Catherine Hyde Townsend

Board President at Women Enabled International

With over twenty years of experience, Catherine Hyde Townsend is a recognized thought leader on disability inclusion and rights with deep knowledge of the connections between disability and gender. She currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Disability Inclusion at the Ford Foundation where she advises leadership on organizational change to advance disability-inclusive policy and practice in its programs and operations. She has been a trusted advisor to private donors, NGOs, and UN agencies.

Catherine combines her personal disability experience with a wealth of professional expertise to build disability cultural competence, connect disability to broader social justice issues, and help organizations and their staff better understand the disability community. Internationally, she has an intimate understanding of disability-inclusive development approaches, human rights advocacy, and funding mechanisms to support disability-led organizations.

From 2006 until 2017, Catherine served as a Senior Program Officer at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund where she partnered closely with activists to develop one of the first grantmaking portfolios focused on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and led donor advocacy for disability inclusion. In 2007, Catherine helped launch the Disability Rights Fund, a participatory collaborative fund, and served as the co-chair of the Board of Directors for more than a decade. Catherine holds an M.A. from Yale University focusing on international human rights and law and a B.A. from Hamilton College.

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