By now, some of you will have heard that I am leaving my role as Secretary-General of MEF (The Maghreb Economic Forum) later this month, to focus on the Education Outcomes Fund, a bold initiative to improve education and employment for 10m children and young people hosted at the UN.
Let me use this moment simply to say thank you.
Thank you for the immense honour of serving this organisation and its exceptional team, board, and partners for the last six years. From joining MEF as Secretary-General in an executive role, transitioning four years ago to become a non-executive board member, I have grown so much. Thank you for teaching and inspiring me.
We have succeeded in ways that many thought would not be possible. We did not shy away from tackling the most difficult topics. We have partnered with leading institutions such as IDRC to tackle the complex topics of inclusion and deradicalisation. We engaged in conversations on the ground with returnees, radicalised young people, and angry, alienated, or disenfranchised youth. This allowed us to build a strong evidence base for "deradicalisation" programs worldwide.
We created, with the support of Bosch Foundation, 3eshra communities of practice in all Tunisian regions for women and girls to discuss and cooperate to improve their situation through better protection from violence, access to reproductive health, and fighting for equal pay. And it has not all been just research and dialogue; we had an impact in real-time. It warms my heart to hear stories about how 3eshra has been both an incubator for female entrepreneurs’ associations across Tunisia and a supporting system for vulnerable women in rural areas, becoming the “go-to place" in abuse cases.
In cooperation with KAS, we created a development strategy for the Maghreb, highlighting three different scenarios for its future, as well as concrete proposals for structural reforms, a new role for the state, and a road map to regional integration. Let's be honest, on a political level, almost no one wants the Maghreb today, and yet, it is inevitable if we're going to prosper in our region. When it comes to resilience and believing that we all can play a role to make that dream a reality, Kamel Lazaar and Slim Othmani, founders of MEF, have been role models for me. It is indeed the hallmark of true leadership that when we need to choose between what is easy and what is important, we choose the latter. I am sure that the day the Maghreb becomes a reality, MEF will be the institution that everyone will look to and admire for its tenacity.
In cooperation with many more leading global partners such as NED, BMW Foundation, Legacy International, Germany’s Federal Foreign Service, etc., we shifted from a local think tank to an institution building a new generation of responsible leaders and curating public conversations with impact on the ground in a difficult and often hostile environment.
A big thank you to those in local and regional NGO's, government institutions, and political parties who supported MEF for your dedication, your intensity, and your commitment to our vision.
I am delighted that Lilia Hachem Naas will be my successor as Secretary-General - watch for the official MEF announcement this week 😊. As she has throughout her long and distinguished career, I am sure she will serve with great distinction, and I wish her well.
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, but still, this moment is bittersweet. I truly love this organisation, and it has been a tremendous experience working for – and with – you all. Believe me when I tell you that I wouldn't have left for anything less than the opportunity to serve millions of children and young people worldwide (a goal which COVID has made all the more urgent!).
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
P.S. you can reach me in future through my private office at firstname.lastname@example.org