Equal Rights Trust Co-director Joanna Whiteman to step down

Joanna Whiteman, Co-director of the Equal Rights Trust, has decided to step down from her role at this stage in the Trust’s journey and will be leaving, after seven years, on 31 July 2019. Looking forward, the Board of Trustees has decided to appoint Jim Fitzgerald as sole Director, leading the implementation of our five year strategy.

Joanna joined the Trust as a lawyer to support other lawyers and NGOs to litigate strategic equality cases; build equality defender capacity; and lead the Trust’s thematic research. Since 2016, together with Jim, Joanna has led the Trust through a period of reflection, impact assessment and development. This has included the launch of the Trust’s first comprehensive five-year Strategy in 2018 and the expansion of the Trust’s global network of equality defenders.

Speaking about her decision, Joanna said:

“It has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to be part of the Trust’s great team and I will miss it hugely. However, it is time to take a break from work and focus on other aspects of my life.

A year on from the launch of our five-year strategy, we are seeing a large and diverse group of new partners joining the Trust in its mission. They are recognising the importance of expert legal support for equality defenders around the world and the impact of our work on combating discrimination and inequality. With this momentum developed, I am confident that I can step back, with Jim leading the organisation in its next phase, supported by our wonderful Board and a new senior management team.”  

Evelyn Collins, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said:

“The Equal Rights Trust will miss Joanna and her contribution to its work greatly. She has made a very significant impact, from her work on socio-economic inequality and discriminatory torture through to her support for our strategic legal cases and the development of our strategy.  

Joanna has worked tirelessly in support of our mission to eliminate discrimination and ensure everyone can participate on society on an equal basis. We appreciate her skills and experience and recognise the impact this has had on the work of our partners and in establishing Trust’s position as a global centre of excellence in equality law. Her passion, commitment and dedication to her work has been outstanding and we are very grateful to her.” 

Future leadership

Speaking about the organisation’s plans following Joanna’s departure, Dr Collins said:

“Looking to the future, the Board of Trustees has asked Jim to take on the role of Director, which he has accepted. Jim has ten years’ experience supporting equality defenders around the world to secure the adoption and implementation of equality laws, including as one of the Trust’s Co-directors since 2016. We have great confidence in his skills, knowledge and experience and look forward to working with him and his team to continue to drive the Trust’s Strategy forward.”

Speaking about Joanna’s departure and looking to the future, Jim said:

“It has been a huge privilege to work alongside Joanna, in particular in the three years of our Co-Directorship. She has achieved so much for the people whom we exist to serve, and has brought vision, expertise and skill to the Trust which will be sorely missed. She has given so much, and I will be forever grateful. While Joanna is – in a very real sense – irreplaceable, she leaves the organisation in a strong position, with a clear strategy for the future. As increasing numbers of equality defenders around the world reaffirm their need for the Equal Rights Trust’s support, I am determined to deliver on the ambitious strategy which we developed together.”

The Trust will shortly advertise for an experienced Head of Programmes to support Jim as a member of the Senior Management Team and oversee the Trust’s legal work with its partners.




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