Indian American human rights leader Salil Shetty joins Open Society

Harvard scholar to guide Society’s global programmatic work and provide thought leadership on critical issues

Indian American human rights leader Salil Shetty has joined Open Society Foundations to guide its global programmatic work and provide thought leadership on issues critical to its mission worldwide.

A Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy since 2018, Shetty assumed the newly created role of vice president, Global Programs at the organization founded by George Soros, on Sept.1.

One of the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights, Open Society funds thousands of projects, many of them now shaped by the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A global leader in the fight for human rights for decades, Shetty has been leading a seven-country study on resistance to elected authoritarian leaders at Harvard. He is also affiliated with Harvard’s Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute.

Read: Cornell awards Indian American Saurabh Mehta endowed professorship (September 1, 2021)

Shetty is studying youth movements in India, the role progressive values play in helping them counter polarization, and India’s soft power on the world stage more broadly.

“It’s an honor to join Open Society at this critical juncture in its history, and to help lead the Foundations’ global programming as it reimagines its incredible history and seeks to increase its impact on the most pressing challenges of the day,” said Shetty in a press release.

“I look forward to joining Open Society’s talented team and am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside leadership, staff, and the Foundations’ many extraordinary grantees and partners on the next chapter of this storied institution.”

“I’m delighted that Salil Shetty has agreed to join Open Society in this vital new role,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, president of Open Society. “Salil has been on the front lines, challenging the rise of authoritarianism and attacks on democracy, human rights, and justice around the world.”

“I was fortunate to work with him at the United Nations Development Program under Secretary General Kofi Annan,” Malloch-Brown said. Salil has effectively led several organizations through challenging circumstances, and I know he has the strategic vision and leadership experience to help stand up our new global program to drive meaningful change.”

Previously, Shetty served as secretary general of Amnesty International (2010–2018), the world’s largest human rights organization with more than 10 million members worldwide, the release said.

In that role, he helped Amnesty broaden its footprint and convert the organization into a truly global campaigning force for rights and justice.

He served as director of the UN’s Millennium Campaign from 2003–2010, helping to develop political momentum toward the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, and was chief executive of ActionAid International after leading ActionAid Kenya and ActionAid India.

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