On 4 January 2021, Ms Ingrid Johansen assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer from Mr Steffen Braasch, interim CEO. Ms Johansen leads the Executive Board of SOS Children’s Villages International, the umbrella organisation for the global federation. In her new role, she is tasked with the overall performance of the General Secretariat and driving the strategic goals of the federation.
Ms Johansen’s career in the NGO and civil society sector spans nearly 20 years, from coordinating projects on the ground to leadership positions in the boardroom. Ms Johansen joins SOS Children’s Villages from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), where she was a member of the International Board.
Ms Johansen started her career at MSF in 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she helped set-up a new hospital and health centres. She went on to lead healthcare projects in rebel-held territory in the Central African Republic, in rural communities in South Sudan and in internally displaced persons’ camps and isolated villages for the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.
Working and living in conflict zones built her foundational belief in humanity: the importance of openness, kindness and mutual respect as core to building trust. And where there is trust, people can work together to make the seemingly impossible possible.
In 2015, she was elected to the Board of MSF-Sweden and then, in 2017, to the International Board. Her recent work with the development of the MSF-West & Central Africa Association, the first operational entity of MSF to be headquartered outside of Europe, significantly shaped her vision of pathways for organisational change and shifting power structures within the aid sector.
“In times of difficulty, SOS Children’s Villages represents the best of humanity: the offer of care for a child or a helping hand to families in need,” says Ms Johansen. “It embodies hope, human dignity and the staunch defence of the inalienable right of every child to grow up with their fundamental rights and freedoms fulfilled.
“As a human being, and as a parent, I feel deeply inspired by the words of Hermann Gmeiner, ‘The day we are convinced that all the children in this world are our children, there will be peace.’ Like many of you, I have dedicated my life to doing what I can for those who are most vulnerable,” she continued. “Our task is not an easy one and made all the more challenging by the Covid-19 pandemic. To weather the storm, we must build on what unites us: our common belief that every child is unique and has the right to grow up in a safe environment with the bonds they need to become their strongest self.”
Ms Johansen, a dual-national of Sweden and Norway, holds a Bachelor’s degree from the London School of Economics, an M.Phil. in Development Studies from the University of Oxford and an LL.M. (Master of Laws). She lives in Innsbruck.