Laurie Adams

Dynamic storyteller, visionary leader & women's rights advocate

Laurie Adams is the Chief Executive Officer of Women for Women International (WfWI), a leading global organization dedicated to working with women survivors of war across 17 countries including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, Iraq, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and more.  

Laurie immersed herself in learning from local people from her early days – moving to small town in Nicaragua to learn from movements there in the 80s, then moving to South Africa when Mandela was released to learn from and generate support for local grassroots movements there, committed to unlearn the elitism inherent in her Ivy League degrees.  

Throughout her career working in leadership positions in three regions of Africa with Oxfam GB and ActionAid International, through to her 7 years as CEO at WfWI,   Ms Adams has been determined to use her position/ privilege to accumulate power and platforms for others – more often giving a speaking engagement to someone else than take it herself.  She prides herself that as a result you are likely to never have heard of her!  

Nonetheless, she is a captivating storyteller, over 30 years of activism having taken part in numerous stages and platforms, sharing her insights and experiences and leaving a lasting impact through her impassioned speeches. She has shared the stage with many you have heard of - Hillary Clinton, Lester Holt, Soledad O'Brien, Sheryl Sandberg – and many many more you have not whose wisdom and lived experience (rather than names left the lasting impact) (she sought to amplify through sharing a stage) . Her expertise has been sought by prestigious events and media outlets worldwide, including the International Women's Summit, World Humanitarian Summit, SXSW, InterAction Forum, Clinton Global Initiative University, and ABC, CBS, NBC, and BBC.  She shared her own story as a rape survivor in Ms Magazine for the first time during the #metoo movement, realizing that sometimes NOT speaking out is not an act of not taking up space, but rather of avoiding risk and shame.  

She has spent over 20 years living in Senegal, Kenya, South Africa and the UK and has directly managed teams across three continents. Under Ms. Adams' leadership since 2016, Women for Women International has expanded from serving 8 countries to 17 and has developed and implemented strategies that allow the organization to reach hundreds of thousands of women.  

Ms. Adams holds a Master's degree in Public Policy Management from the University of London, a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Women's Rights from Dartmouth College and has completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.  

With her unwavering commitment, visionary leadership, and extensive expertise, Ms. Adams continues to drive the transformation of Women for Women International and the development and philanthropy sectors more broadly, to put women, and their own choices, first.

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