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Open Society Foundations Announce Summer 2017 New Executives Fund Recipients

Grants awarded to support new leaders at nonprofit organizations around the world

NEW YORK—Twelve newly appointed leaders of nonprofit organizations in countries ranging from Malawi to Brazil have been awarded New Executives Fund grants to help implement their vision of change, the Open Society Foundations announced today. The recipients represent a wide array of organizations focused on open society concerns, including but not limited to harm reduction, refugee and asylum rights, arts education, and independent journalism.

Since its inception in 2013, the New Executives Fund has awarded 75 grants for a total of $7,295,000. These competitive two-year awards, ranging from $20,000 to $250,000, are designed to give a new executive the flexibility to invest in the organization’s development or their own leadership.

The awards are given out twice a year. The latest grantees received their awards in summer 2017 and include:

Catherine Woollard, European Council on Refugees and Exiles

Catherine Woollard was appointed Secretary General of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) in February 2016. ECRE is a pan-European alliance of 98 nongovernmental organizations in 40 countries working to protect and advance the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. Woollard’s previous roles include executive director of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office; director of policy and communications at Conciliation Resources; and program coordinator for Minority Rights Group International and Transparency International. Woollard is currently a member of Democratic Progress Institute's Council of Experts and of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Roster of Experts on Mediation and Dialogue.

Cayden Mak,

Cayden Mak was named executive director of (18MR) in January 2017 after serving as the organization’s chief technology officer and founding member. 18MR is a digital civic engagement hub for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, and a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects. As CTO, Mak led the development of the organization’s first standalone software product, VoterVOX, a community-designed tool to match voters in need of translation services with volunteers from their community. Prior to, Mak taught media studies, organized marginalized academic labor, and contested corporate power at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York.

Emina Bosnjak, Sarajevo Open Centre

Emina Bosnjak was appointed executive director of Sarajevo Open Centre in July 2016. The Centre works to advance the human rights and social inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) persons and women in Bosnia and Herzegovina through community empowerment and activist movement building, as well as through direct advocacy and lobbying. Bosnjak brings over a decade of experience as an activist and organizer in the LGBTI and women’s rights movements in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She first joined the Centre in 2012 as a program coordinator before becoming program manager in 2014, supporting overall operations, international advocacy, and the production of annual reports on women and LGBTI people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Gary Kalman, Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition

Gary Kalman became executive director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition in April 2016. FACT Coalition is an alliance of more than 100 state, national, and international organizations working toward a fair tax system to address the challenges of a global economy and promoting policies to combat the harmful impacts of corrupt financial practices. Kalman previously served as the executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending and directed the federal legislative office for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. He is a founding member of Americans for Financial Reform, and has testified before Congress on tax and budget issues. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Fox News, and MSNBC.

Irving Washington, Online News Association

Irving Washington was appointed executive director of the Online News Association (ONA) in January 2017. ONA is the world’s largest membership association of digital journalists with a mission to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. Washington joined ONA in 2013 as director of operations before coming deputy director. Previously, he served as diversity education coordinator for the Radio-Television Digital News Foundation and as program manager for the National Association of Black Journalists. During the academic year, Washington is an adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia Community College.

James Miles, Arts Corps

James Miles joined Arts Corps in January 2017 as executive director. Arts Corps is a Seattle-based organization whose mission is to unlock the creative power of youth and battle racial and social injustice through the arts. Previously, Miles was the director of education at Urban Arts Partnership in New York City. He has presented at SXSWedu, NYU's IMPACT Festival, Creative Tech Week, EdTech Europe, and Google Educator Bootcamp, and has facilitated workshops for the New Victory Theater, Disney Theatrical Group, and others. His work has been covered by Pie News, New Profit, Complex Magazine, NPR, CBS, and the U.S. Department of Education.  

Juana Kweitel, Conectas Direitos Humanos

Juana Kweitel was appointed executive director of Conectas Direitos Humanos in December 2016. Conectas works to promote respect for human rights and meaningful South-South cooperation and exchanges amongst civil society actors in Brazil and the broader Global South. Kweitel is an Argentinean human rights activist and lawyer, having worked on issues related to Latin America and the global south for 30 years. She joined Conectas in 2005 as coordinator of the Global South Programme before becoming director of programs in 2011. Kweitel serves on the boards of a number of international and Brazilian human rights organizations including Global Witness, Brazil Human Rights Fund, and Open Global Rights.

Lucy Freeman, Media Legal Defence Initiative

Lucy Freeman became chief executive officer of Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) in April 2016. MLDI is a London-based NGO that provides legal assistance to independent media, journalists, and bloggers around the world who are under threat for their reporting. Prior to joining MLDI, Freeman held various roles at Amnesty International, including: director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program, leading Amnesty’s policies and research on women, sexual orientation and identity-based discrimination; director of the Growth Program, leading Amnesty’s strategic growth in countries with no existing Amnesty entity; Africa deputy director and senior research adviser, managing research and campaigning activities in Anglophone West Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

Madalo Esther Samati, CRECCOM

Madalo Esther Samati became executive director of the Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) in April 2016. CRECCOM is a Malawian NGO that works with rural communities and policymakers at different levels across the country to identify and change societal attitudes and policies that cause harm to the marginalized. As one of CRECCOM’s co-founders, Samati has been with the organization since 1999, serving as its director of programs, community mobilization specialist, and program manager. She has consulted for the World Bank, UN Girls’ Education Initiative, UNICEF, and the American Institutes for Research among others. In 2013, Samati was a guest scholar at Brookings Institution. 

Mark Bradbury, Rift Valley Institute

Mark Bradbury was appointed executive director of Rift Valley Institute (RVI) in January 2017. RVI aims to advance useful local knowledge of Eastern and Central Africa and their diverse communities in order to bring an understanding of local realities to bear on social and political action. Bradbury served as RVI’s regional director for the Horn of Africa and East Africa from 2012 to 2016, and as director of its Horn of Africa Course from 2008 to 2012. He has worked in Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda, and Kosovo, and served in various capacities at a number of peacebuilding and development organizations including as country director at ACTIONAID and as longtime board chair of Conciliation Resources.

Monique Tula, Harm Reduction Coalition

Monique Tula joined the Harm Reduction Coalition as executive director in August 2016. Harm Reduction Coalition is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes the health and dignity of people impacted by drug use in the United States. Tula previously served as vice president of programs with AIDS United in Washington and as vice president of program planning and development with AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. While at AIDS Action, she founded the Massachusetts Viral Hepatitis Coalition, the first coalition of providers focused on legislative, regulatory, and budgetary advocacy for viral hepatitis.

Shpend Emini, Democracy for Development

Shpend Emini was appointed executive director of Democracy for Development (D4D) in October 2016. D4D is a nonpartisan think tank which aims to influence the development of public policy in Kosovo in order to accelerate the country’s socio-economic development and strengthen governance and democratic culture. Emini joined D4D in 2010 as program manager, before becoming deputy director in 2014. Prior to that, he worked in various capacities for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Hungary and Kosovo, where he coordinated projects in Central Europe and the southern Caucasus and managed programs in the fields of disaster management and youth development. 

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