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Alistair Fernie appointed Chief Executive of The Elders

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The Elders is delighted to announce the appointment of Alistair Fernie as its new Chief Executive.

Alistair will take up the role at the beginning of November 2021. He will manage the London-based Secretariat and lead the international work of the organisation. 

Alistair joins The Elders following a 25-year career in international development, humanitarian aid and human rights. He has worked in senior roles with the UK Department for International Development, and as a diplomat with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a strategy consultant with both McKinsey and his own company (Global Goals), an aid worker with Médecins Sans Frontières, and a human rights campaigner with Amnesty International.  

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, said:

“Following an extensive global search, I am extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Alistair Fernie as our new Chief Executive. Alistair has extensive experience of working around the world in a wide range of roles in government, the not-for-profit sector and international consultancy. His knowledge of, and leadership experience in, international development at the highest level make him the ideal candidate to take The Elders forward in this critical decade for our planet, peace, justice and human rights.”

Alistair has spent over a decade living in developing countries, as well as time at the United Nations in New York. His expertise and leadership experience include climate change, post-conflict reconstruction, multilateral diplomacy, governance, and strategic and organisational change.  

Alistair said:

“I’m honoured to be asked to lead the Secretariat team supporting The Elders. The wisdom of the long view that The Elders can bring to the world’s toughest challenges has never been needed more.

“With climate change, conflict and COVID demanding more not less international cooperation, Nelson Mandela’s values of hope and moral courage are as relevant as ever. I hope my experience in the public, private and civil society sectors across five continents can help The Elders realise their vision of a safer and fairer world.”

Alistair succeeds David Nussbaum, who will be retiring as Chief Executive at the end of October.


For media inquiries, please contact Luke Upchurch, Director of Communications at The Elders (+44 7741 742 064) or email: [email protected]

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