Mari Simonen, Ph.D

Ms. Simonen (PhD) is an internationally recognized leader on development issues with focus on population, health, education, and other social and human rights aspects of development and poverty reduction.

With over 30 years of experience in leadership and management in the United Nations system, Ms. Simonen has a strong reputation for leadership of multi-disciplinary and diverse teams and consensus building. She has an outstanding reputation as a strong and visionary leader in various areas of management of large multi-national and multi-cultural organizations, including human resources, procurement, ICT, finance, enterprise risk management, oversight and accountability.

Ms. Simonen is a well-respected leader of institutional reforms and innovation and highly regarded for her team work and consensus building skills. She brings to the table a unique combination of multi-faceted international experience, negotiation skills, strong representation capacity and a passion for poverty reduction, human rights and social development and equity, as well as organizational excellence.

As UNFPA Deputy Executive Director for Management until December 2011, Ms. Simonen provided overall leadership and accountability for results, for an organization with an overall annual budget of $800 million and a staff of 2600 in over 150 countries world-wide. In 2012, Ms. Simonen served as Special Adviser to the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Ms. Simonen was appointed, in late 2011, as the Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Service Overseas International (VSO), the world’s leading international organization that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries.

In 2012, Ms. Simonen was selected to become member of the Independent Audit and Oversight Committee (IAOC) of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and member of the Board of Trustees of Friends of UNFPA.

Ms. Simonen is fluent in English and French with working knowledge of Spanish.