I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece but of the world. Socrates

Early Life & Education

Hazelwood Castle, Yorkshire

Pida Ripley is a visionary humanitarian, women’s empowerment, human rights and environmental campaigner who has provided 50 years of voluntary and public service on numerous boards and committees – in support of the United Nations, civil society, human rights, humanitarian and development aid, health promotion and the advancement of women.

Born at Hazlewood Castle, Paradise Lane, Yorkshire on 19 September 1944, as a child of a British army officer, she was fortunate to live in, and travel to many different countries. Her first childhood memories are of the plight of refugees and displaced people struggling to survive in the bombed German cities in the aftermath of WW2.  She saw, at first hand, the suffering caused by poverty and the consequences of war. This experience led to her academic interest in the causes of war and her subsequent dedication to support those trapped in conflict, poverty and crisis. She remains driven by a rage for change and for justice.  

'Those of us enjoying freedom and with our basic needs met, have a moral obligation to engage in compassionate activism on behalf of those who have no freedom, who have no voice, whose situation is precarious, and whose lives are in crisis.'  

Pida & her late husband,
Sydney Ripley DL, at home

For Pida Ripley, this is the meaning of humanitarian action.  As a fourteen year-old growing up in Singapore, her first voluntary activity was helping to run baby clinics in local kampongs. At sixteen she was creating fundraising events to support humanitarian aid charities.

Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 19 she has suffered life-long pain but has always refused to be limited by the disabling disease.  She has a ‘survivor’ and ‘can do’ mentality. Undergoing over twenty operations, caused by other serious health challenges, surviving a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage at thirty-three and multiple severe trauma injuries, sustained in a jeep crash when escaping a kidnap attempt in a conflict zone, has not limited her constant determination to make a contribution to society.

Due to living abroad and battling early and serious health challenges she missed the opportunity for early university education. Upon her return to the UK she began a  "catch-up" process as  a mature student.  Firstly obtaining undergraduate qualifications, then obtaining post-graduate qualifications from both the London School of Economics (International and Comparative Politics) and King’s College London (War Studies). Her special interest being in the "strategic triangle" - the relationship between the United States, Russia and China.

Also opting to study theology and ethics, she was awarded, with distinction, Associate of King's College (AKC). The AKC is a unique course established in 1835 and the oldest qualification at King's College - reflecting its first motto: 'sancte et sapienter' (with holiness and wisdom). In 1985 she was approached with an offer of a Senior MacArthur Fellowship (National Security) at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, USA which she was delighted to accept. Further training included a business scholarship award at City University Business School and various film production studies.

Maryland University, School of Public Policy
Silver Springs, Washington.

Throughout this time she appreciated the enormous support provided by her husband, Sydney Ripley, and the guidance and encouragement offered by her academic mentors,

Professor Susan Strange,

Professor Christopher Hill (LSE),

Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman (KCL)

and Professor Catherine Kelleher, University of Maryland.


Pida is a long-standing Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, (FRSA). The RSA was founded during the "Enlightenment" by William Shipley in 1754. The Fellows share powerful ideas, carry out cutting-edge research and build networks and opportunities for people to collaborate, helping to create fulfilling lives and a flourishing society. Everything that the RSA does is driven by this mission, as the aim is to empower more people to apply their creativity to bring about positive social change. 

Pida has been a member since the early 1980s of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) - an independent think tank engaged in cutting edge defence and security research. A unique institution, founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, RUSI embodies nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters. It is a podium of choice for world leaders and senior policy makers.

Pida continues exploring opportunities to acquire more knowledge and to serve where her experience and interests align.