Global Witness is delighted to announce the appointment of award-winning campaigner and film-maker Gillian Caldwell as its new Executive Director.
“Gillian is exactly what we were looking for,” said Charmian Gooch, Global Witness Co-Founder. “She brings decades of experience and success combining hard-hitting investigations with human rights and environmental campaigns. This makes her the perfect person to lead Global Witness through the next phase of its growth. We are delighted, and excited about what we can achieve with her at the helm.”
Gillian will work closely with the three founders, Patrick Alley, Simon Taylor and Charmian Gooch who remain on the Board, and actively involved in the organisation and its campaigns. She is best known for leading WITNESS, the organisation co-founded by Peter Gabriel to support people around the world in using video to expose human rights abuses and fight for change. During her decade of leadership the organisation won countless awards, including the NY Times Award for Excellence in Communications.
Global Witness was the first organisation to investigate the links between natural resource wealth, conflict and corruption. Gillian joins the organisation some 20 years after its first ever investigation, which exposed how the illegal timber trade between Cambodia and Thailand was providing the genocidal Khmer Rouge rebels with $90 million a year. Since then, it has alerted the world to the horror of blood diamonds, taken the funding out of a civil war in Liberia by stopping the trade in conflict timber, and led the global campaign to push the world’s major oil and mining companies to publish what they pay to governments.
In 2014 Global Witness founders, Patrick Alley, Simon Taylor and Charmian Gooch received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, recognising their work over two decades “driving transparency to lift the ‘resource curse’ of conflict and human rights abuses”. The Skoll prize supports social entrepreneurs who “transform our world for the better.” Gillian is herself a Skoll awardee for her work with WITNESS. Also in 2014, Charmian and Global Witness won the TED Prize for Global Witness’ pioneering work exposing how tax evaders, drug cartels and arms traders use anonymous companies to hide criminal activity.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be joining the Global Witness team,” said Gillian. “Their ground-breaking investigations and advocacy campaigns related to natural resource extraction worldwide highlight and halt projects that fuel widespread corruption, poverty, violence and environmental destruction. Their unique combination of investigatory prowess, strategic advocacy and courage has been generating real results for more than twenty years and I look forward to continuing and expanding our impact together."
Gillian has also co-directed the Global Survival Network, where she managed an international campaign against human trafficking, and was director of 1Sky, a collaborative campaign in the United States that advocated for federal climate and energy reform and has since merged with 350.org.
Until recently, she led a strategy and organisational development consultancy practice which served diverse clients, including the White House, Greenpeace, SumofUs and the Bertha Foundation. Gillian holds a BA in Social Studies from Harvard University and a law degree from Georgetown Law School. She is also a film-maker.