After appealing her unwarranted suspension, she returned to win two more Egyptian, Arab and African taekwondo championships. She was also honored earlier in 2014 with the United Nations’ “Women of Achievement” award, along with 25 other women worldwide, due to her achievements in various fields. With the conviction that she can overcome anything, Caroline wants to use the sport she has fought to keep in her life to change the lives of millions of persons with disabilities in Egypt.

Working with Kerry Ruggieri, Senior Vice President, and Sofia Lombardo, Vice President, at Ketchum Sports & Entertainment will provide Caroline with the combination of passion, innovation, and support that she needs to fight for women and people with disabilities in Egypt. Kerry and Sofia are creative geniuses and masterful storytellers who have launched some of the best public relations campaigns in the world. This team will undoubtedly help Caroline craft her own story and find creative ways to use her platform as an elite athlete to drive social change. With Ketchum’s incredible global reach, including an office in Cairo, we see this relationship extending far beyond the conclusion of the program. We are excited to see how Caroline, Kerry, and Sofia combine their creative energies and relentless spirits to develop new opportunities for girls, women, and persons with disabilities in Egypt

Read the Blog Article

Mentor Matches