The most visible drivers of the partnership, leaders use their influence to open opportunities, advocate for Generation Unlimited and mobilize resources.
Mr. António Guterres (Co-Chair)
Secretary-General, United Nations
António Guterres is the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, having taken office on 1st January 2017. Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation. Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR’s activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015. Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor. As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002.
H.E. Ms. Paula Mae Weekes (Co-Chair)
President, Trinidad and Tobago
H.E. Paula-Mae Weekes is the current and sixth President of Trinidad and Tobago. She took office on 19 March 2018 and became the first woman to hold the office of President and the nation's second female head of state, after Queen Elizabeth II. After graduation she worked in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for 11 years, before going into private practice in 1993. She was appointed to the judiciary in 1996 and to the Court of Appeals in 2005, where she served until her retirement in 2016. She served briefly as acting Chief Justice in 2012 after acting Chief Justice Wendell Kangaloo was injured in a car accident. In September 2016 Weekes was appointed to the appeals court in the Turks and Caicos. On 5 January 2018, Weekes, then a judge of the Turks and Caicos Islands Court of Appeal, was put forward as a presidential candidate by the People's National Movement government of Prime Minister Keith Rowley in hopes of reaching a consensus with the United National Congress-led parliamentary opposition of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, which later endorsed her nomination. Her proposal for the post of president was also lauded by political analysts. As Weekes was the only nominated candidate on election day, she was deemed elected without the need for a vote. Weekes was sworn into office as the sixth President of Trinidad and Tobago on 19 March 2018.
H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame (Co-Chair)
President, Republic of Rwanda
H.E. Paul Kagame is President of the Republic of Rwanda. He is also serving a one-year term as Chairperson of the African Union, and has been leading the institutional reform of the African Union since 2016. Beginning in 1990, as commander of the forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, he led the struggle to liberate Rwanda. The RPF halted the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, which claimed over a million victims. The hallmarks of President Kagame’s administration are peace and reconciliation, women’s empowerment, promotion of investment and entrepreneurship, and access to information technology, a cause he also champions as Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
H.E. Mr. Alexander De Croo
Prime Minister, Kingdom of Belgium
H.E. Alexander De Croo is the current Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium. Prime Minister De Croo has had a long and outstanding career in business and politics. Between 1999 and 2006, he worked as a strategy consultant at Boston Consulting Group, one of the leading consulting firms for companies worldwide.In 2006, he founded his own company, an IP consultancy firm that today operates around the world. From 2012-2014, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Pensions, where he carried out Belgium's first pension reform package for many years and was involved in setting up the Pension Reform Commission 2020–2040. He was later sworn in as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, where he focused on strengthening human rights, promoting local economic growth in partner countries, and maximizing the economic potential of the digital economy. In 2019, when he was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, together with the Eurogroup, set out a framework for a major European recovery package. A business engineer by training, Alexander De Croo obtained an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Chicago (United States) in 2004. PM De Croo has played an instrumental role as a GenU Champion since 2018 to prioritize digital connectivity and online/remote learning and skilling on the global agenda. In his role as GenU Leader, the Prime Minister works to catalyze support for youth skills and employability to support young people to thrive in the digital and green economy.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed (In Memoriam)
Founder and Chair Emeritus, BRAC
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He studied Accountancy in London, qualifying as a Cost Management Accountant in 1962. While he was working as a senior corporate executive at Pakistan Shell, the 1970 cyclone and 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh dramatically changed the direction of his life. He left his job and moved to London, where he helped initiate Action Bangladesh and HELP Bangladesh in support of the Liberation War. Early in 1972, after the war was over, he returned to the newly-independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. The return of 10 million refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, called for urgent relief and rehabilitation efforts. Sir Fazle established BRAC to address the needs of refugees in a remote area of north-eastern Bangladesh, guided by a desire to help the poor develop their own capacity to better manage their lives. Sir Fazle has been honoured with numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC. He is also recognised by Ashoka as one of the 'global greats' and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2009, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by the British Crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. Sir Fazle was a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2010 to advise on support for the Least Developed Countries. In both 2014 and 2017, he was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
Mr. Akinwumi Adesina
President, African Development Bank
Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina is the 8th elected President of the African Development Bank Group. Dr Adesina is a globally renowned development economist and agricultural development expert, with more than 30 years of international experience. A bold reformer, as Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria from 2011-2015, Dr Adesina turned the agriculture sector of Nigeria around within four years. Under his tenure, Nigeria ended 40 years of corruption in the fertiliser sector. A firm believer in private sector-led growth, Dr. Adesina radically changed the perception of agriculture in Nigeria from that of subsistence to a viable business that successfully attracted $5.6 billion in private sector investments. Prior to his appointment as Minister of Agriculture, Dr Adesina was the Vice President (Policy and Partnerships) of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Dr Adesina was Principal Economist for the West Africa Rice Development Association (1990-1995), Senior Economist and Social Science Coordinator for the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (1995-1998) and Assistant Principal Economist of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (1988-1990). A prolific writer, Dr Adesina has authored over 70 scholarly publications on policy, agricultural development and African development issues. He has served as the President of the African Association of Agricultural Economists, as well as on the Editorial Board of several academic journals, including the International Journal of Agricultural Economists.
Mr. Gordon Brown
UN Special Envoy for Education, United Nations
Gordon Brown is the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He is Chair of the Global Strategic Infrastructure Initiative of the World Economic Forum and also serves as Distinguished Global Leader in Residence of New York University. He served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010 and is widely credited with preventing a second Great Depression through his stewardship of the 2009 London G20 summit. In April 2009, he hosted the G20 Summit in London where world leaders committed to make an additional $1.1 trillion available to help the world economy through the crisis and restore credit, growth and jobs. Previously, he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997 to 2007, making him the longest-serving Chancellor in modern history. During ten years at the Treasury, Gordon masterminded many of Labour’s proudest achievements including the Minimum Wage, Sure Start, the Winter Fuel Allowance, the Child Trust Fund, the Child Tax Credit and paid paternity leave. His record on global justice includes his negotiation of debt cancellation for the world’s poorest nations and the tripling of the budget for life-saving aid. His role in government continued to shape his views on the importance of education as a fundamental right of every child in the world and the key to unlocking better health, greater social stability, more rights and opportunities for women and a higher standard of living. He is a passionate advocate for global action to ensure education for all and co-chairs a High Level Panel on Global Education with Graça Machel. In his role as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, he works closely with key partners to help galvanise support for the UN’s Global Initiative on Education, Education First, which aims to achieve quality, relevance, and inclusive education for every child.
Ms. Julia Gillard
Chair, Global Partnership for Education
Julia Gillard joined the Global Partnership for Education as chair of the Board of Directors in 2014 after a distinguished public service career in Australia. Following her passion for education, she was appointed a Commissioner at the International Commission for Global Education Opportunity in 2015 and became Patron at CAMFED, the Campaign for Female Education, in 2016. She is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Ms. Gillard served as Prime Minister of Australia between 201 childhood to university education, improving the provision and sustainability of health care, aged care and dental care, commencing Australia’s first ever national scheme to care for people with disabilities. Before becoming Prime Minister, Ms. Gillard was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion. From 2003 to 2006, Ms. Gillard served as Shadow Minister for Health followed in 2006 by an appointment as Shadow Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and Social Inclusion. Ms. Gillard is the first woman to ever serve as Australia’s Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. In October 2012, Ms Gillard received worldwide attention for her speech in Parliament on the treatment of women in professional and public life. In recognition of her remarkable achievements and public service, Ms Gillard was awarded a Companion in the Order of Australia in January 2017.
H.E. Ms. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
Former President, Republic of Croatia
H.E. Ms. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović served as served as the President of Croatia from 2015 to 2020. She was the first woman to be elected to the office since the first multi-party elections in 1990. At 46 years of age, she also became the youngest person to assume the presidency. Before her election as president of Croatia, Grabar-Kitarović held a number of governmental and diplomatic positions. She was minister of European Affairs from 2003 to 2005, the first female minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration from 2005 to 2008, Croatian ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011 and assistant secretary general for public diplomacy at NATO under Secretaries General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Jens Stoltenberg from 2011 to 2014. She is a recipient of the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award and a number of national and international awards, decorations, honorary doctorates and honorary citizenships. Ms. Kolinda holds a masters degree in international relations from the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the George Washington University and a Luksic Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
H.E. Mr. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta
President, Republic of Kenya
H.E. Mr. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is the fourth and the current President of Kenya, in office since 9 April 2013. He previously served in the Government of Kenya as Minister for Local Government from 2001 to 2002, and he was leader of the official opposition from 2002 to 2007. Hon. Kenyatta was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade in April 2008. In the same year, he was transferred to the Treasury as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, as part of the Grand Coalition Cabinet, where he served up to January 2012. He served as the Member of Parliament for Gatundu South Constituency beginning in 2002. President Kenyatta was also the Chairman of Kenya African National Union (KANU), which was a part of the Party of National Unity (PNU). President Uhuru Kenyatta is the first son of founding President Jomo Kenyatta. Born at the dawn of Kenya's Independence, he carried in his name, Uhuru – which means freedom. President Uhuru Kenyatta attended St Mary's School in Nairobi and then Amherst College, Massachusetts, United States, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in politics and economics. The President has had a long and outstanding career in politics, having served in various capacities in previous administrations heading dockets.
H.E. Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi,
President, Republic of Botswana
H.E. Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi was sworn in as the 5th President of the Republic of Botswana on 1st April 2018. Prior to this, he was Botswana’s 8th Vice President from 2014. As Vice President he was responsible for oversight of Government programmes including flagship programme such as: Poverty Eradication, Economic Diversification Drive and Employment Creation. He has served cabinet in various portfolios including as Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and Minister of Education and Skills Development. Prior to public life, His Excellency Dr. Masisi had established a career in education. He was an Education Project Officer with UNICEF and worked extensively with the Ministry of Education as a Curriculum Specialist and in other capacities. In 1989 he studied at graduate level at Florida State University, USA, specializing in Social Studies, Education and Instructional Systems Design. He attained his MSc from FSU in 1990. In 1999 he was awarded a Commonwealth Chevening Scholarship to undertake graduate studies in Economics and Social Policy in Manchester University in the UK. In 2018, the University of Botswana conferred him an honorary doctorate.
Ms. Graça Machel
Founder, Graça Machel Trust
Graça Machel is an African stateswoman whose decades-long professional and public life is rooted in Mozambique’s struggle for self-rule and international advocacy for women and children’s rights. She is a former freedom fighter in Mozambique’s FRELIMO movement and that country’s first Minister of Education. Ms. Machel is a current member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights which she co-founded with her husband, former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. She is also a UN independent expert on the impact of armed conflict on children, international advocate for women's and children's rights, former freedom fighter and Education and Culture Minister of Mozambique. Machel works through several regional and international development bodies to accelerate social transformation. She is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group and sits on the high-level steering group for Every Woman Every Child. Additionally, she is the chancellor of the University of Cape Town, chancellor of the African Leadership University and the president of SOAS, University of London.
Mr. Paul Polman
Co-Founder & Chair, Imagine
Paul Polman is Co-founder & Chair of IMAGINE, an activist corporation and foundation that promotes implementation of the global goals through transformational leadership. Polman is also Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, The B Team, Saïd Business School and Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact. A leading proponent that business can – and should – be a force for good, he has been described by the Financial Times as “a standout CEO of the past decade”, whose role in helping to redefine the relationship between business and society has been “path-breaking”. As CEO of Unilever (2009-2018), he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model goes hand-in-hand with excellent financial performance. During his tenure, Unilever was one of the best-performing companies in its sector; for ten years it constantly achieved top and bottom line growth. Additionally, Polman was a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel that developed the Sustainable Development Goals, and as an active SDG Advocate he continues to work with global organisations and across industry sectors to make the case for the 2030 development agenda. Polman is also a great Philanthropist donating money to a variety of important causes and even founding a charity the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, which supports visually impaired children across Africa by unlocking literacy for life.