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Oxfam announces new CEO as Danny Sriskandarajah steps down

07 Dec 2023 News

Dr Halima Begum

Halima Begum will be the next chief executive of Oxfam GB, and will take over from Danny Sriskandarajah who steps down later this month. 

Begum will leave her current role as chief executive of ActionAid UK to take up her post next year. 

She took up the role at ActionAid UK, an international charity working with women and girls living in poverty, in July 2023.

Aleema Shivji, Oxfam GB chief impact officer, will be interim chief executive until Halima Begum is in post. 

Begum is a former senior British diplomat who was previously CEO of the Runnymede Trust.

‘Oxfam and ActionAid UK share same ambitions to shift power and reform development sector’

She said: “I am excited to be joining Oxfam - an organisation that pushes for change to overcome poverty and inequalities around the world while being part of the fabric of the British high street.  

“At a time when the world is beset by conflict and climate change, inequality and division, Oxfam has a crucial role in supporting communities’ efforts to escape poverty and ensuring that their voices cannot be ignored by those who hold power. 

“Oxfam and ActionAid UK share the same ambitions to shift power and reform the development sector, so this is a natural next step for me. As I transition to my new role at Oxfam, I carry with me the invaluable experiences and lessons learned during my tenure at ActionAid UK, from our humanitarian work in Gaza, our ongoing work on anti-racism and decolonisation and our unwavering commitment to the rights of women and girls around the world. 

“I want to express my sincere appreciation for the understanding and encouragement extended to me during this move. ActionAid will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am confident that the organisation will continue to thrive under its capable leadership. 

“I am looking forward to taking up the Oxfam baton from Danny, ensuring our work fighting poverty and responding to humanitarian emergencies is truly safe, feminist and anti-racist and that it is led by the communities with which we work.”  

Charles Gurassa, Oxfam chair, said: “We are delighted that Halima has agreed to join us. She brings a wealth of experience in how to make change happen and a real passion to fight injustice.  

“Under Danny’s leadership, Oxfam has made great strides in re-establishing its reputation with the British public, delivering its life-changing work and advocacy through its global network of partners and transforming the way we work. I am thrilled we have found the right person to lead us on the next stage of that journey.” 

Begum’s time at ActionAid UK marked by ‘passionate belief in our mission of decolonisation’

Begum has been chief executive of ActionAid UK since July 2023.

In 2022 ActionAid UK’s first female chief executive Frances Longley stepped down after a year in the role, and said it was important for leaders to “recognise their limitations” and that the international development charity needed “different skills” to hers. 

This year, ActionAid UK reported that its anti-racism work was delayed due to significant staff turnover.

ActionAid UK said that it has made “slow progress” on its anti-racism journey since an internal review, published last year, found that some Black and ethnic minority staff had suffered racism. 

Rajiv Vyas, ActionAid UK acting chair, said Begum’s time at ActionAid UK has been marked by “the empathy of her leadership and a passionate belief in our mission of decolonisation and anti-racism, as well as ActionAid’s ever vital work in humanitarian emergencies including the ongoing Gaza crisis”.  

Vyas said: “Her support for ActionAid’s women of colour cannot be overstated, coming as it has at such a critical time for the organisation. Halima will continue to lead in this area during her remaining time with the organisation.

“We recognise that Halima’s departure is solely due to her decision to accept an opportunity with Oxfam that means so much to her, and this decision has our full support. Otherwise, Halima would have continued to lead ActionAid UK with the same empathy and commitment she has shown since joining the organisation.  

“Her colleagues at ActionAid UK look forward to working alongside Halima in the sector for many years to come. We wish her every success at Oxfam and thank her for the remarkable work she has done for the entire ActionAid federation.” 

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