The Ford Foundation today announced the appointments of Hilary Pennington as vice president for the foundation’s program on Education, Creativity and Free Expression, and Martín Abregú as vice president for its Democracy, Rights and Justice program, filling two key leadership roles under incoming president Darren Walker.
Ms. Pennington will join the foundation on October 1st, taking over an assignment previously held by Mr. Walker, who was named president of the foundation by its Board of Trustees in late July.
Mr. Abregú, who currently serves as director of Human Rights and Governance at the foundation, will begin in his new role on November 1, succeeding Maya L. Harris.
As vice presidents for two of the foundation’s three core programs, Ms. Pennington and Mr. Abregú will each guide global grant making in their areas and serve as officers of the Board of Trustees.
Ms. Pennington will lead the foundation’s work on school reform in the U.S. and higher education around the world, next generation media policy and journalism, support for arts and culture, and sexuality and reproductive rights. Mr. Abregú will direct the foundation’s global grant making on human and civil rights, effective and transparent governance, democratic participation and strengthening civil society.
“Hilary’s extraordinary commitment to social justice and her deep knowledge of the education field make her an invaluable addition to the Ford Foundation family,” said Mr. Walker on his second day as president of the foundation. “Her talent, experience and management style reflect the best traditions of leadership in our sector, and I know her outstanding record as a thinker, a mentor and a doer will add tremendous value to our work.
“Regarding Martín, it’s a pleasure to promote a tremendous talent from within the organization. Martín is a respected voice for human rights around the world, but of equal importance, he is widely respected as a colleague—one who has worked his way up from program officer to head of a regional office to director of human rights. His command of the work, his intellectual rigor, and his warm and open style as a leader will be welcomed inside and outside the foundation.”
Hilary Pennington is a national expert on postsecondary education and intergenerational change. She is currently an independent consultant with clients such as the Next American University project of the New America Foundation and Arizona State University. She also leads The Generations Initiative, a project funded by national foundations to develop effective responses to the dramatic demographic shifts occurring in the U.S.
Between 2006 and 2012, she served as director of Education, Postsecondary Success, and Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she guided grant programs across the U.S. and worldwide.
Before joining Gates, Ms. Pennington was senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and president and CEO of Jobs for the Future (JFF), a research and policy development organization she co-founded. In 22 years as president and CEO of JFF, Ms. Pennington helped the organization become one of the most influential in the country on issues of education, youth transitions, workforce development and future work requirements. She also served on President Clinton’s transition team and as co-chair of President Clinton’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Technology.
Ms. Pennington is a graduate of the Yale School of Management and Yale College. She holds a graduate degree in Social Anthropology from Oxford University and a Masters of Theological Studies from the Episcopal Divinity School. She was a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2000.
Martín Abregú has served as Ford’s director of Human Rights and Governance for the past three years. Working with program officers in New York and in nine regional offices around the world, his team has focused on advancing economic and social rights, promoting transparent, effective and accountable government, reforming global financial governance and strengthening human rights worldwide.
Mr. Abregú joined the Ford Foundation in 2000, serving as program officer for human rights in the foundation’s Santiago office. In 2007, he was appointed Ford Foundation representative for the Andean Region and Southern Cone, guiding grant strategy and programs across the region.
Prior to joining Ford, Mr. Abregú served for six years as executive director of the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), a leading human rights organization based in Argentina, where he led an organizational renewal and guided the institution to address new kinds of human rights challenges. Simultaneously he served as the Argentina representative for the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), an inter-American human rights body that works across the hemisphere.
Mr. Abregú also served as an associate professor of human rights at the University of Buenos Aires School of Law, where he earlier earned his law degree in International Public Law. He also holds a Master of Law degree in international legal studies from American University, in Washington, D.C. He is a founding member of the Association of Civil Rights in Argentina, and has been an Ashoka Fellow since 1995.