NEW YORK, JUNE 24, 2019—The US branch of the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today announced the appointment of its new executive director, Avril Benoît.
Benoît first joined MSF in 2006, serving as communications director for MSF-Canada in Toronto. She later gained vast operational management experience in a number of MSF projects, including as a country director and project coordinator. She has led operations providing aid to refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in Mauritania, South Sudan, and South Africa.
“Avril brings a wealth of hands-on humanitarian experience, along with deep management expertise and a strong command of the critical challenges facing our patients today,” said Dr. Africa Stewart, president of the MSF-USA board of directors. “At a time of unprecedented movement of people fleeing their home countries for safety and refuge, ongoing humanitarian emergencies in places like Yemen and Syria, and alarming epidemic outbreaks, we are privileged to have Avril lead us forward in addressing these tremendous challenges.”
Since late 2015, Benoît has served as director of communications and development at MSF’s operational center in Geneva, Switzerland. Her strategic analysis and communications assignments have taken her to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, and Syria.
She officially began her new role in New York on June 20.
Prior to joining MSF, Benoît led a distinguished 20-year career as an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in Canada. She was a documentary producer and radio host with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), reporting from Kenya, Burundi, India, and Brazil on HIV stigma, rapid urbanization, sexual violence in conflict, and political inclusion of women, among numerous other assignments and topics.
Benoît succeeds Jason Cone, who led MSF-USA from 2015 through 2018. Sophie Delaunay, who preceded him, has served as MSF-USA’s interim executive director since January, 2019.
The US office of MSF was established in 1990. There are roughly 200 people working in the office today, administering medical operations in Haiti, Liberia, South Sudan, and Sudan, and carrying out fundraising, communications, and recruitment activities for MSF’s medical programs worldwide. Benoît is MSF-USA’s sixth executive director.
MSF is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries. MSF’s decision to intervene in any country or crisis is based solely on an independent assessment of people’s needs—not on political, economic, or religious interests. MSF offers assistance to people based on need and irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.