Open Society Foundations Announce 2021 New Executives Fund Recipients

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Open Society Foundations Announce 2021 New Executives Fund Recipients

NEW YORK—Fourteen new leaders of nonprofit organizations have been awarded New Executives Fund grants to help implement their organizational leadership visions during a time of unprecedented global change, the Open Society Foundations announced today.

Based in six countries around the world, from Argentina to South Africa, the recipients have backgrounds, identities, and lived experiences that have been historically underrepresented in leadership positions in their respective geographic, cultural, and professional contexts. Their work involves a range of efforts to advance open society, including through legal protection of LGBTQI rights, digital rights advocacy, gender equality, community-centered policymaking, and civic engagement.

“We are delighted to welcome these directors to our incredible community of changemakers,” said Alethia Jones, director of the Open Society Fellowship Program, which includes the New Executives Fund. “Robust, early support from funders gives new leaders a chance to realize their bold visions and have an outsized impact. We support a fraction of the incredibly talented leaders who are nominated, and we urge other funders to enthusiastically support new leaders in their fields.”

Since 2013, the New Executives Fund has competitively awarded 132 grants for a total of $12.8 million. These two-year awards, which in 2021 range from $95,000 to $135,000, are designed to give new executives the flexibility to invest in their development as leaders as well as organizational sustainability while gaining access to networks of their peers—both especially crucial in the face of current challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession.

“Our hope is that this support can offer these leaders the space to dream and collaboratively imagine new possibilities for their organizations, together with their staffs, boards, and constituents,” said Bipasha Ray, project director of the New Executives Fund. “During this current moment in history, we need to encourage and reward bold thinking more than ever.”

2021 New Executives

Sofia Arroyo Martín Del Campo
EDGE Funders Alliance 

Sofia Arroyo Martin Del Campo became executive director of EDGE Funders Alliance in September 2019. Founded in 2012, EDGE Funders Alliance is a global community of grant-makers that aims to organize within philanthropy to raise awareness and deepen understanding of the interconnected crises threatening our common future, to increase resources for systemic alternatives that support justice, equity, and the well-being of the planet. Arroyo previously served at Sacred Fire Foundation, including as executive director from 2016 to 2018. Arroyo is based in Mexico City, Mexico.

Evelyn Austin
Bits of Freedom 

Evelyn Austin became executive director of Bits of Freedom in September 2019. Founded in 2000, Bits of Freedom blends technological and legal expertise to engage in digital rights advocacy in areas such as profiling, encryption, copyright reform, and dragnet surveillance, in both Dutch and broader European law and policy contexts. Before her appointment as executive director, Austin served as Bits of Freedom’s first “movement builder” since 2014, coordinating efforts to strengthen European networks. Before that, she co-founded and led The Hmm, a platform for contemporary visual culture. Austin is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Ana María Enríquez
Human Rights Funders Network

Ana María Enríquez joined the Human Rights Funders Network as executive director in March 2020. Founded in 1994 by a small group of human rights grantmakers, the network is a global network committed to advancing human rights through effective philanthropy. Previously, Enríquez worked with a range of global organizations, including UN Women, where she designed and led the Fund for Gender Equality; the Ford Foundation, where she led an initiative in support of social justice philanthropy in the Global South; and the Global Fund for Women. Enríquez is based in Medellin, Colombia.

Shereen Essof
Just Associates 

Shereen Essof became executive director of Just Associates (JASS) in March 2020. Founded in 2002, JASS generates cutting-edge knowledge about power, movements, and change to shape the theory, practice, and policies for advancing women’s rights and democratic change worldwide, with programs in Mesoamerica, Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia. Essof joined JASS in 2011, serving first as Southern Africa regional director and then Cross Regional Programmes director. Essof has also held positions at the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network and the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. Essof is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Chino Hardin and Kyung-Ji Kate Rhee
Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice & Healing 

Chino Hardin and Kyung-Ji Kate Rhee became co-executive directors of the Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice & Healing in November 2019. Established in the early 2000s and staffed by community and youth experts directly impacted by legacies of criminalization and mass incarceration, the center is an independent research, training, and advocacy think tank that employs a "human justice" framework to achieve community well-being, empowerment, and safety. Hardin was previously a field director at the center, with prior roles at Friends of Bedford Academy, the Strengthening Families Program, and the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives. Rhee also served as the center’s juvenile justice director and then deputy director, with prior leadership roles at the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives and the Prison Moratorium Project. Hardin and Rhee are based in New York City, New York, United States.

Paula Litvachky
Center for Legal and Social Studies 

Paula Litvachky became executive director of Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales’ in February 2020. Founded in Argentina in 1979, the organization is dedicated to the promotion and defense of human rights and the strengthening of democratic institutions—nationally in Argentina, regionally in Latin America, and around the world. Litvachky, a human rights lawyer, previously served as director of justice and security at CELS since 2011, managing its national and international dossiers and developing alliances with other social organizations and grassroots movements. Litvachky is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Ricardo Martinez
Equality Texas 

Ricardo Martinez joined Equality Texas as CEO in December 2019. Formally established in 2006, Equality Texas works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in Texas through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. Before joining Equality Texas, Ricardo led the national organizing and constituent engagement effort at Stand for Children. Prior to that, he spent several years with GLSEN, initially as Senior Manager of Field Services and later as the President of the Phoenix Chapter. Martinez is based in Austin, Texas, United States.

C. Nicole Mason
Institute for Women’s Policy Research  

C. Nicole Mason became president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in November 2019. Founded in 1987, the institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that engages in research and dissemination to shape public policy and improve the lives and opportunities of women from diverse backgrounds across the United States. Prior to the institute, Mason served as executive director of both the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Center for Research and Policy at the New York Women’s Foundation. Mason is based in Washington, D.C., United States.

Nondumiso Nsibande
ActionAid South Africa 

Nondumiso Nsibande was appointed country director of ActionAid South Africa in May of 2019. Established in 2006, ActionAid South Africa is a nationally registered civil society organization that is part of the ActionAid International federation, which seeks to develop initiatives and campaigns that address systemic drivers of poverty, injustice, and inequality in South Africa. Before joining ActionAid South Africa, Nsibande served as executive director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women and program manager at the Foundation for Human Rights. Nsibande is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Imani Rupert-Gordon
National Center for Lesbian Rights 

Imani Rupert-Gordon began as executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in March 2020. Established in 1977, the center is a United States-based legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families nationwide through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education. Previously, Rupert-Gordon was executive director for Affinity Community Services and director of the Broadway Youth Center. Rupert-Gordon is based in San Francisco, California, United States.

Magdalena Sepúlveda
The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 

Magdalena Sepúlveda was appointed executive director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in October 2019. Founded in 2010, the initiative is a global nongovernmental organization that promotes transformative change to end endemic problems of social and economic injustice through a human rights lens. From 2008 to 2014, Sepúlveda was the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. She has also served at the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the International Council on Human Rights Policy. Sepúlveda is based in Mexico City, Mexico.

Ricky Watson
National Juvenile Justice Network 

Ricky Watson joined the National Juvenile Justice Network as executive director in January 2020. The network, established in 2005, is a membership-led organization that supports and enhances the work of state-based juvenile justice advocates in the U.S., to join and raise their voices in demanding change both locally and nationally. Prior to joining the network, Watson served as founding co-director of the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and regional manager at the Unaccompanied Children Program at the Vera Institute’s Center on Immigration Justice. Watson is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States.

Nomzamo Zondo
Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa 

Nomzamo Zondo became executive director of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa in January 2020. Founded in 2009, the institute is a South African human rights organization that provides professional assistance to individuals, communities, and social movements seeking to protect and advance their socio-economic rights, including rights to housing, water, healthcare, fair labor practices, electricity, sanitation, a clean and healthy environment, and education. Zondo first joined the institute in 2015 and previously served as litigation director. Zondo is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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