2 March 2023

Farewelling our Founder: Recognizing Accountability Counsel’s Natalie Bridgeman Fields

Our extraordinary founder, Natalie Bridgeman Fields, has made the difficult decision to resign as Executive Director of Accountability Counsel, effective February 2023. You can find below a direct message from Natalie that she wanted us to share.

She is leaving the work she so passionately loves to make space for her recovery from Long COVID. Our board and team unreservedly supports her decision and we hope that this hastens her recovery and return to wellness.

We are forever indebted to Natalie. She founded Accountability Counsel fourteen years ago with an audacious vision for justice and accountability in international development finance, and built Accountability Counsel with help from our committed donors and advisors to achieve that vision. As anyone who has worked with her knows, Natalie is a powerful force, and we will miss her inspiring, values-centered leadership and her relentless commitment to speak truth to power. Though she will be deeply missed as our organizational head, Natalie’s vision for justice, community-centered advocacy, and accountability in international finance remains the beating heart of Accountability Counsel.

In a testament to Natalie’s deep vision of justice, she was actively preparing us for this transition by building systems, financial reserves, and a depth of leadership that would enable the organization to thrive well beyond her tenure. While we would have wanted her departure to look differently, we are proud to say that the AC team is strong and excited about our future.

We will now begin a search for a new Executive Director who will bring the experience, energy, and vision to accelerate Accountability Counsel’s growth to the next level. Lani will capably continue as Interim Executive Director in the meantime. Under her leadership, our talented team continues to drive forward our mission, momentum, and impact, ensuring that thousands of communities globally have access to justice and remedy for the harm inflicted by international finance.

We know Natalie’s impact is far reaching, and that there are individuals and communities who would like to offer messages of support and/or contributions in her honor. Because it is difficult for her to respond to messages individually at the moment, we are collecting messages here. We hope to more fully celebrate and honor Natalie’s legacy and impact when her health allows.

As always, thank you for your partnership and support. Our work is spurred on by the collective vision for a more just and accountable financial system, and we are grateful to do this work alongside you.

The Accountability Counsel Board & Team

Dear Community,

For the past 14 years, Accountability Counsel has become a global base of support and advocacy, opening space for communities to speak truth to power. Our partnerships with local people have produced wins for land and water rights, vindication of civic rights to be counted and heard, and defense of Indigenous rights on the international stage.

During this time, we poured our collective experience and in-depth research into policy advocacy that has raised the floor for accountability policy at major institutions. Policy wins alongside our talented partners around the world have lowered barriers for communities to bring complaints, and I’m deeply proud of our unrelenting advocacy that stays focused on the principle that there is no accountability without remedy. The systems for communities to bring grievances to the public stage and seek remedy for abuse have advanced significantly over the past 14 years, and we have been part of creating many of them — but they are still falling far short of what communities deserve. This is the work ahead. And at Accountability Counsel, I’m excited to announce that that work will be led by the next generation of passionate advocates.

Today marks a major transition point for me personally, as I depart Accountability Counsel, with my departure timeline hastened by my work to recover from severe Long COVID. However, we started the transition process several years ago, making sure as a team and board of directors that Accountability Counsel has the institutional strength, systems, values, and team that will ensure the organization’s sustainability. Having observed our organization as I’ve been recovering slowly, there is no doubt that we have achieved that goal and then some. Accountability Counsel is brilliantly thriving.

When a founder departs, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing what you started become the product of so many capable hands that have molded it into what it is today. All of you around the world – our civil society partners, donors, community-level individuals and organizations, have shaped this work with us.

As I move from Executive Director to Accountability Counsel supporter myself, I ask that you join me in continuing to commit your time, resources, and energy to demanding justice. Accountability Counsel has always done this work with you and will need your commitment in the years to come.

Lani Inverarity will continue as our highly capable Interim ED and a search process will begin this Spring, with updates coming soon.

With deep appreciation,