The UN Foundation announced today that Michelle Milford Morse has been named the Foundation’s new Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy. She will lead the Foundation’s organization-wide efforts to promote gender equality, and support and elevate the Foundation’s diverse portfolio of girls’ and women’s initiatives. Morse will also serve as the lead strategist for the Foundation’s collaboration with the United Nations and its partners to champion the rights and agency of all girls and women.
The Foundation made the rights of girls and women core to its mission from the start and today promotes girls’ and women’s leadership and empowerment as a cross-cutting accelerator for the Sustainable Development Goals. The Foundation currently works to empower girls and women to advocate for their own rights and needs; improve the quality, availability, and use of gender data to strengthen policy and action; and support family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is so vital to girls’ and women’s prospects. Most of the Foundation’s other initiatives also have a gender dimension which Morse will augment and shape.
“Defending the equal rights of girls and women remains a central challenge and a key opportunity in our shared determination to create a world of dignity and opportunity for all. At this critical moment, we need strategic champions for girls and women,” said Elizabeth Cousens, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation. “Michelle is a dynamic leader who brings not only impressive knowledge and skills to this role but also an unrelenting dedication and fierce commitment to gender equality.”
In her role, Morse will also take on issues of the inclusion of women in peace and security efforts and preventing violence against girls and women, on which she has a deep track record. She will also promote pay equity and women’s leadership and civic engagement.
Morse brings an extensive background in global health, development and human rights. She has advised leading philanthropic and civil society organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She was the national spokesperson and public affairs director for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, where she worked to raise awareness of cancer survivor issues, including helping launch the famous WEARYELLOW LIVESTRONG wristband campaign with Nike, Inc. She also served as press secretary and communications director for U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett. Morse also previously advised the UN Foundation and led a range of projects related to gender equality, including serving as the Foundation’s co-convener on the Girl Declaration.
Morse has worked on global development issues with a range of UN, private sector, and civil society partners, including UNICEF USA, Sesame Workshop, the UBS Optimus Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, mothers2mothers, amFAR, ICRW, and the University of Texas. Through her work, she has helped organizations define strategic paths and advance specific global development causes – including on child development, regulatory action on HIV treatment, maternal mortality, mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and violence against children.
Morse earned her graduate degrees at Columbia University, including a Master of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, and a Master of International Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs. She pursued graduate research at the Rakai Health Sciences Program in Kalisizo, Uganda, where she studied stigma and strategies to avoid opportunistic infections among people living with HIV. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin.
Morse is chairperson of the board of directors of the Ann Richards School Foundation in Austin, Texas. The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is a public, all-girls school founded to educate young women from diverse group backgrounds and equip them with the skills and confidence necessary to pursue college educations and careers.
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual donors. Learn more at: www.unfoundation.org.