Board of Directors

Urgent Action Fund is led by an activist Board of Directors, who represent communities around the world. Urgent Action Fund’s decision-making is grounded in an international, feminist framework. Board members play a critical role in advising the Rapid Response Grants program as well as guiding the strategic direction of the organization.

Val Napoleon, Chair


Dr. Val Napoleon is a Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria where she established and directs the Indigenous Law Research Unit, and dual JD and Indigenous law degree program. Val’s current research focuses on Indigenous legal traditions, legal theories, feminisms, citizenship, self-determination, and governance. Val is a Provost’s Engaged Community Scholar, Law Foundation Chair of Aboriginal Justice and Governance, and from Saulteau First Nation (BC Treaty 8). She is also an adopted member of the House of Luuxhon, Ganada, from Gitanyow (northern Gitxsan).

Val works with Indigenous community partners across Canada on a range of Indigenous law research projects ranging from Indigenous water law, harms and injuries, gender in Indigenous law, and lands and resources. She also works with several national and international Indigenous law research initiatives. Val is an internationally published and acclaimed author, artist, and lecturer on Indigenous feminist legal studies, transsystemic property, Indigenous legal theories, and Indigenous legal methodologies.

Ruth Baldacchino, Vice Chair


Ruth Baldacchino is a trans, queer and feminist activist from Malta with extensive experience in community organizing, international LGBTIQ activism, and LGBTIQ research. Their human rights work started with the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement. Ruth is currently ILGA World Co-Secretary General and has served on a number of boards including IGLYO, ILGA World, and ILGA-Europe.

Ruth leads the Intersex Human Rights Fund at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for 

Justice. Prior to joining Astraea, Ruth worked on passing the groundbreaking global comprehensive law banning intersex ‘normalizing’ surgeries and treatments (including intersex genital mutilation) Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC Act). Ruth also worked on trans, intersex, migrants integration in Malta and co-developed an education policy for trans, gender diverse and intersex children in Malta, making Malta the first country in Europe to publish a comprehensive education policy focusing specifically on trans and intersex children. Ruth holds an M.A. in Women’s

Studies from University College Dublin and a B.A. (Honours) in Sociology from the University of Malta. They are a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology/Gender Studies and lecture Queer Studies at the University of Malta.

Dorianna Blitt, Treasurer

United States

Dorianna Blitt is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study where she concentrated on the intersection of neoliberalism and human rights. During her time at NYU Dorianna conducted research internationally on women’s human rights Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with a focus on economic rights. This has informed her current involvement in the field of impact investing. Dorianna had an internship with Urgent Action Fund in 2014 and she currently serves on the UAF investment committee.

Charlotte Bunch, Secretary

United States

CharlotteBunch.bioAn activist, author, and organizer in women’s and human rights movements for over four decades, Charlotte is the Founding Director and Senior Scholar at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. She is the author of numerous essays and books and has edited or co-edited nine anthologies including the Center’s reports on the UN Beijing Plus 5 Review and the World Conference Against Racism. Charlotte’s contributions to women’s human rights movement have been recognized by many. She is a recipient of the White House Eleanor Roosevelt Award, a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and was one of the “1000 Women PeaceMakers” nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


Paola Salwan Daher, Board Member


Photo of Paola Salwan DeharPaola Salwan Daher is the global advocacy adviser at the Geneva Office of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy organization that uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right. Her work focuses on advocacy with the Human Rights Council and on issues of sexual and reproductive health and the rights of women and girls affected by conflict. Prior to joining the Center for Reproductive Rights, Paola worked on human rights in the MENA region as a UN Advocacy Representative at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and as a Policy Officer at the Collective for Training on Development- Action in Beirut.

A feminist activist, Paola was a member of the Feminist Collective Nasawiya in Lebanon, where she worked on many initiatives pertaining to sexual and reproductive rights, violence against women, and refugees and migrant women’s rights in Lebanon. She is also a writer and has contributed to many outlets such as Sawt Al NiswaYoung Feminist Wire, Solidarités, Al Akhbar, and others. Paola has also published two novels.


Wanda Nowicka, Board Member


Wanda Nowicka is a Polish activist in the field of women’s rights and health, especially human rights since the beginning of the 1990s. During 2011-2015, Nowicka served as an elected Member of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) and its Deputy Speaker. She is currently a member of Sejm elected for a second time (2019-2023). She is a Chair of the Parliamentary Women’s Rights Group.

She is a co-founding member of the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning – a pro-choice Polish NGO advocating for reproductive rights. Currently, she is the Honorary President of the Federation. Nowicka is also a founding member of ASTRA – Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. She is the author of many articles and papers on women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health, and rights published in Poland and internationally. In 2008, Nowicka was awarded the University-in-Exile Award by the New School in recognition for her engagement in the struggle for women’s reproductive rights. In the academic year, 2017-18 Nowicka studied bioethics, medical law, and philosophy at Warsaw University, where she also lectures, and at Sorbonne, Paris.


Milena Abrahamyan, Board Member


Milena Abrahamyan is a feminist peace and justice activist based in Armenia. In the past, she has worked with a number of civil society organizations focusing on women’s rights and advocacy, peace-building, conflict transformation, and philanthropy. She has published research on topics related to feminist peace, the culture of peace, women’s NGOs, and militarized masculinity. Some of the projects she is most passionate about including the feminist solidarity and trust-building initiative she co-founded in 2012 with Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian peers and all previous projects she has been involved in, which used performance art, healing modalities, and body movement as methods to build a more collective context. Milena holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies and a Master’s in Peace and Conflict Research and has been the recipient of the Rotary Peace Fellowship as well as the Atlantic Fellowship for Social and Economic Equity.


Lina Abou-Habib, Board Member


Lina Abou-Habib is the Director of the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut.  She also teaches undergraduate and graduate gender courses at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Beirut and is the Gender Project Director for the AUB MEPI-TLS Program.  She currently serves on the Boards of Haven for Artist and the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action.  She also serves as MENA Advisor for the Urgent Action Fund and is a member of the Editorial Committee of the Gender and Development Journal published by Oxfam.

Lina Abou-Habib was previously the Executive Director of Women’s Learning Partnership and before that, the director of CRTD.A. She has worked extensively with the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and with several international and regional organisations in designing and managing programs in the Middle East and North Africa region on issues related to gender and citizenship, economy, trade and gender and leadership. She served as the Secretary and then as the Chair of AWID and has considerable experience in feminist qualitative research, gender analysis, and training/facilitation and writes regularly on the issues of care work, citizenship, feminist recovery, and feminist movements in the MENA region.  She was a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Applied Humanities, Institute of Public Policy (Auckland University of Technology).  As a global gender consultant, Abou-Habib worked in most countries of the MENA region, in West Africa and the Caucuses.


Sarah Hunt/Tłaliłila’ogwa, Board Member

Lekwungen Territories / Canada

Sarah Hunt / Tłaliłila’ogwa (Ph.D.) is a queer scholar-activist who has spent more than two decades engaged in collaborative work in pursuit of justice for Indigenous people and communities, with a focus on ending colonial gender-based violence. As Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Political Ecology at the University of Victoria, Sarah’s research asks what justice feels like across the nested scales of our bodies, homes and waters/lands. In 2014, Sarah was awarded a Governor General’s Gold Medal for her doctoral dissertation which examined the nature of violence in everyday encounters with Canadian legal systems and actors, including in response to interpersonal violence. This research was part of Sarah’s longstanding work to build up alternatives to state injustice systems, through local level actions and strategies toward greater safety, care, and self-determination. She has published upwards of 40 journal articles, book chapters and reports, with emphasis on centering Indigenous cultures and laws, particularly through the perspectives of 2SQ gender diverse people, women, and youth. Sarah/Tłaliłila’ogwa is Kwakwaka’wakw, from the Kwagu’ł and Dzawada’enuxw Nations, and is also of Ukrainian and English settler ancestry.

Fariza Ospan, Board Member

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Fariza Ospan is a grassroots activist, co-organizer of March 8 marches and rallies in Almaty, and a co-director of Central Asian feminist organization FemAgora. She also advocates for legal protection and public support of human rights defenders in Kazakhstan as a co-founder of Batyl project. Fariza has been designing and running anti-violence campaigns, feminist and youth human rights training for more than 8 years now. She has many times faced police violence, illegal detention, and harassment for her direct action, protests, and investigative journalism.

Chinyere Ezie, Board Member

United States

Chinyere Ezie is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she advocates for racial justice, gender justice, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) rights, and challenges governmental abuses of power. Chinyere previously worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center where she brought cases defending the rights of LGBTQI+ Southerners. She also served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she litigated employment discrimination cases and secured a $5.1 million jury verdict on behalf of workers subjected to unlawful treatment.

Chinyere is a William J. Fulbright Scholar, a White House Fellows Program Regional Panelist, and a cum laude graduate of Yale University. She also received a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School, where she was an Alexander Hamilton Scholar and served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender and Law.

Chinyere serves on the Board of Directors of the Transgender Law Center and the feminist grant-making organization the Urgent Action Fund. She was also a Founding Board Member of the National Trans Bar Association.
In 2018, she was named one of the nation’s Best LGBTQI+ Lawyers Under 40.

Former Board Members

Patricia Sellers, former Urgent Action Fund Board Chair

Maryam Al-Khawaja, former Urgent Action Fund Board Vice Chair

Roshmi Goswami, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member

Paulette Meyer, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member

Mariam Gagoshashvili, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member

Sunila Abeysekera, former Urgent Action Fund Board Chair
Sri Lanka

Chela Blitt, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member
United States of America

Ariane Brunet, Urgent Action Fund Co-founder

Kamala Chandrakirana, former Urgent Action Fund Vice Chair

Hope Chigudu, former Chair of the Board Urgent Action Fund-Africa

Jelena Dordevic, former Urgent Action Fund Board Secretary

Eleanor Douglas, former Executive Director Urgent Action Fund-Latin America

Marta Drury, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member,
United States

Amalia Fischer, former Urgent Action Fund Board Vice Chair

Terry Greenblatt, former Urgent Action Fund Executive Director
Israel/United States

Anissa Helie, former Urgent Action Fund Board Vice Chair
Algeria and France

Rachel-Alouki Labbé, former Urgent Action Fund Board Chair,
First Nations of Canada – Abenaki

Kaari Betty Murungi, former Urgent Action Fund-Africa Executive Director

Nadine Moawad, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member

Vahida Nainar, current Board Member Urgent Action Fund-Africa

Indai Lourdes Sajor, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member

Margaret Schink, Urgent Action Fund Co-founder
United States of America

Julie Shaw, Urgent Action Fund Co-founder and former Urgent Action Fund Executive Director
United States of America

Rita Thapa, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member

Rachel Wareham, former Urgent Action Fund Board Member

“An activist fund is one that speaks truth to power, and is able to prioritise and represent trends and colours from women who are often excluded from being heard because of language/culture/class/ethnic differences.”

-Rachel Wareham, Former Board Member