Strategic Committee

Mohammad Yunus

Mohammad Yunus

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006

Grameen Bank

Muhammad Yunus was born on June 28th, 1940 in the village of Bathua, in Hathazari, Chittagong, the business center of what was then Eastern Bengal. He was the third of 14 children of whom five died in infancy. His father was a successful goldsmith who always encouraged his sons to pursue higher education. However, his biggest influence was his mother, Sufia Khatun, who always offered assistance to any poor people knocking at their door. This inspired him to commit himself to combating poverty. His early childhood years were spent in his home village. In 1947, his family moved to the city of Chittagong, where his father owned a jewelry business.

In 1974, Muhammad Yunus, now a professor of economics at Chittagong University, Bangladesh, led his students on a field trip to a poor village. They interviewed a woman who produced bamboo stools, and learnt that she had to borrow the equivalent of 15p to buy raw bamboo for each stool she made. After repaying the middleman, sometimes at rates as high as 10% a week, she was left with a one penny profit margin. Had she been able to borrow at lower rates, she would have been able to amass an economic cushion and raise herself above the bread line.

Realizing that there must be something terribly wrong with the economics he was teaching, Yunus took matters into his own hands, and from his own pocket lent the equivalent of 17p to 42 basket-weavers. He found that it was possible with this tiny amount not only to help them survive, but also to create the spark of personal initiative and enterprise necessary to pull themselves out of poverty.

Against the advice of banks and the government, Yunus carried on giving out 'micro-loans', and in 1983 formed the Grameen Bank, meaning 'village bank', founded on the principles of trust and solidarity. Today in Bangladesh, Grameen has 2,564 branches, with 19,800 staff serving 8.29 million borrowers throughout 81,367 villages. On any working day Grameen collects an average of $1.5 million in weekly installments. Of the borrowers, 97% are women and over 97% of the loans are paid back, a recovery rate higher than any other banking system. Grameen’s methods are applied in projects in 58 countries, including the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Norway.

Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola

La Comtesse Setsuko Klossowska de Rola

Setsuko Ideta was born in Tokyo. She graduated from Tokyo Morimura Gakuen High School in 1961 and entered the department of French language at Sophia University in Tokyo. As a university student, she met the painter Balthus who was visiting Japan for the first time in 1962. They got married in 1967. Setsuko assisted Balthus, acting as the headmistress of Villa de Medicis, where he presided as director of the French Academy in Rome. In 1973 she gave birth to a daughter, named Harumi. In 1977 Setsuko and Balthus left the French Academy and moved to Le Grand Chalet in Rossiniere, Switzerland.

In 2001, Balthus passed away. Setsuko made rapid progress as a painter. Her exhibitions were held at:

  • Pierre Matisse Art Gallery in New York in 1984,
  • Alice Pauli in Lausanne in 1986,
  • The Lefevre Gallery in London in 1989,
  • Takanawa Prince Hotel in 1989,
  • The Lefevre Gallery in London in 1992,
  • Hotel Salomon de Rotochirudo in 1993.

In 2002, Balthus Foundation was established, and Setsuko was designated as its honorary president. In 2005, she became UNESCO’s Artist For Peace. In 2005 and 2006, Mainichi Newspaper and Asahi Shimbun sponsored her exhibition titled “Setsuko-no-kurashi Wa-no-kokoro” (Spirit of Japan, Setsuko’s Life) in Kumamoto, Yokohama and Tokyo. In 2010, Setsuko’s exhibition was held at Galerie Yoshii of Paris in January and of Tokyo in February. Setsuko is also a writer.

Michael Moller


Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Mr. Møller has over 35 years of experience as an international civil servant in the United Nations.
He began his career in 1979 with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and worked with UNHCR in different capacities in New York, Iran, Mexico, Haiti and Geneva.
Between 1997 and 2001 he was the Head of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at United Nations headquarters; between 2001 and 2006 he was the Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Office of the Secretary-General, while serving concurrently as Deputy Chief of Staff for the last two years of that period.
Mr. Møller also served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus from 2006 to 2008 and was the Executive Director of the Kofi Annan Foundation from 2008 to 2011.
Born in 1952 in Copenhagen, Mr. Møller completed a Master’s course in International Relations at Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom.

Maggy Barankitsé

Maggy Barankitsé

Maison Shalom

An outstanding Burundian! Ms. Marguerite Barankitse, holder of an honorary doctorate from the University of Louvain, leads courageous battle for peace and reconciliation in her native Burundi. She is a tireless worker, and has dedicated her life to child victims of war. Marguerite – or Maggy as she prefers to be called – was born in the village of Nyamutobo.

Called to lay celibacy, Marguerite Barankitse adopted seven Hutu and Tutsi children, including a Hutu girl named Chloé Ndayikunda, whose parents had been killed during the genocide of 1972. In October 1993, amidst the backdrop of a deteriorating political situation, Maggy hid dozens of Hutu adults and children at the bishop’s palace in Ruyigi. On Sunday morning, October 24, Tutsi assailants armed with clubs, machetes, and rocks attacked the palace. Maggy tried to intervene, but they knocked her aside and tied her to a chair in the courtyard, massacring 72 people before her eyes and setting the building on fire.

After the massacre, a Rusengo student freed her in exchange for the keys to the storeroom. By offering a monetary bribe to the rebels, Maggy managed to save 25 Hutu children from the burning building and hide them in the cemetery. Then as night fell, she set off to seek help from a German aid worker, Martin Novack, who provided them with a safe haven. Finding unexpected strength in her anger and outrage, but above all in her unwavering faith in divine providence and her love for life, she slowly but surely, in constant peril of her life, established Maison Shalom where the children could grow and develop within "families", and take their own destiny in hand. As the genocide persisted, dozens, and then hundreds of children sought refuge with Maggy. To feed them all, Maggy harvested crops from family land. As the war dragged on, Maggy decided to work the land with the children to produce food. She organized a mutual assistance system irrespective of tribe, religion, and social origins, in which her older charges looked after the younger ones.

To date, Maison Shalom has helped over 50,000 children and adults. In July, 2007, the mother-child center-built by the Belgian and Burundian armies on land belonging to Maggy’s family and donated to the Maison Shalom NGO was inaugurated. In addition, a 120 bed hospital called "Rema" (an expression of comfort and support in Kirundi) is planned to open in 2008.

Maggy is both the Mother Theresa and the Abbé Pierre of Burundi. Her message, "Love always triumphs," echoes time and again as she travels the world. "Evil will never have the final word. Faith and love can move mountains of hate." Maggy is proud to display her faith. "It is prayer that keeps me going. The Eucharist is my source of true courage," she says. In recognition of her humanitarian and peace-building efforts, Maggy has received numerous international awards.

Mukesh Kapila

Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs

at the University of Manchester

Special Representative of the Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity, and Chair of Minority Rights Group International. His book "Against a Tide of Evil", published by Mainstream (Random House Group) was released in March 2013.

Professor Kapila has extensive experience in the policy and practice of international development, humanitarian affairs, human rights and diplomacy, with particular expertise in tackling crimes against humanity, disaster and conflict management, and in global public health.

Previously he was Under-Secretary-General at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Earlier, he served the United Nations in different roles as Special Adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and then Special Adviser at the UN Mission in Afghanistan. Subsequently, he led the UN's largest country mission at the time as the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan, and then became a Director at the World Health Organization.

He has also been Chief Executive of the PHG Foundation, a senior policy adviser to the World Bank, worked as part of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination system, and advised the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, International Labour Organization, UNAIDS, and many other agencies.

Prior to the UN, Professor Kapila was at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Overseas Development Administration (subsequently Department for International Development), initially as senior health and population adviser and latterly as the first head of a new Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Department that he set up.

His earliest career was in clinical medicine, primary health care, and public health in the British National Health Service in Oxford, Cambridge, and London, where he helped set up the UK's first national HIV and AIDS program at the Health Education Authority, becoming its deputy director.

Professor Kapila was born in India and is a citizen of the United Kingdom. He has qualifications in medicine, public health, and development from the Universities of Oxford and London. In 2003, he was honored by Queen Elizabeth II and named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his international service. In 2007, he received the Global Citizenship Award of the Institute for Global Leadership.

Zelma Lazarus

Zelma Lazarus

Founder Director and subsequently Chief Executive Officer

Impact India Foundation

Zelma Lazarus is the Chief Executive Officer of Impact India. As General Manager Corporate Relations of Voltas Limited, a large Private Sector enterprise in India, she has had substantial experience in all aspects of public affairs over a period of 30 years. She was World President of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) for the year 1998; the first Asian Woman to head this prestigious body. IPRA constitutes the most genuinely international group of Public Relations Practitioners in 90 countries.

The basic prerequisite of Impact India, which she leads successfully, is awareness. A nationwide communications package for India was therefore designed by her for a wide and diverse audience, from the slum dweller who is the potential beneficiary, to the industrialist who will financially support the program.

She was invited by the Government of India to become a member of the Planning Commissions Working Group on Health, Education and Communications for the preparation of the Seventh and Eighth Five-Year Plans for the country. She was commissioned by the Government of India to serve on the Film Censor Board.

An inspirational orator, she has been on the world speakers' circuit, delivering lectures at United Nations Headquarters, at various international seminars, universities and public platforms. She has appeared on live programs on television channels in many countries and several hundred articles have appeared about her in international dailies and journals including Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, Elle, The Times (London).

She has completed a Senior Management Course on "Leadership" at the Ashridge Management College, U.K., and has edited several publications worldwide. She is a winner of several awards:

  • The United Nations Award for Excellence in Public Service for the "Lifeline Project",
  • The "Woman of the Year" Award from Zonta International,
  • The Rotary Club Public Award for Leadership in creating India's first mobile Hospital Train,
  • The Distinguished Golden World Trophy for Excellence in Internal Communications from IPRA in London; IPRA's Golden World Trophies for Excellence in Consumer Affairs and again, for Excellence in Public Service worldwide,
  • The prestigious Silver Bell Trophy at the PR World Congress for "The most outstanding PR Campaign in the country",
  • The Mumbay Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Good Corporate Citizen Award,
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibilities by Association of Business Communicators of India (ABCI) in 2005,
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) in 2007.

Tony Meloto

President of Gawad Kalinga

Antonio Meloto, known as “Tito Tony” to the countless Gawad Kalinga volunteers and community partners, was born on January 17, 1950 to a low middle class family in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines. At a young age, he was already exposed to the squalid living conditions of the poor, his home being near a shoreline squatter community where poverty was already very pronounced.

Tony’s natural acumen provided him the opportunity to be an American Field Service scholar, where he took his senior high school year in De Anza High School in Richmond, California. But his big break came when he qualified as a Full Academic Scholar of the Ateneo de Manila University. His college years were dedicated to preparing for a career that would take him and his family out of the poverty of his past.

After he graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, he was offered a position as the Purchasing Manager of Procter and Gamble. Eventually, he built his own name as an entrepreneur.

It was during an assignment in Australia that he heard the call to start the work with the poor through a youth program in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. Since it began in 1995, the program has now evolved to become Gawad Kalinga, a movement that builds integrated, holistic and sustainable communities in slum areas.

Gawad Kalinga is now being implemented in almost 2,000 communities in the Philippines and in other developing countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea. 

Adele Benzaken

Adele Benzakem

Deputy director

Department of AIDS, STI and Viral Hepatitis, Ministry of Health of Brazil

Adele S. Benzaken is currently the Deputy Director from the STI, Aids and Viral Hepatitis Department of Ministry of Health of Brazil since December 2013. Mainly acting on assistance, prevention and management of STI/Aids. Dr. Benzaken is an Advisor at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and also she is co-chair at the Committee for Validation of Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis for Latin America and Caribbean, also at PAHO.

Adele graduated in Medicine at the State University of Amazonas (UFAM) in 1978. After her medical residency (1980) and specialization in Gynecology (1985), she gained a doctoral degree in Public Health at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (CPqL&MD/Manaus). She was director at the Tropical Dermatology and Venereology Alfredo da Matta Foundation in Manaus (Amazonas, Brazil) from 2007 until 2010, member of the Panel from Experts in STI including HIV from World Health Organization, during December 2008 until July 2013 and UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Brazil, based at Brasília, from April 2012 until November 2013. 

Jorge Vivanco



WorldVison Mexico


Chairman of the humanitarian organization, World Vision Mexico, Jorge Vivanco is also President of Zukara, a company developing natural and healthy food.

Jorge was Managing Director of bioMerieux Mexico SA from 1996 to 2008. Previously he managed Diagnomed, a distribution diagnostics company. Prior to creating Diagnomed, he was Logistic and Development Director at Mexican Social Security, representing IMSS in Ministry of Health.


Renier Koegelenberg

Executive Director 

EFSA Institute

Dr Renier Adriaan Koegelenberg is currently Executive Director of the EFSA Institute for Theological and Interdisciplinary Research, Stellenbosch, South Africa – an independent ecumenical institute focusing on the social, economic human rights challenges facing a democratic South Africa. It has strong links to several universities and national church networks. He is also Executive Secretary of the National Religious Association for Social Development (NRASD) in South Africa. The NRASD was founded in 1997 as a national coalition of faith-based networks in South Africa. Main field of research over the past 20 years: the building blocks of successful community development initiatives – especially in the church or religious sector; models of partnership and cooperation between governments/international agencies and the religious sector.