Monica Aleman Cunningham, Ford Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer, Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD)

FUNDING AREAS: Economic development and women's issues, Nairobi, Kenya, social justice

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PROFILE: Monica Aleman Cunningham is a senior program officer at the Ford Foundation. Her foundation bio shares:

Monica Aleman Cunningham is a senior program officer on the BUILD team, working to advance the foundation’s efforts to support and develop stronger, sustainable, and more effective social justice organizations and networks across the globe. Her areas of concentration in BUILD are Latin America; Civic Engagement and Government; and Gender, Race, and Ethnic Justice. Previously, she was based in the foundation’s East Africa office, where her grant making focused on increasing the capacity of national, regional, and global groups and supporting national and regional networks to advance a constitutional framework that protects the rights of women and other minorities, increases the participation of women in governance structures, and consolidates the infrastructure of the women’s rights movement. In addition, Monica led grant-making efforts to explore the links between customary laws and customs as they relate to women and sexual expression, using culture and religion as key entry points into understanding social change.  

Before joining the foundation in 2011, Monica was executive director of the International Indigenous Women's Forum, a network of organizations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. She also served as program and policy director at MADRE, an international women's rights organization and Ford Foundation grantee. In addition, Monica has worked as a coordinator and assistant for the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and has consulted for various organizations, including the Ford Foundation and Nicaragua’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Her extensive background encompasses expertise in community organizing, social movement building, and participatory monitoring and evaluation, all honed through her work over the years with national, regional, and global organizations. She also has written a number of opinion and issue-oriented articles, primarily on women's rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and communities.

Monica received her master's degree from the Intercultural Indigenous University, Popayán, Colombia, and her bachelor's degree in international relations, with a focus on political science and business administration, from the University of Mobile, Latin America Campus at San Marcos, Nicaragua. Her academic experience also includes special studies in diplomacy, women's human rights, human rights, the right to education, ethics, and politics in various institutions of higher learning in Latin America and the United States.