Carolyn Miles Becomes First Woman to Head Save the Children

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Calls for Concerted Effort by Governments, NGOs and Private Sector to Save Millions of Children Suffering from Famine, Disease in Horn of Africa

WESTPORT, Conn. (September 1, 2011) — Carolyn Miles, the long-time Chief Operating Officer of Save the Children, became the leading global organization for children’s first female CEO today, and immediately called for a concerted effort by the public, private, and volunteer sectors to address the continuing humanitarian crisis in Africa.

Miles, who recently returned from a trip to the refugee camps in Kenya, said, "I witnessed human suffering on an unimaginable scale, with thousands more people arriving at these camps every day. But it is also about the pain of individual children like Abdi, whom I met shortly after he arrived at the camp all alone, his father dead and mother missing. We can’t — and won’t — stand by and let children like Abdi suffer."

Miles takes over the organization in a planned succession from Charles MacCormack, who is retiring from the organization. She combines a background in the business sector with a long career at Save the Children, where for the last seven years she has been Chief Operating Officer. During that time, Save the Children implemented a plan to double the number of children it reaches with life-saving health, education, protection and other programs, and helped grow the organization’s budget — 90 percent of which goes directly to programs serving children — from $140 million to more than $550 million.

As COO, Miles traveled to Save the Children’s field operations in nearly 50 countries, ranging from Pakistan to Nepal, from the Horn of Africa to Haiti, and the United States as well, giving her a first-hand understanding both of the challenges that humanitarian organizations face and of the most effective ways to meet them.

Describing her vision for the Save the Children, Miles noted the sheer scale of need around the world, both for emergency relief and for longer-term assistance with food, housing, education, and social stability:

"Our challenge in meeting that need will be to harness new technology, as well as the energy and resources of all our partners, including those in the private sector, who can bring not only financial resources but know-how and logistical capabilities that are desperately needed," Miles said.

Noting that she just launched her own blog, "Logging Miles," the new CEO cited the potential power of social media to bring people and organizations together for the benefit of the world’s children. Recently, she pointed out, a Save the Children fundraising and awareness campaign for the Horn of Africa built on celebrity Twitter messages reached more than 900 million people.

In the "I’m Gonna Be Your Friend" campaign that kicked off last month, dozens of global stars including Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna, and others agreed to tweet their followers to view a short film on the crisis in East Africa created by award-winning director Kevin McDonald and set to the music of Bob Marley. That campaign, Miles said, is but one example of how she intends to use social media to engage with people around the world in support of children.

In addition to her blog, Miles can also be found on Twitter @carolynsave.

Merging an Entrepreneurial Spirit with a Commitment to Children

Initially, Miles worked in the private sector after earning her M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden School, on whose board she now sits. She worked for American Express in Hong Kong, and subsequently partnered to start a successful chain of coffee shops as an entrepreneur.

During her years in Asia, she came face-to-face with the deprivation facing millions of children. Moved by the dramatic juxtaposition of this poverty with the opportunities available to her own children, she dedicated herself to helping the world’s children not only survive, but gain the opportunity to thrive.

Consequently, she brought her management skills to fundraising efforts at Save the Children in 1998, and after several positions of increasing responsibility was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2004. On June 16, 2011, she was named CEO-Elect by the organization’s board.

Save the Children’s Board Chair and former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy said, "We are thrilled to have Carolyn at the helm of Save the Children. I’ve been able to work with Carolyn for close to two years and it’s clear she brings passion, leadership and the right set of skills to help make a better world for children in the U.S. and around the world. The Board and I look forward to continuing to work with such a dynamic leader to create a new vision for the future and make a significant difference for the children who need our help."

Read Carolyn's bio

About Save the Children

Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating lasting change in the lives of children in need in the United States and 120 countries around the world. Save the Children/US is affiliated with 29 Save the Children member organizations worldwide. Recognized for our commitment to accountability, innovation and collaboration, our work takes us into the heart of communities, where we help children and families help themselves. Assistance extends to life-saving health care, education and income-earning opportunities for out-of-school youth and families. We work with other organizations, governments, non-profits and a variety of local partners while maintaining our own independence without political agenda or religious orientation.

With 90 percent of expenditures going directly to program services, Save the Children has been recognized with an "A" ranking from the American Institute of Philanthropy, a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, and "Meets All of the Standards for Charity Accountability" from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

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