Sam Worthington

Sam Worthington is chief executive officer of InterAction, the largest U.S. alliance of nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 220 members and partners. Sam leads the U.S. NGO sector’s engagement at the highest levels with the UN, governments, and civil society groups around the world. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, routinely consults with the administration, speaks to boards and at universities, and is a regular contributor on numerous major national and international media outlets.

Previously, Worthington served as chief executive officer of Plan International USA (1994-2006), a large child-focused development NGO. Sam also sat on Plan’s global executive management team and chaired Plan’s national CEO team.

Sam is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; serves on the Advisory Committee for Voluntary Foreign Assistance (ACVFA) at USAID and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) at the UN; and sits on the boards of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Van Leer Group Foundation, CIVICUS, and The Alliance to End Hunger. His numerous leadership roles include serving on the White House Task Force on Global Development and Poverty, working as a founding board member of the ONE Campaign, chairing the global NGO Impact Initiative on behalf of UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery Pres. Bill Clinton, and serving on the steering committee of the NGO Leadership Forum at Harvard University. Recently, he was a resident fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center.

Sam holds a master’s degree with distinction from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont. As a Fulbright scholar he completed postgraduate research at the Institut Universitaire des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva, and as a midcareer professional, an executive leadership program at the Harvard Business School. Among other awards, he has an honorary doctorate.

Sam and his wife Renée live in Bethesda, Maryland. They have three grown children Rachel, Jamie, and Lindsay.

The Right Balance: Reducing Risks while Advancing Human Wellbeing

We usher in a new year where, due to recent terrorist attacks, living in Paris today feels different than it did just a few years ago. And far from a western capital, risks for NGOs are on the rise. Bombings, kidnappings, and gunfire exchange between armed groups makes working in Syria significantly more dangerous than prior to the Arab Spring. No one will deny that the risks we face today are very real and growing.

The Fight to End Hunger: The Role of U.S. NGOs and Global Leadership

This September, global leaders from 193 countries came together to agree on an ambitious set of universal goals to reduce poverty and inequality. The goals recognize that to build inclusive prosperity, the world must tackle hunger and malnutrition, particularly for the most vulnerable. The goals – called the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs for short – commit us towards zero hunger worldwide by 2030.

NGOs Must Evolve, Realign, and Reinvent

In a meeting with a group of international nonprofit CEOs, one organization recently stated that all of its programs frequently impact 100 million people per year worldwide. This is indicative of the significant influence one large U.S. NGO has amongst thousands. So what is the role of U.S. NGOs in addressing critical global challenges over the coming decades? This summer at our annual Forum, I addressed the broader community with a set of overarching recommendations.

What We Mean by “Civic Space” and Where We’re Pushing Back

What is civic space? It’s the ability for health clinics to operate freely towards eradicating polio in Pakistan, it enables humanitarians to rapidly deliver shelter after a hurricane in the Philippines, and it is imperative to the fight for greater justice and equality in South Africa, and here at home. Or, for that matter, it is the ability of people-based organizations to fight against injustices or for human well-being anywhere.

Providing Aid to the People, Needing Peace as the Crisis Continues

This July marks the 4 year anniversary of independence in South Sudan. However, in its current state there remains very little to celebrate in the young country.

Forum Takeaways and Future Action

This June, InterAction held its 31st annual Forum. More than 1,000 attendees from over 350 organizations participated in the three-day event.
 
In an effort to synthesize three days of stimulating conversations, brainstorming sessions, and building connections with many of you at InterAction’s Forum 2015, let’s reflect on some key takeaways:
 

Why We Exist and How We Can Evolve

Effective development is ultimately local. It is driven by market economics, the private sector, and shaped by effective governance institutions, namely host governments. If this is true, our goal as international nonprofits working across borders is to “work ourselves out of a job.” Does this make sense? It does not for three reasons.

Wealth, Violence, and a Changing Development Landscape

The world is talking about new broader and deeper goals to eliminate extreme poverty and decrease inequality. Middle income countries such as Brazil and India have increasing wealth and capacity to uplift the poor. Simultaneously, governments in conflict-ridden and war-torn states are struggling or simply unable to provide basic services for their people. What is the evolving role of international NGOs in the Brazils and Indias of the world? What is the role of international NGOs in areas with weak and fragile states?

Nepal: A Call to Action

Six months ago many in the humanitarian system wondered if it was the worst it has ever been, with crises in Syria, South Sudan, and the Central Africa Republic. Then came Ebola. And Yemen. And now Nepal. The thing is, we are all part of a larger system. And that system is overstretched. It takes individual and institutional supporters to provide the flexibility demanded to quickly respond in these high-stakes situations.

A New Strategic Framework

I have returned from a relaxing and rejuvenating three-month sabbatical. I would like to thank Lindsay Coates for her strong and effective leadership as acting president & CEO during my absence. After fruitful discussions with InterAction members, staff, leadership, and various stakeholders, both Lindsay and I are proud to announce that the Board has finalized InterAction’s 2015-18 Strategic Plan.

Pages

Sam Worthington's picture
Title: 
CEO
Department: 
Executive Office
Member Organization: