With a Masters in International Development Studies I started as a volunteer in war-torn Sierra Leone in the early 1990s, followed by 7 years based in Cambodia, where I worked in rural/community development, localisation, mines awareness and de-mining and emergency response. After I left Cambodia as Country Director for Irish Concern Worldwide in 2002– and after some interim roles in Angola and with Simavi in the Netherlands – I joined Oxfam in 2004 as Regional Director, initially for Latin America & the Caribbean (3 years), but then moved to Nairobi to lead Oxfam’s work in the Horn, East and Central Africa from 2007-2016 and, finally as Oxfam’s RD for MENA in 2017-2018. I was impressed with the combination of Oxfam’s work on the ground with local partner organisations and its humanitarian responses in some of the most challenging contexts as well, but also with its global voice and advocacy on inequality and justice. Issues like humanitarian access, localisation and capacity building were hugely important, whilst a good part of my role as Regional Director was also about internal management, global change management, external networking and fundraising, and security management.
After almost 15 years with Oxfam I moved to Thailand in 2018, where as Executive Director I lead ECPAT International, a global network to combat child sexual exploitation with local branches in 100+ countries. The Covid global pandemic changed many things for everyone, and I returned to the Netherlands in 2021 to take up an interim role as Senior Advisor to the UN Water Conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs . This ended in March of this year, and I was asked by Stichting Vluchtling to lead the response to the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. I am currently based in Gaziantep.