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Passionate proponent of sustainable development Amanda Ellis joins UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand’s Board

February 2022

February 2022 – UNICEF Aotearoa today announces the appointment of Amanda Ellis to the Board of Directors. This brings the number of Board members to eight.

Linda Jenkinson, UNICEF Aotearoa Board Chair, says the appointment will provide strategic and global partnerships expertise to enhance the organisation’s vision – every child, everywhere, thriving – mō ngā tamariki katoa.

“We are thrilled to welcome Amanda Ellis as a member of our Board,” says Linda Jenkinson. “Amanda has extensive experience in international development and global partnerships that will be invaluable for our efforts to advance the rights of children in Aotearoa and around the world.” 

Amanda is a Hawaii-based Dunedinite, a former New Zealand Ambassador to the UN, and served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Francophone Africa during New Zealand’s successful bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. She currently leads Global Partnerships and Networks for the ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, and serves as Executive Director for Hawaii and Asia Pacific at the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. 

“The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals are a call to action to create a world where no one is left behind, particularly children. Children have been deeply impacted by COVID-19, climate change and on-going humanitarian crises which are driving widespread inequality. And so it is a real privilege to join UNICEF and support children and their right to thrive,” says Amanda.

“It is also so important to engage children and young people in the future. I have long-admired UNICEF’s critical role in elevating their voices on important issues like climate change, sustainability and gender equality. I am honoured to join such a terrific team on the Board of UNICEF Aotearoa.”

While on secondment from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the Office of the President Amanda co-led two global coalitions to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5 promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. She continues to serve as Co-Chair of the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General in 2018, and is the co-author of the Gender Equality and Governance Index.

Amanda is also the author of two best-selling Random House books on women in leadership and business, and headed the Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM) global unit at the World Bank Group. She says the private sector can play a pivotal role in advancing the rights of girls.

“It is unacceptable that nearly 1 in 4 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are unemployed nor in education or training – compared to 1 in 10 boys globally. The private sector is uniquely positioned to support UNICEF’s work and ensure investments in skills building and health sectors will further the economic empowerment of girls. Reducing inequality not only strengthens economies and builds stable, resilient societies so all children can fulfil their potential, but the research clearly highlights girls’ education is pivotal in addressing the climate crisis. 

As New Zealand's Ambassador to the UN,  Amanda led New Zealand's engagement with the Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation She also co-chaired the UN Security Council’s High Level Group on Humanitarian Challenges in Syria during New Zealand's tenure on the Council.

Additional experience includes serving as Deputy Secretary International Development at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and as Lead Specialist Poverty Reduction and Economic Management for the World Bank Group. Amanda also previously served as Visiting Senior Fellow and Special Advisor International Programs at East West Center in Hawaii, which has close ties with UNICEF Aotearoa and with Waiwhetu Marae in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.