Former UN humanitarian lawyer Maria Trogolo is ChildFund’s new programmes director

Former UN humanitarian lawyer Maria Trogolo is ChildFund’s new programmes director

Maria Trogolo has worked on the front line in some of the world’s most dangerous places, has led international development projects and now she steps into her newest role as ChildFund New Zealand’s programmes director. 

Maria joins the ChildFund team with over 20 years of experience in the not-for-profit and development sector and has worked all over the world, from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Bolivia as a humanitarian lawyer with the United Nations. More recently, Maria has led Fairtrade projects in the Pacific, and worked in Strategic Partnerships with Amnesty International. 

“Prioritising child protection and realising children’s rights have been a personal driving force for me all my life, I believe this to be a fundamental enabling factor for sustainable development, and vice versa,” Maria says. 

“Healthy, well- nourished and well-educated children, who are protected from violence and abuse, are the best guarantee of long-term sustainable development.” 

Maria, who was born and grew up in Argentina, completed her law degree at the University of Buenos Aires before being awarded a scholarship to study a Masters in international relations at Sorbonne University in France. Maria speaks five languages, including French, and was admitted to a doctorate programme there before being shoulder tapped by the UN. 

Her roles with the UN, including in law against organised crime and human trafficking, saw her living in six different countries before moving to New Zealand and working in development in the Pacific and Timor-Leste after meeting her Kiwi husband 15 years ago. 

“I grew up under a dictatorship that led to horrific human right abuses, over 30,000 people being killed or disappearing, and ultimately culminating in a war against the United Kingdom in the Islas Malvinas,” Maria says. 

“No child should have to bear witness to such atrocities, and no parent should have to raise their children in such oppression and fear. While I grew up with a beautiful family and a good childhood, I knew from a very young age what I was going to do when I grew up.” 

The announcement follows the recent strategic moves by ChildFund to appoint a finance industry leader, Mark Collins, as CEO and new board members with diverse skills across multiple sectors, along with a focus on strengthening partnerships, including with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  

Diversifying income streams, strengthening locally-led projects, work in the Pacific and building internal capabilities are part of the ChildFund’s new strategy to become Aotearoa's most impactful international development organisation. 

Maria has twice sat on the board of the Council for International Development, Aotearoa's umbrella agency for organisations working in international development, and is also a long-time ChildFund donor.  

“I feel honored to be coming into such an experienced and talented team as ChildFund and I hope that my training, experience, and work ethic will measure up and add value,” Maria says. 

“I have worked in some of the hardest and most dangerous countries for children to grow up in and what I saw still tugs at my heart. It is important for me to feel that I am part of an organisation that is actively advocating for children’s rights and engaging in locally-led solutions.  I love to think I may be a small tiny part of achieving that vision, ChildFund gives me so much hope. 

ChildFund New Zealand CEO Mark Collins says Maria’s diverse skills and experience will bring huge value in driving ChildFund’s strategy forward, especially in strengthening locally-led projects with a focus on the Pacific.  

About ChildFund 

ChildFund New Zealand is a member of ChildFund Alliance, a global network focused on ending violence and exploitation against children, and promoting a world in which all children enjoy their rights and achieve their full potential. Please visit for more information. 

Media Contact 

For information or interviews contact ChildFund New Zealand’s Engagement Manager Carolyn Brooke on 0272859978 or email