Meet our chief executive, Caroline Harper

Caroline Harper.

Dr Caroline Harper has been chief executive of Sightsavers since 2005.

She started her career in the gas business, working for British Gas and then Hess Corporation, before setting up her own company specialising in the turnaround and sale of energy companies. After a couple of years she took a gap year and travelled to a number of developing countries, and felt drawn to international development. “My own family has a lot of blindness, so the mission of Sightsavers really resonated for me,” she explains.

“When I joined the organisation in 2005 it was well respected, but not particularly well known outside of the blindness community. My vision has been to ensure it is respected as a leading organisation more widely in development, to reach more people and increase our influence.

“It is important to look at how eye health fits within a developing health system, and we have become a major player in the field of neglected tropical diseases, several of which cause blindness. In our advocacy work, we believe that to support blind people you need to talk about this in the context of disability if you want to engage governments.”

Caroline has a PhD in energy studies from the University of Cambridge. In 2000 she was awarded an OBE for services to the gas industry, and in 2015 she received a CBE for services to people with visual impairments. She has an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Bristol.

Under her leadership, Sightsavers has expanded significantly, treating millions of people and advocating for policy reforms around the world.

In 2023, our CEO was paid £167,671 (gross, excluding pension). She has no bonus scheme or car allowance, and receives the same pension rights as all other staff in the UK office.

Watch Caroline’s
TED Talk

In April 2018, Caroline spoke at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, urging philanthropists to help Sightsavers eliminate blinding trachoma.

More about the talk

More about our CEO

Sightsavers blog
Blogs /

“I don’t look to famous women to inspire me – I look to those I know well”

To coincide with International Women's Day, we asked our CEO, Caroline Harper, a few questions about her career at Sightsavers. 

Caroline Harper, March 2020
Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers, holding a dose pole.

Dr Caroline Harper wins the first Hemingway Award

Sightsavers’ CEO was recognised for her work to help eliminate trachoma by transforming the way funding is secured.

November 2019
Caroline Harper speaks at TED2018.

Trachoma talk from Sightsavers’ CEO named ‘TED of the Day’

Dr Caroline Harper's TED Talk, in which she laid out an ambitious plan to eliminate trachoma, has been chosen as the day’s top pick.

June 2018
A women is walking up to the entrance of a building. Men stand around outside.
Sightsavers from the field

Back from the brink: how Sierra Leone is recovering from Ebola

Sightsavers CEO Dr Caroline Harper visited Sierra Leone to see how health workers have coped since the Ebola virus. 

October 2016
Caroline Harper.

Sightsavers’ Caroline Harper named in New Year Honours

Dr Harper has been appointed a CBE in recognition of her services to people with visual impairments around the world.

December 2015

Learn about Sightsavers’ history

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