New York, NY, 31 March 2022 | Today, after five-plus years with Women Deliver and two years as Interim President & CEO, it is with overwhelming gratitude I announce that I will be passing the baton to the next leader of Women Deliver in early April. It has been an extraordinary journey, and I am looking forward to serving next as Executive Advisor through June 2022 to help support the Board, the new CEO, and staff during the transition.
Over the last two years, like many organizations, we confronted challenges on issues of racial inequity that have encouraged us to question our assumptions, operations, and priorities. Above all else, it challenged us to follow the same values we advocate for on behalf of girls and women in every pocket of the world.
I am eternally grateful to the Women Deliver Board of Directors for placing their trust in me to lead this organization.
To all our partners and the entire Women Deliver network, I am thankful for the grace you have afforded to the Women Deliver team and me. Your compassion and support fueled our refocused energy as we doubled down on our efforts to drive progress for gender equality and rights for girls and women across intersecting identities.
To the Dynamic and Remarkable Women Deliver Team:
Together, we ventured on a transformational journey of restructuring Women Deliver to regain the trust of our community members, who looked to us to advance the fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality. Because of your passion and commitment, we were able to transform our advocacy, practices, and programs with a renewed focus on the most impacted in our society.
We stepped up when it mattered most. We prioritized inclusivity and listened to every voice to inform our decisions. We recognized that our advocacy must take an intersectional approach, reexamined how we partner with others, and deepened our partnerships with women’s rights and youth-led organizations in low- and middle-income countries. We pushed for meaningful youth engagement and co-leadership of adolescents and youth, ensuring adequate financing and resourcing.
It was not always easy. We had many late nights and early mornings. We fought together through a global pandemic that has claimed millions of lives, reversed decades of progress for girls and women, and continues to widen disparity gaps. Working with you has been one of my greatest honors, and I hope you are as proud of your accomplishments as I am, some of which include:
- Implementing 100+ recommendations centered on our Transformation.
- Creating a new Strategic Framework, with a deepened focus on climate action, women’s economic justice and rights, and raising new feminist funding for implementation (launched spring 2021).
- Taking concrete action during key policy windows to advance gender equality, including during the Generation Equality Forum.
- Reexamining our partnership approach and principles (launched winter 2021).
- Developing new internal policies centered on equity and inherent trust in our team (launched in early 2022).
- Refreshing and expanding our Board of Directors (on-boarded in February 2022) and welcoming our new Chair, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
- Partnering with Young Leaders to make structural and governance changes, including the creation of an Alumni Committee, and Young Leaders joining the Conference Advisory Group and Board of Directors.
- Co-founding, joining, strengthening, and supporting alliances and coalitions to advance gender equality, including the SRHR and Climate Justice Coalition, the Alliance for Gender Equality and UHC, the Global Alliance for Care, and the Adolescent Girls Investment Plan (AGIP), among others.
- Co-creating and launching the Women Deliver 2023 Conference (WD2023) — one of the largest convenings in the gender equality space, which, for the first time, will be hosted on the African continent in Kigali, Rwanda, from 17-20 July 2023.
As the organization prepares to welcome its next leader, I look back fondly on my time. I am leaving with a great sense of confidence, knowing that we have built a foundation that will continue to evolve to support the girls and women we serve.
With gratitude and in solidarity,
Women Deliver Board of Directors Recognizes Kathleen Sherwin’s Leadership as Interim President & CEO of Women Deliver
New York, NY, 31 March 2022 | In June 2020, Women Deliver began reflecting on what it is and what it wants to be as an organization. We examined our structures, policies, and practices. And we listened closely to staff, our partners and funders, Women Deliver Young Leaders and Alumni, and to the girls and women, in all their intersecting identities, that we work with and for. We learned from those closest to us and took action to transform our advocacy, practices, and programs toward starting the journey to becoming an organization capable of truly living up to its values.
As part of this journey of change, we appointed Kathleen Sherwin, then Chief Operating Officer at Women Deliver, to the position of Interim President and CEO. Kathleen has continued in this role over the past two years, seeing the organization through challenging transitions and taking the actions needed to lay the groundwork for a transformed organization that fully embraces continuous learning and feedback and is transparent and accountable in everything it does.
Today, as we prepare to welcome the next CEO of Women Deliver, we want to take a moment to recognize Kathleen’s contributions to Women Deliver over the past five years — and particularly in her role as Interim CEO.
“Over the past two years, Kathleen Sherwin has led Women Deliver with passion, dedication, and perseverance. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to express our sincerest gratitude,” said Kristin Hetle, former Women Deliver Board Chair.
Kathleen’s leadership has been critical not only to pushing for the thorough, collaborative, and thoughtful work needed to truly transform as an organization, but also in creating space for the intersectional, intergenerational, and co-led models of partnership and advocacy needed to shift power into the hands of the girls, women, and organizations impacted by our work.
While staying true to its core mandate and building on the best of its past, the Women Deliver of today is very different than the Women Deliver of two years ago. At every step of the way, Kathleen has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to staff and our partners, leading with grace and humility as they “called us in” — while also championing our potential to do better — to be better. Today, we are structured and led in a way that enables staff at every level to contribute to the most vital aspects of our work, including our Strategy, partnership approach and principles, and internal, trust-based policies. We are deeply grateful to Kathleen for creating the environment and systems needed to re-build trust and instill lasting change at Women Deliver.
“Kathleen stepped up — and at times, stepped back — to lead the deep learning and concrete actions needed for Women Deliver to become a more equitable and inclusive organization for our staff, the advocates we work alongside, and the girls and women we serve. Her contributions will forever remain part of Women Deliver’s organizational DNA,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, current Women Deliver Board Chair.
Kathleen has pushed Women Deliver to dig deeper to ensure that the Women Deliver 2023 Conference (WD2023) is more inclusive, diverse, consultative, and accessible than ever before. From here on out, Women Deliver is focused on leveraging its power and influence to center the work and expertise of women’s rights and youth-led organizations in low- and middle-income countries, including at WD2023, which, for the first time, will be held on the African continent.
With Kathleen at the helm, we have become a stronger, more representative, and more sustainable organization. As we prepare to welcome Women Deliver’s next president and CEO on 11 April, we feel confident that our next leader will feel equipped with the tools and support they need. With our renewed vision, we will effectively and authentically advocate for, with, and alongside girls and women everywhere to create a more gender-equal world.