Catherine Russell serves as UNICEF’s 8th Executive Director, overseeing the organization’s work for children in over 190 countries and territories.
Ms. Russell brings to the role decades of experience in public service, with a focus on empowering underserved communities around the world and developing high-impact policies and programmes to support women and girls, including in humanitarian crises. She has extensive experience building and managing diverse workforces, as well as mobilizing resources and political support for a broad range of initiatives.
From 2020 to 2022, Ms. Russell served under President Joe Biden as Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She previously served from 2013 to 2017 as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, where she integrated women’s issues across all elements of U.S. foreign policy, represented the United States in more than 45 countries, and worked in partnership with other governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society. She was the principal architect of the groundbreaking “U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls.”
Previously, Ms. Russell served as Deputy Assistant to the President in the White House administration of 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 also served as the board co-chair of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and as a board member of Women for Women International, the Sesame Street Advisory Board, the KIVA Advisory Council, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Trust Women initiative.
Ms. Russell was appointed Executive Director by the UN Secretary General on February 1, 2022. She 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.