I write to share with you news about an important transition happening at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Emira Woods, Co-Director of Foreign Policy In Focus at IPS since 2003 and a treasured leader in the movement for global justice, is transitioning her role at the end of May. Emira will be taking a position as Global Client Principal for Social Impact Programs at ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice. Emira will maintain an ongoing relationship with IPS as an Associate Fellow.
A steadfast advocate for the African world, labor rights, environmental justice, land rights, food sovereignty, and peace, Emira has led IPS to international prominence during her 11 years as Co-Director of FPIF.
Emira has been instrumental in bringing forward a legal suit and a campaign against Firestone for their abuse of child labor and the environment in Liberia. She effectively lobbied the U.S. Department of Labor for Liberia’s rubber sector to be added to the list of countries with materials produced by child labor, and was also pivotal to the campaign to cancel over $4 billion of odious debt after Liberia’s 26-year war.
Emira led the campaign against the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and succeeded in reducing Congressional appropriations and increasing oversight. She testified as an expert witness for Congressional hearings on global debt and development as well as peace and security in Africa. She also briefed Congress’ Lantos Human Rights Commission on Zimbabwe and Cote D’Ivoire. She organized Congressional briefings on child labor, conflict diamonds, conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, human rights in Zimbabwe, private military contractors, and other issues. Emira also served as technical adviser to the African Union’s Diaspora Summit and provided strategic technical advice to the governments of Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on “vulture funds” and broader issues of debt cancellation.
Serving as an accomplished pubic scholar, Emira has written book chapters, op-eds, and magazine articles on a range of issues from debt, trade and development to U.S. military policy. She has been a regular commentator on PBS’s NewsHour, CNN’s Your World Today, BBC’s The World Today (Weekend), National Public Radio, Al Jazeera and Voice of America. She has hosted a WashingtonPost.com online chat and published pieces in BBC’s Focus on Africa magazine, NAACP’s Crisis magazine as well as the Miami Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, New York Newsday, the Nation, the Baltimore Sun, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, among many others. She was listed in Essence magazine’s “Top 40 Influential People Under 40.”
Emira served as visiting lecturer at American University School of International Service, Trinity College Economics Department, and Howard University’s African Studies Department. She also frequently represented IPS as a speaker at conferences and events.
During her tenure, Emira has provided strong, principled leadership at the Institute and in the broader progressive community. She has convened and coordinated numerous advocacy coalitions on Africa and other issues. One of her many strengths has always been “speaking truth to power,” which she has done passionately from the White House and U.S. Congress to Southern governments and intergovernmental agencies — and done it all with a smile.
We are pleased to continue Emira’s affiliation with the Institute, and we look forward to working with her in her new capacity at ThoughtWorks.