Anika Rahman:
A Leader’s Personal Journey

Play the video to learn:

  • what gives her hope

  • who has inspired her

  • how her childhood in Bangladesh
    shaped her career

Champion for a Just Society and a Catalyst for Change

Champion for a Just Society and a Catalyst for Change

Anika Rahman knows that individuals and organizations can inspire movements that benefit both people and the planet by advancing human rights for all, promoting a just society, and prompting climate action. These interrelated concerns are crucial to addressing the challenges of marginalized communities and women, particularly as they relate to an intersectional approach to gender and racial justice. She has dedicated her life to championing reproductive rights and sustainable global development, and to fighting racism in all its forms.
Throughout her career, with leadership positions at the Center for Reproductive RightsFriends of UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Rainforest Alliance, and NRDC, Anika has been a voice—and a catalyst—for change. Her commitment to advancing equality is also reflected in the boards on which she serves, including the Bangladesh International Tutorial (BIT) School and MADRE, as well as her role as management consultant to progressive nonprofits.
Anika has spoken and published on the topics of leadership, public service, nonprofit management, gender justice, reproductive rights, and sustainable development at venues ranging from the United Nations to universities and international conferences. In addition, her writings have been published by the New York Times, The Chronicle of PhilanthropyCrain’s New York Business, Rewire, and CNN.com.

“Like so many women of color, I understand what it means to be an outsider and to contend with discrimination. Yet, I have had the privilege to pursue my idealism and to serve the cause of justice by advancing the concerns of marginalized communities.”

ANIKA RAHMAN

Awards, Affiliations, and Certifications

Lifetime Member
Director
Lawrence A. Wien Prize for Social Responsibility
 Legal Trailblazer Award
Leadership Award
21 Leaders for
the 21
st Century
Graduate of Interim Executive Academy

Nonprofit Leader, Human Rights Advocate, People-Centered Strategist

Nonprofit Leader, Human Rights Advocate, People-Centered Strategist

After graduating from Princeton University and Columbia Law School, Anika practiced law at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. She then became one of several founders of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which today is one of the largest legal organizations in the world focused on reproductive rights and gender justice. An integral part of the movement that established a framework for reproductive rights as human rights, she was also one of the leaders of the “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” global advocacy coalition and campaign, which resulted in the recognition of the centrality of gender justice to human rights.

As President and CEO of Friends of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Anika led the organization during a time when UNFPA was defunded by the U.S. government. She successfully steered it to greater visibility until funding for UNFPA—the United Nations agency whose mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled—was reinstated by the Obama administration in one of the president’s first official acts.

Recruited by the Ms. Foundation for Women as CEO, she moved this historic U.S. women’s foundation toward a vision that would enable it to combine grantmaking with strengthening its capacity as a platform for women’s issues. In addition, she helped enhance the financial stability of the organization, and led a rebranding and strategic planning process.

Reflecting her commitment to climate action and the environment, Anika then became Vice President of Development at the Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit focused on conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. She was also a member of its global management team.

Recruited by the Ms. Foundation for Women as CEO, she moved this historic U.S. women’s foundation toward a vision that would enable it to combine grantmaking wMore recently Anika held the position of Chief Board Relations Officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). There she worked to help safeguard the Earth—its people, and the natural systems on which all life depends—from a range of threats, most notably climate change. In this role Anika was a member of the organization’s executive team and helped support the Board of Trustees and NRDC’s president to enhance governance and ensure leadership alignment. Throughout her career, Anika has provided executive leadership and management support to a variety of nonprofits and to the UNFPA, where she helped draft a model reproductive health law in sub-Saharan Africa. At Equality Now, an international organization focused on creating a just world for women and girls, she consulted on a pilot grantmaking program focused on empowering young girls globally. Anika has also supported the New York Immigration Coalition in enhancing internal and management effectiveness.ith strengthening its capacity as a platform for women’s issues. In addition, she helped enhance the financial stability of the organization, and led a rebranding and strategic planning process.

Reflecting her commitment to climate action and the environment, Anika then became Vice President of Development at the Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit focused on conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. She was also a member of its global management team.