Open Society Foundations Announce New Executives Fund Recipients

NEW YORK—Eight newly appointed leaders of nonprofit organizations in countries ranging from Ukraine to Mexico 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 LGBTQ rights, immigration, and access to justice and health.

Since its inception in 2013, the New Executives Fund has awarded 61 grants for a total of $6,375,000. 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.

Past New Executives Fund grantees have used their awards to implement internal change management processes, including racial equity and inclusion structures, and to expand transgender representation and empowerment in the southern United States. The awards are given out twice a year. The latest grantees received their awards in December 2016 and include:

Aaron Morris, Immigration Equality

Aaron Morris became executive director of Immigration Equality in February 2016 after serving as the organization’s legal director, senior staff attorney, and Pride Law Fellow. Immigration Equality is the leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization in the United States, representing and advocating for people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse, and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. During his eight years at the organization, Morris has led Immigration Equality’s law and policy programs and supervised its legal services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and lobbying efforts. In 2014, he was named by the LGBT Bar Association as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.

Ana Cristina Ruelas Serna, ARTICLE 19-Mexico and Central America

Ana Cristina Ruelas Serna was appointed regional director of ARTICLE 19-Mexico and Central America in May 2016 after serving as the organization’s Right to Information program officer since 2011. ARTICLE 19-Mexico fights against impunity for serious human rights violations and the protection of civic space, including human rights defenders, media workers, bloggers, and civil society activists who engage in the dissemination of information in the public interest. Ruelas Serna is a lawyer with a background in human rights, social entrepreneurship and sustainable development. She previously worked in the Right to Information Office of Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights and has vast experience collaborating in various human rights organizations both in Mexico and Perú.

Anna Yearley, Reprieve

Anna Yearley joined Reprieve as executive director in January 2016. Reprieve promotes respect for the human dignity and rights of marginalized individuals around the world, using direct litigation to defend those facing execution and those victimized by states’ abusive counter-terror policies. Yearley spent 16 years in British politics, including working for the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and as director of political relations for the former Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband MP. Yearley also served as head of campaigns for the Parliamentary Labour Party and worked for the cross-party pro-European campaign group, Britain in Europe.

Beverly Tillery, New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project

Beverly Tillery was named executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) in October 2015. AVP is the country’s largest organization fighting to stop violence against sexual minorities, reaching over 80,000 city residents through organizing, education, counseling and advocacy. Tillery formerly served as the deputy director of education and public affairs at Lambda Legal, where she led national educational and advocacy campaigns and community-based research projects aimed at changing policies as well as hearts and minds. Prior to Lambda Legal, she worked as an organizer, popular educator, strategist, and staff leader at organizations such as Amnesty International, Service Employees International Union, and ACORN.

Edith Sargon, Wellstone Action Fund

Edith Sargon became executive director of Wellstone Action Fund in May 2016 after serving as director of impact. Founded by the late Senator Paul Wellstone, Wellstone is a national organization that works with local movement-building organizations across the country to provide leadership training, capacity building, and campaign development services. Sargon brings over 15 years of experience as an organizer and strategist in the national labor, youth, and reproductive justice movements. She also directs the Sheila Wellstone Institute, sits on the board of directors of Forward Together, and is a Movement Maker with Move to End Violence, a program of the NoVo Foundation.

Karyn Kaplan, Asia Catalyst

Karyn Kaplan joined Asia Catalyst as executive director in April 2016. Asia Catalyst supports civil society development and empowerment and advances the right to health for marginalized groups in Asia through tailored capacity building, research, and advocacy. Kaplan has over three decades of experience working as a health and human rights activist in Asia. She is the co-founder of the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group and supported the creation of the Thai Drug Users’ Network. Kaplan has also worked at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the Treatment Action Group. She is the recipient of the 2009 John M. Lloyd Foundation HIV/AIDS Leadership Award, and the Health GAP Founders Award.

Katya Gorchinskaya, Hromadske TV

Katya Gorchinskaya was appointed chief executive officer of Hromadske TV in February 2016. The multimedia organization, also known as NGO Public Television, emerged from the 2014 Euromaidan revolution as a prototype of a public broadcasting service in Ukraine. Gorchinskaya formerly served as the managing editor for investigative programming at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and before that served as deputy chief editor at the Kyiv Post. She was also the chief editor of YanukovychLeaks, an international award-winning investigative project that rescued, systemized and investigated thousands of documents from former president Viktor Yanukovych’s administration.

Martha Spurrier, National Council for Civil Liberties

Martha Spurrier joined the National Council for Civil Liberties as director in May 2016. Established in the United Kingdom in 1934, Liberty is a leading national organization working to protect basic rights and freedoms through test case litigation, parliamentary work, policy analysis, campaigning, and the provision of free legal advice and information. Spurrier arrived at Liberty from Doughty Street Chambers, where she specialized in defending access to justice and the rights of women, children, and disabled people. She was previously a lawyer at the mental health charity, Mind, and at the Public Law Project. In 2015, Spurrier co-founded the Act for the Act campaign, a nationwide poster campaign to prevent the Human Rights Act from being scrapped by the government.