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For as long as I can remember I have been working at the intersection of justice, feminism and philanthropy. From my humble beginnings in a township in South Africa where I grew up under apartheid, to litigating on behalf of survivors of violence in the highest Courts of South Africa and before the African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. I have sought to speak truth to power in my role as a feminist lawyer and activist. I have spent more than fifteen years leading strategies at the global and regional level in one of the largest global philanthropic foundations, the Ford Foundation. I seek to advance and re-imagine global philanthropy’s engagement on issues of gender and racial justice, human rights and governance. I am  committed to fighting systems of oppression and returning to the love of humanity in all my work.

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Nicolette Naylor is a global strategic leader and experienced executive with over two decades of experience leading strategies at the intersection of justice and philanthropy. She has spent over fifteen years working within one of the largest global philanthropies, the Ford Foundation. Nicolette led the Ford Foundation's Southern Africa office and International Program on Gender, Racial & Ethnic Justice and has  managed diverse teams across New York, India, West Africa, Southern Africa and Latin America. Her work has focused on gender justice and increasing resources for civil society and movements in the global South. She is committed to strengthening the feminist funding ecosystem for Black, Indigenous women and girls, women and girls of color and gender expansive individuals.  


  • B.Proc Degree at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa in 1996.

  • LLB Degree at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa in 1997.

  • LLM in International Human Rights (with distinction) at University College London in the UK in 2003. Recipient of the prestigious Nelson Mandela Scholarship to pursue LLM. 

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  • Naylor N & Blackwell N: Freeing ourselves from colonial, white savior models of philanthropy. Non-Profit Quarterly, 16 June 2022. Read here.

  • Naylor N & Richards C: A next generation feminist agenda. Women’s Media Center, 25 August 2021. Read here.

  • Naylor N & Espinosa M F: Women are being squeezed by the pandemic. Here’s how to fix it. Thomas Reuters Foundation News, 30 June 2021. Read here.

  • Naylor N & Espinosa M F: As the pandemic pushes’ women and girls further behind, a global response to gender inequality is needed. Chronicle for Philanthropy, May 2021. Read here.

  • Mathew A & Naylor N: Anti-Blackness is global and gendered - Philanthropy’s response must be too. Non-Profit Quarterly, 11 November 2020. Read here.

  • Naylor N: From Fear to Freedom, Ford Foundation Story, 9 March 2020. Read here.

  • Naylor N: The only Black woman at the social justice philanthropy dinner party. Navigating patriarchy, power and racism in social justice spaces. SUR International Journal on Human Rights, No. 28 Dec 2018. Read here.

  • Fighting Inequality with Philanthropy. Watch now

  • Conversations on African Philanthropy Podcast, Episode 10, October 2022 with Nicolette Naylor reflecting on her time in philanthropy. Watch now.

  • In conversation with Graça Machel, July 2022 on the occasion of Nicolette’s farewell from Ford Foundation. Watch now.

  • SOAS WorldMaking Conference 2022 Keynote address on Decolonising Philanthropy: Reimagining, Reframing and Rebuilding. 14 July 2022. Watch now

  • The Bram Fischer Bi-Annual Lecture 2022 on Race & Democracy in the USA and South Africa, Nicolette Naylor & Anthony Romero. 10 Feb 2022. Watch now.

  • Op Ed – Africa : Reclaiming our Power, Reimagining the Global Agenda for Women & Girls, AllAfrica Guest Column, Nov 2021. Read here.

  • Social Justice at the heart of Naylor’s career – UWC Alumni News October 2019. Read here.

  • CNBC Interview with Nicolette Naylor on the care economy – July 2021. Watch now.

  • She Thrives: A Safety in the Workplace Podcast – Episode 5 – March 2021. Listen here.

  • Leadership Magazine December 2020 – pg. 25 article on Nicolette Naylor “Fighting for social justice and change.” Read here.

  • Courageous Conversations with Jillian Reilly & Jenn Warren Podcast – Season 2 Episode 10. Listen here.

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"We must support the important work that BIPOC feminists are doing and build new partnerships with governments, multilaterals and the private sector to unlock  resources at scale.

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September 2021 – July 2022

Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network  – Co-Chair of the Gender Equality Working Group. 

December 2019 – July 2022

Co-Chair of the OECD Network of Foundations Gender Working Group. The Gender Working Group brings together foundations committed to achieving SDG5.

January 2015 – Sept 2022

Board Member at Canon Collins Trust, London, United Kingdom

March 2017 – March 2020

Board Member at Twaweza East Africa, Tanzania

May 2010 – July 2014

Member of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV

and those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV at The African Commission on

Human & Peoples' Rights, Banjul, the Gambia.

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