Making Way for New Leadership: White Ribbon Alliance CEO Steps Down, Kenya Hub to be Established

Jun 3, 2021 | News, Press Release

June 3, 2021, Washington, D.C. – Longtime White Ribbon Alliance CEO, Betsy McCallon, announced today that she is stepping down from a role she’s held for nearly a decade. McCallon also announced that a hub for the organization will be established in Kenya. Both actions will usher in new leadership for White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and its movement for reproductive, maternal, and newborn health and rights, now in its 22nd year.

“It has been an absolute privilege to serve as CEO of White Ribbon Alliance for the past nine years, and to have had the opportunity to be a part of this movement in many different capacities since I joined in 2004,” says Betsy McCallon, CEO of White Ribbon Alliance. “This was a very difficult decision because WRA is now in my DNA. And yet, this is a movement of so many incredible leaders and I am wholly confident that my successors will take it to the next level.”

During her tenure, McCallon led significant organizational reviews and ushered in new strategies, and approaches, all while maintaining WRA’s core vision of elevating women’s and girls’ voices so that their healthcare needs are understood and acted upon by those in power, a core value that initially attracted her to White Ribbon Alliance and its movement. McCallon spearheaded the growth of the Alliance from a loose network to a driver for global attention and commitments to reproductive and maternal health and rights with a focus on national advocacy and accountability. She has become a well-known global spokesperson and champion for citizen participation and empowerment to advance health and rights and regularly contributes to publications, speaks at key events, and serves on numerous coalitions and Boards. Transition and succession planning is also something McCallon has prioritized, particularly over the past several years, and she looks forward to sharing her learnings for other global health and rights organizations in the coming months.

“Betsy has been a visionary leader of White Ribbon Alliance and a tremendous advocate for the women, girls and communities it serves,” says Steve Crom, WRA Global Secretariat Board Chair. “She helped raise the organization’s profile, recruited exceptional talent across the Global Alliance and put WRA on stable financial footing. Now, in another bold move, she is making way for new leadership to further grow the movement and its impact.”

White Ribbon Alliance is also taking a major step toward realizing a long-held vision for the Global Secretariat to be more representative of its membership by establishing a hub in Kenya. The first position to be based there is a new role for WRA, that of Director of Advocacy and Communications. Ultimately, it’s envisioned that the Kenya hub will be advocacy campaign engine for WRA’s Global Alliance.

“While recognizing the transformative contributions Betsy has made during her time leading the Global Alliance, we are confident that the talent and leadership needed to fill hers and the other important roles exists within the Alliance. We will be recruiting for the senior management team from within WRA’s Global Alliance,” said Aparajita Gogoi, head of WRA India and member of the Board of Directors and CEO transition committee.

This approach showcases growth opportunities within the Alliance, attracts passionate and talented team members, and stays true to the diversity, equity, and inclusion principles WRA is committed to strengthening, all while allowing for stability amidst a complex change process.

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About White Ribbon Alliance:

Founded in 1999, White Ribbon Alliance is a locally led, globally connected grassroots movement advocating for the health and rights of women, girls, and newborns. We actively work in partnership with women, men, their families and communities, professionals and practitioners from diverse fields and all sectors of government. We use many approaches, all of which put citizens at the center so that health policies, programs and practices are driven by lived experiences.

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WHITE RIBBON ALLIANCE contact: Kimberly Whipkey, kwhipkey@whiteribbonalliance.org

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