Firelight welcomes new Executive Director, Nina Blackwell

Nina_Website photo  

We are excited to announce that the Firelight Foundation has appointed Nina Blackwell as our new Executive Director. Nina takes over the role from Peter Laugharn who was recently appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

With a long career facilitating social change and leading teams at the highest levels, Nina brings an important mix of passion, experience and leadership to our organization.  We are thrilled to have Nina come on board to continue the Firelight legacy of impact for those communities that are on the front lines of care for vulnerable children and youth in Africa.


Nina is a 20-year veteran of social change in all its forms. A passionate believer in human rights and the power of communities, Nina has spent her career utilizing the power of grassroots movements, politics, the legislature, corporate impact and philanthropy to achieve a meaningful impact on people's lives.

Nina comes to the Firelight Foundation from Humanity United, a leading human rights foundation, which is part of the Omidyar Group of philanthropies. As Senior Strategic Advisor and Head of External Affairs at Humanity United, Nina led the Communications, Policy, and Partnerships teams to support and leverage the organization's strategic work in the prevention of conflict, mass atrocities and modern slavery.

Prior to joining Humanity United, Nina spent several years at Yahoo!, Inc., where she led two global teams as Senior Director of Americas Communications and Senior Director of Global Public Affairs. Nina was responsible for developing global communications across a broad range of issues including privacy, data governance, online safety, human rights and freedom of expression. In this role, Nina also built and managed a global corporate social responsibility communications practice, promoting Yahoo!’s sustainability, accessibility and safety programs, as well as Yahoo! For Good and the Yahoo! Employee Foundation.

Nina joined Yahoo! after seven years working for U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, first as Special Advisor and then as Press Secretary and Spokesperson. Her work with Senator Clinton began in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks and spanned the successful 2006 Senate reelection campaign and the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

A native Australian, Nina spent almost ten years working in Australian politics before moving to the U.S., including three years at the helm of the historic campaign for an Australian Republic.

Nina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Psychology, a Master of Arts in Political Science and Women's Studies and a Bachelor of Laws with Honors where she specialized in Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

For 15 years, the Firelight Foundation has been a direct source of support to community organizations that are building a future for vulnerable children and youth in Africa and we are more committed than ever to continuing that legacy. Nina is right leader to help us realize this vision and to continue Firelight’s role as supporter, enabler and funder.

We welcome Nina and look forward to her leadership as we work together to build the future for communities, children and youth in Africa.

Catherine Milton, Board Chair

Kerry Olson, Founder