The Elders

Advisory Council

The Elders are grateful to the members of the Advisory Council, whose donations and generous support enables them to carry out their work independently.

  • Richard Branson

    Virgin Unite

    Sir Richard Branson is Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands and has expanded into many diverse sectors from air and ground travel to telecommunications, health, space travel and renewable energy through more than 200 companies worldwide, employing approximately 50,000 people in 29 countries.

    In 2004, Richard established Virgin Unite, his non-profit foundation. It mobilises the talent and resources from across the Virgin Group and beyond, to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way. It is built on the belief that, the only way we can address the scale of the challenges facing the world today is by revolutionising the way businesses and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good. Richard has been working closely with Virgin Unite to bring together the right partners to help create new global leadership models to address conflict, climate change and disease.

    Richard and his close friend, Peter Gabriel, had an idea about the need for a new leadership model for our ‘global village’. Inspired by the role that elders play in traditional societies, as a source of advice, wisdom and experience, they took the idea to Nelson Mandela and were thrilled when he agreed to help bring a group of ‘global elders’ together. Founded in 2007 with the support of Virgin Unite and a great group of partners, The Elders comprises ten visionary leaders including Graça Machel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and President Carter.

    In 2009, Richard brought together a group of the world’s top entrepreneurs to initiate the Carbon War Room. The vision is to mobilise capital, innovation, expertise and international collaboration to increase the effectiveness of climate change efforts already underway and to focus on filling any gaps. These keen entrepreneurial minds will work together to help speed and scale solutions that will deliver a low-carbon economy.

    Richard and Virgin Unite also support a number of initiatives that lead to economic empowerment and healthy communities. These initiatives range from; the creation of sustainable healthcare models in Africa, to supporting young entrepreneurs through the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa, to creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the US and the UK.

    Richard is married to his wife Joan and they have two wonderful children, Holly and Sam.

  • Peter Gabriel

    The Peter Gabriel Foundation

    Peter is co-founder of the group Genesis with whom he made seven albums. He has also recorded eleven solo albums and composed soundtracks for films including Birdy (1984); The Last Temptation of Christ (1989); and Rabbit Proof Fence (2002) as well as the Oscar-nominated song 'Down to Earth' for the film Wall-E (2008). In 1980 Peter founded WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance), which has presented over 150 festivals in over 40 countries.

    A long time advocate for human rights, Peter coordinated and participated in Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! Tour in 1988 and also co-founded WITNESS to give cameras and computers to human rights activists around the world. In cooperation with WITNESS, Peter was instrumental in the launch of The Hub, dubbed 'a YouTube for Human Rights'.

    Peter's business interests cover music, media and technology and include the Real World group of companies, OD2 which has now become Nokia's Music Store and Solid State Logic, the world's leading manufacturer of mixing consoles for music recording, broadcast and post-production.

    Peter has received many awards for his pioneering work in the fields of music and human rights, including the Man of Peace award of the Nobel Peace Laureates, the 'Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres', BT's Digital Music Pioneer Award and Grammy awards for his music and video work. 'Sledgehammer' was voted best video of all time, and his interactive work 'Eve', won the Milia D'Or for Multimedia.

  • Kathy Bushkin Calvin

    The United Nations Foundation

    Kathy Calvin is President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation, a public charity established in 1998 by Ted Turner to address global problems through public-private partnerships. In 2011, Kathy was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Rock the World,” and in 2012, she was listed in Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women.”

    Before joining the UN Foundation in 2003, Kathy guided AOL Time Warner's philanthropic activities as President of the company's foundation and was America Online's (AOL) Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer. Kathy served as Managing Director at Hill and Knowlton and for 12 years was the Director of Editorial Administration for US News & World Report. From 1976 to 1984, Kathy served as Senator Gary Hart's Press Secretary.

    Throughout her career, Kathy Calvin has taken an active role in a range of philanthropic activities, including the boards of the International Women's Media Foundation, City Year, Internews, the Newseum, Share Our Strength, the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), and the East-West Center. She is a graduate of Purdue University and a frequent public speaker and commentator.

  • Jeremy Coller

    J Coller Foundation

    Jeremy Coller is the Chief Investment Officer of Coller Capital, the leading global investor in the private equity secondary market. Coller Capital was founded in 1990 and the last fund raised $5.5 billion in July 2012. The firm has stakes in over 300 private equity funds and 2,500 private companies worldwide. In 2012, he was recognised as one of the 20 most influential people worldwide in private equity over the last decade.

    Jeremy is particularly interested in pension policy, entrepreneurialism and venture. Jeremy is the author of The Lives, Loves and Deaths of Splendidly Unreasonable Inventors. He is a vegetarian, and does not wear silk or leather.

    The J Coller Foundation was established in 2002. One of the Foundation’s largest donations supported the creation of the Coller Institute of Private Equity at London Business School.

  • Lisa Harris

    ARH Family Partnership

    Lisa Harris is the founder of Align Capital, LLC a private equity firm in Austin, Texas. Ms. Harris is a major investor and involved in all aspects of Align Capital, LLC, including investment opportunities, acquisitions, portfolio oversight, and overall firm management. She has over 35 years of experience in banking, family office investments, real estate and private equity.

    Ms. Harris manages the family office investment portfolio of ARH Family Partnership, which holds commercial real estate, early stage capital in young companies, and numerous other investments in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

    Ms. Harris currently serves on multiple corporate boards. Additionally, Ms. Harris serves and has served as a board member for non-profit boards, including Jeremiah Program and Gen Austin. She is an advocate for transforming families from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time. Her non-profit work prepares determined single mothers to excel in the work force and readies their children to succeed in school, reducing generational dependence on public assistance.

    As an ambassador to A Glimmer of Hope she is very passionate about her work in Ethiopia to provide clean water, education, health care and microfinance loans which support resilient communities and empower women and girls.

  • Randy Newcomb

    Humanity United

    Randy Newcomb is President and CEO of Humanity United, a leading private donor in the field of international human rights. Humanity United seeks to build peace and advance human freedom in the corners of the globe where these ideals are challenged most. Dr Newcomb oversees Humanity United’s international grant-making portfolio, as well as its direct advocacy and policy activities, and leads the organisation’s long-term strategy. He speaks and writes frequently on international human rights issues and has appeared as an expert commentator for such media outlets as CNN, ABC News, and National Public Radio.

    Previously, Dr Newcomb was vice president of Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm co-founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his spouse, Pam Omidyar. Prior to Omidyar Network, Dr Newcomb for 14 years led Golden Gate Community Inc., a community development agency based in San Francisco. Dr Newcomb has been a fellow of the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford University and an international development fellow of the University of Bath, England. He holds a doctoral degree from the University of San Francisco and master's degrees in development economics and cross-cultural studies from the University of Bath.

  • Jean Oelwang

    Virgin Unite

    Jean is the President and a Trustee of Virgin Unite, which works with the Virgin businesses and other partners to address social and environmental issues. Its achievements since 2003 include the establishment of a school of entrepreneurship for young people in Johannesburg, sustainable transport solutions to improve access to health care in rural areas and the incubation of global initiatives such as The Elders.

    In her previous life, Jean helped to lead successful mobile phone start-ups in South Africa, Colombia, Bulgaria, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US, and was joint Managing Director of Virgin Mobile in Australia. She has also been involved in the social and environmental sectors, having worked for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife in Australia, and in numerous volunteer roles, including a stint as a VISTA volunteer working with homeless teens in Chicago.

  • Mabel van Oranje

    Girls Not Brides

    A global advocate for freedom, justice and development for two decades, Mabel van Oranje is the initiator and Chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage. She is also co-founder and the Executive Chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations. She is a member of the (advisory) boards of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Crisis Action, Global Witness, the Open Society Foundations and The Elders.

    In 1993, Mabel founded the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans and was its CEO until 1997. In 1997, she joined the Open Society Foundations in Brussels as Executive Director, becoming OSF’s London-based International Advocacy Director in 2003. From 2008 until 2012, she was the first CEO of The Elders.

    Mabel helped found the Dutch foundation War Child (1995), the global NGO coalition ‘Publish What You Pay’ (2002) and the Independent Commission on Turkey (2004). She has been actively engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS and in global efforts that led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002.

    Mabel holds masters degrees in Economics and Political Science (cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam. In 2005, the World Economic Forum named her one of its Young Global Leaders.

    You can follow her tweets @MabelvanOranje.

  • Sally Osberg

    Skoll Foundation

    Sally Osberg has led entrepreneurial organisations and been an agent for social change throughout her career. As President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, she partners with Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and heads the organisation's team in identifying and supporting innovators pioneering scalable solutions to global challenges. She is a well-known proponent of thought leadership, research, and alliances that advance the work of social entrepreneurs solving the world's most pressing problems.

    Currently, Sally serves on the boards of the Skoll Foundation, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Oracle Education Foundation and the Palestine-based Partners for Sustainable Development. She was founding Executive Director of Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, guiding that institution to international recognition for its cutting edge work in the museum field, and formerly active as a director on the boards of the American Association of Museums, the American Leadership Forum, and Women and Philanthropy, among others.

    Sally has received the John Gardner Leadership Award from the American Leadership Forum, been inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, and been named by the San Jose Mercury News as one of the "Millennium 100" for her role in shaping and leading Silicon Valley.

  • Shannon Sedgwick Davis

    The Bridgeway Foundation

    Shannon Sedgwick Davis is CEO of the Bridgeway Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc. An attorney, Shannon is a passionate advocate for social justice and international human rights. She is a well-known strategist engaged in promoting peace and ending human atrocities across our globe.

    Shannon is a recipient of the Spirit of McMurry award, given annually to one outstanding alumni, as well as Baylor Law School's 2011 Young Lawyer of the Year award. Shannon's work has been featured a number of times on radio, television, and through print media.

    Shannon previously served as Vice-President of Geneva Global, and Director of Public Affairs at International Justice Mission. She is currently a board member of several organisations within the US and abroad including The Elders, Humanity United, and Toms Shoes.

  • Jeff Skoll

    Skoll Foundation

    Jeff Skoll creates businesses that result in positive social change. As eBay's founding President, he helped generate entrepreneurial opportunities for millions of individuals around the world. He also launched the eBay Foundation with pre-IPO stock.

    In 1999, he created the Skoll Foundation, which supports social entrepreneurs whose innovations are poised to achieve large-scale impact. The Foundation reflects Jeff's belief that, to bring about a more peaceful and prosperous global community, we must deploy the most innovative solutions on critical challenges like health, environmental sustainability, economic and social equity, human rights, institutional responsibility, and peace and security.

    The Foundation co-hosts with the Saïd Business School at Oxford the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The Forum convenes 800 social entrepreneurs, thought leaders, policy makers, philanthropists and students to learn, problem solve and build community.

    In 2004, Jeff founded Participant Productions (now Participant Media) to create entertainment content that would have a long-term benefit to society. Among other films, Participant has produced Good Night and Good Luck, An Inconvenient Truth, Darfur Now, The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson's War, Chicago 10, The Visitor and The Soloist.

    In April 2009, Skoll founded the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund and named Dr Larry Brilliant president of the new organisation. The fund addresses urgent challenges confronting humanity and the planet, including climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and Middle East conflict.

  • Margriet Schreuders

    Dutch Postcode Lottery

    Margriet Schreuders (1978) is head of the charity department at the Dutch Charity Lotteries (Dutch Postcode Lottery, BankGiro Lottery, Friends Lottery). The department manages the relationship with the supported organizations and advises the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board of the Lotteries on all allocations. Furthermore, Margriet heads the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge team. This Challenge is the largest annual worldwide competition for sustainable start-ups. She is also responsible for the company’s policy on Corporate Social Responsibility.

    Margriet studied Dutch language and literature at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.

    The Dutch Charity Lotteries have a mission to raise funds for charities. Fifty percent of the proceeds of the lottery goes to more than 200 charities. The Postcode Lottery supports organizations working for people and planet, the BankGiro Lottery supports culture and the Friends Lottery supports health and wellbeing. Every month 3.5 million households participate in the Charity Lotteries; 25% of all private donations in the Netherlands come from the Lotteries. The Postcode Lottery format is also implemented in Sweden, Great Britain, Germany and Norway. The international Postcode Lotteries are the second largest private donor in the world.

  • Lulit Solomon

    J Coller Foundation

    Dr Lulit Solomon was born and raised in Ethiopia and was educated and trained in North America and the UK.

    Lulit is a founder of a healthcare analytics company. Formerly the Global Director of Epidemiology at Datamonitor, she has over twelve years of therapeutic and epidemiologic practice. Lulit has extensive experience in developing healthcare products for the biopharmaceutical industry. Previously, Lulit was the Principal Epidemiologist at Decision Resources and has undertaken a variety of health strategy consulting projects in countries including in the UK, Canada, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda. As a former fellow of the Cancer Intelligence Unit at Cambridge University, she has strong links with international governmental and non-governmental institutions, and public health agencies. Lulit holds a PhD and Mphil in Epidemiology from Cambridge University.

    Lulit is actively engaged in the debate and development of issues with other thought leaders in Big Data. She sits on advisory boards of a number of prominent healthcare and technology companies. She is also the Senior Healthcare Advisor to the J Coller Foundation and an Ethiopian Ambassador for 10x10, a global action campaign for girls' education.

  • Amy Towers

    The Nduna Foundation

    After fourteen years in the financial sector, Amy Towers turned her full-time attention to raising four young sons and running her philanthropic foundation. She established the Nduna Foundation in 2007 with the intent to focus her work on nutrition, human rights, health care, and conservation.

    She was recognised for her work by the US Fund for UNICEF in 2006 when she received the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award; by the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 2011 with the Caring for Congo Award; and was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation in 2013.

  • Jeff Towers

    Jeffrey Towers & Associates

    Jeff Towers spent 30 years in the non-profit sector, leading marketing, communications and fundraising programs in some of the largest non-profit organisations in America. Mr Towers now manages his own consulting agency assisting non-profit organisations in strategic planning, board development, marketing, communications and fundraising.

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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