20 February 2024 - The New Humanitarian is pleased to announce the appointment of its next CEO, Ebele Okobi. With substantial leadership experience in human rights and policy in tech and social media, Ebele's appointment is a move aimed at widening TNH’s impact at an important time for the organisation.  


In many ways, this is The New Humanitarian’s moment. The New Humanitarian is the only global newsroom dedicated solely to covering humanitarian crises and the people and groups responsible for preventing and mitigating them. Its humanitarian crisis beat – war, climate change, displacement, pandemics – centres on the most compelling stories of our time. Its decolonised approach to journalism has become ever more relevant in the wake of critiques of the coverage of wars in Gaza and Ukraine.  

Born out of the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda in 1995, The New Humanitarian spun off from its historic home in the UN (see this piece in the Financial Times) in 2015 and rebranded (see this feature in the Nieman Journalism Lab) in 2019. The New Humanitarian traditionally targeted audiences within government, UN agencies and international humanitarian relief organisations, but today, humanitarian crises are of concern to everyone. A much wider group of players – from the private sector to citizen volunteers – have the power to mitigate and prevent. Thus, The New Humanitarian’s new leader – with a background in tech, civil society, and art/culture – will drive the organisation to broaden its impact.  

Ebele Okobi describes herself as a values-led, transformational leader who builds mission-driven teams and organisations bent upon shifting the arc of the moral universe towards justice. She is passionate about disrupting systems of harm and amplifying untold stories and unheard voices. Her 25-year career spans tech (she built and led the Human Rights Program at Yahoo, and built and led the Africa, Middle East & Turkey public policy teams at Facebook, now Meta), consumer brands (Nike), civil society (Consumers Union and Catalyst) and law (Davis Polk). She is also a committed patron of the arts, with a focus on art as liberation practice. 

Ebele Okobi states that “in a moment of multiple protracted crises, the work of bearing witness and holding power to account is more important than ever. The New Humanitarian’s commitment to fact-based reporting is especially critical, given the evidence of how news is increasingly being shaped by bias. It is an enormous privilege to build upon the incredible foundation built by Heba Aly. I look forward to working with Josephine, our Editor in Chief, Aimee, our COO, and with the entire team to be even more ambitious about impact.” 

Ebele succeeds outgoing CEO Heba Aly, who successfully turned what the New York Times once described as an “ailing UN News Service” into a viable, thriving independent newsroom with global reach.  Heba led the organisation for eight years during its transition from IRIN to a vibrant, independent media organisation. Under Heba’s committed leadership, The New Humanitarian has proven to the world that it is possible to sustain the production of public service journalism about issues that most media ignore because it isn’t commercially viable.

Paula Fray, The New Humanitarian’s Board President, notes: 

“The appointment of Ebele Okobi as our new CEO is testament to our commitment to embracing the evolving challenges of our time. Her legal, policy, and global brand strategy experience and her commitment to human rights and empowerment will help shape The New Humanitarian’s continued journey as an independent newsroom reporting from the heart of humanitarian crises. 

Josephine Schmidt's elevation to Editor-in-Chief marks a pivotal moment for our journalism. Since joining in 2018, her strategic vision has been invaluable in fortifying our reporting to build our independence, integrity, and ability to push against misinformation and disinformation. We are confident that under Josephine's leadership, our journalism will continue to thrive, illuminating truth and fostering informed communities. 

We extend our gratitude to our outgoing CEO, Heba Aly, for her visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to our mission. 

I am confident that the collective expertise and leadership of the executive team led by CEO Ebele Okobi and including Josephine Schmidt, and our COO, Aimee Wielechowski, will propel us into our next phase, ensuring we continue to serve those in humanitarian crisis with unwavering dedication and impact." 

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