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.

Embracing a Legacy of Foreign Policy Leadership

Every four years, the United States government and its citizens participate in one of the world’s most profound and peaceful transitions of power. Such opportunities present all of us with a choice in leadership – at the executive and congressional levels – as we think about the kind of country we wish to be, and the kind of world we wish to be in. The latter is most relevant because our elections impact so much beyond our borders.

American Support for Humanitarian Assistance Reflected in $1.2 billion Pledge

I've often traveled to New York for the opening week of the UN General Assembly, but this year I'm honored to join other civil society leaders at President Barack Obama's Leaders' Summit on Refugees. And U.S. civil society, once again, has stepped up to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to helping affected people lift themselves out of hardship in a time of historic humanitarian need.

Honoring Michael Elliott – An Innovative Leader And Friend

Michael Elliott lived his life to the fullest. He was a friend, a colleague, and a dedicated champion in efforts to increase the collective ability of civil society to make the world a more peaceful, just, and prosperous place.

It is with a heavy heart that I learned of his passing July 14. He will be sorely missed within the InterAction community, but his legacy will live on. He left the world a better place.

A Legacy of Leadership: Recognizing David Beckmann

As CEO of InterAction – the largest coalition of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and partners – I have met many uniquely impressive leaders.

These individuals inspire others, both from within the NGO sector and outside of it, to advocate for a more equal and just world. They spark innovation and encourage partnerships across physical and intangible borders. They make a lasting impact.

Reflecting on Gayle Smith’s Message of Hope

One of the things I enjoy the most as CEO of InterAction is the chance to bring together the NGO community and its partners each year at our annual Forum. It's always a tough task in deciding how to allocate the limited amount of time we have available, though each year we are thrilled and grateful for the insightful dialogues that ensue over the three days.

This year we had a special honor and treat – a keynote address by recently appointed USAID Administrator Gayle Smith. Her remarks were not only poignant and captivating, but timely.

The Forgotten Crises

We must ensure that all people – regardless of where they are born – have the ability to live happy, healthy, and safe lives. It is critical for the media, governments, and individuals to focus on the massive scale of human suffering in Middle East and Europe. But we must not limit our focus. We must not ignore people in Africa who are forced to flee from their homes due to violence and conflict.

To Improve Human Wellbeing, It’s Time to Get Serious about Transparency

Community and collective action matter. The dream is for all civil society organizations to look beyond their individual projects and work collectively to advance human wellbeing everywhere.

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.


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