About Me

NG WEF photo - small B&W square - 6 Dec13

I have been CEO of the Freedom Fund since it became operational in January 2014.  The Freedom Fund is an ambitious effort to raise $100 million by 2020 to invest in the most effective frontline interventions to combat modern slavery. The Fund was announced by President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2013, who declared, “This is a huge deal and we  should all support this.”

The Fund targets countries and regions of high slavery prevalence using a ‘hotspot’ model.  It also funds innovation through thematic programme interventions, strengthening impact across multiple regions. In its first twelve months of operation, the Freedom Fund’s initial hotspot in Northern India liberated 2,900 adults and children from slavery, and helped over 8,000 vulnerable children into school. The Fund now has hotspots in Northern India, Southern India, Ethiopia, Thailand, Central Nepal and South-Eastern Nepal, and is supporting over 50 partner organisations.

Prior to Freedom Fund, I was the inaugural CEO of the Walk Free Foundation, a leading international actor in the fight against modern slavery. During my tenure, Walk Free built a global movement with over 5 million supporters, launched the first ever Global Slavery Index, and joined with Humanity United and the Legatum Foundation to establish the Freedom Fund.

Previously, I was the Deputy President and Chief Operating Officer of the International Crisis Group (ICG), the world’s leading conflict prevention NGO, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. At ICG I was responsible for the oversight and management of Crisis Group’s programs and operations in some thirty countries around the world. I have testified on conflict and human rights issues before the European, UK, Dutch, and Australian Parliaments. I have written widely on international justice, conflict prevention, human rights and modern slavery, with opinion pieces published in the International New York Times, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Boston Globe, amongst others.

I am a lawyer by background and, prior to starting work for Crisis Group in 2003, I was Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to the Australian Attorney-General. I have a law degree with first class honours from the University of Sydney and a Master’s in Public Policy from Princeton University.


    1. hi Milt, thanks. I’m catching up with Ben on Tuesday – he’s moderating a panel on slavery in supply chains in which I’m speaking: http://www.trust.org. Congrats on progress with your project- it’s critically important work.

  1. Lauenstein Milt · · Reply

    Hi, Nick
    Congratulations on what you are doing! You probably know Ben Skinner, who wrote a great book on contemporary slavery. If not, you should meet him.
    I’ve finally got things moving in the way of helping local leaders to address situations that threaten the peace. See the Purdue Peace Project web site (or mine).

    Milt Lauenstein

  2. […] the Slaves asked Nick Grono, the former CEO of Walk Free and current CEO of the Freedom Fund, about the importance of […]

  3. […] is delighted to announce that The Freedom Fund, through its CEO, Nick Grono, has joined the initiate and is providing over support to the drive for raising the profile of […]

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