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What Made Us Proud in 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, we’re feeling grateful. Grateful that, amid another difficult year, we could continue supporting human rights movements and improving the lives of people around the world. Grateful for our global community of allies, supporters, and partners. And grateful that we came to work—or called in on Zoom—every day with colleagues who are so committed to creating a better, fairer world.

The next year will bring new challenges. And we’re ready to face them. But for a moment, we’d like to look back on 2021 and share some of the moments, achievements, and milestones that made us proud to work for the Fund.

“Among the many courageous and creative acts this year, one that particularly inspires me was the ‘silent strike’ against the military junta in Myanmar on Human Rights Day against the military junta. Faced with the military’s extreme brutality, people flipped the script and ensured that the silence from the streets reverberated across the country and the world.” – James Savage, Program Director for Enabling Environment for Human Rights Defenders

“For me, it’s highlighting the organization and staff’s commitment to two of our core values: (1) agility, in continuing to navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2021 and (2) sustainability, in accumulating a surplus, strengthening our reserves, and providing the Fund’s board and staff with the ability to confidently execute and implement work that will benefit the Fund’s operations and financial wellbeing for years to come.” – Taylor Brown, Director of Finance

“In my short (but eventful!) time at the Fund, I’m most proud to be part of a team so talented, generous, and fiercely dedicated to living their values in service of our mission to resource brave activists and movements around the world.” – Brandee M. Butler, Deputy CEO

Headshot of Brandee M. Butler, the Fund's new Deputy CEO

“This year, we stepped up as co-leaders of the Strategic Partnerships team to help navigate the team through a difficult transition. The experience not only allowed us to learn and grow in so many ways on a personal level, it also gave us the opportunity to build a healthier, more collaborative, and more effective team dynamic. In fact, despite being down two team members, we exceeded our fundraising goals! Our experience with co-leadership has been a source of invaluable learning, creativity, solidarity and camaraderie. It’s a strong example of how the Fund has pivoted to meet the needs and opportunity of the moment.” – Clare Gibson Nangle, Director of Strategic Partnerships; Frances Tennyson and Rebecca Olschner-Wood, Deputy Directors of Strategic Partnerships

“I am proud to have joined the Fund this year and to be part of a movement trying to make a difference in a challenging world. I feel especially humbled by the gratitude of our partners. In the face of adversity and despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. I was particularly moved by one of our migrant’s rights partners, who has worked hard to establish minimum standards on the treatment of bereaved and missing people on the move. Administering this grant coincided with the tragic deaths in the English Channel that made headline news—that really put it all into perspective.” – Zeina Barker, Grants Officer

I am incredibly proud of the Fund’s continued efforts to find ways to support activists around the globe despite adversity and ever-changing contexts. Whether it’s dealing with a coup, a political crisis, new banking regulations, or economic sanctions, our grants management team works tirelessly to find alternative mechanisms so we can keep funding grantees. The work they do makes this world a better place. This year, we dealt with it all. But being surrounded by a wonderful group of committed individuals who bring their very best to work every day makes navigating any challenge a lot easier. I’m so grateful for my colleagues and super proud of the grants management team! – Jessie Macias-Doyle, Grantmaking Models and Policy Manager

“This year, the pandemic has illustrated how heavily communities rely on civil society organizations. Grassroots actors have a crucial role to play both during a crisis and in the long term. I am most proud of building a grassroots movement across borders with migrant-led groups. I believe we are at our strongest when we all cooperate. I hope you will join me in thanking all our colleagues, members, community groups and grantees for everything they’re doing today and in the future.” – Houda Benmbarek, Program Officer for Migrants’ Rights

“I’m so pleased to have joined the Fund this year and to begin my own learning journey at the intersection of human rights activism and global philanthropy. Since starting, I’ve built virtual spaces for cross-team collaboration; supported colleagues to use their retrospective reflection for action; learned about the important issues and outcomes we care about; and asked A LOT of questions. The amazing efforts of Fund staff, grantees, and partners are an inspiration to me in helping to shape our collective learning and assessment work in the future.” – Alison Miranda, Learning and Assessment Director

“My greatest achievement in 2021 has undoubtedly been joining the Fund’s grants management team. I have learned so much in the few months I have been working alongside some of the most amazing and selfless individuals across the world. But what I am most proud of is not my achievement but the work of our partners on the front lines who promote and support human rights in some of the most challenging environments. It makes me so proud to be able to work beside them and support their invaluable contributions.” – Beatriz de la Rosa Molina, Grants Officer

“I’m proud of how much the communications and marketing team has adapted, evolved, and grown through a second year of uncertainty and remote working. Despite numerous obstacles, the team has displayed unwavering dedication to building our community and providing a critical platform for stories and commentary from the front lines of human rights activism.” – Robin Pierro, Communications and Marketing Director

“Every time I learn more about how Fund grantees have cared for and defended their communities during this pandemic, I feel proud of what our work together has made possible and of the relationships we have built with human rights communities all over the world.” – Regan Ralph, CEO and President