Former UN Ambassador Amanda Ellis currently serves as Executive Director, Asia-Pacific for the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation and Senior Director, Global Partnerships and Networks for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University. She is a Professor of Practice at Thunderbird School and Global Management and co-chair of the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General, the President of the World Bank and the Council of Women World Leaders in 2018 to promote inclusive entrepreneurship.
Previous roles include New Zealand’s Head of Mission and Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, inaugural Ambassador for Women and Girls and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Francophone Africa. Ms Ellis played a key role in New Zealand’s successful UN Security Council bid, subsequently serving as co-chair of the UNSC High Level Working Group on Humanitarian Access into Syria. From 2010-13 as Deputy Secretary International Development and the first woman to head the New Zealand Aid Programme, Ms Ellis was responsible for an annual budget of over $0.6 billion. Prior to this, Ms. Ellis was Lead Specialist in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Group at the World Bank Group in Washington D.C., where she managed the World Bank President’s Global Private Sector CEO Leaders Forum and led the Doing Business gender research project which created “Women, Business and the Law.” While at the World Bank, she worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit to create the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index. Ms. Ellis also founded the International Finance Corporation’s gender program, where she developed the first lines of credit for women entrepreneurs in Africa delivered through local banks. In the late 1990s she served in senior executive roles at Westpac Banking Corporation in Australia, including as Head of Women’s Markets and National Manager Women in Business, growing a new business rapidly to over half a billion dollars in annual revenues within just three years.
Ms. Ellis is the author of two best-selling Random House books, Women’s Business, Women’s Wealth and Woman 2 Woman, lead author of five research titles in the World Bank Directions in Development series on gender and growth in Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and the Pacific and co-author of the 2020 Gender Equality and Governance Index. A founding member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, Ms. Ellis is the recipient of the TIAW Lifetime Achievement Award for services to women’s economic empowerment, the East-West Center Distinguished Alumni Award, the Columba College Distinguished Alumna Award and NZ Business Hall of Fame.
Ms. Ellis serves on the advisory boards of the Global Governance Forum, UN Target Gender Equality, Blue Planet Alliance, Bishop Museum, Institute for Climate and Peace, and UNICEF NZ. She is an adjunct Senior Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii and a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, a member of NZ Global Women and an honorary member of BPW International and Rotary International.
Ms. Ellis holds a BA First Class Honors degree in French and Economics from the University of Otago, New Zealand, an MA degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa which she earned on an East-West Center scholarship, and an LTCL from Trinity College of London. She has completed executive education leadership programs at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and INSEAD, and the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies Transnational Security Course for two star generals and civilian equivalent.