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  • Sarah Costa Named Executive Director of Women's Refugee Commission

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    Media Contact: Diana Quick
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212.551.3087


    Current Executive Director Carolyn Makinson to Head
    International Rescue Committee’s UK Office

    For Immediate Release

    New York City, June 9, 2010—The Women's Refugee Commission, a New York-based organization that advocates on behalf of refugee women, children and young people, today announced the appointment of Sarah Costa as its new executive director. Ms. Costa brings to the Women's Refugee Commission more than 25 years of experience in the fields of women's rights, reproductive health, gender and youth development, as well as global philanthropy. She will start at the Women's Refugee Commission in September. Ms. Costa will succeed Carolyn Makinson, who has led the organization since 2004.

    "After conducting an extensive search, which was prompted by Carolyn’s decision to move to London to head the International Rescue Committee UK, the board was particularly impressed by Sarah’s genuine interest in our mission and her passion for our issues," said Robin Fray Carey, Co-Chair of the Women’s Refugee Commission's Board of Directors. "Her breadth of experience, including applied research, program development, management and funding, will help us forward our strategic vision."

    Ms. Costa is currently regional director of the Global Fund for Women. She established the organization’s New York office, and over the past three years has represented the organization in programmatic and fundraising activities on the East Coast. She established a Women’s Corporate Leadership Council, tapping into women’s executive networks and corporate philanthropy. From 1994 to 2006, Ms. Costa worked as a program officer for the Ford Foundation in Brazil and New York, developing and managing international and national programs on gender, sexuality and reproductive health, women’s rights, HIV/AIDS and health policy. She was Professor of Women’s Health, Department of Epidemiology and Quantitative Methods in Health, National School of Public Health, Brazil from 1980 to 1994. She holds a D.Phil. in Social Medicine from the University of Oxford.

    Ms. Costa succeeds Carolyn Makinson, who became executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission in 2004. Beginning July 1, Ms. Makinson will move to London to direct the International Rescue Committee UK.  The IRC is a global humanitarian agency with operations around the world.

    “During her term, Carolyn led the Women’s Refugee Commission to more than double its budget and expanded its programs in the areas of reproductive health, livelihoods, safe access to cooking fuel and disabilities,” said Jocelyn Cunningham, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors. “Carolyn’s vision was instrumental in the tremendous growth of the organization and we will miss her energy and enthusiasm.”

    “While Carolyn’s shoes are hard to fill, we believe Sarah will be a worthy successor,” said Ms. Fray Carey. “Her field experience, in addition to her global networks composed of grass-roots women’s groups, human rights activists, women leaders and donors working on protection and assistance for vulnerable populations of women and adolescents, including those affected by conflict, will be a tremendous asset to the Women’s Refugee Commission.”

    About the Women’s Refugee Commission: 

    Founded in 1989, the Women’s Refugee Commission advocates vigorously for laws, policies and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children and young people, including those seeking asylum—bringing about lasting, measurable change.

    Through research and fact-finding field missions, the Women’s Refugee Commission identifies critical problems that affect displaced women, children and young people, including gaps in lifesaving reproductive health care, lack of dignified livelihoods for refugees and, in the U.S., the treatment of asylum-seekers. It documents best practices and proposes solutions, and develops innovative tools to improve the way humanitarian assistance is delivered in refugee settings.

    More at www.womensrefugeecommission.org.