Pamela Shifman


Pamela is the Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, and a lifelong advocate for girls and women.

An organizer, thought leader, and change maker, Pamela brings an inclusive and highly collaborative leadership approach to the foundation’s work, guided by a deep commitment to ensuring that philanthropy centers the most marginalized people in the pursuit of justice and meaningful change.

Since joining the foundation in 2008, and as Executive Director since 2014, Pamela has advanced NoVo’s efforts to end violence and discrimination against girls and women, and has developed a sharp racial and gender justice lens for the foundation’s work, culminating in such efforts as Move to End Violence, a 10-year initiative to strengthen the movement to end violence against girls and women in the US, and a historic $90 million commitment to support girls or color.

Pamela regularly seeks out creative and unconventional ways for philanthropy to contribute to lasting change. Since 2015, she has led a highly collaborative process to guide a historic commitment from NoVo—in partnership with the Lela Goren Group—to transform New York’s Bayview Correctional Facility, a former women’s prison, into a global hub for girls and women’s rights. By centering the voices of formerly-incarcerated women and other girls’ and women’s activists, The Women’s Building is already demonstrating what is possible when the potential of girls and women is nurtured rather than locked away.

Pamela’s vision is drawn from her nearly three decades as an activist and educator. From 2008-2014, she shaped NoVo’s strategy as Director of Initiatives for Girls and Women. She came to NoVo from UNICEF headquarters, where she led the organization’s efforts to end gender-based violence in conflict-affected settings.

Prior to joining the UN, Pamela served as the Co-Executive Director of Equality Now, and as a legal advisor for the ANC Parliamentary Women’s Caucus in South Africa, where she supported development of South Africa’s first post-apartheid legislation addressing domestic violence.

Pamela is the recipient of the 2011 Lucretia Mott Award from Women’s Way and has been named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s e-News. Her reflections on girls’ and women’s rights, grassroots activism and social change have been featured in The New York Times, CNN, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and many other outlets.

Pamela has taught Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan and at Hunter College, and she holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” —Fannie Lou Hamer