New York, 2 September 2016 — The Ford Foundation today announced the appointment of Atila Roque as head of its Brazil office, which is based in Rio de Janeiro. A prominent civil society leader, Roque will succeed Nilcéa Freire, who left the foundation in May 2016.
Roque currently serves as executive director of Amnesty International Brazil. As head of that organization, he led the implementation of a comprehensive national human rights strategy—doing so in a period when the whole organization was going through a major process of restructuring and strengthening its presence in the world, particularly in developing countries. Roque has become one of civil society’s leading advocates in Brazil’s national conversation about rights, inequality, and social development.
Previously, Roque served as executive director of the Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESC), which conducts policy analysis and advocacy on public budget and human rights, and conducts research on inequality, gender discrimination, and racial justice. He served as executive director of ActionAid International USA in Washington D.C. and worked for 17 years in different roles at IBASE, one of the most important NGOs in Brazil. He also served as director of the Brazilian Association of NGOs and as coordinator of the Brazilian chapter of the Social Watch Network.
For three years, Roque was a visiting researcher at the Pacific-Asia Research Center in Tokyo, Japan where he studied the environmental and social impact of Japanese infrastructure investment in Brazil. He also served as a guest professor at the Rio Branco Institute-Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, teaching a course on foreign policy and civil society.
“Atila is a strong voice and advocate for justice and equality, and we are fortunate to have him join the foundation to lead our work in Brazil,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “He has immense experience building strong relationships with a range of partners to achieve impact and improve lives, and will bring particular strength to our efforts to advance racial justice in the country.”
The foundation’s work in Brazil aims to address inequality in all its forms, including economic, political, and social inequalities. With decades of experience in civil society in both Brazil and abroad, Roque carries legitimacy and authority to lead the Ford Foundation in Brazil.
“I am honored to be trusted with this position at such a pivotal moment for Brazil,” Roque said. “I strongly believe that the Ford Foundation has an important role to play in the struggle for social justice and equality. I am committed to working together with others to explore innovative and sustainable grant making strategies that reinforce a culture of rights throughout our society.”
Roque earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and his master‘s in political science at Instituto Universitario de Pesquisas do Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ). He serves on the board of directors for International Budget Partnership, Just Associates, and Greenpeace Brazil. He is also a director of the Brazilian Human Rights Fund (Fundo Brasil de Direitos Humanos).
Roque will begin his new position at Ford on January 9, 2017. He was selected after a broad international search.