Professor Melissa Leach to assume leadership of the Institute of Development Studies, UK

5 December 2013

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) has announced today that its Board of Trustees have appointed Professor Melissa Leach as the next Director of the Institute replacing Lawrence Haddad.

Melissa Leach will replace Lawrence Haddad in Spring 2014. She will be leading the Institute into its fiftieth anniversary year and towards the design and implementation of a new institutional strategy. Lawrence has served as Director for the past ten years and overseen the institute’s rapid growth and the delivery of ground breaking and agenda setting development research. He leaves to join the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in a senior level research role to pursue his long standing passion to support the undernutrition research agenda. Lawrence and Melissa will work together closely to ensure a smooth handover.

Melissa Leach, IDS’ first female Director, brings a wealth of experience gained over the last thirty years during which time she has pioneered ethnographic fieldwork, speaking several African languages, engaging anthropology with historical, ecological and science and technology studies, as well as working with foresters, agricultural and medical scientists, and on science, citizenship and policy processes. Melissa joined IDS as a research fellow in 1990 and has since led and managed many large research programmes. Since 2006 she has directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre where she has become a key international spokesperson on sustainability and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals framework. She is also vice chair of the Future Earth science committee.

Richard Manning, IDS Chair said: “Melisa Leach brings formidable experience to this crucial position in the development research sector. The Board were unanimous in appointing such a highly respected researcher whose experience of leading strategy and engaging policy makers will be crucial as IDS continues to work to improve people’s lives through our cutting edge research, teaching and communication on accelerating global development.”

He continued: “I would also like to thank Lawrence Haddad on behalf of the whole IDS community for his extraordinary commitment to our vision and his sure footed leadership. As one of our longest serving Directors Lawrence has overseen one of the most rapid periods of growth in the Institute’s history and ensured that we have achieved real impact on the global development agenda.”

Lawrence Haddad, IDS Director said: “I am delighted to congratulate Melissa Leach on her appointment as the next Director of IDS. She is a superb research leader and she is full of exciting ideas for IDS’ future.  She is a trailblazer as the first woman and the first non-economist to hold the position of Director and I believe she will take IDS to the next level as it plans its approach to meeting the demands of a post 2015 world.” 

Melissa Leach said: “I am honoured and delighted to be taking on the leadership of the institute I've been passionately committed to for over twenty years. Our core vision and values - eliminating poverty, building social justice, and creating more sustainable futures are more relevant than ever in turbulent international times. I could not be more excited about working with IDS' amazing staff and partners to take forward new ideas and opportunities that will bring our work to new levels of global relevance.”


For more information or to arrange interviews, contact James Georgalakis on 07713110579 or

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a leading global charity for research, teaching and communications on international development. Our vision is a world in which poverty does not exist, social justice prevails and economic growth is focused on improving human wellbeing. We believe that research knowledge can drive the change that must happen in order for this vision to be realised. See for more information. 
  2. Professor Melissa Leach biog: