Who we are

The Zennström Philanthropies was established in 2007. It is governed by its directors, who are Catherine Zennström and Niklas Zennström. Allison Robertshaw heads up the Climate Change programmes. Further information about our team can be found below.

Catherine Zennström, Co-founder and Chair

Catherine Zennström is involved in supporting the work of human rights organisations fighting for the respect of human rights and human dignity. She has been active in the field of human rights since high-school where as a student she was inspired by the work of Amnesty International and other campaigning organisations.

In 2007, she established Zennström Philanthropies with her husband Niklas. Zennström Philanthropies focuses on human rights in Europe and Central Asia, global climate change and green entrepreneurship. The foundation works in partnership with over twenty other charities from Europe to Brazil and China. Alongside her leadership of the foundation, Catherine is a member of the Human Rights Watch Board of Directors and either chairs or takes part in a number of the organisation’s support and advisory committees. These cover both regional and issue-specific briefs and help to drive forward Human Rights Watch’s mission on the ground by pushing for either existing human rights laws to be respected or new laws to be introduced to protect people from abuse.

Catherine holds different roles as either a member or trustee at the Global Philanthropy Forum, the International Human Rights Funders Group, Ariadne (the European Human Rights Funders Network), and the Institute for Philanthropy and its program TPW – The Philanthropic Workshop. She is also an avid supporter of network organisations who work to inspire new philanthropists to engage more actively in funding human rights issues.

Catherine began her career in human rights as a volunteer at Médecins Sans Frontières and Amnesty International in their offices in London and was a trustee with Refuge, a UK-based NGO dedicated to fighting domestic violence. Before moving to London, Catherine spent ten years in the European telecom industry as a business developer. She was educated at international schools in California, France and the UK, and holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Humberside.

Niklas Zennström, Co-founder and Director

Niklas Zennström is CEO and Founding Partner at Atomico. He is an entrepreneur and investor who founded Atomico in 2006. He previously co-founded and managed technology companies including Skype, KaZaaA Joost and Joltid. He currently sits on the boards of Atomico portfolio companies including Rovio, Fon, and Jolicloud.

Niklas is best known for co-creating Skype, where he held the position of CEO from Skype’s inception until September 2007. During that time, Skype became the global leader in internet voice communications, with more than 309m registered users within five years of launch.

Prior to Skype, Niklas co-founded and served as CEO of KaZaA, which became the world’s most downloaded internet software in 2003, and a number of other technology companies including Joltid in 2001.

Before following his entrepreneurial ambitions, Niklas was CEO of the European portal, everyday.com. Niklas began his professional career at Tele2, a pioneering competitive phone company in Europe.

Niklas was recognized by Time Magazine as one of its 100 Most Influential People in 2006, and has received numerous other awards for innovation and entrepreneurship. He holds dual degrees in Business and MSc Engineering Physics/Computer Science from Uppsala University in Sweden, and spent his final year at the University of Michigan, USA. Niklas co-founded Zennström Philanthropies, where he is actively involved in combating climate change, improving the state of the Baltic Sea and encouraging social entrepreneurship.

Allison Robertshaw, Director

Allison joined Zennström Philanthropies in 2008 to manage the climate change, social enterprise and Baltic Sea fisheries portfolios. She brings with her over fifteen years experience in the space through a variety of roles in the NGO, business, government and philanthropic sector in both Europe and the United States.

Most recently, she headed up Global Philanthropy and Climate Change work at the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation. Allison holds a BSFS in Economics from the Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and an MSc in the History of Economic Development from the London School of Economics.

Catriona PowerEnvironment Programme Officer

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