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WEBINAR: Career Planning in Peace, Security, and Human Rights Philanthropy: A Conversation with Alex Toma and Catherine Townsend

To better support our young professionals cohort across the broad spectrum of human rights, social justice and peace and security philanthropy, we invite you to “Career Planning in Peace, Security, and Human Rights Philanthropy: A Conversation with Alex Toma and Catherine Townsend.” Taking place virtually, the webinar features the Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG) and Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) leadership staff in conversation about career development and growth within the philanthropic field. Alex and Catherine have a broad range of experience in the philanthropic sector, and can answer your questions about how to build a career in this field.

To make this webinar as useful as possible to our cohort, please take this brief survey here and submit questions you would like to see our speakers address. The survey will also serve as your registration for the webinar. (RSVP required)

This event is part of HRFN’s Young Professionals Initiative to support the growth and development of young professionals, and foster next-generation leadership in human rights and social justice philanthropy. This effort is in collaboration with the Peace and Security Funders Group based in Washington, D.C.


  • Alexandra I. Toma, Executive Director, Peace and Security Funders Group: Alexandra (she/her/hers) brings over 15 years of leadership experience in politics, advocacy, and philanthropic organizations to her role as PSFG’s Executive Director. In recognition of her leadership in the peace and security philanthropic sector, Inside Philanthropy recognized Alex as the “Affinity Group Head with the Most Hustle.” Prior to joining PSFG in 2013, Alex was Executive Director of the Connect U.S. Fund, a donors’ collaborative focused on incentivizing collaboration as a tool to meet today’s global challenges. While a Director at the Ploughshares Fund, Alex founded the Fissile Materials Working Group, a coalition that she grew to 80 U.S. and international organizations providing action-oriented policy solutions to combat nuclear terrorism. Before her nonprofit experience, Alex served as a foreign policy and defense advisor to Congressman Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts. Alex is a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations; serves on the boards of the Compton Foundation and Foreign Policy for America; and is a proud refugee. She earned her M.S. in Foreign Policy and Security Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in International Affairs and Psychology, with a minor in French, from the University of Virginia. When not immersed in peace and security philanthropy, Alex enjoys Skype calls with her 97-y.o. grandmother, reading fiction, and traveling the world (she’s been to 50 countries).
  • Catherine Hyde Townsend, Transition Director, Human Rights Funders Network: Catherine oversees the management of the network’s day-to-day operations during the transition and recruitment processes for a new Executive Director. Catherine is a philanthropic leader with a passion for human rights who was among HRFN’s first employees and knows the network well. She currently works as an independent consultant and serves on the Board of Directors for the Disability Rights Fund and Women Enabled International. From 2006 until 2017, Catherine served as a senior program officer at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, managing disability rights and human rights defenders grantmaking with a focus on gender and intersectional identities. Prior to joining Wellspring, she worked at the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and coordinated programming for the International Human Rights Funders Group. Catherine is a proud mother of two who loves mornings, reading (especially non-fiction), and practices Pilates when she can.