Executive Leadership


Karen J. Hanrahan, President and Chief Executive Officer

Rita Shimmin, Executive Director

Reverend Cecil Williams, Co-Founder and Minister of Liberation

Janice Mirikitani, Co-Founder




Karen J. Hanrahan

President and Chief Executive Officer

Karen Hanrahan is an executive leader with twenty years of experience advancing human rights and building high-impact global initiatives around the world. Ms. Hanrahan has worked in the public and private sectors to build movements, lead change and build high-impact organizations and initiatives on a global scale. She has served as a senior appointee in the Obama administration, a United Nations aid worker, a corporate and non-profit executive and a thought leader in global development, human rights and public-private innovation. In her efforts to drive social change and spur social innovation, she has partnered with heads of state, global corporations, local communities, religious leaders, and military forces. She has brought creativity and innovation to intractable challenges in economic development, global health and international human rights.

Ms. Hanrahan began her career on the frontlines of advocacy in the Middle East, working with Palestinian youth groups to organize and advocate for non-violent change. She worked to free sex slaves in Afghanistan, to prevent child and exploitative labor in Bangladesh, to end torture in Iraq, to free political prisoners in Ethiopia and to reform abusive security forces around the world. A lawyer by training, Ms. Hanrahan has dedicated her career to changing abusive and discriminatory laws and systems, working across lines of politics, race and geography.

Ms. Hanrahan served as an appointee in the Obama administration for seven years, including two years overseeing a major project for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Ms. Hanrahan advanced human rights and freedom in Africa and South and Central Asia; she worked closely with global corporations on issues of corporate social responsibility, community engagement and human rights; and she shaped US and global policies on gender, LGBTQI, labor rights and security.


Ms. Hanrahan also served in the Obama Administration as the U.S. Coordinator for International Assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan. She went on to design and run the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (the QDDR) for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a major strategic planning and organizational change initiative that has strengthened how the United States conducts diplomacy and development. Ms. Hanrahan also served as the Chief Innovation Officer for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), on detail assignment in London, where she built the organization’s innovation capabilities and catalyzed novel solutions to long-standing development challenges.


Ms. Hanrahan has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, including serving as the State Department’s Senior Rule of Law Coordinator in Iraq and Senior Consultant to the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights. Prior to this, she served with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives in Iraq as the Senior Advisor on Human Rights and Transitional Justice. Ms. Hanrahan went on to serve as Vice President for International Peace and Stability in a Fortune 500 company, leading a large-scale organizational change effort and travelling around the world to integrate human rights, rule of law and security assistance.

Ms. Hanrahan is an alumna of Harvard Business School, University of Washington School of Law and The American University School of International Service, Master’s program in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.


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Rita Shimmin

Executive Director
Prior to her role as Executive Director, Ms. Shimmin served as GLIDE’s Vice President of Organizational Integration (VPOI). As VPOI, Rita led GLIDE in the creation of its Core Values and Community Cultural Agreements, the foundational philosophies from which every branch of GLIDE functions. Rita also heads the development of staff trainings in the areas of cultural competence, personal transformation, and leadership development. Prior to her tenure as VPOI, Rita served as Associate Executive Director and was in charge of all Foundation programs including Health Services; Family, Youth and Childcare Services; Training and Education Services; the Free Meals Program and Urgent Care Services.

In addition to her management profession, Rita has been a trainer and coach for more than 35 years. She has worked within educational institutions at all levels – with kindergarteners and university management teams – and with business entities, including community-based non-profits and national investment firms. She also served as co-director of the Bay Area Black Women’s Health project and is currently a member of the San Francisco Community Justice Center’s Advisory Board.


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Reverend Cecil Williams

Co-Founder and Minister of Liberation
For over 50 years, Reverend Cecil Williams has expanded the limits of spirituality, compassion and diversity as Co-Founder and Minister of Liberation of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. As minister, author, social activist, lecturer, community leader and spokesperson for the poor and marginalized, Reverend Williams is respected and recognized as a national leader on the forefront of change and in the struggle for civil and human rights.  His ministry underscores his roots in liberation theology.
Often considered controversial and radical, Rev. Williams was one of the first clergymen to take a revolutionary stand for same sex couples by presiding over their weddings four decades before the national movement to legalize gay marriage. His vision for the 21st-century church can be seen in Glide’s unique and powerful blend of spirituality, principled compassion, and cutting-edge programs for those most in need. With a membership of over 11,000 and located in the heart of one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, Glide is one of the fastest growing United Methodist churches in North America. People of all races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, social classes, ages, faiths, and sexual orientations join together at every Sunday Celebration to experience the energy of spiritual liberation coupled with the fusion of jazz, blues and gospel performed by the renowned Glide Ensemble choir and the Change Band.
Rev. Cecil Williams is married to Janice Mirikitani, renowned poet, activist and Co-Founder of Glide. Together, they have created a radical and unique partnership, bringing a powerful yet sensitive direction to Glide’s many social programs. In 1986, Reverend Williams became the Chairman for the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance Committee at the request of Mrs. Coretta Scott King.  

Reverend Williams has received many honors and awards over the course of his influential career, including the 2008 National Caring Award presented by the Caring Institute in Washington, D.C.


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Janice Mirikitani

Janice Mirikitani is recognized as a visionary, community activist, leader, poet, and editor.
Mirikitani is the Co-Founder of Glide, in partnership with her husband, Reverend Cecil Williams. Together they have achieved worldwide recognition for  their groundbreaking organization, which empowers San Francisco’s poor and marginalized communities to make meaningful changes in their lives to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. Over five decades they built 87 comprehensive programs that provide education, recovery support, primary and mental health care, job training, housing and human services. Mirikitani's passion has been to create programs for women and families as they struggle with issues of substance abuse, rape, incest, domestic violence, the AIDS crisis, single parenting, childcare, health/wellness, education, and jobs development.  
Mirikitani is San Francisco’s second Poet Laureate, appointed in 2000. She has authored four books of poetry and is the editor of nine landmark anthologies which provide platforms for writers of color, women, youth and children.  Mirikitani has also worked in civil rights causes for various multi ethnic communities, including the struggle for redress for Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII.
Mirikitani has been serving as a commissioner on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 1996 and was reappointed by Mayor Newsom in 2004. She is the recipient of over 40 awards and honors, including the Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women and Families’ “Minerva Award”, San Francisco State University’s “Distinguished Alumnae Award,” the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s "Lifetime Achievement Ebbie Award,” the prestigious American Book “Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature,” and the University of California at San Francisco Chancellor’s “Medal of Honor Award".    

Mirikitani has received two honorary doctorate degrees, graduated from UCLA, and received a teaching credential from UC Berkeley. She and her family were incarcerated in a Rohwer, Arkansas concentration camp with the mass internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.


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