Helen Meekings



As a Senior Advisor, Helen develops and leads Shift’s work at the nexus of human rights and environment, climate and biodiversity. Helen is an energetic, collaborative and experienced senior leader bringing with her more than 20 years’ experience in sustainability and climate change, 11 of which have been in the international finance sector. Helen has worked at the senior executive level, leading climate and ESG organizational change, including in the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). She has also led international negotiations and UK government policy development relating to climate, sustainability and export finance.

Helen is experienced in delivering the requirements of the UN Guiding Principles from a business and government perspective, particularly in her role with UK Export Finance, where she headed their environmental and social risk management team for a number of years. She has worked with business, financial institutions, standard setters and civil society on interrelated sustainability issues at both corporate and project level. This includes significant experience in the implementation of the IFC Performance Standards, Equator Principles, and with OECD requirements such as the OCED Common Approaches and Guidelines for Multilateral Enterprises. More recently, Helen has advised and supported businesses and financial institutions with evolving international ESG requirements, such as those of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), EU and Global Reporting Initiative.

Helen is a strategic thinker supported by strong practical knowledge and skills gained from working internationally throughout her career and across many industrial sectors. Helen is a civil and public health engineer by training, and a professionally qualified chartered engineer and chartered environmentalist in the UK.

Rutger Goethart



In his role as a Senior Associate at Shift, Rutger focuses on corporate human rights due diligence, supporting companies to assess, address, prioritize, and report potential human rights impacts. He guides companies on the practical application of the UNGPs, supporting the acquisition of internal buy-in and development of strategy and policies, risk assessment, external stakeholder engagement and collection of feedback, action-planning and communications and reporting.

Rutger’s expertise is in human rights, labor rights and public affairs, in both national and international contexts:

  1. Business & Human Rights, globally
  2. International labor/industrial Relations, including European Works Councils
  3. Public/government affairs & politics, at national, EU and international levels

Rutger gained this experience through work at the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) supporting the development of the social European Sustainability Reporting Standards; at HEINEKEN, as Global Public Affairs Manager and Manager for International Labor Relations, where he was responsible for international labor relations and labor & human rights; as International Public Affairs Manager and as Manager for International Labor Relations at the Postal & Express Company TNT. His first practical experience in Labor Rights & Relations and Public Affairs was as Secretary of International Social Affairs for the Dutch Employers’ Federation (Algemene Werkgeversvereniging VNO-NCW).

Rutger studied at the Faculty of Law at Utrecht University, where he specialized in Labor and Civil law. He speaks English and Dutch and is proficient in French, Spanish and German.

Subajini Jayasekaran



As an Advisor at Shift, Subajini works with companies and other strategic partners to support their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

Suba brings extensive operational experience working on children’s and women’s rights. Prior to joining Shift, she worked for 17 years with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in Asia and Africa and global headquarters in New York and Geneva. Suba was the architect of UNICEF’s Better Business for Children initiative, positioning UNICEF as one of the leading organizations working with business to create positive impact for women and children in workplaces and across global supply chains. Suba also played a key role in the development of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, a framework for businesses to respect and support children’s rights, building directly on the UN Guiding Principles.

Suba has worked on child rights in a range of business sectors – from the apparel sector in Bangladesh, to footwear factories in Vietnam, palm oil plantations in Indonesia, and cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire. She began her career at UNICEF working in humanitarian and conflict programming in Sri Lanka and Sudan. Here, she managed child protection programs, building the capacity of government and civil society and strengthening systems for social work, social protection, mental health and psychosocial wellbeing and justice for children. She has developed information management systems to monitor child rights violations in conflict and led programs to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Suba created a social media project called Nyaanum to explore diversity and inclusion in travel storytelling. Through the project, she worked with local and indigenous communities to create a series of short Instagram videos capturing everyday life from their perspective. The videos were featured on the UN Biodiversity Instagram channel, reaching an audience of 300,000.

Suba has published on business and children’s rights, writing about family-friendly workplace policies, and children as stakeholders in the financial sector. She has a Masters in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

Defne Sökmen

Defne Gürsoy Sökmen | ADVISOR


As an Advisor, Defne works with companies and other strategic partners to support their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

Defne has extensive experience researching a range of human rights and international legal issues, including the UNGPs and corporate accountability. Prior to joining Shift, Defne was an independent researcher and consultant on labor rights, where she focused on occupational health and safety, collaborating with a variety of stakeholders, from the ILO to trade unions. Previously, she worked as a researcher on reporting projects for UNESCO, Freemuse and the OSCE, looking at artistic freedom, freedom of expression, and anti-slavery.

Defne is currently a PhD candidate at the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. Her project explores the shift from the corporate social responsibility tools of the liberal economy to those of the financial economy, with a focus on the use and purpose of voluntary social disclosure mechanisms and performance rating systems.

Defne has instructed courses on legal process, ethical lawyering, corporate social responsibility and transnational law in Canada and the UK.

Defne holds degrees in Law from the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London (LL.M, distinction) and Koç University in Istanbul (LL.B, Member of the Istanbul Bar). She is currently the co-managing editor of Transnational Legal Theory, a refereed law review of transnational law.

Ruben Zandvliet



As Deputy Director for Standards, Ruben works with governments, companies, civil society organizations and investors to drive alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in public and private standard-setting initiatives. In this role he focuses on mandatory due diligence and reporting regulations, working closely with Shift’s Vice President and Co-founder, Rachel Davis. He also supports Shift’s wider engagements with companies and financial institutions in relation to regulatory developments, and thematic work on strengthening the ‘S’ in ESG.

Prior to joining Shift, Ruben was Business and Human Rights Advisor at the Dutch bank ABN AMRO, where he was responsible for the coordination of ABN AMRO’s Human Rights Programme.  Here, he helped embed the UNGPs into the bank’s corporate lending, project finance, retail banking and investment activities. Between 2016 and 2019, he represented the bank in the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on Human Rights, a ground-breaking multistakeholder collaboration between banks, civil society organizations, trade unions and the Dutch government, ingraining responsible business conduct into the global operations of participating banks. In 2017 Ruben co-authored ABN AMRO’s Human Rights Report, following the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, making it the first bank ever to do so.

During his time at ABN AMRO, Ruben was also a member of various expert groups on business and human rights. Within the Social Risk Working Group of the Equator Principles Association, Ruben worked to advance remedy in the context of project finance. And, as a member of the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, he helped to inform the initial draft EU sustainability reporting standards. He has previously worked as a Policy Advisor in the Dutch Parliament, advising on corporate responsibility for human rights, and as a Public Affairs Advisor to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.

Ruben has a PhD from Leiden University. His dissertation, which is published by Brill| Nijhoff, examines the ways in which trade and investment law both enables and constrains international labor standards. He is currently based in the Netherlands.

Jenny Holdcroft



As Deputy Director of Business Engagement, Jenny works with companies, governments, financial institutions, civil society organizations, funders and partners to advance Shift’s mission to redefine corporate practice to fully embed human rights. Working closely with the Business Engagement team, she facilitates strategic alignment and shared learning across Shift’s work.

Jenny has over 20 years of experience working with trade unions, companies, NGOs, multistakeholder initiatives, academics and others to drive progress on business and human rights. Most recently, Jenny was Assistant General Secretary at IndustriALL Global Union, where she led major initiatives on precarious work, living wages and sustainable industrial policy. There, she engaged extensively with multinational companies, governments, NGOs and trade unions to develop pioneering joint strategies, including the ACT initiative on living wages in garment supply chains, linking brand purchasing practices to the payment of higher wages, and the seminal Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, for which Jenny jointly led the first international arbitration in the field of business and human rights to enforce its provisions.

Before this Jenny was Director of ICT, Electrical and Electronics and Aerospace Departments at the International Metal Workers Federation in Geneva. She has also held posts at the Affirmative Action Agency, the National Tertiary Education Union, and the Community and Public Sector Union, in Sydney, Australia.

Since January 2021, Jenny has worked with Shift’s Accounting for Living Wages project to support the development of an accounting model that enables companies to measure and report on progress towards living wages across their workforces and supply chains.

Jenny holds a Masters in Labour Law and Relations from the University of Sydney, and a Bachelor’s degree in French and Linguistics from the University of Exeter.

Matilda Donaldson



As Communications Officer, Matilda works with Shift’s team of experts to provide communications support for Shift’s mission, helping to drive positive transformation in corporate practice.

Matilda brings a wide range of experience working with national and global sustainability NGOs, particularly in the field of sustainable food and farming and supply chains. Most recently, as Organic Cotton Program Coordinator at Textile Exchange, she worked to scale up the production and adoption of organic cotton, as part of Textile Exchange’s mission to accelerate the uptake of preferred fibers and materials to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Prior to this, Matilda worked in communications roles at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Geneva, and at the Soil Association, the UK’s leading organic food and farming charity. As a communications intern in the Climate and Energy team at WBCSD, she focused on scalable solutions to the climate crisis. Subsequently, as Press Officer at the Soil Association, she landed critical food, farming, and environment stories in outlets such as the BBC, the Guardian, and the Financial Times, at key moments during the Brexit transition and Covid-19 pandemic.

Matilda holds a BSc in Integrated Environmental Studies from Jacobs University Bremen. She is currently based in the United Kingdom.

Tammy Vallejo



As an advisor, Tammy support Shift’s research and advocacy on mandatory due diligence standards at the European Union and EU member states and helps connect our work on mandatory due diligence and reporting standards. She also works to bring business and civil society perspectives from key sourcing markets into the EU debates.

Prior to joining Shift, Tammy was a policy advisor at Solidaridad Europe. She worked at influencing EU legislative developments on sustainable supply chains, including the proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence and the proposal for a Regulation on deforestation-free products with the aim of making them inclusive of the interest of smallholders. She also participated in the multisectoral gold sector agreement negotiated under the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) where she supported member companies in implementing due diligence in the mineral supply chain.

Tammy has extensive experience in the development of public policy in Ecuador, where she worked as a legal and policy advisor to a number of senior governmental officials. This included working toward the adoption of national legislation premised on the notion of water access as a human right. Working as a consultant for the UNDP to draft key sections of the implementing regulation of the Ecuadorian Environmental Law. Providing legal advice to the Vice-Mayoress of Quito in the exercises of her legislative power in the environmental committee. All these processes involved significant multistakeholder engagement, including with indigenous peoples’ representatives. She also supported negotiations on the restructuring of Quito’s waste management system, securing commitments to assess and address social risks, which included an obligation to conduct a fully participatory process with informal waste pickers.

Tammy holds a Master degree in Public and International law from Melbourne University, and a Master of Globalization and Social Integration from Universidad de Navarra. She has a Graduate Specialization in Environmental Management from Universidad Central del Ecuador and is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law. Tammy is a (non-practicing) lawyer qualified in Ecuador and is an Ecuadorian and French national.

Cynthia Burns



As Chief Operating Officer, Cynthia manages the execution of our strategic plan and oversees Shift’s people, financial and operational activities. She is responsible for developing and implementing the organizational systems, policies and processes that allow Shift to deliver on its mission and realize opportunities for growth.

Cynthia has two decades of nonprofit operations management experience. Prior to joining Shift, she spent seventeen years with the advocacy organization Human Rights First, most recently as Vice President of Operations. Among her varied responsibilities while holding this position, Cynthia directed the annual budgeting process and ensured the organization’s legal and 501(c)(3) compliance. Previous to her tenure as the Vice President of Operations, she filled numerous operational roles at Human Rights First and worked across organizations to improve collaboration and operational efficiency.

Cynthia has a B.A. in Political Science – with a focus on human rights – and Energy and Environmental Policy Studies from Hunter College, graduating summa cum laude. She has also undertaken graduate studies in Public Administration at the University of New Hampshire. Cynthia is a United States national.

Bob Dannhauser



In his role as a Senior Advisor at Shift, Bob focuses on corporate reporting on human rights, the human dimensions of sustainable finance, assessing the “S” in companies’ ESG performance, and the interconnections between these areas that ultimately provide useful information and insights to investors. Bob also works with businesses and financial institutions on their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Before joining Shift, Bob worked extensively with asset owners and asset managers, in client-facing roles for several large asset management companies, as well as on the staff at CFA Institute, a global association of professional investors. At CFA Institute, Bob headed the Standards of Practice team, as well as the Global Capital Markets Policy group responsible for public policy advocacy from centers in Washington, Brussels, London and Hong Kong. Bob also headed the Global Private Wealth Management practice at CFA Institute. His investment governance experience includes service as chair of the CFA Institute 401-k investment committee, as well as on the investment committee overseeing CFA Institute’s $500 million strategic reserves portfolio.

Bob has served as Senior Advisor to The Investment Integration Project, an applied research and consultancy focused on systems-level investing. He is also a frequent speaker and writer on a range of investment issues, including ESG, fiduciary duty and emerging issues in wealth and asset management.

Bob earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from George Washington University, a Master of Business Administration degree from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA). He also holds a Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation and Sustainability and Climate Risk (SCR) certificate from the Global Association of Risk Managers. Bob is a United States national.