Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt appointed to lead Save the Children International

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Save the Children International announces the appointment of Helle Thorning-Schmidt as its new Chief Executive. The former Danish Prime Minister replaces Jasmine Whitbread as head of the umbrella organisation for the Save the Children movement, the world's leading independent children's charity, with responsibility for programmes reaching over 55 million children in 120 countries.

Sir Alan Parker, Chairman of Save the Children International, said:

“We are very pleased to appoint a new CEO with a proven track record of international leadership and a passion to improve the world for children. As an organisation, we are dedicated to helping those children who need it most wherever they are in the world. There is a real opportunity to deliver further significant progress in the coming decade, particularly in the areas of child mortality, education and child protection.At the same time, we are being called on to respond to an increasing number of humanitarian crises affecting children all over the world.

“In the 21st century, with all of the capabilities we now have, it is simply not right that so many children continue to suffer and die unnecessarily and to be held back from fulfilling their potential. Helle shares this conviction deeply and I believe that she can play a real role in helping to increase our impact and deliver real improvements for children. The Save the Children organisations around the world are working together to try to transform the future for the most vulnerable children, and Helle’s experience and capabilities will be a great asset as we look to deliver on this ambition.”

Helle will take up her position on April 4th, and will be based at Save the Children International’s headquarters in London.

Commenting on her appointment, Helle Thorning-Schmidt said: “I am deeply honoured to be given the opportunity to lead Save the Children International.

“In recent decades the world has made unprecedented progress in reducing child mortality, and the work of organisations like Save the Children has made a huge difference. But as we see every day, there is still much more to do to rescue children from suffering and danger and give them a future.”

"Children’s protection, rights and development have always been close to my heart, and I look forward to doing everything I can to help us deliver on our bold but simple ambitions: that no child under five dies from preventable causes, all children get access to quality education and that no child should live with violence and abuse.

“Save the Children has been at the forefront of fighting for children's rights since its foundation and I am delighted to follow in that tradition by building on Jasmine’s fine work. I couldn’t imagine a better cause and I look forward to meeting and working with our dedicated staff around the world.

Save the Children contact details:


tracy.manners@savethechildren.orgor call +44 7721261063.

Notes to editors:



  1. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, 49, was Prime Minister and led a coalition government for a full parliamentary term from 2011 until 2015. She led the Social Democratic Party for 10 years. Helle was a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004, and previously worked as an international adviser to the Confederation of Trade Unions. During her time as Prime Minister she increased international aid spending to 0.83% of GDP. She has a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen and a Master’s Degree in European Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges. She was born in Copenhagen and her mother tongue is Danish. She is fluent in English and has a working knowledge of French. She is married to Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon. They have two daughters.


  2. In September 2012, the UN Secretary General invited Helle Thorning-Schmidt to be a Global Education Champion, promoting the Global Education First Initiative. In September 2015, along with 20 other world leaders, Thorning-Schmidt was appointed to the Education Financing Commission led by Mr Gordon Brown.


  3. Save the Children International was formed in 2010 to strengthen the organisation’s operational effectiveness. It delivers Save the Children’s programmes internationally, on behalf of the 30 member organizations, to ensure that the movement has the greatest possible impact for children. It has its main office in London but does not fundraise in the UK and is distinct from Save the Children UK. More information is available here:


  4. Save the Children runs programmes that directly reach over 55 million children in around 120 countries every year, with more than 25,000 staff operating in some of the toughest places in the world. Save the Children manages an annual budget of over two billion USD.




  1. Helle Thorning-Schmidt is taking over from Jasmine Whitbread, who was the CEO of Save the Children International. She stepped down in December after five years in the post.


 Click here for more information on our CEO role


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