On December 28, we said goodbye to Nilcéa Freire, who served as regional director here in our Brazil office from 2011 – 2016. Nilcéa was a tireless fighter in the name of democracy and human rights, especially when it came to the rights and freedoms of women.

Prior to joining the foundation, Nilcéa headed the Special Secretariat of Policies for Women in the government of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. During her time in this role, she led the first National Women’s Conference which was attended by more than 12,000 women from across the country and, as a result of the conference, she was able to champion the development of the first National Policy Plan for Women. In 1999, Nilcéa became the first woman to be elected dean at UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro), where she pioneered the first implementation of affirmative action for black students in a public university.

While she was with us at the foundation, Nilcéa spearheaded key initiatives to advance the rights of women, Afro-Brazilians and Indigenous peoples.

During this tragic time of loss, we are keeping Nilcéa’s children, grandchildren, family and friends in our thoughts and we celebrate the deep and lasting impact that this powerful and prominent fighter for equality and rights had in the lives of others.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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