The Big Hire: Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen of Plan International

The new chief executive of the child rights and community development organisation is a former UN executive, writes Annette Rawstrone

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen

A global search for a new chief executive for Plan International has led to the appointment of Danish-born Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, a top UN executive who has lived and worked in Denmark, the US, Indonesia and Turkey. She will move here with her husband this summer before taking up her role at the child rights and community development organisation's headquarters in Woking, Surrey, on 1 September.

Albrectsen - who is happy to be referred to as "AB" - has worked for more than 25 years in international development, human rights, change management and diplomacy. She held high-ranking positions with the UN Population Fund, addressing reproductive health and population issues, and the UN Development Programme, working to eradicate global poverty and reduce inequality.

She says on LinkedIn that her passions are "promoting human rights and delivery of high-impact and accountable support to people in need. Transforming organisations, teams and policies for better results, mobilising resources and building win-win partnerships are my strengths." Her goals are to continue to support the transformation of individuals, organisations and countries.

Plan International has a federated structure and supports 21 national organisations, which raise funds for its work trying to lift children out of poverty in 51 developing countries. Josh Liswood, chair of Plan International's members' assembly and international board, says it was looking for a leader with strong operational skills and a proven record in change management. "Besides her outstanding credentials and a distinguished career, Anne-Birgitte stood out as a passionate champion for children's rights and values we strongly believe in," he adds.

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan UK, is particularly pleased a woman has been appointed. "We launched the 'Because I Am A Girl' campaign eight years ago - it is at the heart of what we are about," she says. "A woman doesn't have to head the campaign, but I feel it is appropriate and exciting. She is very engaged with population and reproductive rights issues - it's hard to imagine a better background."

Barron, who hopes to continue her arrangement of one-to-one meetings with the Plan International chief executive every six weeks, adds that having worked for a large, complex organisation like the UN will help Albrectsen to build and maintain strong bonds across the federation.


2015: Chief executive, Plan International

2012: Deputy executive director, United Nations Population Fund

2009: Ambassador and under-secretary for HR and finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

2007: Head of humanitarian department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

2000: Director, United Nations Development Programme

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