Patricia McIlreavy

Patricia McIlreavy is the vice president of the Humanitarian Policy and Practice team at InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based relief and development organizations. She leads InterAction’s efforts to assist the humanitarian community, including InterAction members, UN agencies, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, to address the needs of vulnerable populations. Through her current role, she represents InterAction membership, expanding the position, partnerships and influence of NGOs in multilateral and bilateral fora and events. Currently, McIlreavy serves on the Department of State's Stabilization Advisory Council and the CSIS Task Force on Humanitarian Access.


McIlreavy’s experience in the humanitarian field began in 1993, when she joined USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance. After serving on USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team to Rwanda in 1994, McIlreavy took on a position with the International Rescue Committee’s Rwanda program. Her subsequent career with the IRC in Africa spanned 14 years, during which she held Country Director posts in Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, and Regional Director for the Horn and East Africa. As Regional Director, she oversaw IRC’s relief, rehabilitation, and post-conflict development programming totaling over $134m in Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. Directly before joining InterAction, McIlreavy was based out of Amman, Jordan, where she worked with a diverse group of organizations, including humanitarian NGOs, the Red Cross movement, United Nations agencies and NATO as an international management and training consultant.


McIlreavy holds a master’s degree in International Affairs from the American University School of International Service and was a 2014-2015 fellow of MIT’s Seminar XXI program. In 2014, she was selected for inclusion into the United Nation’s Humanitarian Coordinator pool.


Beyond #GivingTuesday: Supporting Long-Term Relief Efforts

Later this month, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a day when Americans pause and express gratitude for our blessings and good fortune in life. This day exemplifies for me some of the best of America, demonstrated by our generosity and celebrations of our unity.

A Critical Change: What the Humanitarian Field Must Do to Do Better

The humanitarian field is highly responsive to its fiercest critic – itself. Constant improvements are sought and solutions offered on how to better assist those in crisis.We often focus these evaluations on ourselves since we know that through greater coordination we can do more.

Transforming How We Respond to a Crisis Like Syria

As an alliance of international NGOs, InterAction espouses the value of working together during humanitarian crises. It is for this reason that for the past two years we have played an integral role in developing what is called a “transformative agenda." This agenda is an update to the guidance of how we work together within humanitarian responses, clarifying issues of leadership, coordination and strategy.

Improving Crisis Response: Will The NGO Voice Be Heard?

Leadership is a concept that runs like an electric current through every evaluation, study and anecdotal criticism made about the humanitarian system and our ability to respond effectively. The word is charged with expectations. We qualify it, often negatively, demonstrating repeatedly how a strong aspiration can be weakened by the mere addition of an adjective. Poor. Ineffective. Controlling.

Where the Need is Greatest

Once again the American people are showing their generosity of spirit through an outpouring of concern and donations to the many humanitarian crises that are unfolding, from the Japan earthquake to the political upheaval across the Middle East.  This modern age of connectivity is a blessing to any humanitarian organization seeking to raise funds for its work. 

That is, if the crisis for which they are trying to raise monies happens to be in the headlines.

Patricia McIlreavy's picture
Vice President, Humanitarian Policy & Practice
Humanitarian Policy & Practice