Open Society Foundations Launch Worldwide Fund to Support Nonprofits Navigating Leadership Transitions

Jun 14, 2013, 09:34 ET from Open Society Foundations

NEW YORK, June 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To help nonprofit organizations during their first two years of new leadership, the Open Society Foundations today announced a fund designed to provide key financial support so that a new generation of leaders around the world can implement their initiatives.

"The initial period when a new executive is appointed can be the most challenging and simultaneously the most promising time for an organization," said Chris Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations. "When I became director of the Vera Institute in 1994, dealing with recent losses could have prevented me from starting any of the new initiatives that excited me. To this day, I remain grateful for the additional, discretionary support from foundations that allowed me to jump-start a new program and strengthen the core team. I'm glad we will be helping today's new directors to start early in implementing their visions."

Leadership transitions in nonprofit organizations are just as important as those in the for-profit sector, although they often receive less attention. New executive directors come to the position with innovative projects, but often face internal limitations and a lack of resources. This fund gives new leaders the discretionary support to implement the ideas that got them hired in the first place. This new fund is the only available support of its kind for nonprofit leaders at the outset of their tenure.

"New leaders share a common experience of deferring their visions because they are bound by constraints. We want to avoid this problem," said Stone. "Periods of transition for nonprofits should be fertile moments for positive change and growth and help inject new vitality into an organization."

The Open Society Foundations are committed to supporting a new generation of civil society leaders as part of their efforts to strengthen the nonprofit sector worldwide. The New Executives Fund will support executive directors and chief executive officers who have the potential to be leaders in fields that are central to Open Society's mission.

The Open Society Foundations have long made individual decisions to support new directors, including directors at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the PEN American Center this year. The New Executives Fund expands this kind of support, making it a regular part of how Open Society is helping to build a new generation of nonprofit leadership.

The inaugural cohort of the fund includes leaders from around the globe whose organizations are advancing a range of human rights and social justice issues. Organizations will receive a two-year grant, which will be allocated at the executive director's discretion.

New Executives Fund Recipients:

Brad Brockman, Equal Education
Equal Education is a movement of learners, parents, teachers, and community members working for quality and equality in South African education. Brad Brockman was elected to the position of general secretary of Equal Education in July 2012. Born and raised in Cape Town, Brockman previously worked as an editor, researcher, and community organizer at Equal Education.

Andrea Coomber, JUSTICE
JUSTICE is an all-party law reform organization promoting access to justice, human rights, and the rule of law, and encourages improvements to the UK legal system through research, education, and intervention in the courts. Andrea Coomber has been the director of JUSTICE since February 2013. Coomber is a recognized international expert on equality litigation, particularly on violence against women and on the human rights of persons with disabilities.

Soe Naing, International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Myanmar
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Myanmar focuses on promoting the health and rights of people living with, and most affected by, HIV, including female sex workers and men who have sex with men. Soe Naing joined the Alliance as executive in May 2013. Prior to this, he held leadership positions at international NGOs, the United Nations, and the government of Myanmar.

Oluwakemi Okenyodo, The CLEEN Foundation
The CLEEN Foundation in Nigeria was established with the mission to promote public safety, security, and accessible justice. Oluwakemi Okenyodo (nee Asiwaju) became executive director in February 2013. Okenyodo has worked extensively in the area of police reform, particularly police accountability, in Nigeria and within the Anglophone West Africa countries.

Christine Stegling, International Treatment Preparedness Coalition
The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition aims to secure universal access to HIV and related co-infection treatment, care, support, and prevention services for all people living with HIV. Christine Stegling joined the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition as the executive director in May 2013. She started her work in the field of HIV and human rights in Botswana, initially working for the Ministry of Health, and for eight years as the executive director of the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law, and HIV/AIDS.

Gabor Attila Toth, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union is a human rights watchdog that strives to educate citizens about their basic human rights and freedoms, and takes a stand against undue interference and misuse of power by those in positions of authority. Gabor Attila Toth is president of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and associate professor at the University of Debrecen, Faculty of Law. He has published several books, articles, and edited volumes on matters of constitutionalism and human rights both in English and Hungarian.

INTERIGHTS is an international legal human rights NGO that provides leadership and support in the legal protection of human rights and works to ensure that human rights standards are protected and promoted effectively in domestic courts and before regional and international bodies. John Wadham joined INTERIGHTS as executive director in February 2013. Wadham was previously general counsel for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and director of Liberty (the National Council for Civil Liberties).

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

SOURCE Open Society Foundations