WITNESS welcomes Shantha Rau Barriga as Deputy Executive Director and Leandro Ramos as Global Programs Director

WITNESS is delighted to welcome two visionary leaders into senior positions to support our mission of helping people harness the power of video and technology to document truth and defend human rights. We are pleased to introduce human rights advocate Shantha Rau Barriga as our very first Deputy Executive Director and lifelong social justice activist Leandro Ramos as our new Global Programs Director.

Shantha comes to WITNESS from Human Rights Watch, where she was the Founding Director of the disability rights division, overseeing research and advocacy on the rights of people with disabilities and older people around the world. Shantha also served as interim co-Deputy Executive Director, helping to manage the over 500-person organization during a leadership transition. Throughout a career spanning over two decades, she has demonstrated a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and brings to WITNESS rich experience in leadership of global teams. She has documented and reported on human rights abuses in dozens of countries, and has extensive advocacy and media experience. Her talk on how to end stigma against people with disabilities is featured on TED. You can read her full bio here.

I’m honored to join WITNESS in its mission to fortify the truth at such a pivotal moment when deepfakes and AI threaten the very foundations of our information ecosystem. For years, I’ve admired WITNESS’s approach of centering and supporting grassroots activists and communities to harness the power of video and technology to end human rights abuses. I’m excited to be a part of this visionary organization.  

– Shantha Rau Barriga, incoming Deputy Executive Director

Leandro Ramos is a journalist and activist based out of São Paulo, Brazil. He is joining WITNESS after serving as the Program Director at Greenpeace Brasil, where he led the organization’s Campaigns, Communications, Legal, and Political teams. Prior to joining Greenpeace, Leandro worked for a decade with All Out, an international organization utilizing technology to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights globally. During his time at Greenpeace and All Out, Leandro headed wide ranging campaigns on human rights and environmental issues – while also collaborating with grassroots activists on local campaigns and training programs in complex contexts. You can read his full bio here.

WITNESS has continuously evolved to adapt and respond to significant shifts in the video landscape, understanding how those changes impact the fight for human rights around the world. As emerging technologies bring forth new challenges and opportunities, WITNESS is entering another pivotal phase of its evolution – and I am thrilled to be part of this exciting new chapter for the organization.

– Leandro Ramos, incoming Global Programs Director 

Under Shantha and Leandro’s leadership, WITNESS is looking forward to deepening our impact and learning from their experiences and deep commitment to human rights. 

Please join us in welcoming Shantha and Leandro to the WITNESS team.


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