Expert Team: Co-Convenors (Global Initiative on Polarization)

Hilary Pennington is Ford Foundation’s executive vice president of programs. She oversees all of our programs globally, working closely across programs and offices to ensure strategic, meaningful, and well-aligned global grant making. She also oversees the foundation’s BUILD program, and the Office of Strategy and Learning. Before assuming her current role, she served as the foundation’s vice president for Education, Creativity, and Free Expression.

A national expert on postsecondary education and intergenerational change, Hilary joined the foundation in 2013. Earlier, she was an independent consultant whose clients included the Next American University project of the New America Foundation and Arizona State University. She also led the Generations Initiative, a project funded by national foundations to develop effective responses to the dramatic demographic shifts occurring in the United States.

Between 2006 and 2012, Hilary served as director of education, postsecondary success, and special initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she guided grant programs across the country and worldwide. Before joining Gates, she was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and president and CEO of Jobs for the Future, a research and policy development organization she co-founded. In 22 years with JFF, Hilary helped the organization become one of the most influential in the country on issues of education, youth transitions, workforce development, and future work requirements. She also served on President Bill Clinton’s transition team and as co-chair of his administration’s presidential advisory committee on technology.

Hilary serves on the boards of Bard College, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and Giving Tuesday, and she is a member of the Trinity Church Vestry. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Management and Yale College, and she holds a graduate degree in social anthropology from Oxford University and a master’s degree in theological studies from the Episcopal Divinity School. In 2000, she was a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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Mark Freeman is the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT), a non-governmental organisation that recently celebrated its tenth anniversary as a global peacebuilding innovator. 

A leading expert in political transitions and high-level peace negotiations with more than 25 years of experience, Mr Freeman is regularly consulted for advice on crisis management and conflict resolution. He has worked in countries including Ukraine, Venezuela, Colombia, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burundi, DRC, The Gambia, El Salvador, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Zimbabwe. 

Prior to founding IFIT, Mr. Freeman was Chief of External Relations and a member of the Senior Management Team at the International Crisis Group, a leading global conflict prevention organisation. He also helped launch the International Center for Transitional Justice and served as its first Director of International Affairs. Earlier in his career he worked at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York and as a corporate lawyer in Toronto.

A widely recognised thought leader in international law and human rights, Mr. Freeman is the co-author of Negotiating Transitional Justice (Cambridge, 2020), which draws upon his years as an adviser inside the Colombian peace talks in Havana. He is also the author of Necessary Evils: Amnesties and the Search for Justice (Cambridge, 2010) and Truth Commissions and Procedural Fairness (Cambridge, 2006), and the co-author of International Human Rights Law: Essentials of Canadian Law (Irwin Law, 2004).

Mr. Freeman holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, and a Master of Laws from Columbia Law School where he was a Human Rights Fellow and James Kent Scholar. He has been a Lecturer-in-Law at KU Leuven and the University of Ottawa, and a Visiting Professor at Queen’s University Faculty of Law.

Mr. Freeman is a member of the International Panel of Experts of the International Commission on Missing Persons and an Advisor to Schmidt Futures‘ International Strategy Forum. A Canadian and Belgian citizen, Mr. Freeman speaks English, French, Spanish, Italian and Catalan.

Working languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Catalan