Brussels, 17 February 2016. The ECRE Board is delighted to announce that, after a search process that attracted many strong candidates, Catherine Woollard has been appointed as the alliance’s new Secretary General, starting from 16 February 2016. She takes over from Michael Diedring, who served as Secretary General until 1 February.

Catherine Woollard has worked in the NGO sector since 2003, focusing on human rights, conflict prevention, security, and governance reform. From 2008 to 2015, she was the Executive Director of EPLO, the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office, a Brussels-based network that campaigns for the EU to be more effective at preventing conflict and building peace.

Previously, Ms Woollard held the position of Director of Policy and Communications at Conciliation Resources and managed programmes in South East Europe, Central Asia and Turkey at Minority Rights Group International and Transparency International. She has also worked for the UK civil service; as a lecturer in political science, teaching at universities in Italy, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and the Netherlands; as a consultant advising governments, international organisations and NGOs; and as a translator. Recent geographic experience includes assignments in DRC, Myanmar, Côte d’Ivoire and the Philippines.  She is currently a member of the Democratic Progress Institute’s Council of Experts and of the OSCE’s Roster of Experts on Mediation and Dialogue.

“I am very pleased that Catherine Woollard has taken up the leadership of ECRE, said Morten Kjærum, ECRE Board Chair.“Her long commitment to safeguarding human rights, vast experience in promoting conflict resolution and her profound understanding of refugee protection will be an invaluable contribution to ECRE as a network. With the ongoing challenges Europe is facing, the need for our alliance has never been greater and we are fortunate to get Catherine to lead ECRE to new levels,” he said.

“I have long admired ECRE’s work, which is ever more important given current threats to the rights of refugees within Europe. I’m therefore delighted to take up the position of Secretary General and, in cooperation with ECRE’s members and supporters, I hope to contribute to advancing the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and displaced persons,” said Catherine Woollard.

On behalf of ECRE Board, Morten Kjærum thanked Michael Diedring for his contribution to ECRE and Kris Pollet, ECRE’s Senior Policy and Legal Officer, for ensuring a smooth transition period as Acting Secretary General.


For further information, contact:

Thorfinnur Omarsson

Head of Communications

Tel: +32 4 74340525