The Elders

Press release

Lesley-Anne Knight appointed Chief Executive Officer of The Elders

The Elders warmly welcome the appointment of Lesley-Anne Knight, who will succeed Mabel van Oranje as Chief Executive Officer from January 2013.

The Elders are delighted to announce the appointment of Lesley-Anne Knight as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). As CEO, Lesley-Anne Knight will manage the London-based staff and foundation that supports the work of the Elders. She will take up her appointment on 2 January 2013.

Lesley-Anne Knight was previously Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of 165 Catholic development and humanitarian organisations. In this role she was responsible for strategic planning, policy and advocacy, and the global coordination of the Caritas response to humanitarian emergencies as a result of natural disasters, famine and conflict. She was the first woman to be appointed to the position.

Desmond Tutu  

Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders, said:

“I am thrilled with Lesley-Anne’s appointment and warmly welcome her to The Elders’ family. She has an outstanding track record as a compassionate and visionary leader and we all look forward to working with her.

Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Ms Knight attended university in Cape Town, South Africa, during the apartheid era. This early exposure to enforced racial segregation instilled in her a keen awareness of inequality and injustice, and influenced her decision to pursue a career that would address issues such as poverty, injustice and conflict.

Following further study in France and the UK, she worked in Spain, Guatemala and Mexico before being recruited by Oxfam as a Programme Assistant for Central America.

After eight years in Latin America, Ms Knight moved to London and joined CAFOD (the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), as Programme Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean. She later went on to become the International Director at CAFOD, responsible for a staff of around 200, with 10 regional offices and operations across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Lesley-Anne Knight succeeds Mabel van Oranje, The Elders’ first CEO, who resigned in May 2012 for personal reasons.

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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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