SOS Children’s Villages Canada is proud to welcome Ingrid Johansen, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages International, to speak at a very special Speaker Series event. Moderated by Cooperation Canada CEO Kate Higgins, this event will discuss the dangers and challenges faced by vulnerable children and families in international crises and how Canadians can take action to support those in need.
The SOS Children’s Villages Speaker Series brings together leading voices in child rights and protection to discuss the impacts of global crises on the lives of vulnerable children and families.
Ingrid Johansen – CEO SOS Children’s Villages International
Ingrid 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 joined SOS Children’s Villages in 2021 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 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.
Kate Higgins – CEO Cooperation Canada
Kate Higgins is an accomplished leader and experienced manager, with over fifteen years of experience in international development, civil society, think tanks, and government.
She is CEO of Cooperation Canada. Before joining Cooperation Canada, Kate worked as the Deputy Executive Director of Oxfam Canada, where she has led the organization’s work on strategy and communications and spearheaded a number of organizational change initiatives, in addition to serving as Interim Executive Director in 2020.
Kate has also worked for CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organizations, where she led strategy development and the organization’s work on data, sustainable development and citizen action. She has held senior policy and research roles at the North-South Institute and the Overseas Development Institute, leading work on chronic poverty, protracted conflict, women’s economic justice and international assistance and building several global, multi-stakeholder initiatives.
Kate started her career at the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), working on the Indonesia and Papua New Guinea programs. She has lived and worked in Australia, Canada, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda and has undertaken missions in several other countries.
Kate has degrees in economics and development studies from the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney.
About SOS Children's Villages
SOS Children’s Villages envisions a world where every child grows up in a nurturing family with the love, respect, and security they need to thrive. We take a holistic child-centred approach to help children, families, and communities succeed long-term in more than 130 countries worldwide. We strengthen families to prevent child abandonment, provide loving homes for children who lack parental care, educate and empower children and youth to reach their full potential, and advocate for children’s rights so their voices can be heard.
About Cooperation Canada
Since 1968, Cooperation Canada (formerly the Canadian Council for International Cooperation) has brought together civil society organizations working in the international development and humanitarian sector. We advocate for these groups by convening sector leaders, influencing policy and building capacity. Together, we work with partners both inside and outside Canada to build a world that’s fair, safe, and sustainable for all.