Johannesburg, 21 January 2020 – Following a global selection process, the board of ActionAid International is pleased to announce that it has appointed Julia Sánchez as its next secretary general.

Julia has extensive experience in leadership positions in the international development sector, including many years of working in the Global South.

She was president-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) until 2018 and is currently chair of CIVICUS, the global alliance of civil society organisations and activists.

Julia has been promoting equity and sustainable development for over 25 years and, throughout her career, has demonstrated her commitment to feminist principles and to a human rights-based approach.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, chair of ActionAid International, says: “After a rigorous selection process, we are in no doubt that Julia is the right person to lead ActionAid at this crucial time. We know she will play a pivotal and effective role in the delivery and success of our strategy to 2028, Action for Global Justice.

“As we embark upon a new decade, the social challenges faced by many in the Global South are becoming more pronounced. This is already being acutely felt by women and girls fighting for economic rights and tax justice, particularly in the face of the climate crisis and the humanitarian emergencies that are intensifying as a result. We are confident that Julia’s leadership will galvanise the ActionAid International family to position ourselves for greater impact in achieving our mission.”

Julia Sánchez, who joins ActionAid International as secretary general in March, says:

“I am very excited to be joining ActionAid as its next Secretary General and to be moving to the organisation’s global headquarters in Johannesburg.

“For many years, I have been advocating for organised civil society to focus its efforts on supporting and promoting social movements and people’s organisations. ActionAid has been ahead of the curve in taking on this challenge, and I am motivated to work with staff and board members across the federation to realise the ambitious goals of its 2028 strategy.”

From 1 March 2020, Julia will succeed Anne Jellema, who has served as acting secretary general since the departure of Adriano Campolina in August 2019, following a five-year term leading the organisation.

“Together with the board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anne Jellema for serving as ActionAid International’s acting secretary general during this transition period and stewarding the organisation through key events such as the UN General Assembly and COP25,” adds Nyaradzayi.


Julia Sánchez is a development practitioner, feminist and environmentalist who has been promoting equity and sustainable development for more than 25 years.

Born in Peru, Julia grew up in Latin and North America. A global citizen, she is trilingual and has lived and worked in numerous countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Early in her career, Julia worked with a Canadian INGO for many years, first in Guatemala, then in Canada and finally as regional director for Asia based in Nepal. From 2009 to 2011, she was then national campaign coordinator with the global secretariat of the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA) based out of Delhi. She was appointed as president-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) in 2011, a position she held until 2018. Subsequently, she ran as a federal candidate for the Canadian parliament in 2019 and just completed a research contract with the largest union in Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), on privatisation of municipal services.

Julia has been a spokesperson for the Canadian and global international development community, advocating for progressive development policies and an enabling environment for civil society.

She has served on numerous Canadian and international boards and advisory bodies, including as co-chair of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) from 2016 to 2018. Julia is currently serving as the chair of CIVICUS and was previously treasurer from 2016 to 2019.

Julia has designed and managed programs in areas such as humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, governance, democratic development, community-based economic development, international volunteering and, more recently, campaigning on climate change.

She is an economist and political scientist, with a BA in Economics and Political Science and an MA in Economics, both from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

For more information please contact Jenna Pudelek in the ActionAid International press office on +44 7795642990 or email