Dan Smith – Secretary General
Dan has been the Secretary General of International Alert since 2003. Having graduated in 1973 from Cambridge University where he read English Literature, Dan’s work on peace issues started when he began research on UK defence policies in 1976.
Prior to joining Alert Dan held a number of senior positions, most notably as Director of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo from 1993 to 2001. He also held fellowships at the Norwegian Nobel Institute and Hellenic Foundation for Foreign and European Policy and was for over a decade the Chair of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
Dan is a prolific author and since arriving at Alert he has continued to publish widely. All told he has authored, co-authored and edited sixteen books including successive editions of The Atlas of War and Peace. Responsible for over 100 journal articles and chapters in anthologies he is also regularly invited to advise governments and international organisations on policies and structures for peacebuilding, including through his membership of the Advisory Group for the UN Peacebuilding Fund, of which he was Chair until 2011. At Alert he produced the path breaking A Climate of Conflict (2007) report on the links between climate change, peace and war and continues to lead the organisation’s advocacy on a range of issues critical to the reduction of conflict and building of peace.
He was awarded the OBE in 2002 and blogs on international politics at www.dansmithsblog.com.
Phil Champain – Director of Emerging Programmes
Phil was appointed Director of Emerging Programmes in January 2012 with responsibility for spearheading Alert’s new programmes.This role represents a key component of our commitment to achieving the organisational developments required in order both to grow and to enhance the quality of our work.
Between 2004 and 2012 Phil was one of Alert’s two Directors of Programmes providing leadership and oversight of Alert’s programming in South, South East and Central Asia, the Middle East, and the South Caucasus. Before becoming a Director he led the early development of Alert’s engagement on business and conflict and worked across different programmes supporting a range of dialogue initiatives. In addition to longstanding engagement with peace efforts in the Caucasus, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, Phil has written in particular on the interface between economy and conflict and has recently initiated Alert’s work in the UK where the capacities of communities to respond to an increasingly complex array of interrelated issues is testing the effectiveness of conflict management strategies.
Phil graduated from Cambridge University in 1982 where he read History. He then trained as a secondary school teacher at Bangor University in North Wales and was a secondary school teacher for seven years, including three years in Papua New Guinea with Voluntary Service Overseas. He began his career in the NGO sector with the World Wide Fund for Nature where he worked with teachers on education for sustainability. He is a trained counsellor and has a further professional qualification in the Design of Conflict Resolution Training from the Eastern Mennonite University, USA. Phil is also a Director of Community Accord, a neighbourhood mediation organisation based in Bradford, and is a trustee for the UK based NGO Music In Detention which works to give voice to detainees.
Phil Vernon – Director of Programmes
Phil provides leadership and oversight of Alert’s programmes in Africa, Asia and the Caucasus, and of the Peacebuilding Issues Programme, which deals with cross-cutting issues of importance to peacebuilding, such as the economy, gender, and security, as well as Alert’s core learning and training functions. He also leads Alert’s advocacy on aid effectiveness, and in 2010 was the principal author of Working with the grain to change the grain: Moving beyond the MDGs, which called for a radical overhaul of the international aid system.
Phil joined Alert in September 2004, prior to which he had worked in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding in Africa since 1985, working specifically in Sudan, Rwanda, Lesotho, Mali, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Uganda. Initially a forester by training, with an MSc from the University of North Wales, his interest in conflict and peacebuilding was stimulated by the experience of living in Rwanda from 1992-94. From 2000-4 he was country director of CARE Uganda, and played an active role in research and advocacy on the Northern Uganda conflict, helping to establish and lead the Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda coalition. He is also a member of the Forum on Corporate Responsibility of mining company BHP Billiton, and a trustee of UK-based development NGO BuildAfrica.
Phil blogs on Africa, Peacebuilding and Development issues at www.philvernon.net.
Sue McCready – Chief Operating Officer
Sue McCready has been Chief Operating Officer at International Alert since late 2002. Having graduated in modern languages from London University she moved on to gain two postgraduate management qualifications and a Masters Degree in psychology. Her business and managerial skills have been gained during the course of a varied career in international development spanning more than 20 years in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
With more than 15 years’ experience of managing Field Programmes and also working in senior management in the UK, Sue has lived and worked extensively overseas in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.