Image of Lindsay Coates

Lindsay Coates

R4D Board Member

Lindsay Coates is an internationally recognized leader with 20 years of executive and managerial experience in global nonprofit organizations. Her background as a civil rights attorney gives her a keen sense of how human rights, the social sector and global development goals converge.

Ms. Coates is a senior advisor to Geneva Global where she advises the world’s largest donors and helps shape an approach to giving that is rooted in justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. She is also an advisor to Re-imagining the INGO (RINGO), a coalition of civil society organizations in Africa, Asia and Europe promoting locally-led international development. She is a nonresident fellow at the Center for Global Development where she is working to reform donor governments and institutions to support country- and locally-led development with an emphasis on citizen engagement, social accountability and preserving civic space.

Ms. Coates was previously managing director at BRAC where she launched and led the Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative. She also held the positions of vice president for public policy and communications and later executive vice president and president of InterAction (IA), the largest U.S. alliance of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) devoted to fighting poverty and increasing human dignity around the world. She was the chief operating officer at Population Action International, a research and advocacy institute.

Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Ms. Coates practiced civil rights law. She clerked for two United States District Court Judges, then started a private law practice in Jackson, Mississippi. She litigated cases under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. She moved to Washington, D.C. to become chief of staff of the office for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton Administration. Later, she became the first ever equal employment opportunity attorney at the National Gallery of Art.

Ms. Coates’ public engagements include serving on the leadership circle for Foreign Policy for America, the advisory council at Open Gov Hub, the expert advisory group on citizen engagement at the World Bank, and the executive committee for the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. She has served on the boards of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Episcopal Relief and Development, the Global Health Council, and Development Gateway. She was also a member of the Obama Administration’s Task Force on Global Poverty and is a trustee at her alma mater, Sewanee: The University of the South.

Ms. Coates earned a B.A., magna cum laude, in political science from Sewanee: The University of the South and a J.D., with honors, from the University of Mississippi.

“R4D is a vibrant and effective innovator. I am honored to join this distinguished board and the dynamic team.” – Lindsay Coates


Speaking Engagements

Paris Peace Forum, organized by Government of France, expert advisor to government of France for planning the PFF, moderator and panelist, 2018 and 2019

Skoll World Forum, (participation by application only 2018 and 2019) organized Skoll Foundation in Oxford England, panelist on Ultra Poverty, 2019

World Bank Spring and Annual meetings moderator and panelist on the International Development Association, sustainable development, civil society, fragile states, data revolution, 2014 to 2021

Changes in the Field of Humanitarian Relief and Development Conference Keynote at Villanova University (2016, 2014), Georgetown University (2016), Sewanee: University of the South (2013)

INGO of the Future keynote, Association of Change Management Professionals, Dallas 2016

The UN’s “Road to Dignity” Report: Fulfilling the Post-2015 Agenda and Ending Poverty by 2030 Brookings Institution 2015 panelist with Rachel Kyte and Amina Mohamed

Analysis of US political climate, panelist for conferences of IA sister organization CCIC in Ottawa Canada 2015 and BOND in London 2013 and numerous topics for InterAction Forum

Global & Regional Initiatives

R4D is a globally recognized leader for designing initiatives that connect implementers, experts and funders across countries to build knowledge and get that knowledge into practice.