Bobbie Sta. Maria

Executive Director

EarthRights International is excited to welcome Bobbie Sta. Maria as our new Executive Director! Bobbie, who served as EarthRights’ Southeast Asia Legal Coordinator from 2011-2013, returns to EarthRights after over a decade of work in the global human rights field.

Bobbie’s approach to human rights work and movement lawyering was initially shaped by her years at Saligan in the Philippines, working alongside organized rural communities, women’s rights groups, and labor unions. Her approach prioritizes working directly with affected constituencies on strategic interventions toward state and corporate accountability for rights abuses, institutional reform, and long-term power building in communities.

Her journey has taken her from the Philippines to Thailand, Myanmar, and the United States – building and supporting programs that center the power and struggle of marginalized and underrepresented groups, and that uplift the strengths and successes of people-led movements, especially in the Global South. This work often requires shifting and improving practices in the way Global North-led NGOs partner with and win alongside Global South peers.

In her first role at EarthRights as Southeast Asia Legal Coordinator, Bobbie collaborated with Thai and Cambodian lawyers to test legal strategies for rights and environmental abuses linked to the Xayaburi Dam in Laos, and the Koh Kong Sugar Plantation case in Cambodia. She coordinated the Mekong Legal Network, a regional network of human rights and public interest lawyers, using transnational legal strategies to address cross-border abuses; and helped build the foundation of the Myanmar legal program.

As Director for Labor Rights and Asia at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Bobbie led the expansion of the labor rights program, moving beyond transparency initiatives and towards more active support for workers by bringing their demands directly to companies, exposing global brands linked to worker suppression and freedom of association abuses in their supply chains, and supporting enforceable agreements between supply chain workers and global brands. In addition to labor work, her diverse portfolio at the Resource Centre included the Asia and corporate legal accountability programs.

During her time as Deputy Director for Strategy and Partnerships at Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum, she helped initiate a campaign that eventually led to the Dindigul Agreement to End Gender-Based Violence and Harassment, where multinational companies legally committed to use their supply chain relationships to support a local union-led program to end gender-based violence and harassment in factories in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, India.

Most recently, Bobbie served as Program Director at the Sunrise Project, where she helped build the Sunrise Organizing Lab, which aims to scale the work of movements and networks in getting finance out of fossil fuels and towards clean energy solutions. She and her team worked towards a more coherent approach to movement-building across the organization, improved norms and practices for working with partners, and defined in practical terms what it means to move toward transformational relationships with people-led movements. Bobbie and her team strengthened the Sunrise Project’s finance campaigns by building partnerships in new geographies and with new constituencies, and by introducing new strategies and capacities to the field.

As a leader, Bobbie believes in shared accountability to mission, movements, and partners, as well as the importance of building systems of care and support in organizations. Her interest in serving as EarthRights’ Executive Director is motivated by her belief that organizing, popular education, campaigning, and legal strategies are effective tools for building the world we want – as taught to her by the rural paralegals, farmers, union leaders, and organizers she’s had the pleasure and privilege of working with over the years.