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Transformation Co-leadership

Frederick and Mary Ann

Announcing the Co-leadership of our Transformation.

ADD International was founded in 1985 with a clear mission to support the liberation of disabled people and their rejection of ways in which their voices and issues were marginalised.

We remain committed to that mission, but we know that how we achieve it needs to adapt to changing times. The Coronavirus pandemic, the merging of DFID with the FCO, and the Black Lives Matter protests were all drivers that have prompted us to take action.

We know that we want to share more power and decision-making with our offices, teams, partners and disability activists in the Global South and work to ensure that we are clear about a future role for ADD International in the global movement for disabled people’s rights that is both sustainable and equitable.

Last year, we recruited Mary Ann Clements to be our interim Chief Transformation Officer. Over the past ten months Mary Ann has led a process in which we have begun to define and build an organisation of the future; rooted in the lived experience of disabled people in the countries we work in.

At the end of 2021 our Trustees agreed a bold new direction towards sharing power and resources with the disability movements, activists and organisations with whom we work. As part of that shift, they also approved an exciting new approach to the leadership of ADD and from May 2022 we are transitioning to a Co-Leadership Model as well as launching a search for at least four new Trustees with lived experience of disability.

Co-Leadership.

Co-executive leadership is a powerful model that we believe will help support us in re-thinking how we operate as an INGO. From May 2022, Fredrick Ouko, a disability activist and leader who joins us from Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, will join ADD International to co-lead the organisation with Mary Ann; sharing the title of Co-Chief Executive and Transformation Officer.

Together, they will continue to lead the transformation of ADD International as we move towards a structure in which more power and resources are shared with people with disabilities and their organisations.

Introducing Fredrick Ouko.

Fredrick was recruited in a competitive process in which our Trustees deliberately agreed to reserve the co-leadership opportunity to work alongside Mary Ann, for someone with lived experience of disability. Going forward our intention is that the co-leadership of ADD International will always include lived experience of disability, someone who identifies as Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour and is from the Global South. We hope that our leadership will be a living demonstration of our commitment to sharing power and resources more equitably in our practice.

Together Fredrick and Mary Ann will take forward our commitment to ensuring that the future of our work centres lived experience and that our organisation is a place where the most marginalised have a voice and making sure that our work supports disability activists working in areas of extreme poverty in Africa and Asia, to build powerful movements for change.

By embracing this new model, we hope that we will be able to build powerful new ways of working informed by diverse perspectives and viewpoints, not just in our leadership, but across the organisation. Ensuring that our leadership becomes increasingly more representative of the groups of people whose liberation we exist to support in something that ADD is committed to for the long-term. We know that this will require new ways of working, a generative culture of both learning and challenge and the commitment to unlearn and re-imagine who we are and what we do.

Want to join us and support this journey?

Our Trustees are also committed to transforming the make-up of the board and will soon be launching a call for applications for new board members with lived experience of disability.