Vice President for Policy and Campaigns
Paul O'Brien oversees all of Oxfam America’s policy, campaigning, and private sector engagement work. He has diverse experience in the humanitarian and human rights field, having worked throughout Africa, and in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South Asia.
Before joining Oxfam in 2008, O’Brien spent five years in Afghanistan, where he counseled the senior economic advisor to the president and two ministers of finance on aid coordination, development planning, and policy reform. He was the senior international advisor to the Afghan government in the creation of the Afghanistan interim National Development Strategy and the Afghanistan Compact. Prior to that, he worked for CARE International as that organization’s Afghanistan advocacy coordinator and Africa policy advisor.
Previously, O’Brien was the president of Echoing Green, which uses venture philanthropy principles to support social entrepreneurs, and he worked as a litigator in New York for Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. He is the co-founder of the Legal Resources Foundation in Kenya, which served in Nairobi's slum communities, and he founded the Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium in Afghanistan, which brought together 12 international and Afghan nongovernmental organizations.
O'Brien has written and published on a range of issues including human rights and humanitarian principles, the militarization of development, and humanitarian and development issues in Sudan and Afghanistan. He has authored a manual on better understanding unintended benefits and harms of humanitarian and development work.
O’Brien is a member of the board of the Society for International Development. He has testified before Congress on humanitarian action, Afghanistan, and trade issues, and he is a frequent commentator in the media including 60 Minutes, CNN, the BBC’s Newsnight, CBS News, ABC World News Tonight, All Things Considered, and The Kojo Nnamdi Show. He has a JD from Harvard University and earned his undergraduate degree from University College, Dublin.