The Global Fund for Women today announced that Kavita N. Ramdas would step down as President and Chief Executive Officer on September 15, 2010 — capping 14 years of leadership of the Global Fund. The Global Fund is the world’s largest publicly supported grantmaking foundation exclusively focused on seeding, strengthening, and linking women’s rights groups and movements across the globe.
Kavita has played an active role as a commentator, writer, and speaker on issues related to human rights, development, gender equality and justice, and philanthropy. She will be on sabbatical from September 2010 to June 2011 during which time she will continue to assist the Global Fund in an advisory capacity. She also hopes to deepen her engagement with some of the key intellectual questions facing social movements for peace and justice.
Chief Operating Officer Dale Needles, VP of Programs, Shalini Nataraj, and VP of Communications, Deborah Holmes will share CEO responsibilities until the Board of Directors identifies a permanent successor. Together, this team brings a wealth of experience to this role. Working closely with staff and the Board of Directors, this shared leadership model allows the Global Fund to build on its remarkable accomplishments while preparing for its next phase of development. The team will prioritize continuity as it advances the strategic vision of the Global Fund for Women. No major changes in direction or strategy are anticipated. Amina Mama, Board Chair, notes, “Kavita will certainly be missed, yet change is a natural part of any organization’s evolution. The Global Fund will continue to be true to its philosophy of feminist grantmaking that provides general support funds to a wide range of women’s groups and movements working at different levels of civil society.”
Since 1987, the Global Fund for Women has awarded over $82 million to more than 4000 women’s groups in 170 countries. The Global Fund mobilizes financial resources from a wide range of individuals and institutions enabling it to make over 600 grants per year in support of women’s contributions to social justice, equality, and peace. The organization has experienced unprecedented growth in grantmaking and has significantly increased its net assets during Kavita’s tenure as President and CEO. In fiscal year 1997 the Global Fund awarded $1.2 million in grants; this has increased each year so that in FY 2010—despite a severe recession—the Global Fund still awarded a total of $8.5 million.
The Board recognizes Kavita’s exceptional contributions to the Global Fund for Women as the organization’s second President and CEO. Working side-by-side with talented and dedicated colleagues and partners, she has overseen efforts that deepened the Global Fund’s work in the African continent and expanded support for women in the Middle East. She also spearheaded the “Investing in Women” campaign that created the Global Fund endowment and a groundbreaking $10 million “Now or Never Fund”. This helped sustain women’s groups facing multiple crises in the aftermath of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that included the effects of rising extremism and a backlash against reproductive rights.
Kavita credits the success of the Global Fund over the past two decades to the collective efforts of a dynamic network of grantees, advisors, staff, board, and supporters who have poured their time, talent, and treasure into the Global Fund’s mission of investing in women. In keeping with a tradition established by Founding President, Anne Firth Murray, who stepped down from her position in 1996, the Board and Kavita affirm the importance of nurturing and celebrating new generations of leadership within the women’s movement. “I am excited at the opportunities this transition offers the Global Fund and am confident that it will sustain its remarkable commitment to global women’s movements and human rights,” says Kavita. Board Chair Amina adds, “This is an organization with highly skilled professionals and leaders with extensive expertise who are rooted in the women’s movement. Its continued growth translates to greater resources for women-led efforts for peace, human rights, and gender equality, everywhere.”
The Board is leading the search for Kavita’s successor and expects to select a new President and CEO by early 2011.
With an endowment of over $10 million, an impressive track record of innovation and a strong reputation in the global human rights community, the Global Fund for Women looks forward to continuing our work with our staff, grantees and donor partners during this transition period and beyond.