Reflecting on Sir Fazle’s leadership

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A message from the President and CEO


If the mark of a distinguished career is the degree to which one contributes to the world, few others have had as illustrious a journey as Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, who retired from his role as Chair of the Boards of BRAC and BRAC International last week. He will continue to focus his considerable efforts on steering the organization’s global strategy in his new role as Chair Emeritus.


Sir Fazle more than most embodies the belief that the world must be made better by your presence, dedicating his life to ending poverty. A singular figure in global development, Sir Fazle has led BRAC in its work to empower the poor, especially women and girls, to achieve their full potential, today reaching more than 100 million people across 11 countries every year.


Those who are familiar with what Amartya Sen calls “something close to a miracle” will know that the success of BRAC in addressing global poverty is in large part a product of the passion, persistence, and acumen of Sir Fazle, who founded the organization in 1972 with the proceeds from selling his home. Over the past 47 years, BRAC has grown to be one of the largest and most effective development organizations in the world.


And yet, as Sir Fazle wrote earlier this week announcing his transition, BRAC is more than one person. It is an idea: A world where everyone has the same opportunity to realize their potential. I can think of no one more qualified to carry that idea forward than the newly-appointed Executive Director of BRAC, Asif Saleh.


In his new role as Executive Director, Asif Saleh brings diverse, multi-sectoral experience in senior leadership roles across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors with a proven track record of growing development programs, building effective partnerships, and improving operational and financial sustainability.


Mr. Saleh joined BRAC in 2011, and over time, has played a growing role in driving its strategic direction. Most recently, as Senior Director for Strategy, Communications, and Empowerment, Mr. Saleh led advocacy, communications, information technology, and social innovation at BRAC. He also managed the Empowerment Program Cluster, addressing emerging development challenges such as urban poverty, youth skills development, migration, and human rights. Mr. Saleh’s full bio may be read here.


In a letter to global staff last week in which he reflected on the idea of BRAC, Sir Fazle captured the essence of our work:


“BRAC has always believed that change is human-made. At the heart of everything we do is the conviction that everyone can be actors in history, and that no one should ever be a passive recipient of charity…


I have spent my life watching optimism triumph over despair when the light of self-belief is sparked in people. As a team, I want us to keep lighting these sparks. Our work should always reflect our faith in the human spirit and our respect for their inherent power.”


Those words are a powerful reminder of the mission we share. We are engaged on a journey to end poverty, and to do so with respect, dignity, and faith in the untiring human spirit. We have been fortunate to share this effort with Sir Fazle. It is the privilege of a lifetime to carry it forward with you. 


I invite you to join me in honoring the vision, leadership, and service of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed by sharing your thoughts and feelings with us through this simple form. We will include some of these reflections in our next annual report.


Under the leadership and guidance of Sir Fazle as Chair Emeritus and Asif Saleh as Executive Director, BRAC will continue to work with people living in poverty to see them, with the right resources and opportunities, transform into agents of change in their own lives.


>>>Share your thoughts on Sir Fazle’s legacy…



Donella Rapier

President and CEO


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