The Global Fund Welcomes Sophie Otiende as CEO

The Global Fund Welcomes Sophie Otiende as CEO


Sophie Otiende

Alex Thier is resigning as CEO of GFEMS, effective March 21, and the GFEMS Board and team thank him for his dedicated service. GFEMS Board member, Sophie Otiende, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer. This is a powerful step in the anti-trafficking fight. Sophie begins her tenure on March 4 and will be supported by Helen Taylor who will focus on programmatic execution and delivery as the Fund’s Chief Operating Officer. In addition, until March 21, Alex will also be supporting a smooth transition to Sophie.

The GFEMS Board is engaged in dialogue regarding the need for a re-energized coalition and fresh collaboration as part of a broader strategy re-set with the field. In her role as CEO, Sophie Otiende will be leading this process.

GFEMS Board Chair, Jean Baderschneider stated on behalf of the Board, “We welcome Sophie Otiende’s leadership as CEO in this next phase. With her wealth of experience and global credibility as an advocate, teacher, and survivor leader, she brings a bold perspective and commitment to collaboration that is critical to the future of this fight. Our team has accomplished a great deal under Alex’s leadership and will continue to build on those efforts.” 

We must elevate modern slavery on the global agenda. The pandemic has shown the need for new approaches that can energize the field, build a foundation of renewed trust and credibility, and mobilize a growing coalition of diverse advocates, partners, and funders in the fight against slavery. Furthermore, the current geopolitical and climate crises will lead to massive humanitarian needs and may fuel human trafficking. Addressing these issues will require unified action.

While progress has been made and organizations around the world have shown tremendous resilience, too many of our efforts continue to be fragmented, siloed, and under-resourced. The field continues to compete for limited government and philanthropic funding while traffickers are making billions in illicit profits. This must change and the Fund is committed to catalyzing a new direction with the field.

Sophie Otiende shared, “I am thrilled and honored to be CEO of GFEMS. I view this as an opportunity to re-energize the anti-trafficking movement. As a survivor leader, I hope to bring fresh voices to this fight. We must get back to our roots. We are not here to fit in with the status quo. We are here to build a global fund and end modern slavery.”

The GFEMS Board and team thank Alex for his dedicated service to GFEMS. Our team has accomplished a great deal under his leadership, and we will continue to build on those efforts. Alex’s determination and enthusiasm have been an important asset. Over the next month, Alex will support a smooth transition to Sophie. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.

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