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Secretary-General Appoints Catherine M. Russell of United States Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund

Following consultations with the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Catherine M. Russell of the United States as the Fund’s next Executive Director.

She will succeed Henrietta H. Fore of the United States, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.  The Secretary-General wishes to express his appreciation to Ms. Fore for her inspiring leadership of UNICEF and, in particular, UNICEF’s critical role in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in reimagining education.  As a result of her leadership, UNICEF is now an organization with a broader array of public and private sector partnerships and a bolder focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

She currently serves as Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.  From 2013 to 2017, she served as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the United States Department of State.  In that post, she integrated women’s issues across all elements of United States 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 “US Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls”.

Previously, Ms. Russell served as Deputy Assistant to the President at the White House under President Barack Obama, Senior Adviser 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 of Government as an Institute of Politics Fellow.  She also served as the board co-Chair of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, a board member of Women for Women International, a member of the Sesame Street Advisory Board, 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.


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