News about Former Foundation Staff
Natalia Kanem has been named executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
She became the Fund’s representative in Tanzania in 2014, and two years later was appointed a United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and UNFPA’s deputy executive director (Programme). She was named the Fund’s acting executive director in June and then its director in October.
Kanem worked for the Ford Foundation from 1992 to 2005, working on grants promoting women’s reproductive health and sexuality issues as the representative for West Africa. She later served as deputy vice president of the Foundation for worldwide peace and social justice programs in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and South and North America.
After leaving Ford, Kanem was founding president of ELMA Philanthropies, which provides support for programs helping children and youth in Africa. She left in 2012 to become a senior associate of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies, which supports development in the Caribbean.
She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington, and earned a medical degree from Columbia University.
Mary McClymont has left her position as president and CEO of the Public Welfare Foundation to pursue “new ways I can contribute to social justice and human rights concerns”.
Initially she will be a senior fellow at the Justice Lab of the Georgetown Law Center and co-teach a course on access to justice. Then, after “some travel and time with family and friends”, she expects to “begin to engage with several new boards and philanthropy projects about which I feel passionate”.
She became the top officer of the Public Welfare Foundation in 2011, guiding its work to advance justice and opportunity for people in need.
Earlier this year she received the Champion of Justice award from the Alliance for Justice for her commitment to “progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just and free society”.
Throughout her career she has helped refugees reach the United States, assisted undocumented immigrants secure legal status, litigated cases against poor conditions in American prisons, advocated for humanitarian relief and development and worked to promote women’s rights and access to justice in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Much of that work was achieved while she worked in the Ford Foundation’s Peace and Social Justice program, from 1988 to 2000 and again from 2006 to 2008.
She has a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a master’s in law degree in International Legal Studies from American University’s Washington College of Law.
Among the positions she held before joining Ford was national director for legalization of the Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Catholic Conference, senior staff counsel for the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and assistant director for corrections of the National Street Law Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center.
She is co-founder of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees; a member of The New Perimeter Advisory Board, a global pro bono program of the DLA Piper law firm; and a member of the board and executive committee of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.
She previously was chair of the board of the Migration Policy Institute, and served on the boards of Physicians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, the Advisory Committee of Elma Philanthropic Services and the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid of USAID.
(An article she has written titled “Promoting Diversity in Endowment Assets” appears in this website.)
Terry McGovern has been appointed chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, having served as its interim chair since January.
McGovern was a senior program officer at Ford in its Human Rights and Social Justice program from 2006 to 2012, where she led a global team addressing HIV and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, Southern Africa and the United States. She also co-led the first global cross-initiative funding collaborative for LGBT rights.
She began her career as a lawyer involved with issues stemming from the widespread disparities for low-income women and communities of color with HIV and has been involved with similar issues since.
In 1989, she founded the HIV Law Project, the first and only legal agency providing comprehensive services to low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in New York City, and was its first executive director for 10 years.
She left the project to join the Mailman School and, as an Open Society Fellow, has concentrated on the health impact of fundamentalist violence, working in particular with women in Rwanda, Sri Lanka and India to change discriminatory norms, policies and laws. She led the Women’s Health and Human Rights Advocacy Project to improve reproductive and overall health of low-income women.
She has worked on several international efforts, including the 2016 Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing. She was the leader of the inequalities section for the Standing Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, and co-leader of the Law and Human Rights section on the Lancet Commission on Humanitarian Assistance and Forced Migration. She has also served with the UNAIDS Human Rights Reference Group, the HIV Immigration Task Force, the Global HIV Prevention Task Force and several United Nations initiatives on women’s equality and health issues.
As head of the Heilbrunn department she works to continue its scholarship, research and teaching aims “to prevent and disrupt the impacts of a multitude of negative life course exposures exacerbated by injustice, such as forced migration crises, climate change and environmental injustice, gender based violence, and racial and gender disparities”.
In other news from the Mailman School, Geetanjali Misra, co-founder and executive director of the New Delhi-based Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA), is teaching a course this fall on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health.
CREA, which she helped found in 2000, is a feminist human rights organization working with other rights movements and networks to advance the rights of women and girls, and the sexual and reproductive freedoms of all people. It “advocates for positive social change…and provides training and learning opportunities to global activists and leaders through its institutes”.
Before creating her organization, she was a program officer for Sexuality and Reproductive Health in the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office from 1995 to 2001, supporting programs in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Prior to joining Ford, she co-founded SAKHI, a non-profit organization committed to ending violence against women of South Asian origin.
She is a board member of Reproductive Health Matters, United Kingdom, and a member of the advisory board of FHI360, a nonprofit human development organization formerly known as Family Health International. She was president of the Board of Association for Women’s Rights in Development from 2006 to 2008.
She writes frequently on issues of sexuality, gender and rights, and co-edited Sexuality, Gender and Rights: Exploring Theory and Practice in South and Southeast Asia.
Geeta has a master’s degree in economics from Syracuse University and a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University.
Urvashi Vaid is serving as interim executive director of the Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC) as the search for a permanent director begins.
LPAC, founded in 2012, is dedicated to providing assistance “to the LGBT community, women and all those impacted by the hostile political climate in Washington, D.C., and across the nation. LPAC must grow and be even more engaged in supporting progressive candidates who advance our core values of LGBT equality, women’s rights and gender, social and racial justice”.
Vaid is president of the New York-based Vaid group, which “advises socially engaged innovators on domestic and global initiatives to advance equity justice and inclusion”.
She worked at Ford from 2001 to 2005 in its Governance and Civil Society program.
She is also co-author of a report from the People of Color Donor Collaborative exploring how “high-net-worth individuals of color give philanthropically, but tend to be isolated from each other and absent from networks that connect wealthy white donors”.
An article in Inside Philanthropy notes that she and her co-author, Ashindi Maxon, found that “donors of color give differently from wealthy white individuals and from each other. Every ethnicity has a ‘culture of giving’…but the culture and habits differed by ethnicity and even generation….
“Donors of color are looking to increase opportunity,” the authors say. “Most of them have made their own wealth. They didn’t inherit, for the most part…. They’re conscious of the opportunity that allowed them to make that wealth. So they’re giving to create opportunity….
“Donors of color give to promote opportunity. They’re not necessarily giving to change systems.”
Michael Conroy, who worked at Ford from 1994 through 2003 in Community and Resource Development and in New York and the Mexico City office, has received a leadership award from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for his “decades of commitment to the organization”.
He helped create FSC, described as the “world’s leading forest certification system”, and is chair of the board of FSC US and of FSC International.
The organization was founded in 1993 in Toronto when, after the Earth Summit the previous year in Rio de Janeiro “failed to produce an agreement to stop deforestation”, a group of businesses, environmentalists and community leaders vowed to create “a voluntary, market-based approach that would improve forest practices worldwide”.
Its mission is to “promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests”.
Its United States chapter was founded in 1995 and now is headquartered in Minneapolis. It operates in 80 countries, “wherever forests are present”. Its “vision” is to “meet our current needs for forest products without compromising the health of the world’s forests for future generations”.
Among its operating principles is that forest management “shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest”.
Hanny Megally, director of the Middle East and North Africa Program of the International Center for Transnational Justice, has been appointed to the three-member Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.
The commission was set up in 2011 by the Human Rights Council to investigate all alleged violations of human rights law in Syria since March 2011.
He worked in the Peace and Social Justice program at Ford from 1994 to 1997 and since then has worked with several international non-governmental organizations investigating human rights violations and humanitarian emergencies.
He was the executive director for the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch from 1997 to 2003 and director for the Middle East and North Africa for the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) from 2003 to 2006. He was acting president of the organization in 2010 and then vice president of programs.
From 2011 to 2015 he was director of the Asia, Pacific, Middle East and North Africa Branch of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In announcing the appointment, the Council noted that Megally, a native of Egypt, “brings to this position over 40 years of experience conducting and directing investigations and advocacy on human rights violations and humanitarian emergencies”.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern History and Politics from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, and has done graduate work at the London School of Economics.
Willy Mutunga, former Chief Justice and President of Kenya’s Supreme Court, gave the annual lecture on Media and Politics in Africa at the meeting of the African Centre for Media Excellence, which “seeks to explore the relationship between the media and politics amidst changing technological, demographic and political conditions on the continent”.
He spoke on “Politics, Media and Judicial Independence in Africa” at the gathering in Kampala, Uganda.
The lectures are funded by the Democratic Governance Facility, a “basket fund that supports state and non-state partners to strengthen democratization, protect human rights, improve access to justice and enhance accountability in Uganda”.
Dr. Mutunga worked at Ford from 2004 to 2011, in its Human Rights and Governance program and as its representative for East Africa, based in Nairobi.
He became chief justice after leaving the Foundation, serving in that capacity from 2011 to 2016. Most recently he has been the Commonwealth Secretary General’s special envoy to the Maldives, and a distinguished scholar-in-residence at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School.
Luis Ubiñas, who was president of the Foundation from 2008 to 2016, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Boston Private Financial Holdings, a national financial services organization.
He serves on several multilateral, governmental and nonprofit boards and advisory committees, including the Advisory Board of the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, and is president of the Board of Trustees of the Pan American Development Foundation.
Lia Sciortino received “my first medal, ever” when she was honored by the Vietnam Society of Social Science for her “contribution to social sciences in Vietnam”.
Lia is a founder and the director of Southeast Asia Junction (SEA Junction), with headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand. Its purpose is to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia, including its arts and crafts, economy, politics and development.
She has lived in the region for more than 25 years, and worked in the Jakarta and Manila offices of the Ford Foundation from 1993 to 2000. She also has been regional director for Asia of the Rockefeller Foundation and for the International Development Research Centre, in Singapore, and senior advisor to AusAID in Indonesia.
Jill Hill, widow of Arthur Hill, the Foundation’s representative in the Philippines in the 1970s, is receiving praise for her memoir, In the Afternoon Sun: My Alexandria, recollections that, in the words of one reviewer, “are all the more poignant since the city she describes, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists except in the memories of its surviving inhabitants”.
Hill, who has written several travel books about Greece, Afghanistan and the Silk Road, was born in Alexandria to emigrant Greek parents and spent the first two decades of her life there, until the political situation forced her family to return to Greece and she won a scholarship to study in the United States, where she met her husband.
“When I am asked where I am from,” she told an interviewer for The Philippine Daily Inquirer, “I would say Alexandria, which is not the same as Egypt. I am a citizen of that city. ‘Alexandria’ is a word that is a key, opening up the imagination to a vivid dream that brings the ancient past and the more recent future together….
“The city, inhabited by these memories of mine, moves not only backwards into history, studded with so many great names, but also back and forth in the living present, to the familiar and commonplace, to my family, to myself.”
The Alexandria of her youth, she says, was “a mosaic of peoples of all nationalities. Everyone was living independently. We had our own schools, our own churches, our own hospitals, our own sporting events. Somehow we didn’t intermingle—the Swiss with the Greeks, the British with the Italians, and so on. Everyone looked down on the Arabs. It was during the colonial times.”