My Role at the Open Society Foundations

Ever since George Soros announced that I would take the helm of the Open Society Foundations, people have asked me if I have a particular goal that I would like to accomplish here.

The answer is both yes and no.

Throughout my career, the work I have found most satisfying has been to help to clear away the obstacles that prevent oppressed people from making their voices heard and their power felt. That’s why I worked to build a new kind of public defender service in Harlem in New York City, and it's why I worked over many years at the Vera Institute of Justice on the transformation of South Africa’s justice system.  It’s why I’ve been doing work while at Harvard with government officials and civil society leaders in Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, and other young nations.

So, yes, I hope to continue that work at the Open Society Foundations; but, no, that’s not really my job.  My job is not to pursue my personal vision, but to let those we support pursue theirs.

When George Soros created the Foundations, he placed an enormous amount of trust in the people he met on the ground. He saw people trying to make their own societies more open, and he wanted to provide them with the resources to sustain their fight.

From the very beginning, the Open Society Foundations have focused on furthering the goals and ambitions of such people, in South Africa and Eastern Europe at the start, and today in virtually every part of the world.  My job, like all the jobs within the Open Society Foundations, is a privilege, a trust, and a responsibility—a responsibility to keep at the fore the goals of the people on whose behalf we work. It’s not about pursuing my own ambitions, but leading an organization that supports the ambitions of people overlooked in their own societies, oppressed by their own governments, or simply striving to fulfill the promises of our time.

It is the success of their quests—not mine—that will be the true test of my tenure at the Foundations.

8 Comments

Yes, but often the idea of serving those you want to serve ends up to be our ideas rather than theirs. This pains me as an African, as I see what good governance means - the rule of law of institutions by the state to the extent that the grassroot has to resist against the rules to protect their rights and interest. When will African poor people have good governance in their midst?

Well, the message from the president is really inspiring, we really need to support that cause, especially making communities agitated about gross human rights violations and poor governance of natural resources, especially by Africa Leaders.

I have always admired the Soros Foundations. I think you are perfect choice for this. I am looking to you for the serious problems in Africa. We need a lot end of life care. I would request you to focus on this.

Hello Amandua,
I have been at work on the story of my partner's dying and death here in Montreal, in 'state-of-the-art' hospitals and hospice care. What I think of as large gaps in empathy and pain management here, with all the money and expertise we concentrate on cancer care, has me thinking we have a lot to learn from others who work with less resources. I hope this is true even as I hope the end of life programs you need will be successful in helping many.

es una buena labor en pro de los pueblos enmudecidos donde su voz no se escucha y es llevada por personas que lamentan este tipo de problema enfocado hacia el sentir humano.los felicito de verdad por su proyecto.

Mr. President, as you have been dedicated in your career to helping to clear the obstacles that prevent oppressed people from making their voices heard and their power felt. Am applying to you from The Republic of South Sudan also to felt your experience by the poorest society of this New nation.

Thanks

Michael Ariamba
Executive Director
Sudan Self-help Foundation(SSF)
Juba South Sudan

Indeed inspiring, and good luck Sir, on behalf of all oppressed Ethiopians...and the Horn of Africa in general--where our problems are multilayered and freedom a distant abstract.

Open Society talks about the human rights but unfortunately has no say in the administration or the parliamentary offices in the world except its saying to condemn the wrong things. It helps and supports the civil society of billions of dollars annually but it does not matter to bring about a positive change that really looks like change. The reason is very simple, it should have its say in the administration and the parliamentary corners and the very people who have the say to bring about a change in the life of a common man/women. We therefore emphasize the need of having proper and regular relationship with the concerned administrative and legislative department/ministries or the district counties/district managements/judiciaries which matter a lot to help out the victims. We are also of the opinion that the Open Society should now restructure and reorganize its working strategies towards dealing with the issues of the women, girls, and the deprived/refugees prioritizing its connections with the relevant district counties and the judiciaries, and keeping an eye on the ongoing situations and persisting perusal of the writs or the petitions to help the helpless and the needy. We strongly support the Open Society, its ventures and its sincere efforts but need its efforts successful and helping out the victims and the deprived as a result, not only saying in appeals. So, we can achieve the goals by fighting collectively and education and awaring the masses to talk about human rights and empowering the communities to fight back the evils, especially against the women and girls.

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