The Elders

Lesley-Anne KnightDear friends,

Instead of the usual update from an Elder, this month I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself, having joined the organisation as CEO at the beginning of this year.

Like many of you, before I discovered ‘The Elders’ I knew its ten members and founder, Nelson Mandela, as leaders of great integrity – leaders with the ability to inspire others with their courage and compassion. Since I joined the team, my appreciation has only deepened. Spending time with each Elder, I have been struck by their continued determination to make a real difference, by the way that they put people at the heart of everything they do.

Our Elders represent perseverance – ‘giving up’ just isn’t in their vocabulary! They do not balk at thorny or complex issues; they know that an end to poverty, injustice, violence and environmental destruction will take generations to achieve. They remind us to be persistent, to think long-term – if not for us, then for our children and our children’s children.

‘Why does the world need The Elders?’

I am very much looking forward to my first of The Elders’ biannual meetings, where the whole group will come together to map out a strategy for the coming months.

This will be no easy task. The sheer scale of the issues The Elders seek to address is overwhelming; working out exactly where and how The Elders can be most effective is a constant challenge. We tend to place very high expectations on our Elders, hoping that they hold the key to so many of the world’s problems. They also have high expectations of themselves, always asking ‘Have we done enough?’ and ‘Can we do more?’

For me, the most important question is where The Elders can make a real difference. There are so many organisations doing wonderful work on very similar issues – as I asked each Elder when I met with them recently, why does the world need The Elders?

I believe that The Elders offer moral leadership for a global community united by universal values. It is more than their actions – after all, they are only ten people. The essential concept behind The Elders is that they are more than the sum of their activities. It is who they are, what they represent, what they inspire in all of us, that will change the world.

With warm wishes,

Lesley-Anne Knight

CEO, The Elders

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