KAMPALA – The United Nations International Children’s’ fund has announced the appointment of Ms Catherine Russell as their new executive director starting 1 February 2022.
The announcement makes Ms Russell become the fourth woman to lead the organization in its 75-year history and eighth Executive Director to lead the 20,000-person-strong agency.
Ms Russell’s comes at the time when millions of children globally are still reeling from the impact of the COVID pandemic and other crises and UNICEF is leading the call to protect their rights and their futures. I look forward to the work ahead.
She succeeds Ms Henrietta Fore, who said she was “delighted to hand over to someone with her knowledge, experience, and deep care for children and women”.
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ said Ms. Russell brings to the role decades of experience in developing innovative policy that empowers underserved communities around the world; delivering high-impact programmes that protect women and girls, including in humanitarian crises; building, elevating, and managing diverse workforces; and mobilizing resources and political support for a broad range of initiatives.
Mr Rytis Paulauskas, President of the UNICEF Executive Board, warmly welcomed Ms. Russell to the job and assured her of full support by the Board to carry out the critical leadership role.
“It is an honor and a privilege to join UNICEF and help lead its remarkable work for children at such a crucial moment,” said Russell.
About Ms Russell
Ms Russell has been working as Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and from 2013 to 2022; she served as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.
And in that post, she integrated women’s issues across all elements of U.S. foreign policy, represented the United States in more than 45 countries, and worked with foreign governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society. She was the principal architect of the ground-breaking “U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls”.
Previously, Ms. Russell also served as Deputy Assistant to the President at the White House under President Barack Obama, Senior Advisor on International Women’s Issues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, and Staff Director of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Before re-entering government service in 2020, she taught at the Harvard Kennedy School as an Institute of Politics Fellow.
She has also served as the board co-chair of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, as a board member of Women for Women International, as a member of the Sesame Street Advisory Board, as a member of the non-profit organization, KIVA Advisory Council, and as a member of the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Trust Women initiative.
Ms. Russell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, magna cum laude, from Boston College and a Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law School.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. Ends