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An Introduction to the Open Society Foundations


Chris Stone was president of the Open Society Foundations from 2012 to 2017.

The work of the Open Society Foundations is infinitely complex. I have been a part of the Open Society family since 1996, when the foundation in South Africa began to support work I was developing with then Minister of Justice Dullah Omar, but I only began to appreciate the breadth and depth of the Foundations when I was appointed to my present post in December of last year. Since then, I have searched for ways to convey in the simplest terms that fascinating complexity. I’ve wanted to capture in words and images the emotions as well as the facts, the passions as well as the strategies, and the ethics as well as the histories that make the Open Society enterprise so impressive. But how?

One answer is film. The gifted director, Jesse Dylan, has pieced together fragments taken from dozens of interviews to create a brief, powerful introduction to the Open Society Foundations. Even those who have worked with the Foundations for many years will likely find something new here, as well as reminders of much that is familiar. Recently, when I showed the film to members of the board of our U.S. Programs, a long-time member commented that he hadn’t known almost any of what he saw in the film. Perhaps you will have a similar reaction. Or perhaps you will see friends and colleagues describing ambitions that have compelled you, too. However familiar or new you find it, I hope the film captures something of what has brought you into this family, too: what has led you to work toward the ideal of an open society in your own community, and to get engaged.

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