Filippo Grandi - UNRWA Commissioner-General
Filippo Grandi was appointed Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees on 20 January 2010 after having served as UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner-General since October 2005. As Commissioner-General, he serves at the level of Under-Secretary-General.
Mr Grandi, an Italian national born in 1957, has been engaged in refugee and humanitarian work for the past 26 years, 22 of which have been with the United Nations. Prior to joining UNRWA, he distinguished himself in a variety of headquarters and field functions encompassing refugee assistance, protection, emergency management, donor relations and humanitarian and political affairs.
From May 2004, Grandi was Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General responsible for political affairs at the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), where he took responsibility for the electoral process, for the disarmament, demobilisation and integration programme, and for human rights issues, in particular the verification of the exercise of political rights relating to presidential and parliamentary elections.
Prior to that, Grandi was Chief of Mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Afghanistan, a position he held for almost three years. From 1997 to 2001, he served in the Executive Office of UNHCR in Geneva, as Special Assistant of the High Commissioner and then Chief of Staff.
Grandi joined UNHCR in 1988. For three years he worked in refugee programmes in Sudan, and was then involved in the humanitarian emergency response in Syria, Turkey and Iraq during and after the first Gulf War. Subsequently, as an Emergency Officer, he led emergency operations in Kenya, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, the Great Lakes of Central Africa (including the Burundi refugee crisis in 1993 and the Goma operation in the summer of 1994), Yemen and Afghanistan, among others. After a two-year headquarters assignment dealing with some of UNHCR’s main donors, especially the European Commission, Grandi was Field Coordinator for UN humanitarian activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo during its 1996 – 1997 civil war.
His early experience prior to joining the UN included work with non-governmental organisations carrying out refugee programmes in Thailand and Italy.
Grandi graduated from the State University of Milan with a degree in modern history and from the Gregorian University in Rome with a BA in philosophy.
In his inaugural letter to UNRWA staff, Grandi observed that “...the post of Commissioner-General is not a personal honour bestowed on one individual, but a mission to be carried out with and for Palestine refugees”. He paid tribute to the uniquely concrete and tangible character of UNRWA’s mission, noting that this is “what makes us relevant, allowing our work to make a real difference to the lives of those who continue, after six decades, to be wronged by injustice.”
Margot Ellis – UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General
Ms. Margot Ellis was appointed Deputy Commissioner-General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on 24 January 2010. In this senior leadership position, she supports the Commissioner-General in providing strategic direction and operational leadership for the Agency that provides for the relief and development needs of 5 million Palestine refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. As Deputy Commissioner-General, she serves at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.
Ms. Ellis, a national of the United States of America, brings a wealth of senior management experience in both the public and private sectors, including 25 years in international development and humanitarian response. Prior to joining the United Nations, she served for 23 years as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Government, achieving the rank of Minister-Counsellor within the U.S. Senior Foreign Service. Her experience includes work in transformational, in-conflict, emergency, humanitarian and fragile state situations. Her last position with USAID was as Acting Assistant Administrator for the Asia Bureau, overseeing a budget of $3.8 billion with programs in 22 countries.
Prior to this, Ms. Ellis was USAID’s Mission Director in Uganda, a position she held for three years, providing strategic oversight for a $300 million per year portfolio, investing in health and economic growth interventions, and investments to mitigate the causes and consequences of conflict , including the transition from relief to recovery in northern Uganda. Ms. Ellis served for six years in USAID’s Mission to the West Bank and Gaza from 1999 to 2005 during the second intifada, initially as Director of the Private Enterprise and Higher Education Team and then as the Mission’s Deputy Director.
Ms. Ellis’ prior U.S. foreign service assignments included leadership of USAID’s Private Sector Office in South Africa during the initial years of the post-apartheid government, and as Program Officer in Zimbabwe, responsible for bilateral and regional programming in southern Africa. Earlier in her career, Ms. Ellis worked in increasingly responsible positions in the private sector, including for Ford Motor Corporation, General Motors, and J.P. Morgan Chase. Ms. Ellis graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business with an MBA in Finance and from Cornell University with a bachelor's degree in Economics and Public Policy.