Open Society Foundations Announce Winter 2017 New Executives Fund Recipients

NEW YORK—Eleven newly appointed leaders of nonprofit organizations in countries ranging from Colombia to Indonesia 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 transparency and accountability, youth civic engagement, and social and economic justice.

Since its inception in 2013, the New Executives Fund has awarded 86 grants for a total of $8,247,000. 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 winter 2017 and include:

Afua Atta-Mensah, Community Voices Heard

Afua Atta-Mensah was appointed the executive director of Community Voices Heard in October 2016. Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a New York State-based member-led multiracial organization, principally comprised of women of color and low-income families, which builds power to secure racial, social, and economic justice for all. Prior to joining CVH, Atta-Mensah was the director of litigation and policy for the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center. She has also served as the director of policy at the Center for Working Families, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana.

Amanda Rivera, Instituto de Desarrollo de la Juventud

Amanda Rivera became the executive director of Instituto de Desarrollo de la Juventud in February 2017. Instituto de Desarrollo de la Juventud (IDJ) works to advance public policies—both at the federal and commonwealth level—that improve the lives and outcomes of children and youth in Puerto Rico, with a particular focus on reducing child poverty and promoting the economic security of families. Prior to joining IDJ, Rivera served as the federal policy manager at Youth Villages in Washington, D.C. She has worked on an array of policy issues related to youth, including education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health, throughout her career.

Andres Hernandez, Transparencia por Colombia

Andres Hernandez was appointed executive director of Transparencia por Colombia in April 2017. Transparencia por Colombia (TPC) seeks to fight against corruption and for transparency in the public and private sectors in Colombia by promoting an active citizenry, strengthening institutions, and consolidating democracy. Hernandez previously served as TPC’s director for citizen engagement and as senior regional coordinator for Central and South America. Throughout his career, he has contributed to the mobilization of Colombian youth as part of Corporación Ocasa and has contributed to publication of articles on transparency and anticorruption issues in the country.

Daniela Schwarzer, German Council on Foreign Relations

Daniela Schwarzer became executive director of the German Council on Foreign Relations in July 2017, after leading its Research Institute since November 2016. The German Council on Foreign Relations (known as DGAP) is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit membership organization, think tank, and publisher that has promoted public debate on foreign policy in Germany for 60 years. Prior to joining DGAP, Schwarzer served as senior director of research and director of the Europe Program and Berlin office at the German Marshall Fund. She also worked with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, where she served as a senior fellow before becoming head of the European Integration Division.

Friedhelm Weinberg, HURIDOCS

Friedhelm Weinberg was appointed executive director of Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS) in February 2017. HURIDOCS provides technical solutions to human rights organizations to help build their capacity to gather, analyze, and harness information for human rights advocacy and litigation. Previously, Weinberg served as HURIDOCS’ deputy director, overseeing and managing projects in Africa, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Asia. Prior to joining HURIDOCS, Weinberg worked as a freelance reporter and editor in chief of two popular youth magazines in Germany.

Henriett Dinok, Romaversitas Foundation

Henriett Dinok joined Romaversitas Foundation as executive director in February 2017. Romaversitas Foundation empowers and supports the academic and professional development of Roma youth in Hungary. Prior to joining Romaversitas Foundation, Dinok worked with the Hungarian Working Group Against Hate Crimes. A lawyer by training, Dinok has worked in various expert positions for legal and human rights organizations in Hungary and internationally, including the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions for Human Rights in Poland and the Chance for Children Foundation in Hungary.  

Liam Herrick, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Liam Herrick became executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties in November 2016. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is Ireland’s foremost domestic human rights organization working to defend justice and promote equality. Prior to joining ICCL, Herrick served as the executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust before becoming an advisor to President Michael D. Higgins. He has worked with the former Irish Human Rights Commission, the Law Reform Commission, and the Department of Foreign Affairs. In 2014, Herrick was appointed a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Pabitra Benjamin, Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice

Pabitra Benjamin was appointed executive director of Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice in March 2017. Adhikaar is the only community-based organization in the United States that serves Nepali-speaking populations and focuses on delivery services for immigrants in nonunionized and marginalized industries. Prior to becoming executive director, Benjamin led Amnesty International USA’s organizing efforts as field director. She has worked with networks and grassroots organizations including the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the Rights Working Group, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, and Fair Wisconsin/Action WI Education Fund.

Sarah Audelo, Alliance for Youth Organizing

Sarah Audelo joined the Alliance for Youth Organizing as executive director in April 2017. The Alliance for Youth Organization is a national civic engagement organization that is of young people and by young people with eight permanent affiliates across the country, and mobilizes young voters and advances progressive issues through creative campaigns. Prior to joining the Alliance, Audelo was the millennial vote director at Hillary for America. She has served as a special education teacher in the Rio Grande Valley and as an organizer for sexual health and rights with Advocates for Youth.

Vanita Gupta, The Leadership Conference Education Fund

Vanita Gupta was appointed president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund in June 2017. The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public and political will for policies and laws that promote and protect civil and human rights for all. Previously, Gupta was appointed by President Barack Obama as the principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to joining the Justice Department, Gupta served as deputy legal director and director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), having first joined the organization as a staff attorney.

Yati Andriyani, Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)

Yati Andriyani became executive director of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) in February 2017. KontraS is one of Indonesia’s leading justice and human rights organizations, fighting for the right to be free of all forms of violence and repression, particularly those resulting from the abuse of state power. Andriyani has been with KontraS since 2003, having served as deputy coordinator, head of advocacy, and head of impunity watch. A lawyer by training, Andriyani has served as a fellow with the JENESYS East Asia Future Leaders Programme, Contectas Human Rights, and the Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative.