The Elders

The Elders' Team

The Elders are assisted by a small team based in London.

  • Lesley-Anne Knight

    Chief Executive Officer

    Lesley-Anne Knight became Chief Executive Officer of The Elders in January 2013. She believes strongly that combating injustice and inequality is vital to building enduring peace in the world and has been active in humanitarian and development work for more than 30 years.

    She was previously Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of Catholic aid agencies based in Rome. As leader of one of the world’s largest development and humanitarian networks, she had overall responsibility for the coordination of Caritas global relief efforts following major natural disasters and humanitarian crises such as the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and the conflicts in Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo, Middle East and Sri Lanka.

    She has also worked as International Director of CAFOD (the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) and as Emergencies Manager for HelpAge International. Earlier in her career she gained invaluable field experience, spending several years in Latin America working with indigenous peoples and refugees, as well as in the Mexico City office of Oxfam.

    Lesley-Anne was born and brought up in Zimbabwe and attended university in Cape Town before post-graduate studies in London and Paris. She speaks Spanish, German, French and Portuguese.

    Follow @_LAKnight on Twitter.

  • Claire Brown

    Finance and Corporate Services Director

    Claire joined The Elders in August 2014. She was previously Finance and Investment Director at the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, one of the largest grant making foundations in the UK. She has worked at various financial services organisations throughout her early career, including hedge funds and private equity. Claire is currently a trustee of a large donor advised fund and member of Comic Relief’s investment committee, having previously served on the boards of The Association of Charitable Foundations and The Charity Tax Group.

    A Chartered Accountant, with a BA in Finance from Kingston University, Claire is also a yoga teacher and passionate about marine conservation – scuba-diving worldwide when time allows.

  • Karina Cox

    Finance and Corporate Services Manager

    Prior to joining The Elders in September 2013, Karina enjoyed a 30-year career in PR, communications and publishing. A passionate advocate for autism and carers, in her spare time she stages annual fundraisers for several national charities. Born on the bayou near New Orleans and raised on Pensacola Beach, wanderlust and a trusty backpack took her to far-flung places, including a two-year stint teaching English in Tokyo. Karina holds a BA in English and French from Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, and enjoys baking and meditation, though not simultaneously.

  • William French

    Head of International Media

    William joined The Elders in February 2015. Previously he was Head of Communications at the Swiss Embassy in London, where he was responsible for media relations and political analysis. Prior to this he was a correspondent for Agence France-Presse in Geneva, covering the UN and other international organisations. William has an MA in French and German from King’s College, Cambridge and also studied at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg. He enjoys reading, theatre and an eclectic range of music, agreeing with whoever said The Beatles were the greatest songwriters since Schubert.

  • Anna Jurgis

    HR and Executive Assistant to the CEO

    Anna is HR and Executive Assistant to the CEO and has worked in the non-profit sector since 2001. She was Programme Administrator at both Development Finance International from 2001 to 2004 and also Leonard Cheshire Disability from 2005 to 2007. Anna has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Wales and taught English in Portugal and the UK from 1987 to 1997. She cycles to work, has a weakness for chocolate and enjoys film and theatre.

  • Paul Kuzmickas

    Operations Manager

    Paul joined The Elders in January 2012. Prior to this he worked in the non-profit sector, most recently as Development Associate with the International House at the University of California, Berkeley, and before that with the San Francisco Education Fund as the Development and Program Associate.

    Paul has a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Davis, and an MSc in Public Policy from Queen Mary, University of London. In his spare time he enjoys cooking and backpacking in the outdoors, and he is a passionate supporter of the Chicago Cubs and Arsenal Football Club.

  • Ingrid Merkel

    Digital Communications Officer

    Before joining The Elders in April 2012 as Digital Communications Intern, Ingrid was working for a software company in Australia. She has held various roles in recruitment for Accenture, and has previously interned with Science City York and The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

    Ingrid has a BA in Philosophy and Sociology from the University of York and shares her name with an author of religion, philosophy and witchcraft.

  • Nigel Pearce

    Senior Middle East Analyst

    Nigel joined The Elders in April 2013, after 24 years in various departments and agencies of the British civil service. With an MA in Latin & Greek and English Literature, he initially pursued a career in book publishing, and has worked as a writer and editor for many years, both in and out of government, always hoping that the pedanticism of his classical education (and tendency towards long sentences like this one) is sufficiently counterbalanced by the creativity derived from his reading and writing of poetry – the latter yet to be recognised by an indifferent public.

    He has worked as a Middle East analyst for 12 years.

  • Julian Phillips

    Head of Digital Communications

    Julian joined The Elders in September 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a digital consultant for the British Council, Random House and the Olympics. He comes from a background in TV and digital media, honed in such organisations as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 as well as production houses including Fremantle Media and Mentorn Films. He has won a BAFTA, International Emmy and Broadcast Award for his work for BBC and Channel 4. Julian confesses to being a 'MAMIL', cycling a road bike most weekends to compensate for his infinite capacity for large quantities of cake, sweets and biscuits.

  • Tom Shore

    Director of Operations

    Tom joined the Elders in February 2010, after a decade working internationally as an Orchestra Manager. This gave him the experience to manage a large number of high-profile people and design trips and meetings around the world that went off safely and smoothly. Since joining The Elders he has experienced a crash course in diplomacy, international protocols, foreign affairs and out-of-the-ordinary situations; however it is his training at the hands of his two daughters that has been the most relentless and rigorous. Tom has a BA in Journalism and Creative Writing from Curtin University, Australia, and has previously worked as a production manager in the advertising industry. His world view is helped along by his practice of Nichiren Buddhism.

  • Pallavi Singh

    Media and Communications Officer

    Pallavi joined The Elders in August 2014. Prior to that, she completed internships in both New York and London at the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Action on Armed Violence, and Human Rights Watch.

    She has a BA in History from Queen Mary, University of London, and a Masters in Human Rights from University College London. Pallavi’s never-ending quest for a carbless life (despite her favourite food being a potato) has led her to become the ‘exchequer’ of The Elders’ team fruit fund.

  • Andrew Whitley

    Policy and Advocacy Director

    Andrew Whitley joined The Elders in January 2011. He worked for the previous 16 years with the United Nations in East Timor, Kosovo, Gaza, Jerusalem, Geneva and New York, concluding his UN career as Director of the Representative Office of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, in the United States.

    Earlier in his career Andrew worked as a foreign correspondent, with the BBC and the Financial Times, in the Middle East and Latin America. He was active in human rights, with Human Rights Watch, from 1990 – 1994 and had short spells as an academic, in Tehran and New York.

    Andrew holds a Masters degree in history from St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He is a voracious reader of non-fiction, and loves nothing better than exploring new parts of the world he has yet to visit. He is married and has two children, both of whom are aspiring opera singers.

  • Jennifer Woodside

    Communications Director

    Prior to joining The Elders as Communications Director in December 2012, Jennifer was Head of Advocacy and Communications at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a large NGO working in reproductive health and rights in 170 countries. She also worked for many years in policy development and communications for both the British and Canadian governments, focusing on reproductive technologies and stem cell research. Jennifer spent some time at the PR agency Burson-Marsteller working in its healthcare practice.

    Having been involved in women’s health for over 15 years, Jennifer is excited about working directly on human rights issues at The Elders. She has a BA in political science and history from McGill University in Canada and an MSc in Public Policy and Public Administration from the London School of Economics. When she’s not commuting on trains from the Sussex coast, Jennifer enjoys hiking, cooking and avoiding all gardening activities.

  • Jenny Yates

    Programme Director

    Jenny joined The Elders in June 2015. She worked for the previous 12 years at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID): leading the UK Government’s efforts to help Indonesia address climate change, based in Jakarta; and also working for DFID in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and in the Communications Division in London. Prior to that, Jenny worked in NGOs and with the governments of Uganda and Swaziland, including working with Oxfam in Mozambique and as an Overseas Development Institute Fellow in the Ministry of Agriculture in Swaziland.

    Jenny has a degree in History from Queens’ College Cambridge and a Masters in Development Studies from the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia. She has two children and, outside of work, loves spending time with them and walking in the country.

The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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