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Headshot Lesley Bourns - Lesley Bourns

Lesley Bourns

Vice President, Humanitarian Programs, Sesame Workshop

Bio Current as of June 7, 2022

Lesley Bourns is an experienced strategist on global humanitarian and development policy and social impact programming. She has served in policy and program leadership roles in the United Nations and with international NGOs, with a focus on humanitarian policy analysis, program design and strategy, and resource mobilization, including in post-conflict and emergency settings and in leadership roles at headquarters. Since 2019, Lesley has worked at Sesame Workshop, where is a Vice President for Humanitarian Programs and is the Managing Director of the Play to Learn project. Before joining Sesame Workshop, Lesley was a Special Advisor to the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation, where she co-authored the organization’s scale framework in its founding publication, Humanitarian Innovation: Untangling the many paths to Scale. Prior to that she served as the Chief of the Policy Analysis and Innovation Section at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), analyzing global trends in humanitarian assistance and crisis prevention. Prior to that role, she was Director of Development and then Chief of Staff at the International Center for Transitional Justice, which supports truth-seeking, justice, and reparations for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Lesley spent many years working in the Middle East and East Africa with organizations such as Mercy Corps and Adeso, where she designed and managed humanitarian and development programs. Lesley holds a B.A. in Sociology from Vassar College and an M.A. from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs in Human Rights.