Kirsty McNeill

Save the Children

Executive Director for Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns

Force of nature Kirsty McNeill is a giant in the international development sector. As executive director for policy, advocacy and campaigns at Save the Children, she leads teams to influence the public and policymakers on humanitarian action, global development and help for children living in poverty in the UK. With 160 members, her team is one of the world’s biggest and most impactful in the sector: it won the 2019 Bond Advocacy Award for the ‘Remember Rohingya’ campaign. McNeill also co-chairs two of Save the Children’s three strategy boards. She is the charity’s’ external representative to ministers, funders and partners and their media spokesperson. In tandem to this, she is a regular public commentator on power, politics and policy, having written for various outlets including the Telegraph, Observer and New Statesman. Her career has been spent at the intersection between public policy and public pressure – she was a special adviser in Downing Street and lead on the policy and influencing work of DATA (a charity set up by Bono and Bob Geldof) in countries across the European Union. She was also manager of the Stop AIDS campaign, which successfully negotiated a commitment to universal access to AIDS treatment from the 2005 G8. Recently, she has been a strong voice condemning the government’s aid cuts – she is chair of the sector-wide Campaign to Defend Aid and Development.