Board of Directors
Committee: Executive Committee & Observer role in all Board Committees
Julia has 25 years experience working on international development, humanitarian assistance and climate change. She is an economist by training (MA McGill) and has occupied program and organizational leadership positions in Canada and abroad. She is fluently trilingual (Eng, Fr and Sp) and has lived and worked in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and North America. She has also travelled for work in West and South Africa. Julia was until 2018 President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and participates in numerous boards and advisory bodies in Canada and internationally (including Communities of Democracy, ICNL and CIVICUS). She has been Treasurer of CIVICUS for the last 3 years. Julia is passionate about social justice and the environment. She most recently ran as a candidate in a Canadian federal by-election for the socio-democratic party there.
Committee: Executive Committee & Chair Membership Committee
Amitabh Behar is the CEO of Oxfam India and works on issues of civil society, particularly in global south; Governance; and human rights. He is one of the leading experts of People centered advocacy and has been involved with civil society campaigning, alliance building and networking in India and globally. He is currently the Vice chair of CIVICUS and was the Chair of Amnesty International India. Amitabh has earlier served as the Co-chair of Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and is a board member of Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF). Amitabh has been involved with building capacities of human rights defenders and activists for advocacy across South Asia and building a campaign on governance accountability from the social justice lens.
Guillermo Correa is cofounder and Executive Director of the Argentine Network for International Cooperation- RACI, the argentine national platform of NGOs. He has been working in the civil society sector for the past 18 years, including 5 years with the Argentine Chapter of Transparency International. In 2006 he became fellow at the Kettering Foundation and has remained a collaborator. He was also the Executive Director of HelpArgentina- a US based nonprofit organization promoting philanthropy in Latin America. He has served in the CIVICUS Board since 2016 and was elected as Co-Chair of the Civil 20 during Argentina´s presidency of the G20 in 2018. Guillermo teaches in various universities in Argentina and around the world. He is a Political Scientist with a Masters degree in international Relations.
Patricia J. Lerner is a political economist and former diplomat with over 25 years experience leading multicultural teams in the Sahel, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as policy coordination with the EU on a range of issues including humanitarian assistance, post-conflict reconstruction, economic and social development, and democracy and human rights. Pat has been Senior Political Advisor with Greenpeace International since September 2008, serving as focal point for UN issues, as well as G7 and G20 processes. She has worked on the climate negotiations with a particular focus on climate finance, sustainable energy for all, Rio+20, the post-2015 development agenda, the SDGs and served on the Reference Group of Action2015. She co-leads Greenpeace International’s work on restrictions on civil society to act and serves on the Steering Group of the Vuka!Coalition for Action on Civic Space. The daughter of an American anthropologist father and French mother, Pat grew up in francophone West Africa, studied at Wheaton College (Norton, Massachusetts), the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (Dakar, Senegal), the London School of Economics & Political Science (London) and the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design (London).
Serap, a passionate intersectional-feminist activist, is the Head of Office and EU Representative of Plan International. Previously, she held the position of Programme Director at the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) leading their Fundraising & Programme Strategy. Serap started as Fundraising and Policy Coordinator at EWL where she successfully led the 50/50 Campaign “No modern Democracy without Gender Equality” across Europe which aimed to achieve equal representation of women and men in decision-making and power positions within the EU institutions. Whilst at EWL she also Co-founded the EU Civil Society network (CSOs FPN) – an alliance of 30 international and European-wide organisations to collaborate on programme and fundraising issues. Serap is convinced that girls' and women’s rights can only become reality when young women’s power, young women activism and leadership are at the core of our endeavours for a just and equal world. Prior to her role at the EWL, she led the Campaign Unit at the European Network against Racism (ENAR) where she played a critical role in establishing the first European Foundation against Racism. She also spent several years as the Head of Domestic and Sexualised Violence Department and Head of Activists and City Groups for the largest women‘s rights organisation TERRE DES FEMMES in Germany, later leading on establishing and coordinating their representation in Berlin. A published author and scholar, Serap has written a book on the effects of domestic violence and also led the first study in Germany into implementation of favourable workplace policies for those experiencing domestic violence.
Betty Barkha is from the Fiji Islands and she has been involved in development for over 10 years in Asia and the Pacific. She is currently the youngest serving member of the CIVICUS Board and the board of directors of the Association of Women in Development (AWID). She is an advisor with FRIDA Young Feminist Fund and a member of the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. She is also a passionate advocate on human rights, gender peace and security and climate action. Betty holds a Masters of Arts in Sociology and is currently pursuing a PhD at Monash University on the gendered impacts of climate change induced migration for Pacific island states.
Nilda Bullain is Vice President – Operations at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), where she supports ICNL’s global strategy, policies and institutional development. Prior to joining ICNL in Washington, DC, she was Executive Director of the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law and worked directly on legal reform in over 20 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. She has been active in civil society, human rights organizations and the women’s movement from a young age; she co-edited the first feminist journal in her native Hungary in 1990. Today, Nilda is an internationally recognized leader, having served as Chair of the Civil Society Advisory Committee to the UNDP Administrator and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, among others. Nilda graduated from the Faculty of Law at ELTE University, Budapest.
Ana is a professional with over 11 years’ experience in creating strategies and executing programs in the use of data, technology and innovation for incorporating inclusion and diversity in organisations. She is the Executive Director, Social Good Brasil, an NGO that fosters the use of technology and data for social change. She founded Women Friendly (www.womenfriendly.com.br), an initiative that promotes education and protocols against sexual harassment at the workplace and has impacted around 90 thousand people in different cities in Brazil, Mexico, USA and Uruguay. She has also managed a digital business accelerator that supports feminist leaders in independent media to pivot their media outlets to digital platforms. Ana is a member of DIGNA, a global group that tracks and promotes successful cases of Inclusion and Diversity within organisations. She is also an Ambassador of the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, which collects data to demonstrate the human rights situation in Brazil. Ana was recently invited as a Gender Specialist by Data Pop Alliance to support a data research on Domestic Violence in Brazil and also supported Colombia and Mexico on this. She is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English.
Incoming Board Members 2022
Ekenia T. Chifamba is the founding director of Shamwari Yemwanasikana (SYS), a renowned community-based organization in Zimbabwe that seeks to promote, protect and advance the rights and empowerment of the girl child in the home, school, and community, at the national level and beyond. Ekenia is a girls’ rights activist and a motivational speaker and mentors to several young upcoming leaders. She is a former Anti-Domestic Violence Council Member, Spotlight Initiative Civil Society Reference Group member, and an Advisory Board Member for Bindura University for Combating Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe. She is a Board Member for KFM Zimbabwe, Perfection Media, and a Trustee for Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) Zimbabwe. She also sits on the executive board of Tugwi Trust, a charity organization that drives social change and impact in marginalized communities. Ekenia is a member of the Executive Women`s Association and Secretary for the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO) Northern Region, where she leads the Child Rights Sector in the same region. She is a Fredrica Nauman Fellow, an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Fellow (USA), and the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation Focal Point in Zimbabwe. She is a member of the Steering Committees of Girls Not Brides Zimbabwe, and MenEngage Zimbabwe, as well as Secretary of the Child Rights Coalition convened by the Zimbabwe National Council on the Welfare of the Child (ZNCWC). Ekenia is also a former CIVICUS Alliance Membership Advisory Group Member and a current voting member.
Dr. Stellah Bosire, is a holder of a Bachelors in Medicine and surgery, a Master in Global Health Policy and an MBA in Healthcare Management and is the Co-Executive Director of UHAI - The East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative: Africa’s first indigenous activist fund for and by sexual and gender minorities as well sex workers which supports civil society organizing across 7 Eastern African countries and Pan-African organising addressing; poverty, violence, ensuring that education, employment, housing, and healthcare are accessible to all, without prejudice while fighting oppression and injustice. Dr. Stellah is a health professional with extensive international and domestic experience with foreign government agencies and private donors; her expertise is in monitoring and appraising public/global health programs; effectiveness, and strategic development. At programming, she is an expert in SRHR, healthcare development, and infectious diseases management with a gender cross-cutting theme; in influencing laws, policies, and programs beyond Kenya. Her leadership positions include Board member FCAA - Funders concerned about HIV/AIDS, the former CEO of Kenya Medical Association, former chair of the Board at the National Gay Lesbian Human Rights Commission & former Vice-Chair of the HIV/AIDS Tribunal of Kenya. She is also currently pursuing a Law Degree.
Born in Zimbabwe to parents of Greek heritage, Irene was exposed to diverse cultures and viewpoints from an early age. Her interest in human rights, political transitions and the law as an instrument of change deepened on witnessing South Africa’s first democratic elections and constitutional reform process while studying at the University of Cape Town. She later pursued post-graduate studies in transitional justice as a Chevening scholar at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Irene returned to Zimbabwe to practice law, mentored by human rights lawyers with distinguished track records representing both pre-Independence liberation struggle leaders, and those resisting authoritarianism in post-Independence Zimbabwe. Irene left a lucrative practice for the challenge of institutionalizing a dedicated group of volunteer human rights lawyers. Over 16 years (8 as executive director), the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights became a trusted safety net for civil society and rights defenders, while Irene learned how essential rule of law and an independent civil society is for democracy. Currently Irene leads the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law’s Africa program, defending and supporting civil society partners in more than 25 countries on the continent, and engaging governments, multilateral organizations and academic institutions to secure an enabling legal environment for civil society’s critical work. Irene is a recognized leader in Zimbabwe, with prior governance leadership in three major civic bodies - the Zimbabwe Election Support Network; Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum; and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. She also previously served various regional networks including the SADC Lawyers Association.
Cristina Palabay, 42, is the Secretary General of Karapatan Alliance Philippines, a national alliance of human rights organizations, desks and individual advocates working for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. Palabay has been with KARAPATAN since 2010 and as Secretary General, she oversees the implementation of the General Program of Action of the alliance and serves as the main spokesperson/ representative of the organization. Through her years as an activist, she has faced death and rape threats, surveillance, and judicial harassment, presumably because of her staunch defense of women’s rights and people’s rights, but she continues to do her work as a human rights defender. Palabay has been a social activist since her student days and is also known for her advocacy for women’s rights as among the founders and later on the Secretary General of the Gabriela Women’s Party, during which she had campaigned for the full implementation of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and for the enactment of the Magna Carta of Women. She has been likewise involved in campaigns for the enactment of legislation against torture and enforced disappearances, and for justice and reparations campaign for victims of martial law during the Marcos government.
Omaid Sharifi is a Curator Artivist, Co-Founder and President of award-winning art for social change movement, ArtLords and Wartists. Mr. Sharifi is a fellow with Harvard University, Atlantic Council, Asia Society and American Foreign Relations Council/Rumsfeld Fellowship.
Mr. Sharifi’s work to promote and defend human rights and specially women’s rights, promote accountability and transparency, artivism and fighting the shrinking civic space in Afghanistan and South Asia in the last 20 years has been recognized by the international community. Mr. Sharifi is also a resource person and co-facilitator for the prestigious International Human Rights Training Program of Equitas in Montreal, Canada. Mr. Sharifi started as a kid selling cookies and cigarettes in the streets of Kabul, he has worked on programs funded by The World Bank Group, USAID, European Union, National Endowment for Democracy, British Council, NATO and many more. Mr. Sharifi lives and works between Kabul, Istanbul, Boston and Washington D.C.
Dylan Mathews is CEO of Peace Direct, a UK based peacebuilding organisation that was founded in 2002 to amplify the voices of local peacebuilders around the world and shift power and resources in the peacebuilding system to locally led peacebuilding efforts. His commitment to supporting local civil society organisations in the global south spans almost twenty years, during which time he has worked for a range of peacebuilding, international development and humanitarian organisations. While working for the think tank Oxford Research Group in 1999, he authored 'War Prevention Works' which profiled the role of civil society organisations in conflict prevention and resolution - a publication that helped launch Peace Direct in 2002. He is the editor of 'Working with Conflict 2' a practical toolkit for local peacebuilders, published in 2020. While at Peace Direct, Dylan led the Decolonising work of the organisation which resulted in the report ‘Time to Decolonise Aid’ which has been read widely across the world and has been translated into 13 languages. While born in the UK, Dylan is of Sri Lankan heritage, was brought up in Zambia, has lived in the Caribbean and Sudan and has supported civil society organisations in over 20 countries.
I am a social change strategist, campaigner and evaluator, and I hold myself accountable to the values of justice and authenticity. I am passionate about the power of movements and curious about how change happens and how it is interwoven with philosophical beliefs, culture and timing. I have worked in the not for profit sector for nearly 15 years and have supported both small and large organisations to achieve impact through learning, accountability and systems change. I am passionate about the use of evidence and learning and particularly decolonising knowledge and making knowledge practices inclusive. I started my career in journalism and campaigning. I am currently on the Independent Review Panel for Accountable Now and a Lay Director for the UK National Union of Students. I have recently completed a role at Oxfam GB, where I was responsible for leading the development of a new vision and strategy for evidence and learning. The strength I bring is as an ally. As an impact and knowledge specialist I prefer not to take up the airtime of others, but more to listen and stand in solidarity. And my skills lie in impact, accountability and how best to empower a more effective, innovative civil society. I am positive, enthusiastic and try to show up with a sense of humour and in an enabling way, prepared to work hard.