Gillian Caldwell is the Executive Director of WITNESS (www.witness.org), which uses the power of video to open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses. By partnering with local organizations around the globe, WITNESS empowers human rights defenders to use video as a tool to shine a light on those most affected by human rights violations, and to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools of justice.
Since its founding in 1992, WITNESS has partnered with groups in more than 60 countries, bringing often unseen images, untold stories and seldom heard voices to the attention of key decision makers, the media, and the general public -- prompting grassroots activism, political engagement, and lasting change.
A film-maker and an attorney, Gillian has experience in the areas of international human rights, civil rights, intellectual property, contracts, and family law. At WITNESS, she has helped produce numerous documentary videos for use in advocacy campaigns around the world, including Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the “War on Terror”; System Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the California Youth Authority; Books Not Bars; and Operation Fine Girl: Rape Used as a Weapon of War in Sierra Leone. She is also co-editor and author of a book published by Pluto Press called Video for Change: A Guide to Advocacy and Activism (2005).
Gillian was formerly the Co-Director of the Global Survival Network, where she coordinated a two-year undercover investigation into the trafficking of women for forced prostitution from Russia and the Newly Independent States that helped spur new anti-trafficking legislation in the U.S. and abroad. She also produced and directed Bought & Sold, a documentary film based on the investigation which received widespread media coverage. Gillian lived in South Africa during 1991 and 1992, investigating hit squads and security force involvement in township violence, and has worked in Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York on issues related to poverty and violence.
Gillian has been awarded the Echoing Green Fellowship (1996-1998), the Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Award (2000), the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship Award Winner (2001-present), the Tech Laureate of the Tech Museum (2003), Ashoka: Innovators for the Public as a special partner (2003), Journalist of the Month by Women’s Enews (2004), and the Skoll Social Entrepreneurship Award (2005).
Gillian is a member of the Social Venture Network, promoting new models and leadership for socially and environmentally sustainable business in the 21st century, and she is admitted to the Bar in NY and Washington, D.C. She received her BA from Harvard University and her J.D. from Georgetown University, where she was honored as a Public Interest Law Scholar.