International development director Karin Christiansen has been appointed as the General Secretary of the Co-operative Party.
Ms Christiansen, who replaces Michael Stephenson who departed in May, has spent a decade working in international development and is the Party's first female General Secretary since its foundation 95 years ago.
The announcement was made to Party members today by Chair and Labour/Co-op MP Gareth Thomas, who welcomed the new Party chief by saying Ms Christiansen has a long history in the Labour Party, including as founder of Labour Values and a contributor to many publications.
An experienced public policy professional and campaigner, she is currently working on the Fabian Society’s Labour’s next majority programme and recently launched Who Funds You with Political Innovations. As a founder of LabourValues she has a particular focus on party reform and organisational change. Her extensive campaign experience includes the 2008 Obama campaign and Rushanara Ali’s campaign in Bethnal Green and Bow from 2007-10.
Ms Christiansen’s career in international development includes as the founder and director of Publish What You Fund, Policy Manger with ONE and for many years a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute. She joined ODI having worked as an Economist at the Rwandan Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture. Prior to that Karin worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Croatia. She studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics as an undergraduate, and has Masters degrees in Development Economics and in Social and Political Thought.
In 2011 Karin was named as one of the Devex London 2011 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders. She is a board member of Maslaha and Publish What You Fund.
Said Ms Christiansen: "It is a great privilege to be joining the Co-operative Party as General Secretary. I am honoured to be taking over this role from Michael Stephenson, who has served the Party and continues to serves the co-operative movement with such distinction.
"The Co-operative Party is a powerful voice for change in the way we run our economy and the way we conduct our politics. The values and principles of co-operation need to be embedded in our country, our communities and throughout our institutions.
"I am looking forward to working with the members of the Co-operative Party and the broader movement as well as the excellent team Michael and the National Executive Committee have built to do this."
Ms Christiansen will start on 28 August, and members will have a chance to meet her at the Party's Annual Conference in September in Manchester (7-9 September); and she will formally take over the responsibilities of General Secretary after conference.