Bio

Laurie Adams is the Chief Executive Officer of Women for Women International (WfWI), a leading global organization that works with women survivors of war in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Sudan offering support, tools, and access to life-changing skills to move women and communities from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency.

Ms. Adams is an innovative leader, strategist, and gender rights advocate with more than 25 years of experience in international development and human rights across Asia, the Americas, and Africa. Her professional history includes two decades of field experience in Africa, including managing Oxfam’s country programs in three African regions. During her tenure at Oxfam, Ms. Adams created high-level partnerships with government leaders and multinational corporations and, under her leadership, Oxfam doubled its financial commitment to women’s rights. Also at Oxfam, she led the creation of an innovation partnership to support young feminists called Roots Lab. Ms. Adams joined Oxfam after eight years at ActionAid International leading efforts from the South Africa headquarters to measure impact, strengthen learning, and build accountability for over 40 countries, including leading transformation projects in India, Brazil, Nepal, and Uganda.

A life-long women’s rights advocate, Ms. Adams has devoted her life to eradicating all forms of injustice – poverty, gender-based violence, inequality and racism, and other forms of human rights abuses. From college days advocating for gender parity and against sexual harassment at Dartmouth, to sitting on the Board of gender rights organizations in South Africa, Ms. Adams shares impassioned stories of her experiences and her belief in the power of connecting women.

Ms. Adams’ philanthropic contributions include voluntary board service with emerging non-governmental organizations in South Africa and Brazil. As the chair of the founding board for The Other Foundation in South Africa, Ms. Adams launched a community foundation model to catalyze local philanthropy after securing matching funds from The Atlantic Philanthropies. In addition, she served as a director on the boards of The Forum for the Empowerment of Women in South Africa, and ActionAid Brazil.

An avid storyteller, Ms. Adams’s recent speaking engagements include: the launch of the World Bank’s report on gender inequality – Women, Business and the Law, with the former Secretary of State for International Development Justine Green; at PowerShift with Ambassador Melanne Verveer; bringing stories of women’s rights alive at Circle Events alongside Annie Lennox; the key-note speaker at women’s leadership day at BMW; during her time at WfWI, speaking at the International Women’s Summit and at events with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christiane Amanpour, Angelique Kidjo, and former Ambassador Cathy Russell. Ms. Adams has appeared on many outlets including ABC, CBS, NBC, and BBC.

Ms. Adams holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy Management from the University of London, a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s Rights from Dartmouth College, and completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. 

Sub-specialties: Women’s economic and social empowerment, global development and humanitarian work, particularly in Africa.

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