Our Founding Story

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OUR FOUNDING STORY THROUGH THE EYES, VISIONS AND VALUES OF OUR FOUNDERS


PART ONE: The Story of the Atlantic Fellows Community

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Section One: Values and Aspirations Meet Limited Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Section Two: Ramping Up for the Culminating Big Bets on People . . . . . . 18 Section Three: Advancing Seven Legacy Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Section Four: Growing the Global Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Section Five: Common Enduring Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

PART TWO: Individual Atlantic Fellows Program Stories

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Timeline: Founding of the Atlantic Fellows Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Section One: Equity in Brain Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Section Two: Health Equity in Southeast Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Section Three: Health Equity US + Global . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Section Four: Social Equity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Section Five: Social and Economic Equity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Section Six: Health Equity in South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Section Seven: Racial Equity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106


The idea for what ultimately became Our Founding Story originated in discussions among Atlantic Philanthropies board members in the early years of Chris Oechsli’s tenure as CEO. They recognized that implementing the final stage of Chuck Feeney’s Giving While Living philosophy would precipitate a rare event in the philanthropic world as one of the largest foundations of our time intentionally wound down operations, while ramping up its final big-bet grants. Board member Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot urged Atlantic to systematically capture the unfolding of that final stage. My task was to journey alongside the foundation and the fledgling Atlantic Fellows programs to listen, watch, chronicle, collect materials and ultimately synthesize and make sense of this process. The heart of the project, though, is in the 37 oral historical interviews I was privileged to conduct in Atlantic’s last months. This narrative draws on a fraction of the knowledge contained in those interviews that are housed in the Atlantic Philanthropies Archives at Cornell University — to be mined by others. Our Founding Story owes its existence to the ingenuity and patient, empathetic endeavor of all of the founders, but foremost to the farsighted generosity of Chuck Feeney, and the vision and intrepid hard work of Chris Oechsli. Thank you. We offer Our Founding Story as a gift to the Atlantic Fellows community in the hope that knowing where you have come from will challenge and inspire your common efforts to act in community to realize a healthier, fairer, more inclusive world.

MARY BYRNE MCDONNELL


The Story of the Atlantic Fellows Community

WORKING TOWARD FAIRER, HEALTHIER AND MORE INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES

The Atlantic Fellows program community consists of seven distinctive, values-based, outcomeoriented fellowship programs located in seven countries on five continents and their connecting hub, the Atlantic Institute. While each has a unique topical concentration, all Atlantic Fellows programs are focused on moving the needle toward fairer, healthier and more inclusive societies by empowering catalytic communities of emerging leaders to address the root causes of systemic inequities. Grounded in their local contexts, programs are international in concept, content, participants and/or partners. Fellowships are lifelong. The journey typically begins with a bespoke induction program experience of 12 or more months, intended to enhance each Fellow’s capacity to counter systemic issues impeding equity. Each program advances Fellows’ topical knowledge while encouraging their personal growth as relational, collaborative leaders with an increased ability to navigate diversity of perspective and opinion. Subsequently, after graduation, Atlantic Fellows work collaboratively within their program communities, and as members of the cross-program global community, to expand equity on local, national, regional and global scales. The Atlantic Institute amplifies the influence and impact of the global Atlantic community of change-making Fellows and programs through providing resources and opportunities to connect, learn and act together. It promotes

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collaboration and shared approaches, connects the Atlantic Fellows program community to a broader network of equity-oriented initiatives, and raises global awareness of the work of the Fellows and their programs. Our Founding Story explores how this community and its constituent programs came into being, as told from the perspectives of the people involved. The narrative answers questions such as: why and how Atlantic Philanthropies invested US $745 million in this final set of big-bet fellowship programs dedicated to promoting lasting systemic change; and how their interests, ideas and aspirations intersected and melded with the motivations and dreams of the founding partners to coalesce into each Atlantic Fellows program. It looks at how programs became focused on their specific issues, located in their geographies and within their institutions, and engaged with their partners. It investigates why programs are linked in a global community and how it came to be housed at the Rhodes Trust. It examines where the core ideas of equity, diversity, leadership, fellowship, multisectorality, collaboration and solutions-oriented approaches came from and how the focal themes of race, social determinants of health, and social and economic equity emerged. It unpacks why these programs are characterized by a values-based culture that embodies compassion, humility, empathy, curiosity, generosity of spirit, courage and resilience. And finally, it surfaces the enduring challenges that emerge from the contextual realities of the founding stories.

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Values and Aspirations Meet Limited Life Drivers that inspired the foundation on ending well

The story of the Atlantic Fellows programs begins in the early 1980s, when Chuck Feeney and his family donated their entire interest in his extensive international businesses to establish what became the Atlantic Philanthropies. For the first 15 years of its life, the foundation worked anonymously, reflecting the founder’s personal modesty, humility and belief that the good you did mattered more than the credit you received for it. Anonymity also protected the privacy of Chuck’s young family, and allowed him to observe and learn during his business and philanthropic travels without attracting attention. In 1996, following the highly publicized sale of one of his major businesses, Duty Free Shoppers (D.F.S.), Atlantic Philanthropies’ resources became greatly augmented, enabling grant-making to increase exponentially. At this point, Chuck agreed to become more visible and began thinking and talking about spending the foundation’s funds within his lifetime. By 2002, his thinking had crystallized and Atlantic became a limited-life foundation, scheduled to cease grant-making in 2016 and close its doors in 2020. This was accompanied by a decision to focus grant-making on increasing opportunities, especially for those who were unfairly excluded, and improving the well-being of the disadvantaged through work in four main thematic areas: aging, children and youth, social determinants of population health, and rights and reconciliation. These decisions gave voice to Chuck’s growing belief that there was little reason to delay giving when spending significant sums to address urgent needs could improve people’s lives today and had the chance of preventing problems from becoming worse tomorrow. Chuck has famously maintained that Giving While Living, as his philosophy became known, is also “a lot more satisfying than giving while dead.” EXPLORING THE FOUNDER’S VALUES, ASPIRATIONS, SENSIBILITIES AND APPROACH

Chuck Feeney was born into a modest, working-class Irish and Italian American family in New Jersey just as the Great Depression was unfolding in the United States. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, based in Japan during the Korean War, he used the GI Bill to become the first in his family to attend college. His instinctive entrepreneurial creativity, evident from a young age, was sharpened by his experiences at Cornell University’s Hotel School, which launched him into a spectacularly successful international business career. As his wealth grew, so did his generosity of spirit, fostered by a sense of responsibility to give back. “I had one idea that never changed in my mind — that you

Facing page, L-R: Chuck Feeney, founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, with Chris Oechsli, who became chair and president of Atlantic Philanthropies in 2011.

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should use your wealth to help people. Use your wealth to create institutions to help people. When it comes down to it, it’s always about people.” He also began to question his own comfortable lifestyle as a wealthy businessman, and over time came to lead a life characterized by frugality. This outlook translated into Chuck’s commitment to fairness and equity, according to Irishman William (Billy) Hall, an infectious disease expert and longtime Atlantic Philanthropies board member. Chuck is, said Billy, ever mindful of the value of his own high-quality education, and “worked with Limerick University in the underdeveloped southwest of Ireland to make it into a world-class facility. I also asked him once why he supported Viet Nam and Cuba. He said because they got a really bad deal from us.”

WILLIAM (BILLY) HALL William (Billy) Hall has been a member of Atlantic Philanthropies’ board of directors since January 2008, and is a renowned expert in infectious diseases and virology. He currently serves as a distinguished professor at Japan’s Hokkaido University and is professor emeritus at the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases at University College Dublin’s (UCD) School of Medicine. Dr. Hall has advised the minister of health of the Republic of Ireland on a range of topics, including virus pandemic preparedness and bioterrorism. Prior to his tenure at University College Dublin, Dr. Hall was head of the Laboratory of Medical Virology, senior physician and director of the Clinical Research Center at Rockefeller University in New York, and associate professor of medicine at Cornell University. He credits his parents, especially his mother, with making him aware of the toll taken by sectarianism on Irish society. He became active in human rights in the 1960s and ’70s as an undergraduate student, first in the Northern Ireland civil rights movement and later in anti-apartheid and anti-Viet Nam War activities. His commitment to human rights continued in his eight years as director and deputy chairman of the Human Dignity Foundation, which focused on the rights of women and children in Africa and India, and his work to abolish Ireland's “Direct Provision,” a discriminatory system used to evaluate asylum-seekers, most of whom are persons of color. He counts the establishment of Ireland–Viet Nam relations in infectious diseases through a multifaceted training program as one of his most important achievements. Dr. Hall is a co-founder of the Global Virus Network, which coordinates responses to new viral threats such as COVID-19 through over 50 centers of excellence in virology worldwide. He holds a B.Sc. in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry/virology from Queen’s University Belfast. He received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, New York, and a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His personal interests include photography and his ever-growing collection of jazz music.

Above left: Billy Hall with Pam Kaur, from the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program team, in Sydney in June 2018. Credit: Mary McDonnell. Above right, L-R: Billy Hall and Tom Mitchell, in 2012, after an Atlantic Philanthropies board meeting. Credit: Courtesy of the Atlantic Philanthropies Archives, Cornell University.

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Leadership determined that grant-making in the final phase should be able to articulate the intended purpose clearly and to answer the question often asked by Chuck: “What will you have to show for it?”

Billy particularly admired Chuck’s humility, and his belief that it was possible to bring people together across divides if you could get them talking. “Chuck was horrified by the slaughter and the endlessness and hopelessness of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, and he had tremendous empathy for both sides,” he recalled. “He thought it wouldn’t take too much if people would agree to just talk, and he got them together talking across barstools, and that’s how the Good Friday Agreement arrived. He was central to the solution but in the photos of the day, you rarely saw Chuck. And if you did, he was way down in the back of the room, back of the crowd.” Atlantic’s former Viet Nam program executive and founding executive director of Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia (The Equity Initiative), Le Nhan Phuong, worked closely with Chuck and with Chris Oechsli, Chuck’s close associate for 30 years in business and philanthropy. Phuong recalled that as his staff, what inspired us was his humility and unselfishness, his moral authenticity. “We didn’t just work for Chuck, we worked with him to realize his dreams, and ours, and our grantees. It was always about that sense of fairness, helping people who need it the most,” he said. Chris observed that Chuck had a strong affinity for “working with people who have been underappreciated, undervalued, who have a lot to add but have been overlooked, or treated unfairly and deserve better. He saw a significant upside if only they were given a chance and some support.” On the business side this meant value investing; for the foundation, it meant a focus on populations that had been unfairly excluded from opportunity and people with unrealized, but realizable, dreams. In thinking about what drew Chuck to certain geographies for his business and philanthropy, Chris suggested that Chuck’s “empathy for multicultural and especially war-torn environments stems from his time in the Air Force in Japan in the 1950s, and his exposure to a diversity of cultures and observations of needs through his international business experience with Duty Free Shoppers.” Amplifying Chuck’s sensibilities, Atlantic’s leadership in the 1990s saw opportunities to redress inequities caused by conflict in places such as Cuba, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Viet Nam. HEADING TOWARD CLOSURE IN FOUR PHASES

The decision taken in 2002 to embrace limited life and Giving While Living had implications for Atlantic’s work. When Chris became president and chief executive officer of Atlantic Philanthropies

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in 2011, with nine years left before Atlantic would shut its doors, thought needed to be given to how to draw the foundation to a fitting close. In leading the organization to end well, Chris described his task as “assessing how we can achieve the greatest possible impact with the resources we have left, in the time we have remaining.” Unlike perpetual foundations, which have a long horizon to address problems and deliberate on solutions, limited life and the Giving While Living philosophy added an urgency to Atlantic’s work, accelerating the pace, reducing time for deliberation and reflection, and advancing the need to achieve impact quickly. In order to end well within this limited-time horizon, multiple tasks needed the new CEO’s simultaneous and urgent attention. A plan that streamlined and focused operations was required that would need to be implemented with care and consideration for those affected. Programmatic portfolios had to be reviewed in order to wind down and to focus grant-making more sharply. Resources had to be assessed and gathered to ensure that commitments on outstanding grants could be met, that capstone investments could be made to cement gains in traditional areas, while guaranteeing that funds would remain to support a final phase of high-impact, legacy grant-making. And most important, Chris and his team needed to figure out a final phase that would build on the

LE NHAN PHUONG Le Nhan Phuong is the China Medical Board’s Southeast Asia regional representative aand executive director of Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia (The Equity Initiative), based in Bangkok since 2015. Prior to his position at the China Medical Board, Dr. Phuong was the Atlantic Philanthropies’ Viet Nam representative (2003– 2013) and Global Population health director (2008–2012). Dr. Phuong left Viet Nam in 1975 at the age of ten as an unaccompanied minor, and later reunited with his family in the U.S. His firsthand experience not only of war traumas and being uprooted but also of the love and kindness of strangers in his adopted country greatly influenced his belief that an individual can make a difference in the lives of others, and motivated his desire to improve health equity for everyone. Dr. Phuong enjoys practicing and teaching qi-gong, tai-chi and meditation. His interests also include astronomy, trilobite fossil collecting and being a father to his two young daughters.

Above, L-R: Le Nhan Phuong with Brian Lawlor, deputy executive director of the Global Brain Health Institute; Piya Hanvoravongchai, program director of The Equity Initiative; and David Sternlieb, chief operating officer of Atlantic Philanthropies, at the Leadership Conference, Rhodes House, Oxford, in July 2018.

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AP GRANTS AND STAFFING / WINDING DOWN PERIOD (2010-2020)

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large volume of work that had already been done on multiple themes in multiple places, and on the lessons learned from nearly 30 years of grant-making, but would be distinctive and clearly focused. In 2010, Atlantic was a sizable, complex and expensive organization with 124 staff members in eight offices on five continents, operating costs of $57 million annually, and open grants numbering just over 1,100, with 384 new grants being made in 2010 alone. Atlantic also had some 30 charitable entities, service companies and related investment companies that would need to be liquidated. By 2013, operating costs had been reduced by a third. This alone generated savings of almost $20 million annually to be used for the final phase. Many tough choices pushed this downward trajectory forward and by 2016 there were only 473 active grants, 75 new grants, 48 staff members and two remaining offices. Operating costs had been reduced by another $12 million (to $26 million), providing additional funds for the culminating investments, and most of the legal entities were on the path to liquidation. Atlantic was well on its way to its goal of zero by the end of 2020. On the grant-making side, Tom Mitchell, Atlantic board member and former provost of Trinity College Dublin, suggested that the initial task should be to gain clarity about who Atlantic was and what they were trying to accomplish before deciding how best to draw the foundation to a fitting close. This led to a set of “first principles” that would guide how Atlantic’s substantial remaining resources would be deployed to maximize the opportunity for impact. Leadership determined that grant-making in the final phase should be able to articulate the intended purpose clearly and to answer the question often asked by Chuck: “What will you have to show for it?” Going forward, grants would be expected to attack root causes of inequities; build on Atlantic’s experiences and strengths, and leverage comparative advantage; support strong anchor leaders or “champions” and institutions; be big bets in terms of lasting impact and distinctiveness; and be focused and feasible in the time remaining. They wanted Atlantic’s work to continue beyond the end of the foundations’ life, so these new big bets needed to achieve sustainability of influence and impact over the long term. Within this frame, Chris first sought to distill existing grant streams and magnify impact through a set of large Global Opportunity and Leverage infrastructure grants (buildings, core institutional

Graphs: Alexis Brown.

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support, human capital development programs). These grants supported selected “champion” grantee organizations to have impact that would outlast Atlantic on issues long at the core of their mutual work. From Chris’ viewpoint, they “brought business as usual to a close while bending existing practices, relationships and commitments toward a final phase.” According to Kavitha

THOMAS (TOM) MITCHELL Tom Mitchell was born on Dec. 6, 1939, on a small farm in County Mayo, Ireland. He had three brothers and two sisters and spent summers helping with work on the farm. But he was noticed by teachers for being eager to learn, and received a scholarship to a good boarding secondary school where he became interested in Roman and Greek societies, and their languages, culture and history. Mitchell won a scholarship to University College Galway, where he received B.A. and M.A. degrees. He was awarded a Ph.D. by Cornell University and a Litt.D. by the University of Dublin. His early academic career was in the U.S. at Cornell University and Swarthmore College, where he was appointed professor of classics in 1978. He assumed the chair of Latin at Trinity College Dublin in 1979 and went on to hold major administrative offices as senior dean and senior lecturer before being elected provost (president) in 1991, a post he held until 2001. Mitchell was chairman of St. James’s Hospital from May 2002 until April 2011. He has been a member of the Arts Council, and was the founding chairman of the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; he also served as chairman of the Irish National Children’s Trust and of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. He was appointed chairman of the Steering Group that established the Press Council of Ireland and the Office of Press Ombudsman in 2007, and was the Council’s first chairman. He was deputy chairman of Atlantic Philanthropies and director of Hibernia College. Mitchell has written four major books on Cicero and Roman republicanism and has published numerous papers in international journals on aspects of Roman politics, constitutional law and political theory. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the American Philosophical Society. He is a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and St. John’s College, Cambridge, and holds honorary doctorates from eight universities around the world. He is married to Lynn Hunter, a New Jersey girl who knows she saw Chuck when he was working one summer on the pier in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. They have four children, all graduates of Trinity College Dublin, and eight grandchildren. Mitchell always says that his greatest reward in life was helping Chuck to achieve his plans to help those less fortunate in life, and was very interested in Chuck’s desire to help the elderly (especially now, when he knows what being elderly is like).

Above left, L-R: Chuck Feeney and Tom Mitchell. Credit: Courtesy of Tom Mitchell. Above right: Tom Mitchell at an Atlantic Philanthropies board meeting in 2015. Credit: Courtesy of the Atlantic Philanthropies Archive, Cornell University.

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Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, ethnographic sociologist and Atlantic board member, saw the big bets as a chance for an “amazing demonstration of what can be done by spending huge amounts of money all at once” to catalyze systemic change.

Mediratta, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity founding executive director and former Atlantic program executive, the Global Opportunity and Leverage grants also “became a way to cushion long-standing grantees with considerable stature in Atlantic portfolios, especially in countries where there was no other philanthropy to take over.” Ultimately exceeding $260 million in total, Global Opportunity and Leverage grants were significant capstones for the four traditional areas of grantmaking that had guided the foundation’s work since 2003, and were often game-changing for the recipient institutions. Through the Global Opportunity and Leverage process of synthesis, Atlantic’s four traditional “siloed” program areas became distilled into a few cross-cutting themes that carried the thematic seeds that would eventually meld into the Atlantic Fellows programs: 1) the “social determinants” of population health, those common root causes that lead to social inequities in societies; 2) inequality, democracy and social change, wherein race became a prominent underlying feature; 3) health sciences and innovation; and 4) Giving While Living. Global Opportunity and Leverage grants were but a first step toward a final phase, according to Billy Hall. For an ending befitting the amount of funds Chuck had made available, Atlantic’s board was looking for culminating big bets that were “holistic, something that will influence the world through multiple geographies, multiple programs, multiple interventions, with the vulnerable and disadvantaged,” noted board chair and global private equity manager Peter Smitham. And the final big bets needed to be big enough and inspirational enough to demonstrate an effective approach to limited-life Giving While Living philanthropy. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, ethnographic sociologist and Atlantic board member, saw the big bets as a chance for an “amazing demonstration of what can be done by spending huge amounts of money all at once” to catalyze systemic change. And they represented a chance to show how a founder’s values and concerns could permeate and live on through those who are impacted by the culminating, big-bet investments. Based on this evolving awareness and consensus, Chris’ challenge — as he considered what these final investments might look like — was to think hard about how to bring Atlantic’s character as a grant-maker as well as traditional areas of work and geographies into creative collaboration with Chuck’s sensibilities, values, aspirations and entrepreneurial creativity in order to strengthen capacities to increase opportunities, especially for those who had been treated unfairly.

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“The Global Opportunity and Leverage process helped consolidate thinking around the intersection of Atlantic Philanthropies’ work and grantees, Chuck’s values and approach, and the systemic needs in the thematic and geographic areas in which we worked,” Chris recalled. Within the limited time frame they had been dealt, the Atlantic board needed to understand as much as possible, and be as sure as possible, in making decisions about these legacy big bets. The accelerated tempo, small team and enormous responsibility meant the traditional board role of attending periodic meetings and approving grants based on staff reporting had to change. Chris wanted the board to be partners in the foundation’s final phase, genuinely well informed and operating on a basis of “transparency and awareness with the opportunity to push back.”

CHRISTOPHER G. OECHSLI Christopher G. Oechsli has served as president and CEO of Atlantic Philanthropies since 2011. Previously, he held various leadership roles in Atlantic’s international business subsidiaries and program work; was counsel to U.S. Sen. Russell Feingold; and worked with private law firms in the U.S. and Asia. He is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles and received an M.A. in foreign affairs and a J.D. from the University of Virginia. Oechsli sees his commitment to the work of the Atlantic Fellows community as growing from his early experiences. He grew up in Latin America and lived for extended periods in India and China. He was privileged. He observed and internalized that privilege as a young boy and later as a working professional, moving often and seeing wide disparities in living and health conditions and social status, as well as ethnic and racial distinctions. Explicit and implicit cultural narratives and government leadership and policies underpinned everything he experienced. Beneath it all he was uplifted and gifted a global horizon by the common human denominators of the joys of music, the bonds of families, the shared creation and partaking of special foods, the common hurt of people lost prematurely, and earthly wonders lost to unthinking developments. His first job was in Memphis, Tennessee, the summer after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed there. Signs separated entrances, drinking fountains and lunch counters by race, echoing what he had experienced in Indigenous Andean communities and, later, in the castes of India. He always felt in some unspoken way that he had a role in evolving our collective way out of those ancient vestibules into new spaces and ways. He feels that his privilege of participating in that journey continues through the Atlantic Fellows community.

Above: Atlantic founder Chuck Feeney, pictured with his wife Helga and Chris Oechsli, signed the dissolution papers for the Atlantic Foundation on Sept. 14, 2020. Credit: Atlantic Philanthropies. Facing page: Chuck Feeney and Chris Oechsli: a long and creative collaboration to strengthen capacities and increase opportunities, especially for those treated unfairly. Credit: Atlantic Philanthropies.

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Rising to this challenge, board members immersed themselves in getting to know the people who would be involved in the big-bet initiatives through formal and informal site visits, as well as digesting the extensive reports of both grantees and Atlantic’s external team of consultant learning partner-evaluators who worked with each grantee. This was a board fit for purpose, with each member bringing critical thinking that sought proof of the value and feasibility of an investment and individual attributes essential to the task. Peter’s knowledge of startup organizations and principles of organizational development and management complemented Sara’s deep insights into human reality and understanding of conceptual frameworks, pedagogy and curriculum. Billy brought attention to a potential grantee’s values, vision and passion, and lent his expertise in turning research into real-world impact. Before Tom retired in 2017, he often provoked the group to think outside the box, asking his colleagues to examine, for example, whether more could be accomplished through large-scale, online training than via bespoke, in-person fellowship programs for cohort sizes of 20 to 25.

KAVITHA MEDIRATTA Kavitha Mediratta is the founding executive director of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. Based at Columbia University in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity was launched by Atlantic Philanthropies in 2016 to build a diverse, multiracial leadership to advance equity and inclusion in the United States and South Africa. An Indian immigrant to the U.S., Mediratta grew up in suburban Long Island, New York, and saw from a young age the vast gap between the promise and reality of opportunity in America, especially for Black people and other communities of color. She has spent the past 30 years working with organizations dedicated to improving educational equity through efforts that center on the leadership of young people of color, who are so often disregarded in society. Her experiences as a teacher, journalist, organizer, researcher, policy analyst and grant-maker inform Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity’s effort to equip leaders to dismantle anti-Black racism and white supremacy through long-term, multilevel, inside-outside change strategies that are grounded in a vision and values of justice and equity. Mediratta holds a B.A. from Amherst College, a master of education from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a doctorate in philosophy from New York University. When not working to build Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity with her amazing colleagues and partners, she can be found gardening, cooking or walking in her local New York City park with her husband, son and dog.

Above left: Kavitha Mediratta, founding executive director of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. Credit: Roger Sedres. Above right, L-R: Chris Oechsli, Billy Hall, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Tom Mitchell and Peter Smitham. Credit: Courtesy of the Atlantic Philanthropies Archive, Cornell University.

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Chris observed that Chuck had a strong affinity for "working with people who have been underappreciated, undervalued, who have a lot to add but have been overlooked, or treated unfairly and deserve better."

Tom’s long experience as a senior university administrator gave him insights into the political dynamics and pressures within these large bureaucracies, and into the cultural challenges they could present to Atlantic’s investments, and these proved invaluable to board deliberations. Atlantic’s board members were all astute students of human nature, comparing their observations and insights to form an understanding of potential grantees that went well beyond written proposals and oral presentations. Through tough questioning and authentic, thoughtful interaction with potential grantees, they each offered their considerable experience to help grantees grapple with the conundrums thrown up by the startup phase. And in the final year, the board members took a step back from nurturing to fulfill their responsibility to evaluate each program’s readiness for a long-term legacy investment. For Sara, this “was a very different board role. I worked enormously hard; I felt a huge responsibility. I took it very seriously and I think my colleagues did as well. There was this appreciation back and forth for what each of us brought” from our diverse perspectives. During these final years, the Atlantic board modeled Chuck’s approach and values, demonstrating a tolerance for ambiguity and messiness that went with the scale and pace of the ambition.

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Ramping Up for the Culminating Big Bets on People Synthesizing threads from the past

Grounded in Chuck’s sensibilities, Atlantic’s overriding mission throughout its 38-year life span had been to expand opportunities, especially for those who had been unfairly excluded, and improve the well-being of disadvantaged populations through building human and physical capacities that enable people to make effective improvements in the lives of others. Lifting up cross-cutting themes during the Global Opportunity and Leverage process helped determine a distinctive focus for the final phase. It led to an increasing sense that Atlantic Philanthropies could make the most progress on this mission by using its remaining resources to understand the roots of inequalities and unfairness, and do something about them, in the thematic areas surrounding social, economic, health/well-being and racial disparities. It clarified that this final effort should build on prior investments in the geographic locations where it had traditionally operated — the places where Chuck had lived, worked or seized opportunities to redress inequities (Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the U.S. and Viet Nam). By 2013, Atlantic had made sufficient progress in winding down operations, determining Global Opportunity and Leverage capstone projects, and gathering resources for the final phase that Chris and the board could begin to plan in earnest for their big bets on people that would enable Atlantic to end well. But Chris didn’t suddenly wake up one morning in 2013 with a fully conceived idea of what this culminating set of initiatives would look like. Just as Global Opportunity and Leverage grants had resulted from a consolidation of traditional grant-making around a few cross-cutting themes, the overall concept for the Atlantic Fellows programs emerged from a long period and process of synthesis, as Atlantic took stock of where it had been and what it had accomplished, and pulled together the defining threads from its past into a conceptual frame for the future that would continue to be iterated as the ideas for individual initiatives took shape. Through three decades of working closely together in business and leading the foundation’s Population Health portfolio in Viet Nam, South Africa and Cuba, Chris had gained Chuck’s trust. “Chuck would open doors and expect me to walk through and get the job done,” Chris recalled. And he did. Through his deep association with Chuck and the foundation, he developed his own passion for creating a culminating project within the frame of Chuck’s values and approach that would hold the possibility of lasting systemic impact. His early handling of the foundation’s pivot

Facing page: Chris Oechsli, president and chief executive officer of Atlantic Philanthropies, who says: “Change for the better is not only possible; it is our shared human imperative.” Credit: Roger Sedres.

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The overall concept for the Atlantic Fellows programs emerged from a long period and process of synthesis, as Atlantic took stock of where it had been and what it had accomplished.

from business as usual onto a clear path to closure gave the board confidence in his leadership of this final phase. As Billy put it: “Chris had Chuck’s and Atlantic’s history in his DNA. He knew what Chuck wanted and could drive it.” But he also interpreted and expanded on Chuck’s thinking. On their trips in Viet Nam, Phuong observed that “Chris was able to take Chuck’s ideas, expand them and leverage them into something even greater.” Peter found Chris’ temperament a good fit for this purpose, saying: “He’s thoughtful, he’s disciplined, he’s considerate, he’s contemplative and he’s not into getting all the credit.” Sara felt he brought “enormous intelligence, strategic acumen, grace and hugely hard work” to this complicated task. LISTENING AND REFLECTING

These experiences and predilections put Chris in an excellent position to listen broadly to players in places where Atlantic had historically engaged. “I was surrounded by people smarter than me,” he recalled. “It was my concluding effort to try to synthesize what the enterprise, Chuck and the staff, and the programming presented as an opportunity for a conclusion. My melding had terrific material and people and input to bring it to shape and form.” His key question was: What is our best contribution to systems change given what we know, what we do and where we do it? Inevitably the answer was some aspect of human capital development, often leadership, and a sense that fellowships provided a potential mechanism for addressing these needs. Two gaps in earlier programming also became relevant to the eventual shape of the Atlantic Fellows programs. Attempts at promoting community, synergies and staff learning across geographies and program areas had not worked well, as everyone had a full-time job and building connections was seen as ancillary. In addition, Atlantic’s focus on single countries after 2007 had limited the ability to take account of the influences and opportunities that flowed to and from nearby countries. The Bridgespan Group, a social impact advisory consultancy, provided another set of smart people to support Chris’ listening and synthesis by capturing and consolidating learning from his discussions and meetings. Ben King, who was on the Bridgespan team before coming to Atlantic full time as chief strategy officer, recalled that their major role was noting trends, raising gaps, setting timelines and designing processes for moving forward, including convenings. “Bridgespan acted as Chris’ staff to map things out and formalize how to get the thinking far enough along to

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take to the board.” This included working with potential grantees to formalize their thinking into proposal documents. Ben joined Atlantic to continue to bring clarity and cohesion to the effort as both technician and tactician. He worked closely with Chris, the small senior leadership team and the board, collecting and presenting information in a systematic and organized fashion, listening to and synthesizing collective thinking, and working iteratively toward solidifying key ideas into foundational materials that would guide each program and the community as a whole. He planned board schedules and timelines, drafted communications efforts, managed reporting by grantees and the external learning partner-evaluators, and worked with the communications team to develop Atlantic’s final products. Ben came to Atlantic because he saw Chris “as a great thought partner trying to do something really exciting, interesting and meaningful. Having helped set it up, I wanted to see it through.” And he did. Ben was one of the handful of senior staff who helped guide Atlantic through to closure. IDENTIFYING AND GATHERING THE THREADS

As part of determining the most fitting use for its remaining resources, Atlantic sought to understand what was distinctive about its past, its work and who it was. Its long-term mission,

BENJAMIN (BEN) KING Benjamin (Ben) King was the chief strategy officer for Atlantic Philanthropies from 2016 to 2020. One of his primary responsibilities was the development, launch and support of the Atlantic Fellows programs. As part of the foundation’s leadership team, he was also involved in executing the final phases of Atlantic’s limited-life strategy. King is currently a senior advisor with JUST Capital, a nonprofit organization focused on building a more just economy that serves the needs of all stakeholders. He is also on the board of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to his work at Atlantic, King was a management consultant, first with Bain & Company and then with The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit firm focused on working with mission-driven organizations. King also served as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. He earned a B.S. in industrial engineering from Stanford University and a master’s in business administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. While passionate about his work, he also spends as much time as possible outside with his wife and four children.

Above, L-R: Ben King, Mary McDonnell, Victor Valcour and Brian Lawlor, at an Atlantic board meeting, Melbourne, in 2018. Credit: Chris Oechsli.

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These partnerships lent different perspectives, experiences and resources to the work in each geography, and crossfertilized knowledge and learning.

the cross-cutting themes identified during the Global Opportunity and Leverage process, and the desire to understand and act on the root causes of inequities and unfairness within its traditional geographies were all essential strands. Additional threads came from Atlantic’s culture and characteristics as a grant-maker, and the elements of its grant-making. The foundations of Atlantic Philanthropies’ culture and characteristics as a grant-maker are rooted in the founder’s values and approach, nature and inclinations. Central is Chuck’s empathy for people, institutions and countries that had been undervalued, underappreciated or treated unfairly through no fault of their own. Achieving greater fairness and equity required the capacity to listen and engage authentically across diverse perspectives, and to tolerate the complexity and ambiguity that was the result. Chuck’s capacity for this tolerance stemmed from his modesty, humility and innate curiosity, and resulted in a genuine interest in learning from those he encountered. These traits were manifest in Atlantic’s early anonymous status, in its low-key, nondirective style of working with grantees, and in its openness to its partners’ experience and knowledge. This style gave agency to partner-grantees and introduced a measure of equity into what are typically unequal relationships between donor and grantee. Betting on people was fundamental to Chuck’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic philosophy. Atlantic traditionally bet on and supported exciting people and exciting institutions with vision and dreams. These strategic partners shared Atlantic’s passion for reducing inequities and its values of empathy, curiosity, compassion and respect for the perspectives of others. Grantees were sometimes proven leaders and sometimes “diamonds in the rough,” and they drove the foundation’s ability to achieve its goals of improving opportunities and lives, especially those of disadvantaged people. Atlantic Philanthropies typically formed long-term partnerships with its grantees, vetting and getting to know them, listening to and iterating with them to achieve alignment, and then investing flexibly in their ideas, strengthening their capabilities to address social problems through staff mentoring and capacity-building activities, and trusting them to carry the work forward over the long term. In keeping with Chuck’s international orientation, Atlantic often facilitated international

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institutional partnerships and networks of grantees working on a common problem from different angles. These partnerships lent different perspectives, experiences and resources to the work in each geography, and cross-fertilized knowledge and learning. New buildings and developing human resources were two key elements of Atlantic’s grant-making that were often coupled with core support for institutions. These infrastructural investments were seen as tools to strengthen the capacity of the system, and individuals within it, to be more effective in solving social problems and achieving systemic change. Atlantic invested more than $2.5 billion in physical capital projects over its lifetime, constructing more than 1,000 buildings across five continents. Chuck preferred investing in physical infrastructure, as buildings gave a tangible answer to the question, “What will you have to show for it?” They represented a concrete and lasting legacy for the next generation, while deploying wealth in a big way and supporting the people and activities using the buildings. Of near equal importance was Atlantic Philanthropies’ focus on developing human capital. Atlantic supported fellowships, scholarships and training programs to expand the capacities of change-makers,

SARA LAWRENCE-LIGHTFOOT Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize-winning sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher research professor of education at Harvard University. An educator, a researcher, an author, a humanist and public intellectual, she has written 11 books that focus on the ecology of families, communities and schools; human developmental, intergenerational relationships and social change; and race, culture and identity. Her 1997 book “The Art and Science of Portraiture” documents her pioneering approach to social science methodology, which bridges the realms of aesthetics and empiricism. In 2019, the Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Endowed Chair was established at Harvard, making her the first African American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed chair named in her honor. LawrenceLightfoot has received 30 honorary degrees and sits on numerous professional and scholarly committees and boards of directors. She feels deeply grateful for her philanthropic service — first as chair of the MacArthur Foundation board, then as vice chair of the Atlantic Philanthropies board, both of which have allowed her to pursue her lifelong and passionate commitment to work for equality and social justice.

Above left: Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot learning from an Indigenous Australian presenter at Sydney Habour, in June 2018. Credit: Mary McDonnell. Above right, L-R: Kavitha Mediratta and Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot at Atlantic Philanthropies staff conference, New York, in October 2013. Credit: Courtesy of the Atlantic Philanthropies Archive, Cornell University.

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beginning with the foundation’s 1982 gift of $7 million to Cornell University to establish the Cornell Tradition, a needs-based fellowship that provides opportunities for undergraduates committed to public service. Education was a targeted sector for grant-making between 1982 and 2001, and throughout its life, Atlantic was a significant force in supporting the higher education sector in its chosen geographies. For example, in Ireland, it invested $177 million and, in Northern Ireland, another $72 million in developing the higher education sector, which included funding new research facilities and more than 3,000 research and postgraduate positions combined. Training of various kinds was woven into Atlantic’s four traditional program portfolios and under Chris’ and Phuong’s

PETER SMITHAM Peter Smitham was born in 1942 in Swansea, Wales — a highly industrial and treeless city, surrounded by coal slag heaps. The pollution was terrible and the air smelled acrid, a fact he was unaware of until he moved away at the age of 21. His childhood neighborhood was poor, with high unemployment rates and many derelict homes due to bombing in World War II. Local politics in Swansea was strongly socialist, and on the day that Stalin died his school held a minute’s silence in his honor. As his father was unemployed much of the time, the young Smitham worked all his available out-of-school hours at the local newspaper shop, organizing the accounts and deliveries. He also played semiprofessional soccer, earning £2.50 per game, including playing for the Welsh Youth under-18 team (he still has the Welsh cap in a box of his most treasured possessions). When Smitham was 15, a group of teachers identified six students at his school with potential, and over three years they lovingly coached them through a five-year course that led to A-Levels. All six went to university — a first for the school and a first for Smitham’s family. On graduating, he joined the Cooperative Wholesale Society, which was a major part of the British socialist movement. His four years there were a great learning curve, from writing member of Parliament briefing papers on the abolition of capital punishment to designing computer forecasting systems for coffins. While there, he also obtained a business degree from the University of Salford. Smitham’s career then progressed through several chapters, each one different from the previous politically, philosophically and professionally. These included spells with ITT, then in pharmaceutical mergers and acquisitions, a startup in semiconductor distribution and its sale 10 years later, and 30 exhilarating years in private equity. In the early 2000s, he satisfied a long-held ambition to help the vulnerable and disadvantaged and became involved in philanthropy — a fascinating world. Meeting Chuck and the amazing people at Atlantic Philanthropies who have committed their lives to creating social change has been transformational.

Above: Peter Smitham (far right), with other Atlantic board members and Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity, in Melbourne, in June 2018. Credit: Chris Oechsli.

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Multiple sectors and perspectives have to come together, listen closely to each other, learn together and contribute to change. Advocates need to push and challenge governments; governments need to push change throughout the system.

leadership, human resources development was a core pillar in the Population Health portfolio. The issues Atlantic had worked on were complex, and lasting progress required systemic change. Buildings and human capital development are necessary components in addressing systemic social problems, but alone they are not sufficient. Knowledge and action are needed. Knowledge has to be generated through groundbreaking research and practice, and translated into innovative solutions. The solutions need to be piloted, tested and scaled up to achieve impact sufficient to change systems. All levels of the system need to be engaged. Multiple sectors and perspectives have to come together, listen closely to each other, learn together and contribute to change. Advocates need to push and challenge governments; governments need to push change throughout the system. Chris had experimented with applying a systems approach in Atlantic’s Population Health work, and had honed his thinking about the value of listening closely to constituents and using a systems approach to impact policy during a 2007-09 stint in Washington, D.C., as counsel to Sen. Russ Feingold. By spring 2014, insights gained from Chris’ two-year “listening tour” with grantees in Atlantic’s nine geographies, and the gathering of these key threads from Atlantic’s past, had begun to coalesce into a conceptual frame that would provide clear purpose and distinctiveness to its final investments. “In developing our final philanthropic investments, we are building on the advances, successes and lessons from our history of grant-making. Like a symphony, the themes, movements and passages in our prior grant-making are coming together in a crescendo that we hope will resonate long after playing the final note.” (Chris Oechsli, CEO News, April 29, 2014)

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Advancing Seven Legacy Programs Collaborating within an evolving frame

The seven distinct but related Atlantic Fellows programs that emerged from this process are grounded in a common, evolving frame that represents a blending of Atlantic’s institutional culture and grant-making characteristics with its historical program areas, places of work and people. Programs take shape through mutual agency, as a co-production between Atlantic’s framing DNA and local needs and interests, which are championed by capable people and institutions who are aligned in values and sensibilities, and rooted in shared purpose and thematic interests. As Chris and his team began to engage seriously with the institutions and individuals who would become partners in Atlantic’s culminating big-bet programs, the gathered threads of Atlantic’s DNA became visible in three ways: as a guiding frame, in the kinds of partners chosen and in the collaborative manner of working. This collaboration enabled mutual agency through an iterative, incremental process of reciprocal listening and learning that generated new ideas and approaches and allowed for mistakes and corrections. Although full of complexity and ambiguity, this gradually brought clarity. These processes grew the ideas and influenced the shape of each Atlantic Fellows program, while refining the common frame. The guiding frame made it clear that Atlantic’s final investments would be deployed in the places, people, networks and topical areas it knew best. Its overarching mission to advance opportunities to achieve well-being, especially for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities, would give common purpose to these culminating projects. They would be big-bet, human capital programs focused on enhancing the capacities of social change leaders to make effective improvements in the lives of others. Through a program experience, perhaps a fellowship, participants would grow personally and professionally, coming to understand the inequitable impacts of the social determinants of well-being, and learning to collaborate across sectors, disciplines and competing perspectives to make change. The programs and the participants would be guided by values of fairness, opportunity and dignity for all, compassion, empathy, courage, generosity of spirit and curiosity. Learning would be enhanced by international exposure through cross-national partnerships, and participants would be drawn into program-based catalytic communities to multiply their capacity to address systemic inequities. As the number of programs grew, the concept of a global catalytic community emerged.

Facing page: Atlantic Fellows for Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia, Pannusart Pookasetwattna from Thailand and Vannaphone Sitthirath from Laos, join the global Atlantic community on graduating from their program.

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The seven distinct but related Atlantic Fellows programs that emerged from this process are grounded in a common, evolving frame that represents a blending of Atlantic’s institutional culture and grant-making characteristics with its historical program areas, places of work and people.

For these final initiatives, Atlantic was looking for partners who were aligned with these approaches and values, who were committed to equity, and who recognized the value of action and impact as components of systems change. It looked for places where the kind of human capital investment it envisioned could catalyze a shift or a direction already underway, allowing a shared purpose to emerge. As Chuck memorably said, “Philanthropy works best not when it steers the grantee’s ship, but when it puts wind in their sails.” From Peter’s perspective, Atlantic was now looking for partners “who would put wind in the sails of agents of change to create an army of people that really would make a difference, a movement linked by causes and geographies that would confront issues of inequality.” Atlantic was also looking for stability. Limited life suggested a need for institutional homes for these initiatives that were proven and durable, and had administrative experience and reputations that would enhance the influence and impact of Fellows, as well as where there would be opportunities for mutual influence over time. Universities offered these attributes. As a component of its strategy to strengthen human capital, Atlantic had worked closely with both well-known and less prominent universities. They were additionally attractive as places that enhanced students’ capacities to learn and act, and promoted open and constructive dialogue and collaboration across multiple professions, cultures and political views. Tom’s appreciation of the benefits and challenges of the university environment helped Atlantic’s board become comfortable with placing some of its fledgling programs inside these large bureaucracies. Reflecting on that period, Chris explained that “drawing on these elements led us to sequentially and iteratively seed and grow the fellowship programs, rooted in specific locations but in common soil around the global challenges of our day.” As this further amalgamation of Atlantic’s frame and the aspirations of its partner-grantees moved forward, the scope of the ambition of the whole enterprise surfaced only gradually. In general, each program developed over three to four years from inception to the arrival of the first cohort. Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health (Global Brain Health Institute) and Atlantic Fellows for Heath Equity in Southeast Asia (The Equity Initiative) came first, originating in conversations in the spring of 2014. An early version of Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity US + Global was close behind. While discussions with the University of Melbourne and the London School of Economics and Political Science began in the second quarter of 2014, Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity and Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

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would not begin to take shape for another year. Just as they began concept development in earnest, a July 2015 convening in South Africa gave birth to Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa (Tekano). With the first two programs approved for incubation in June 2015, the pace quickened substantially as the five remaining projects entered periods of intense development. By June 2016, all seven programs had been approved by Atlantic’s board for their incubation phase grants. In recognition that limited life was imposing constraints that reduced time for reflection, deliberation and experimentation while creating inconsistencies and messiness in the startup phase, a common set of support mechanisms was introduced. During the incubation phase, these included an unusually engaged and supportive board, and partner-evaluators assigned to accompany each program. The Learning and Assessment Partners, as they were formally known, employed a common evaluation structure of milestones and indicators focused on improving organizational, programmatic and impact capacities, and provided common criteria for assessing readiness for final investments. As programs were launched, a common framework of program boards, program charters and contractual obligations was designed to assume responsibility for protecting and nurturing the Atlantic Fellows programs after Atlantic’s departure at the end of 2020.

BEN KERMAN Ben Kerman has a history of engaging in partnership with data, education and human service providers, participants and funders to squeeze impact and insight out of investment. Seeing the disproportional impact of privilege, poverty and prejudice has animated his work for greater equity of opportunity from his earliest days growing up in Bruce Springsteen’s New Jersey. Along the way, he benefited from tenures leading strategic learning at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies, where he designed and launched the adaptive learning and assessment partnership that supported the Atlantic fellowships through their incubation. An “accidental philanthropist,” Kerman has a pragmatic, utilization-focused approach that has been colored by his experience moving along the chain of scale, starting in direct services, progressing into evaluating and improving programs, and then using learning to refine funding and support for system reform. Based in Buffalo, New York, Kerman holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Rhode Island and continues to learn alongside his regional and international consulting clients as well as his wife, three grown children and puppy Dag Hammarskjöld.

Above left: Ben Kerman at the Atlantic all-staff conference, Ireland, in March 2015. Credit: Courtesy of Atlantic Philanthropies Archives, Cornell University. Above right: Chuck and Helga Feeney in San Francisco, in October 2018. Also pictured: Chris Oechsli and Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity, Raymond Orr (seated). Credit: Courtesy of Chris Oechsli.

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They would be big-bet, human capital programs focused on enhancing the capacities of social change leaders to make effective improvements in the lives of others.

The Atlantic Fellows program charter introduction explicitly recognizes the common elements across the Atlantic Fellows programs that emerged from these founding processes. It emphasizes the common aspects of mission, vision and founding values, and the attributes of equity, dignity and inclusion, empathy, compassion and curiosity. It elevates the importance of applying these values to learning and collaborating across diversity on solutions to inequities that undermine human well-being. It charges the global community with working together to enhance individual and collective impact, and to amplify the influence of Fellows and programs to promote healthy, fair and inclusive societies.

Facing page, L-R: Tala Al-Rousan, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, joins Zanele Ntombizanele Figlan and Shehnaz Munshi, Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa. Credit: Lee Atherton.

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Growing the Global Community Collaborating to catalyze change

While Atlantic’s initial frame for its concluding big bets included the idea of program-level catalytic communities, a cross-program community, let alone a community of seven programs, was not yet envisioned when the first two Atlantic Fellows programs were in development. Chris and his team kept looking at resources as older grant commitments were fulfilled, operations and staffing were downsized, and the investment portfolio was liquidated. These activities, and the substantive issues Atlantic wanted to impact as it concluded, gradually led to the growth in the number of programs. Chris recalled a moment of recognition, after the first two Atlantic Fellows programs were approved, that there would be sufficient resources to create a synergistic group of programs and Fellows: “There may be three or four and that begins to sound like a critical, perhaps related, mass.” Ian and Brian remembered receiving a call from Chris soon after the Global Brain Health Institute incubation grant had been approved in June 2015. He was mulling over the idea of a cross-program community and wanted to bounce his ideas around. He thought there would be a few programs like theirs around the world and wondered what they thought about bringing them all together as partner programs. According to Ian and Brian, “It was quite impressive, the way he was beginning to think about a bigger vision, and we agreed.” SUPPORTING AN EXPANDING FAMILY OF PROGRAMS

In part based on earlier, less successful, attempts to learn across their program areas and geographies, this expansion was opening up Atlantic’s thinking about the usefulness of some sort of hub, and a team of people whose job would be to build connections and support programs after Atlantic and the support it offered had disappeared. Ben King recalled a growing sense that “if you wanted people to connect and share experiences and knowledge and practices, you needed to intentionally invest in something like an institute. If it’s going to be a network, we began to ask, what kind of coordinating structure needs to be around it?” Early thinking was that such a hub could recognize opportunities for promoting cross-program synergies and peer learning through convening and collaboration; create and disseminate knowledge; and develop and maintain a collective identity or brand across programs based on shared vision and values, and be designed to enhance the influence of Fellows. And, they briefly wondered whether such an entity should provide a global governance mechanism for the family of Atlantic Fellows programs, or perhaps

Facing page: Brian Lawlor, Conolly Norman Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and deputy executive director of the Global Brain Health Institute. Credit: Lee Atherton.

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offer core leadership training. By mid-2015, when the Atlantic Institute was in early formation, the concept of the Institute as supportive, connective tissue had superseded earlier thinking. BEYOND SUPPORT TO COLLABORATIVE COLLECTIVE ACTION

As Atlantic leadership mulled over this idea, they also began to imagine the power that could be harnessed by going beyond supporting and connecting programs and Fellows, to developing a purposeful global catalytic community that could amplify the work of individual Fellows and program communities and, through cross-program collaboration and collective action, effect systems change to create more equitable societies globally. By mid-2016, cross-community collaboration was seen as an accelerator of a common purpose, to have significant impact and influence on inequity and unfairness. Rather than providing leadership training, the Institute could enable Fellow-leaders to connect, learn and act in the interests of collective problem-solving through providing networks, architecture and resources. Emblematic of that shift in thinking was the evolution of the name from the Atlantic Leadership Institute to simply the Atlantic Institute.

JAMES (JIM) McCLUSKEY James (Jim) McCluskey is a member of the board of the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program and of the Atlantic Institute governing board. A professor at the University of Melbourne, where he has been for more than 20 years, Dr. McCluskey became deputy vice chancellor (research) in 2011. He studied to be a physician in Perth before embarking on a life of research into how genes control immunity, initially at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and later at Monash University, Flinders University and the University of Melbourne. He has overseen transplantation matching by Life Blood, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, for the past 30 years. His research has won a number of prizes and he has served on the governing boards of multiple independent medical research institutes in Melbourne. He is a director of the Australian Friends of Asha (a charity to improve life in Indian slums) and Trinity College Melbourne. He led the development of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. Dr. McCluskey’s family came from the working class of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, where prospects were not promising. When he was 11 years old, he emigrated to Australia along with his parents and brother, which transformed his life by means of the education and opportunities offered by a growing nation. He enjoys opera, music and wine, has two grandchildren and is approaching 50 years of marriage to his life coach, Eva Strinovich. He swims in Port Phillip Bay, even when the water is colder than he would like. He became an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2018.

Above, L-R: Adrian Colette, Penelope Brook (founding executive director of the Atlantic Institute), Ben King, Glyn Davis, Jim McCluskey, Chris Oechsli and Mary McDonnell, at the Benefactors Dinner, Melbourne, in August 2017. Credit: Courtesy of the University of Melbourne.

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Ben King recalled a growing sense that if you wanted people to connect and share experiences and knowledge and practices, you needed to intentionally invest in something like an institute.

In the spring of 2016, Atlantic announced the formation of the Atlantic Institute to “serve as an independent convening, knowledge and experience-sharing hub for all of our Atlantic Fellows. Its purpose is to support collaboration across the several Atlantic programs, leading to outcomes greater than any single individual, or program, could achieve separately.” Sara captures well the promise of what the community can achieve together: “If each of these programs figures out a way to make a difference to dismantling inequalities in their part of the world, that’s good. But the bigger agenda is the collective global work of making a difference all over the world in a collaborative, mutually informative, mutually inspiring way. That’s the highest hope.” This resonated with the thinking of Jim McCluskey, Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity founder: “Our common interests and values will be a substrate from which to extract from the grit of our differences the edge that creates novel thinking and approaches to the challenges we face individually and collectively.” Collaboration impacts the individual as much as the collective. In thinking about the value of the global community, Phuong observed: “I believe in the power of the individual to do things, especially when they are connected to each other and are able to work with each other. That can really initiate significant changes in society. If we can show that although the programs are different, we can come together across our differences and do just one or two things globally, it would be a fantastic start. I don’t think there has been anything like this in the past!” Even as clarity was emerging on the need and vision for an Atlantic Fellows community, and the role a coordinating hub might play in creating a centripetal force, the search was underway to explore appropriate institutional home bases for the Atlantic Institute. As with the institutional homes for the individual Atlantic Fellows programs, Atlantic was looking for a partner aligned in approach, values and commitment to equity. It wanted a partner that was already in the midst of a shift in its trajectory that resonated with the overarching mission of the Atlantic Fellows programs, a place where Atlantic’s investment could add value to the partner’s preexisting aspirations.

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Experience in developing and managing fellowship programs and sustaining strong and influential international alumni networks was a highly desired attribute. Stability was critical in choosing a potential partner, due to the exigencies imposed by limited life. Just as critical was a reputation that would ensure strong convening power and enhance the influence of Atlantic Fellows. Landing on a central location that would be convenient for the widely dispersed Atlantic Fellows programs was an added challenge. Creating a standalone organization was briefly considered and dismissed as unrealistic, given the time it would take to set up, brand and develop the Institute as a recognized and respected presence. Using these criteria, by October 2015, the Rhodes Trust at the University of Oxford, which managed the renowned Rhodes Scholars programs, had surfaced as the leading contender among a strong shortlist of proven institutions that each offered some of the attributes and expertise sought. Rhodes had been on Chris’ radar since he had begun thinking about human capital programs as a possible culminating investment. In the early 2000s, he had met the chair of the Rhodes Trustees,

EVIE O’BRIEN Evie O’Brien is the executive director of the Atlantic Institute. Based at Rhodes House in Oxford, England, the Institute was established in 2016 by Atlantic Philanthropies to build the lifelong global community of Atlantic Senior Fellows from the seven Atlantic Fellows programs. O’Brien is an Indigenous (Maori) New Zealander and is passionate about values-based leadership, social justice, radical inclusion and educational revolutions that make the impossible possible. O'Brien moved to Oxford in 2018, having spent the previous 30 years working in higher education institutions in New Zealand. Her career has been focused on organizational culture change and the leadership necessary to improve outcomes for those most disadvantaged by education systems established to benefit certain groups over others. Most recently before joining the Institute, she held executive leadership roles in two Indigenous universities that focused on the reclamation and legitimization of Maori knowledge systems to support the flourishing of Maori communities and a bicultural nation. She is committed to leadership that honors community and the building of spaces that pivot from being diverse to being spaces of inclusion and belonging. O’Brien holds a B.Ed. (Adult Education) from Massey University and an MBA from the University of Waikato. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, walking, blog writing and reconnecting with her family (including her grandchildren) back in New Zealand and Australia. Since moving to the U.K., she has also developed a love and appreciation of gardening.

Above: Evie O’Brien speaking at the Global Convening of Senior Fellows in 2019. Credit: Lee Atherton.

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As Atlantic mulled over this idea, they also began to imagine the power that could be harnessed by going beyond supporting and connecting programs and Fellows, to developing a purposeful global catalytic community.

John Hood, when he was vice chancellor of the University of Auckland at a time when Chris was exploring potential connections that could enhance the Population Health program’s work in Viet Nam. Some ten years later, as part of his listening tours, Chris looked up John to learn about Rhodes’ experience with their scholars’ programs. John connected Chris with Charles Conn, the warden of Rhodes Trust, who shared their emerging plans for building a long-term community among their Rhodes Scholars. “We were aligned in our directions,” reflected Chris, “because strategically, they were imagining, how do you take this publicly spirited, values-based, human capital community, reinvent it for today’s world and enhance its influence and impact?” This began a series of gradually more concrete discussions and negotiations with Charles and his team that proceeded incrementally throughout 2015. Supported by Bridgespan, it involved visits to Oxford by Atlantic’s leadership, a board session in September of that year, and extended negotiations on the structure and content of the partnership. In September 2016, more than two years after talks began in earnest, the Rhodes Trust was formally approved as the home for the Atlantic Institute. Six months later, the Institute’s founding executive director, Penelope Brook, was hired by the Trust and began her own listening tour among the Atlantic Fellows programs as a first step in turning the concept of the Institute and the Atlantic Fellows catalytic community into a reality. The difficult legacy of Cecil Rhodes, and the Rhodes Must Fall movement that began in March 2015, presented huge challenges to the prospect of Atlantic’s partnering with the Trust for its equity-oriented legacy fellowship programs, and led to serious-minded discussions within the Atlantic board. After considerable deliberation, Atlantic chose Rhodes and Oxford purposefully. Partnering with Rhodes was seen as an opportunity for Atlantic and Atlantic Fellows to join the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholars in recognizing and moving beyond this painful legacy, through open, honest, thought-provoking and solutions-oriented discussions, as Chuck had done in seeking to bring an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles. Chris saw that “they wanted to change. They wanted to enhance the direction in which they were going. We were aligned in that direction.” A partnership with Rhodes also presented opportunities to demystify Oxford and Rhodes for Atlantic Fellows, and continue the process of navigating complexity and building alliances across diverse

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perspectives by widening their networks and levers of change. For Maori social change leader Evie O’Brien, an Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity and the Institute’s second executive director, this was a major attraction. “I saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime to work for the Institute and the Atlantic Fellows community when I was offered the role of program director and then executive director,” said Evie. “I was a Fellow who already knew about the power of our community, united in the pursuit of equity. Moreover, now being based at Rhodes House is a daily reminder of the legacy of imperialism, which compels us to act, to change this painful legacy.” Setting in place a vision and a set of mechanisms to galvanize and support a global community of Atlantic Fellows programs and Fellows was but a first step. The prospect for catalytic collective action that improves the well-being of those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities, and complements individual or program-level impact, is compelling. The work of building a global community for collective impact is hard, complex and ongoing; it is the shared responsibility of the Atlantic Institute, the program leads and staff, and the Fellows. The Institute is charged with drawing programs and Fellows into collective action, but the foundations on which this global community can be built are found in the robust program-level communities formed by each Atlantic Fellows program, based on a powerful induction year that includes empathetic relationships among staff and Fellows, and a memorable and impactful program experience.

Above: Senior Fellows convening, hosted by the Atlantic Institute at Rhodes House, Oxford, in February 2018. Credit: Atlantic Institute. Facing page: AFP Leadership Conference, Rhodes House, Oxford, in July 2018. Credit: Atlantic Institute.

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Photo captions go here

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Common Enduring Challenges The complexities of journeying together

Building a catalytic community and realizing the promise it holds for advancing opportunities to achieve well-being, especially for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities, is a journey that requires tolerance for complexities, contradictions and the unsettledness of ongoing evolution. It also requires working together on a set of cross-community enduring challenges articulated by those engaged with the development of the Atlantic Fellows programs that partly emerge from the contextual realities of these founding stories. Atlantic as an organization had a set of approaches, values and dynamics that have become rooted in the programs and community. The threads that come together in the framing concept, the time constraints and urgency of pace dictated by limited life, the founding processes, and the ambitious vision for this community each contribute to the challenges that play out in community life. They fall into three main areas: developing and sustaining a global community strong enough to have collective impact; ensuring a program experience sufficient for impact and consonant with the family of Atlantic Fellows programs; and nurturing a durable program-level organization stable enough to enable program impact and influence. GLOBAL COMMUNITY AND COLLECTIVE IMPACT

A central challenge is posed by the incremental and bottom-up (federalist) design process that allowed each program to evolve as a distinct entity in advance of considering common attributes, forming a community or fully implementing a connecting organization. This approach has strengths but produces centrifugal forces against the centripetal forces of the shared ancestry, and creates difficulties in advancing common culture and goals. Awareness of the challenges of federalism normalizes them and reduces anxiety but does not make them disappear. Success, for Peter, “will depend on how clearly the benefits of the Institute are seen, how strong the benefits of the collective actually are. You’ll have no problem holding a federation together as long as the people want to be there. The Institute has to be a magnet. It has to demonstrate capability and ability to add value.” Victor Valcour, the Global Brain Health Institute executive director, found cause for optimism in the Atlantic Institute’s creation of “programs that add value and link across programs, an effective strategy for enticing people to join the community.” From the standpoint of the Atlantic Institute’s executive director, Evie O’Brien, an important part of being a magnet and adding value is having set pieces that benefit Fellows’ work and collective action, but also “having a comfort level with

Facing page: Victor Valcour, inaugural executive director of the Global Brain Health Institute. Center right: Tracey Naledi, chairperson of the Tekano Board.

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the unknown, with unknown unknowns, and a deep commitment to doing things differently and to being agile enough to respond rapidly in the moment.” Adding value at the Institute level is necessary, but alone is not sufficient. Shifting the needle on underlying societal inequities through community action also requires balancing the tension between holding complexity and ambiguity, and purposefully achieving goals. This, in turn, requires harmonization among programs that grew up within and in response to diverse political and social contexts and that address diverse problems, as well as harmonization between local programs and the global community. It means navigating among shared global and distinct program-level efforts to build communities of purpose so that one does not impede the other, but rather, as Jim suggested, rises to “the mutual challenge of translating the aspirations of each program into measurable, tangible social change that improves the lives of our disparate communities and spreads across the seven programs to influence each of our communities.” This harmonization and navigation mirror the challenges that Fellows face as they become adept at navigating the diversity inherent in their cohort. Making progress at the local and global levels is

TRACEY NALEDI Tracey Naledi is a public health physician who has worked in government and nongovernmental sectors in South Africa and Botswana. She is one of the deputy deans at the University of Cape Town Faculty of Health Sciences, and the founding chairperson of Tekano (Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa). She is a Black African woman who grew up in Duduza, a township east of Johannesburg, where her family had been forcibly relocated during apartheid. Her passion for a fairer and just society is influenced by the experiences of her working-class family and in particular her grandmother, who was a domestic worker who left her own children with extended family to live with and care for a white family for a pittance of a wage in poor working conditions. Dr. Naledi comes from a strong, loving family who value community. She is inspired by her parents’ example of how education could take one out of poverty. She is currently undertaking her Ph.D. studies part-time, evaluating the impact of a conditional cash transfer program on HIV and livelihoods of emerging adult women (19–24 years) in two low-income communities in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a Discovery Foundation Fellow and Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation Fellow. Dr. Naledi is married and has two teenage children.

Above, L-R: Opal Tometi, Tracey Naledi, Redi Tlhabi and Lebogang Ramafok at a gathering of board members of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa, Cape Town, in February 2020. Credit: Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity.

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linked to sustaining and strengthening the community’s values-based culture, and being open to the perspectives that emanate from multiple manifestations of diversity. It requires infusing all aspects of the program experience with these attributes. Program teams are key, as they live and model the culture in style, process, values and behaviors. Tracey Naledi, Tekano board chair, reflected on the issue: “We made the mistake of thinking transmitting the culture happens by osmosis. It does not. There needs to be a systematic program of institutionalizing the culture and socializing staff members who are coming into this family, because none of us who were at the beginning will be there forever.” FELLOWS’ EXPERIENCE AND PROGRAM IMPACT

Common, long-term, program-level challenges include: selecting Fellows based on their readiness to grow, fit with program and global community goals, and with the program experience on offer; acting as learning organizations, ensuring an induction-year experience that provides substantive knowledge and builds a strong program community; and determining strategies for achieving a program’s impact, reputation and reach. For Mike Savage, co-founder of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program at the London School of Economics and Political Science,

MIKE SAVAGE Mike Savage’s awareness of inequality was deepened by his experience as a graduate student at the University of Lancaster in the early 1980s, where he witnessed the collapse of industry and the rapid rise in unemployment in northern English towns. Then as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sussex in the late 1980s, he saw the growth of an affluent professional class in the south of England working in finance and hi-tech. This concern with intensifying economic and social dislocations has driven much of his research, including his bestselling “Social Class in the 21st Century” (2015), and “The Return of Inequality: Social Change and the Weight of History” (2021). He has been a professor in and head of the sociology departments at the universities of Manchester and York, and at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2015, with Sir John Hills, he co-founded the London School of Economics’ International Inequalities Institute (III) and the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program. He served as the III’s founding director and as the inaugural academic director of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program and inaugural chair of its governing board. In his spare time, he enjoys mountain walking and bike touring.

Above left: Mike Savage, co-founder of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program. Credit: Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity. Above right: Team retreat for Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity, in February 2018. Credit: Mary McDonnell.

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balancing between “the programs as empowering and community-building on the one hand and the programs as learning experiences in which specific methodological and theoretical skills and substantive knowledge are enhanced on the other” will be an ongoing challenge. DURABLE PROGRAM ORGANIZATION

Atlantic’s limited life elevated the need for the Atlantic Fellows programs to become durable organizations embedded within proven institutions, often universities. Evolving and sustaining durable organizations with continuity of effective management and responsible governance poses ongoing challenges, as with all startup organizations. These innovative and action-oriented

GUENEVERE BURKE Dr. Guenevere Burke is executive director and co-founder of Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity US + Global. She is an assistant professor of emergency medicine, health policy and management at the George Washington University. In this role, she is actively involved in medical education and interdisciplinary graduate programs in health policy, health equity and health care technology. Dr. Burke is a board-certified emergency physician who provides clinical care in traditional and telemedicine encounters through George Washington University's Department of Emergency Medicine. She is site director for the department’s practice at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and previously served as president of the District of Columbia American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Burke completed fellowship training in health policy at George Washington University, working as a fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation and serving as health policy adviser to Sen. Grassley, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. She completed her medical education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and residency training at the University of Southern California, where she served as chief resident. She holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and previously worked in international health care consulting and hospital finance, prior to her career in medicine. A native of New York, she now lives in Virginia with her two children and husband. They enjoy the local parks and playgrounds at every opportunity. Dr. Burke is a novice devotee of the opera and aspires to live the values of her family, which include hard work and stubbornness. One of her great honors, as a practicing Catholic, was serving as the on-call physician for Pope Francis during his mass at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Above: Guenevere Burke, co-founder of Atlantic Fellows Health Equity, sits in center of front row. Fitzhugh Mullan, co-director and co-founder of Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity, is center right.

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A central challenge is posed by the incremental and bottom-up (federalist) design process that allowed each program to evolve as a distinct entity in advance of considering common attributes, forming a community, or fully implementing a connecting organization.

programs face the further challenge of gaining and maintaining institutional commitment and mutual value and influence within their bureaucratic, somewhat autocratic, host institutions so as to benefit both Fellows and hosts. Sustaining and deepening core international partnerships to induce mutual influence, extend impact, refresh and challenge programs and partners, and draw into the Fellows’ experience a broader portfolio of perspectives is inherent in Atlantic’s theory of change and requires concerted nurturing over the long term. Executive director of Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity US + Global, Guenevere Burke, put it well: “My biggest challenge is that I feel I’m running a nonprofit within a university, trying to foster a culture of equity within a very hierarchical organization. We are playing by their rules but at the same time trying to walk the walk of equity.”

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Individual Atlantic Fellows Program Stories

The seven distinct but related Atlantic Fellows programs are grounded in a common, evolving frame that represents a blending of Atlantic’s institutional culture and grant-making characteristics with its historical program areas, places of work and people. Programs then take shape through mutual agency, as a co-production between Atlantic’s framing DNA and local needs and interests, which are championed by capable people and institutions who are aligned in values and sensibilities rooted in shared purpose and thematic interests. As programs were developed, the gathered threads of Atlantic’s DNA became visible in three ways: as a guiding frame, in the kinds of partners chosen, and in the collaborative manner of working. This collaboration enabled mutual agency through an iterative, incremental process of reciprocal listening and learning that generated new ideas and approaches. Although full of complexity and ambiguity, these processes gradually brought clarity through the development of ideas that influenced the shape of each Atlantic Fellows program. At the same time, this entailed refining the common frame that had emerged by spring 2014 from the process of synthesizing Atlantic’s origins with the findings from Chris’ two-year “listening tour” with grantees across the Institute’s nine traditional geographies. The guiding frame made it clear that Atlantic would continue to invest in the places, people, networks and topical areas it knew best. Its overarching mission to advance opportunities to

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achieve well-being, especially for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities, would give common purpose to these culminating projects. They would be big-bet, human capital programs focused on enhancing the capacities of social change leaders to make effective improvements in the lives of others. Through a program experience, perhaps a fellowship, participants would grow personally and professionally, coming to understand the inequitable impacts of the social determinants of well-being; and, for maximum impact, would learn to collaborate across sectors, disciplines and competing perspectives to make change. The programs and the participants would be guided by values of fairness, opportunity and dignity for all, compassion, empathy, courage, generosity of spirit and curiosity. Learning would be enhanced by international exposure through cross-national partnerships, and participants would be drawn into program-based catalytic communities to multiply their capacity to address systemic inequities. As the number of programs grew, the concept of a global catalytic community emerged. Atlantic was looking for partners who were aligned with these approaches and values, who were committed to equity and who recognized the value of action and impact as components of systems change. It looked for places where the kind of human capital investment it envisioned could catalyze a shift or a direction already underway, allowing a shared purpose to emerge. Limited life suggested a need for institutional homes that were proven and durable, and had administrative experience with reputations that would enhance the influence and impact of Fellows both

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INDIVIDUAL ATLANTIC FELLOWS PROGRAM STORIES

“In the particular is contained the universal,” wrote James Joyce, and these seven cases illustrate how each program grew from both common attributes and local issues, needs and contexts.

individually and collectively. Universities offered these attributes and were thus a natural fit. Additionally, they were attractive as places that enhanced students’ capacities to learn and act, promoting open and constructive dialogue and collaboration across multiple professions, cultures and political views. As this amalgamation of Atlantic’s frame and the aspirations of its partner-grantees moved forward, the scope of the ambition of the entire enterprise surfaced only gradually. In general, each program developed over three to four years from inception to the arrival of the first cohort. Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health (Global Brain Health Institute) and Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia (The Equity Initiative) came first, originating in conversations in the spring of 2014. An early version of Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity US + Global was close behind. While discussions with the University of Melbourne and the London School of Economics and Political Science were also getting underway, the respective Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity and Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programs would not begin to take shape for another year. Just as they began concept development in earnest, a July 2015 convening in South Africa gave birth to Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa (Tekano). With the first two programs approved for incubation in June 2015, the pace quickened substantially as the five remaining projects entered periods of intense development. By June 2016, all seven programs had been approved by Atlantic’s board for their incubation phase grants. The narratives in Part Two explore the founding story of each of the Atlantic Fellows programs. “In the particular is contained the universal,” wrote James Joyce, and these seven cases illustrate how each program grew from both common attributes and local issues, needs and contexts. Each local issue, in turn, provided a window, an entry point, for understanding the universal problems and potential shared solutions for social inequity that are the common drivers of all Atlantic Fellows programs.

Facing page: Fellows in the Atlantic global community seek to connect, be inspired and collaborate. Credit: Selam Bedada.

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PART TWO / INTRODUCTION

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2013-2018 Timeline: Founding of the Atlantic Fellows Community

2013 LATE

DISCUSSION BEGINS

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ATLANTIC INSTITUTE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC EQUITY SOCIAL EQUITY

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BRAIN HEALTH HEALTH EQUITY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

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2017 EARLY HEALTH EQUITY US + GLOBAL

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2018

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Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health, based at the Global Brain Health Institute of University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin, seeks social and public health solutions to reduce the scale and impact of dementia, particularly in vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, through empowering fellows to translate research evidence into policies and practices. Trinity and UC San Francisco were two of Atlantic’s longest-term partners. Beginning in 1990, investments at UC San Francisco had focused on infrastructure for health sciences, with modest projects in cardiovascular and cancer research. This expanded to include major physical capital projects, notably at the Mission Bay biomedical research campus. The construction of hospitals, a nursing school, and research facilities for cancer, global health sciences and neuroscience were paired with human resources development projects, together totaling nearly $400 million by 2014. In the same period, Atlantic invested $162 million in Trinity. Funds were almost evenly split between 1) physical capital projects to develop a range of central research facilities, including building an Institute of Neuroscience, and restoring older historic structures; and 2) large-scale research projects around aging and dementia, such as the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, the Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing and the Neuro-Enhancement for Independent Lives project. Chuck had a particular interest in health sciences; he lived much of the year in San Francisco, while maintaining a small apartment on the grounds of Atlantic’s Dublin office on Lower Baggot Street. He knew the players and had personally worked with both institutions. The ease arising from long familiarity and alignment in sensibilities, and from values rooted in mutual thematic interests and significant joint accomplishments, made both Trinity and UC San Francisco natural places for Chris to seek co-agents who could consider with him what the foundation’s best final contributions could be, given, as he put it, “the things we know and do, and where we do them.” Early in his tenure, as Chris set out to listen and learn from grantees, he visited Trinity, where he met Ian Robertson at the Institute of Neuroscience. Ian had been working on Atlantic-funded projects since 2000 and was on a train to Belfast when Tom Mitchell (Trinity provost and Atlantic board member) called. “He asked if I would develop a proposal for a neuroscience research institute to take to Atlantic,” recalled Ian. A few months after connecting with Chris in Dublin, Ian gave a talk at the Irish Consulate in New York on the ways power and powerlessness change

Facing page: Cindy Weinstein and Shamiel McFarlane, Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health.

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the brain. Steve McConnell, who led Atlantic’s U.S. programs from its New York office, was there and afterward spoke with Ian. “Steve liked what he heard,” Ian later recalled, because in spring 2014 he received a call from Steve, together with Mary Sutton, head of Atlantic’s Dublin office. They explained that Atlantic was considering a few legacy projects and was looking for a way to integrate their investments in neuroscience and aging across the globe. “Based on my work on powerlessness, I talked about the way social inequality impacts the brain and then I put those ideas on paper and sent them along to Mary and Steve.” Ian’s thought piece focused on the ways “cognitive reserve” protects brain health but is undermined by the same inequalities in socioeconomic variables that affect physical health. He argued for a multisectoral approach to this problem that combined the socioeconomic, behavioral, biomedical and technological inputs needed to deepen understanding, identify new interventions and address the underlying

BRUCE MILLER Bruce Miller is the A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco where he directs the Memory and Aging Center. He is the principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and program project on frontotemporal dementia, and he is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. As a behavioral neurologist whose work emphasizes brain-behavior relationships, he has reported on the emergence of artistic ability, personality, cognition and emotion with the onset of neurodegenerative disease. In 2015, partly in response to research findings showing that 30% to 40% of dementia cases could be eliminated with lifestyle changes, Dr. Miller co-founded the Global Brain Health Institute and the Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program, which he now co-directs. His longtime work with both patient artists and professional artists signaled a role for an interdisciplinary, equity-based approach to brain health through education, policy change and evidence-based interventions. His passion for mentoring smart, energetic leaders and providing a common grounding in the science of neurodegenerative disease and research has led to an outstanding group of Atlantic Fellows doing work all over the world to reduce the scale and impact of dementia. He co-authored a book "Finding the Right Words" about Alzheimer's disease from the perspective of a neuroscientist (Miller) and an Atlantic Fellow and caregiver, Cynthia Weinstein. Dr. Miller maintains his own brain health by going for runs in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, doing Pilates, watching and discussing movies with his partner of more than 50 years, Deborah Miller, and being an active father to Hannah and Elliot, and grandfather to Addie, five, and Mason, eight.

Above: Bruce Miller (second from the right) next to Chris Oechsli at an Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program strategy meeting at their annual conference, in Buenos Aires, 2018.

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PART TWO / SECTION ONE

Bruce thought they’d given Chris “a flavor of our passion for the brain, for education and for equity” and that Chris left curious about what they could do together.

inequalities. “Next,” remembered Ian, “I got a call asking me who I knew at the University of California, San Francisco and I mentioned Bruce Miller, who I knew quite well as we edited a journal together.” Bruce had been recruited to the university in 1998 from Harbor-UCLA, a hospital that cares for the poorer populations of Los Angeles, to grow the Memory and Aging Center both as a clinic and as an associated multidisciplinary research and training space. He had never been an Atlantic grantee, but Chris knew him a little. They’d had coffee with Chuck, at his favorite spot — Crossroads Café on San Francisco’s Delancey Street — three years before, during consultations for the construction of a new neuroscience building. Following up Steve’s conversations with Ian, Chris emailed Bruce during a regular visit to San Francisco to work with Chuck. They met, as Bruce recalled, in 2014, on opening day for the San Francisco Giants: “I’d had an email from my friend, Ian Robertson, at Trinity that Atlantic Philanthropies was thinking about doing something around brain health and they’d been exchanging ideas. I immediately thought this would be about basic neuroscience research because that’s what Atlantic had funded. But it was clear that was not what Chris was thinking. He seemed most interested when I talked about global health or the trainees we had at the Memory and Aging Center. I took him down to our central area where people congregate, and we ran into Victor Valcour.” Victor had just returned from Bangkok, excited that his HIV cure studies based there had attracted the praise of the National Institutes of Health. “I remember talking quite a bit about my passion for capacity building and the work I was doing in Asia and Africa. I thought Chris liked the idea of something global with capacity building around dementia. Afterward, I remember saying to Bruce that I’d like to take some leadership in this,” Victor recalled. Bruce thought they’d given Chris “a flavor of our passion for the brain, for education and for equity” and that Chris left curious about what they could do together. Bruce was right. The next day, Chris wrote to him, attaching the thought piece Ian had sent Mary and Steve on “Inequality, Brain Health and Dementia.” He suggested that one meaningful way for Atlantic to conclude its grant-making with maximum impact would be by marrying their

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Ian recalled, “I brought in Brian Lawlor and Bruce brought in Victor and we became the leadership team to develop the project. This was the beginning of our weekly Wednesday afternoon meetings that continue to this day.”

investments in leading science and research institutions with their historical program themes to support human capital and leadership development around the theme of “the healthy aging mind.” An overarching set of goals that might underpin such a project was beginning to emerge from these discussions and others, particularly with Atlantic’s former program executive for Viet Nam, Le Nhan Phuong. Phuong was at a similar stage in working with Chris to combine Atlantic’s historical interests and approaches with local needs and contexts in a leadership fellowship program. This program would build on Atlantic’s prior population health investments to advance health equity in Southeast Asia by promoting collaboration across sectors and national boundaries in the interests of addressing social determinants, policy and systems reform. Chris articulated these emerging goals for Bruce: “to enhance international research and collaboration; build leadership capacity with an appreciation for Chuck’s interest in creating opportunities for, and betting on, promising people; advance multidisciplinary thinking, impact policy, enhance advocacy efforts and understand the impact of social inequities.” He suggested the project be international in scope and “increase opportunities for collaboration among the countries in which Atlantic has historically worked to strengthen catalytic interaction, and build and sustain capacity into the future.” Bruce quickly responded by outlining the problem of dementia and the toll it takes. He demonstrated that the Memory and Aging Center was already moving in the direction Chris had laid out through their collaborative, multidisciplinary space that included research, an artists-in-residence program, the training of young fellows, and the development of solutions toward better diagnosis, prevention and care. He proposed that they think together about the value of a multidisciplinary international research institute that would train leaders to conduct and translate research for innovative solutions. Shortly thereafter, Steve circulated a Terms of Reference based on these exchanges. He suggested a small planning grant to support Bruce and Ian to convene Atlantic’s global grantees in neuroscience, aging, dementia and the brain, and to prepare a subsequent proposal. Ian recalled: “I brought in Brian Lawlor and Bruce brought in Victor and we became the leadership team to develop the project. This was the beginning of our weekly Wednesday afternoon meetings that continue to this day.”

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Brian had been leading Neuro-Enhancement for Independent Lives, which gathered the threads of Atlantic’s prior investments at Trinity in neuroscience, aging and dementia into a single project. In this project, Brian and Ian had brought together clinical activities in dementia at Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing, which was patient-centered and included public engagement and creative arts, and the research done at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. “Neuro-Enhancement for Independent Lives was the only space focused on breaking down professional silos to translate existing knowledge into models, and then scalable interventions that could affect millions of people, particularly in less privileged societies,” Brian explained. “What we were already doing in Neuro-Enhancement for Independent Lives was precisely what made it so easy to respond to Steve’s call looking for ideas to bring together work on aging and neuroscience. What we didn’t have was the policy focus. That came from Atlantic Philanthropies.” Ian added: “Tom [Mitchell] was a tremendous source of encouragement as we developed our ideas, and was instrumental in embedding the Global Brain Health Institute into Trinity.” Across an ocean, Atlantic and its two long-term partners came together to craft a culminating big-bet, capacity-building program. At Trinity, as at UC San Francisco, the value added by this new opportunity provided additional momentum and introduced some innovative elements to the direction in which they were already heading. The three partners were well aligned in combining expertise in neuroscience, dementia and aging with research, translational and clinical work; in

BRIAN LAWLOR Brian Lawlor is the Conolly Norman Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and a consultant psychiatrist at St. James’ Hospital, Dublin. He has over 35 years of clinical experience in the care of people with dementia and was the founding director of the Memory Clinic at Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing at St. James’ Hospital, Dublin. His main research interests are in dementia prevention, clinical trials, and understanding how social isolation and loneliness can impact health outcomes in older people. Dr. Lawlor was one of the many beneficiaries of free education in Ireland in the 1960s, and regards education as a right and not a privilege. West Clare, near the Cliffs of Moher, is where he goes to get some headspace and restore his brain health.

Above: Brian Lawlor, deputy executive director of the Global Brain Health Institute.

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advancing multidisciplinary and multisectoral approaches; in developing scalable interventions; and in recognizing the contribution of social determinants. Trinity brought strengths in psychiatry, psychology, medical gerontology and patient-centered approaches, while UC San Francisco brought extensive resources in behavioral neurology and geriatric medicine. Atlantic contributed more explicit emphases on equity, leadership and policy, and brought a global focus. Victor used Steve’s planning grant to investigate Atlantic’s prior work on aging and brain health with its global partners in Australia, Cuba, South Africa, Ireland and the U.S., in preparation for the convening set for late October 2014. The convening convinced the leadership team and Atlantic to move forward with UC San Francisco and Trinity as founding partners in a program that would draw on the strengths of Atlantic’s global network. The program would include four equal strands of work: fostering human capital development, developing and implementing scalable interventions that curb treatable risk factors related to social determinants, serving underrepresented populations, and applying emerging technologies. From this point, Atlantic’s consultant, Bridgespan, worked with the leadership team, providing frameworks and facilitating feedback between the team and Atlantic on multiple iterations of their proposal, gradually bringing clarity to the concept that the partners would introduce to the Atlantic directors at their March 2015 meeting. The directors’ collective response then led

IAN ROBERTSON Ian Robertson, who loves swimming in the icy Irish Sea and watching the local porpoises while fishing, is immensely proud of his part in establishing the Global Brain Health Institute. A working-class beneficiary of the U.K.’s postwar free, indeed paid, university education, he is acutely aware of how unequal societies shrink human potential. He trained in clinical psychology at the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry and holds a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from that university. He was founding director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, which was co-founded through the generosity of Chuck Feeney and Atlantic Philanthropies. His scientific work on human attention is complemented by popular science writing, most recently in his latest book “How Confidence Works.” He is a member of the Academia Europea and of the Royal Irish Academy.

Above: Ian Robertson, founding director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

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the team to land firmly on a central mission of developing global human capital to reduce the scale and impact of dementia, with a secondary focus on education, advocacy and expanding interventions for underserved populations. Their final proposal emphasized their founding values of authenticity, fairness, openness, respect, courage and empathy (A FORCE). The fellowship experience they planned would bring professionals from multiple sectors and countries together for a combination of clinical, experiential and classroom training in diagnosis, care and prevention of dementias alongside critical leadership, communications and project development skills. Careerlong mentoring, an annual conference alongside regional events and a lifelong network were intended to support Fellows in translating their knowledge into practice and policy upon return to their home countries. The Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program was approved by Atlantic’s directors in June 2015, along with the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia program. Both centered on advancing opportunities to achieve health and well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. Both were dedicated to developing the capacities of collaborative leaders able to work across multiple physical and intellectual borders to understand the inequitable impacts of social determinants and work toward policy and systems solutions. The Institute’s research focus and The Equity Initiative’s advocacy focus were seen as

VICTOR VALCOUR Victor Valcour is the inaugural executive director and a founding co-director of the Global Brain Health Institute and the Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health training program. Dr. Valcour completed training in geriatric medicine and behavioral neurology, followed by a Ph.D. based on his research in Thailand. Having spent nearly two decades working in international research into brain health in the setting of HIV infection, he brings a passion for and experience in international collaboration to the Institute. The international stage of his research solidified a foundation in equity-based work. His philosophy of international capacity building is one of accompaniment and championing Fellows in their home communities in a manner that allows them to lead necessary and culturally appropriate change to support the Global Brain Health Institute’s mission. He embraces every opportunity to travel and has visited over 40 countries globally.

Above left: Institutional partners at the signing of their final grant documents in June 2019. Credit: Global Brain Health Institute. Above right: Victor Valcour, executive director of the Global Brain Health Institute, in Jordan in 2020, at the thematic forum on the effects of displacement on health.

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complementary components for systems change. As Atlantic began to migrate from grants that capstoned its traditional grant-making into what would become the culminating Atlantic Fellows programs space, the board placed one of their first two big bets on established relationships by investing in a partnership between two institutions they knew well and in a team of leaders who knew Atlantic. The program launched in 2016 with an initial cohort of 28 Fellows from 12 countries. A single program delivered across two international institutions was an innovation appreciated by its Fellows, who continue to find value in the complementarity of strengths — the enriched experiences, perspectives and connections provided by exposure and access to faculty and mentors at both sites — while learning to collaborate internationally. “Unlike typical global health programs, the Global Brain Health Institute puts the Fellows in the driver’s seat. They are the agents of change in their communities. We have created a program that includes mechanisms to accompany them and help them with funding after their induction year. The Fellows are championed to lead change that is appropriate for their communities with guidance from local leaders. We are linked to other equity-based programs and are part of a movement, not just a training program for individuals.” (Victor Valcour, founding executive director)

Above: Shamiel McFarlane, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, is developing a home-based primary care program for cognitively impaired, isolated, older adults in rural Jamaica. Credit: Flatbush Films. Facing page: Stefania Ilinca, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, is examining the effects of demographic aging on policymaking in Europe. Credit: Global Brain Health Institute.

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Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia (The Equity Initiative) at the China Medical Board seeks to improve health equity throughout the region, particularly among vulnerable and marginalized populations, through deploying a multisectoral community of Fellows to address social determinants, policy and systems reform. Chuck made his first of many trips to Viet Nam in 1998 and began investing the following year, with an initial grant to the East Meets West Foundation for its heart health program. Over the next 14 years, Atlantic deployed $382 million in resources to improve the well-being of the Vietnamese people through contributions to higher education and population health. Chuck’s initial attraction to Viet Nam was rooted in historical factors, an affinity for the culture, and the promise the future held in the late 1990s. The painful legacies of the American war and the sense that the Vietnamese people had been treated unfairly through no fault of their own, combined with personal familiarity with the region’s cultures stemming from his D.F.S. business interests, attracted his attention. Viet Nam’s reform policies were beginning to pay off, and the intersection of its development trajectory with Chuck’s entrepreneurial instincts presented an opportunity to invest in a people whose character and culture he found appealing. He saw in the Vietnamese hard workers who were undervalued, which in turn created an opportunity for Atlantic to add value. “When we first went into Viet Nam,” Chris recalled, “it was in formation in terms of systems development and policies. It was also a place where a modest investment of $5 million could build and equip a hospital.” Capital improvements in education and health, including hospitals, schools of public health, universities, learning resource centers and laboratories, as well as Viet Nam’s grassroots system of primary health care clinics, accounted for about 50% of Atlantic’s investments ($193 million). These investments had an emphasis on improving the lives of children, youth and people with disabilities, especially the visually impaired. Under Chris’ guidance, the main goal of the population health work was to build the system’s capacity to solve public health problems by using the issues of the day as vehicles. To accomplish this, Atlantic worked at all levels in the system, and with both government agencies and NGOs throughout the country. This systems approach enhanced the effectiveness of the building projects through complementary investments in human resources,

Facing page: Atlantic Fellows for Southeast Asia at the Senior Fellows Global Convening in Oxford in 2019; dancing creates connections across the diverse cultures of the global fellowship. Credit: Lee Atherton.

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We didn’t just work for Chuck. We worked with him to realize his dreams, and ours, and our grantees. It was always about that sense of fairness, helping people who need it most.

technology, equipment and service provision modules. For example, as the economy boomed and people gravitated from bicycles to motorbikes, traffic injuries escalated. Atlantic engaged grantees who could impact all the relevant levers of change, including multiple government ministries, medical and legal professionals, private industry, local advocates, schools, parents, international agencies and the diplomatic corps. The result was a successful, decadelong behavior change initiative that put high-quality, locally made helmets on nearly all motorcycle riders. Atlantic’s long-serving Viet Nam program executive and founding executive director of The Equity Initiative, Le Nhan Phuong, reflected on those early years. Having left Viet Nam as a child, Phuong returned in 1999 to volunteer as a Rockefeller Foundation Development Fellow at the Hanoi School of Public Health. He had not expected to stay more than a year until he met Chris through the health attaché at the U.S. Embassy, Mike Linnan. Phuong was struck by the seriousness of Atlantic’s commitment to address the systemic public health issues that he was becoming passionate about and before leaving Hanoi, in a meeting at the bar of the Metropole Hotel that changed his life, Chris convinced Phuong to join forces to help fulfill the aspirations of the local public health community. “I was an academic. I was thinking of a prestigious Fulbright fellowship as a next career step. I was an introvert and didn’t like the limelight. But after spending this time with Chris, I felt comfortable with him and that we could accomplish a lot for Viet Nam together. Atlantic was low profile and not about being out there in the press but about the work. I liked that approach,” Phuong recalled. Phuong opened the Hanoi office in 2003 and led the foundation’s work for the next decade. Completely changing his life plan brought no regrets. “I found myself doing the things I always dreamed of with the resources to back it up and the people and infrastructure to really support it,” Phuong acknowledged ruefully. Over the years, Chris and Chuck came often to Viet Nam. “On the field trips we took when people talked about their dreams, it would light up the room and Chuck would recognize that authenticity.” Phuong remembered taking Chuck to visit the Da Nang General Hospital one day: “We went to the ER that had just been built with Atlantic funding and Chuck asked, ‘What happened to that man?’ And the doctor said, ‘He’s a farmer and he hit one of those unexploded ordnance and it blew up.’ And Chuck was listening intensely, and you could see the tears coming out of his eyes. He really connects with people in a very authentic way. And

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there’s just no pretense. He really cares about people, particularly those at the bottom doing the work. As his staff, what inspired us was his humility and unselfishness, his moral authenticity. We didn’t just work for Chuck, we worked with him to realize his dreams, and ours, and our grantees’. It was always about that sense of fairness, helping people who need it the most.” When, in 2011, Chris became the chief executive officer who would steer Atlantic to its conclusion, Phuong suggested Viet Nam be the first of the eight remaining offices to close. “I told him we had accomplished most of what we had set out to do.” A hallmark of Atlantic’s work there had been strengthening the capacity of almost 100 grantees in ways that were influenced by Chuck’s sensibilities. “We spent a lot of time identifying a potential grantee and then our staff put a lot of effort into helping them to succeed. We worked to bring out the best in them. We didn’t look to fail them but to support them to achieve. We also knew what we didn’t know. Just because we came with resources didn’t mean we knew everything, so we listened and deferred on matters that they knew better.” This approach meant that “our grantees were strong and capable after a decade of working together.” In the period after closing the office, Phuong reflected on what had been achieved, what remained and how to leverage what Atlantic had done. The resulting thought piece he sent to Chris emphasized the need for deeper human resources development, especially around leadership, as well as for more international work because the social determinants that affect health do not stop at borders and people in the region need to know each other and learn from each other across borders. He finally argued for a multisectoral approach that would break down silos and promote cross-sectoral learning. They continued talking, and about six months later, Chris was concluding that building on the health equity work done in Viet Nam could lead to a Global Opportunity and Leverage capstone project, or even be an appropriate culminating big bet. He asked Phuong to think about the sort of legacy project that might address the kinds of needs and gaps that he had identified. In the spring of 2014, Chris was also beginning to discuss ways to improve the well-being of the disadvantaged by building on Atlantic’s historical interests and approaches with the soon-tobe partners at University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin. Under discussion was an interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral leadership fellowship program that could strengthen

Above: Chuck and Helga Feeney, with Tom Mitchell (behind) at grantee dinner, Da Nang, Viet Nam, in March 2007. Credit: Le Nhan Phuong.

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capacities to collaborate in order to improve practice and policy around the theme of the healthy aging mind. Each set of project discussions was contributing to Chris’ emerging thinking about the frame for Atlantic’s final investments. Chris explained: “The Equity Initiative comes close on the heels of the Global Brain Health Institute. We knew the space, the issues and the players. Phuong was at the center of that and he knew Atlantic culture, equity and international health, and he had the personal attributes to develop one of these programs. This and the Global Brain Health Institute were closer to home and I thought that we could launch sooner and learn from them.” In thinking about how to approach Chris’ question, Phuong came back to Chuck’s focus on people. He observed: “I thought it should be about young people with potential to do a lot but who need the opportunity to see beyond their own neck of the woods. How do we provide that opportunity? How do we use our experience in Viet Nam but leverage it out through the region because in the future borders will be irrelevant?” Phuong had also been talking with Lincoln Chen, president of the China Medical Board, about the need for continuing human resources development; together, they suggested to Chris a five-year, multisectoral fellowship for young professionals that would enhance leadership to advance health equity in the region. Phuong had several reasons to think the China Medical Board idea might work. “Talking with Lincoln,” he said, always “opened up my thinking and my horizons to what else can be done, to other possibilities and networks.” Lincoln and the China Medical Board had a lot of experience and social capital in the region and Atlantic had no presence outside of Viet Nam. They knew each other and had partnered successfully in some of Atlantic’s Viet Nam work. Chris saw the China Medical Board — an established, 100-year-old organization renowned in the Asian health arena — as an institution that was well aligned with Atlantic’s sensibilities and able to provide necessary administrative infrastructure for the new program. Chris was also betting on Phuong: if he thought this partnership would work, Atlantic was on board. Phuong and Lincoln set to work developing their concept and broad framework, planning a panel to focus on health equity needs and prospects for leadership and human resources development in Asia — in preparation for the Atlantic board meeting in December 2014. Above left: Lincoln Chen, president of the China Medical Board, with Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity in Southeast Asia, Luang Prabang, in Laos, in 2017. Credit: Le Nhan Phuong. Above right: Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia, Gideon Cauton and Benjamin Lawrence “Law” Aritao, working to combat the problem of human trafficking in the Philippines. Credit: Flatbush Films.

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Phuong came back to Chuck’s focus on people: “I thought it should be about young people with potential to do a lot, but who need the opportunity to see beyond their own neck of the woods.”

Similarly, Fitzhugh Mullan, at George Washington University, was beginning to talk with Chris about a fellowship program focusing on the social determinants of health and developing more equitable leadership within the health workforce. Chris invited him to the board panel and to comment on the emerging Equity Initiative concept. As a follow-up, Fitz produced a short paper reinforcing the importance of the project’s core focus on “interdisciplinary leadership training with health equity and disparities reduction” and of the peer learning, cohort collaboration and network elements, offering a set of questions to be addressed in refining the design. The Equity Initiative program concept was endorsed by Atlantic’s directors. Over an intense six months, the team then produced a more detailed and granular program design linked to their theory of change and a strong proposal based on board feedback, discussions between the China Medical Board and Atlantic, and visits by Chris to Hanoi and Phuong to New York. A highlight of that whirlwind period for Phuong was an Amtrak trip from New York to D.C., during which Chris suggested that a five-year program would not be sufficient to have a real impact with fellowships, and countered with the offer of a 20-year program. Meeting with Chris later over lunch back in New York, Lincoln and Phuong had no problem whatsoever agreeing with that logic! The Atlantic directors approved The Equity Initiative’s incubation phase in June 2015, providing additional feedback to be incorporated into the curriculum design phase. The project was to be a co-funded partnership between Atlantic and the China Medical Board, with offices in Hanoi and Bangkok. Over the next nine months, the team staffed up, developed selection processes, including advisory committees at national and regional levels, selected its first cohort of Fellows and constructed the curriculum. The Equity Initiative launched in April 2016, initially with 15 young and mid-career professionals from eight Southeast Asian countries and China, working in diverse sectors. The program had the dual goals of nurturing the next generation of values-based leaders, while building a community of partners and Fellows to collaborate and collectively promote health equity regionally. Experiential modules delivered through shared travel experiences were designed to expose Fellows to a deeply contextualized understanding of health equity as a social and moral journey involving ethical judgment on the fairness of health disparities. Fellows’ personal growth toward becoming resilient, relational, collaborative leaders would be supported and their technical leadership skills improved.

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The place you have to start if you want to change the world is with changing yourself. You have to reflect on your values and ask yourself if this is what you are meant to do.

The Global Brain Health Institute was also approved at the June meeting. Both of these initial Atlantic Fellows programs had taken root within established Atlantic relationships. These familial relationships and similarities in subject content increased the potential for synergies to develop between these first two big-bet human capital development programs centered on advancing opportunities to achieve health and well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. Both were dedicated to developing the capacities of collaborative leaders to work across national, sectoral and intellectual borders to understand the inequitable impacts of social determinants, and work toward policy and systems solutions. Similar thematic interests, values, approaches and goals were augmented by complementary strengths in research and advocacy. For Phuong, the Fellows’ personal growth as leaders lay at the core of the program. When Chuck said, “It’s all about people,” Phuong believed he was talking about how each of us “think, feel and react to our environment and situation. Things happen in life we can’t control but how we react is what’s key. The human element is central to any social change and even more important for the change to be sustainable. The place you have to start if you want to change the world is with changing yourself. You have to reflect on your values and ask yourself if this is what you are meant to do. Are you happy doing this? Is it meaningful to you? If we are clear about our values and what we want to do and it holds meaning for our lives, we are happier and we make better decisions and do our work better.” (Le Nhan Phuong, founding executive director)

Facing page, top and bottom: Le Nhan Phuong working with Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Southeast Asia.

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Atlantic Fellows for Heath Equity US + Global at George Washington University aims to develop global leaders who have the knowledge, skills and courage to build more equitable health systems, organizations and communities. It focuses on equity and fairness in public health and health care by training leaders to recognize, understand and bridge health gaps between more and less advantaged groups. Fitzhugh (Fitz) Mullan, the program’s co-founder, had come to Chris’ attention as a prolific writer and actor in the health human resources and equity space whose multisectoral career had given him a finely tuned systems perspective. An activist and a medical professional, Fitz had been dedicated to equity since he came of age in the U.S. civil rights movement and later worked in government. He led the push to revise medical school rankings to include social mission and created the Beyond Flexner Alliance movement, which still today is committed to making the social determinants of health front and center in educating medical professionals to serve the community and the whole person. In 2005, Fitz was interviewed for “Salud!”, an Atlantic-funded film about the Cuban health system, and he came by to see Chris in the New York office to explain his work, based at George Washington University, on improving equity in the health care workforce. Although one of the pillars of Atlantic’s Population Health program was building human resources, its international focus meant there were no opportunities for partnering at that point. A decade later, as Chris was in the midst of considering how best to build on what Atlantic had done as it concluded its grant-making, he and Fitz rekindled their discussion. In December 2015, this resulted in a modest, five-year fellowship program to address gaps and disparities and improve equity in the health workforce. The workforce program grew in the same time frame and from the same intellectual ferment as the Global Brain Health Institute and The Equity Initiative, which had been launched earlier that year. Fitz had joined a panel on health equity at the December 2014 Atlantic board meeting where the concept of The Equity Initiative was presented in draft form, and afterward he noted many similarities between his own thinking and The Equity Initiative’s core tenets. The George Washington University program had some similarities with The Equity Initiative in its design and goals as a 12-month, modular leadership program focusing on the social determinants of health and developing equity-oriented leaders with the personal, interpersonal

Facing page: Mid-year convening for Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity US + Global in Rwanda, an important opportunity for them to understand health equity in a different context. Credit: Selam Bedada.

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and technical skills to be effective. However, the workforce program was more narrowly focused on training health professionals largely in the U.S. and on increasing diversity within the health workforce leadership, while both The Equity Initiative and the Global Brain Health Institute were multisectoral, international and oriented toward training and action to address health disparities through policy and systems change. When Fitz and Chris began talking, it was unclear how many additional big-bet programs there might be beyond the Global Brain Health Institute and The Equity Initiative, or how far resources would stretch. Atlantic had other reasons, too, for initially not seeing the George Washington University program as a likely candidate for one of its final big bets. Atlantic had not traditionally funded population health in the U.S. and they had just put a lot of resources into the Affordable

FITZHUGH (FITZ) MULLAN Fitzhugh (Fitz) Mullan (1942-2019) was co-director and co-founder of the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity program.Dr. Mullan was an American physician, writer, educator and social activist who served on the faculty of George Washington University from 1996 as a professor of health policy and management, and a professor of pediatrics. He helped to establish the George Washington University Health Workforce Institute, recently renamed the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity. His early career was spent as a commissioned officer in the U.S. public health service, as secretary of health for the state of New Mexico, and as an editor of the journal "Health Affairs." In recent years, his research and policy work focused on U.S. and international health workforce issues, especially equity in health professions education. Dr. Mullan’s books include “White Coat Clenched Fist: The Political Education of an American Physician," “Vital Signs: A Young Doctor’s Struggle with Cancer," and “Plagues and Politics: The Story of the United States Public Health Service." His articles “The Social Mission of Medical Education: Ranking the Schools” and “Social Mission in Health Professions Education: Beyond Flexner” have helped define health professions education on health equity. Dr. Mullan was a member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. His activism started when he was at medical school in the 1960s, when he spent time in Mississippi as a civil rights worker with the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Dr. Mullan’s father and grandfather were physicians. He grew up in New York City, where he attended the Dalton School. He studied history at Harvard University, and obtained his medical degree from the University of Chicago.

Above left: Fitzhugh Mullan and Chris Oechsli in Washington, D.C., in October 2019. Credit: Mary McDonnell. Above right: Fitzhugh Mullan, co-director and co-founder of the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity program.

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Guenevere was excited by the opportunity to focus explicitly on equity and develop a curriculum that didn’t just educate about disparities but concentrated on how to address them.

Care Act, which had become law in 2010. There were many other funders in this space in the U.S. and Atlantic wasn’t sure how much value they could add; George Washington University was not a traditional grantee. Atlantic felt their investments might be better placed in some of their traditional geographies that were underresourced. The board decided to make a modest investment to prime the pump and enhance the prospect that Fitz could attract additional funding from health sector funders who focused on the U.S. Over the next two years, as resources became clearer, planning moved ahead for four additional Atlantic Fellows programs. These six social change leadership programs were constructed from a common fabric of attributes intended to strengthen the capacities of leaders to advance opportunities for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. The common characteristics included values of equity, opportunity, dignity and fairness; collaboration across diversity; multidisciplinary and multisectoral approaches; and a rich and sustained cohort experience sufficient to build catalytic communities with the goal of advancing equity through long-term systems impact. All six were connected within a global community centered on the Atlantic Institute, to be based in Oxford. Concurrently, the health workforce program had evolved in parallel, welcoming its first cohort of Fellows in mid-2017. Guenevere Burke had joined Fitz in 2016 to design and implement the Health Workforce Equity Initiative, sharing with him a passion for equity and bringing a desire to move beyond understanding disparities to doing something about them. In the residency program in health policy that Fitz and Guen co-led and that served as their model for the fellowship, they used health policy as the Trojan horse for social mission and equity. Guen was excited by the opportunity to focus explicitly on equity and develop a curriculum that didn’t just educate about disparities but concentrated on how to address them. She recalled: “We needed to focus on fixing them and health care professionals can’t do that alone. To focus on solutions and action, and get new ideas into the conversation, we needed to bring different people together.” And using the Beyond Flexner Alliance movement as a model, they wanted to ensure that their fellows were well-bonded and drawn together into a community.

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Our Fellows have experienced and witnessed the hard truths of inequities and, in place of cynicism, they exhibit a greater capacity for hope and more steadfast optimism than most.

By the time Fitz and Guen reconnected with Chris in 2017, the Health Workforce program was in the midst of the induction year for its first cohort of 15 fellows from five countries. The program had evolved in ways that made it much more closely aligned with The Equity Initiative and the other Atlantic Fellows programs. Guen explained: “We had built something that ended up with so many elements that were common across the other six programs. We were so clearly aligned in terms of mission, vision, values, interdisciplinarity, policy change goals and the sectoral diversity of its mid-career participants.” Fitz and Guen wanted their program to be a part of the Atlantic Fellows community. Fitz made the case for alignment, and for the importance of health equity in the face of the unexpected result of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with its potential to lead to a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Chris recognized the alignment on leadership, human capital, social determinants of health and social mission, and agreed that the change in the political environment, and the desire to expand the program’s international components, made a compelling case. It was clear that additional Atlantic resources — and engagement with the broader community — could enhance its capacity and reach in directions the program was already headed. He also saw that having an Atlantic Fellows program based in Washington, D.C., could be of value to the global community by facilitating policy impact both domestically and internationally. At the same time, Atlantic’s resources were heavily committed. Chris wasn’t sure whether those remaining would allow for a robustly funded seventh program, and he wondered whether a late entrant into a community that was up and running was wise. However, he opened the door to a proposal and iterative discussion. While Fitz and Guen developed their proposal for the Leaders for Health Equity Fellowship Program, Chris fielded the idea of a seventh program with others in the community. His discussions convinced him: “Increasingly I saw this as a complement to the global community. There was enough consistency in programming and orientation that they would be an appropriate addition to the community and that they could integrate and contribute.” As they worked with Atlantic on their proposal materials, Guen and Fitz had to think about how to develop an organization, organize a board, staff up, put processes in place that would ensure continuity of effective management, and plan for a longer time horizon and bigger cohorts with more international participants, as well as engaging with the global Atlantic community.

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When, in March 2018, Atlantic approved Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity US + Global as the seventh and final Atlantic Fellows program, they were betting on Fitz and Guen as individuals and on their collective track record. There was clear potential for synergies with the three other Atlantic Fellows programs centered on health and well-being — the Global Brain Health Institute, The Equity Initiative and Tekano — and Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity US + Global would bring additional expertise to the global community related to online training, community building and U.S. policy networks. The new resources would enable the program team to expand the number of Fellows from 15 to 20, with 10 coming from outside the U.S. The yearlong program experience blended didactic, experiential and project-based learning through biweekly online seminars that alternated between health equity and leadership content. The year was punctuated by three inperson convenings that exposed Fellows to national and international field experiences. Health equity content included building knowledge about fundamental issues related to health disparities, racism and inequity of opportunity, and understanding strategic interventions to combat inequity. Leadership training was designed to enhance self-awareness, the capacity to work with others and practical leadership skills. Coaching, mentorship and networking further supported Fellows’ personal and professional growth throughout the year. Following their induction year, Fellows would be brought together in relationship to the Beyond Flexner Alliance network. “Our Fellows have experienced and witnessed the hard truths of inequities and, in place of cynicism, they exhibit a greater capacity for hope and more steadfast optimism than most. For some, it’s because they have already taken action to combat inequity and realized some success. For others, it’s an unshakable determination to do so. Fitz often presented our George Washington University students with an adaptation of Henry Ford’s words: ‘There are those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t. They are both right.’ With this in mind, our work is to change the way we speak about what’s possible, challenging the international fellowship community to bring others along with them in their belief and determination because that is the necessary and important starting place for the hard work of health equity. We believe we can and we are right.” (Guenevere Burke, co-founder and executive director)

Above: Atlantic Fellows learn how to apply strategic interventions to address inequities in health and health career opportunities.

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The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program at the University of Melbourne seeks to harness Indigenous knowledge and ingenuity to create positive social change through growing a generation of collaborative social change leaders across Australia and the Pacific. Atlantic was a major player in Australian philanthropy and Australia loomed large in Atlantic’s portfolio. By 2014, Atlantic had invested some US$318 million over 16 years in institutions in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. Grants had facilitated biomedical and healthrelated research through a significant investment in physical capital projects (US$294 million). More modest funding for human capital development enhanced the education sector, as well as encouraging a culture of philanthropic leadership and the building of mutually beneficial partnerships between Australian and Vietnamese health sector institutions, as part of the Population Health program. Chuck’s involvement in Australia stemmed from a combination of the long-term business interests that first brought him to Queensland’s Stradbroke Island and a personal relationship with Ron Clarke, legendary Australian Olympian runner and Chuck’s business associate in Cannon’s sports clubs in London. Chris often accompanied Chuck and was soon taking his ideas and turning them into programming. As part of his Population Health portfolio, he began developing twinning partnerships between Vietnamese and Australian hospitals and medical schools. Given this history, the Australian institutions where Atlantic had long-term relationships were natural early stops for Chris as he sought partnerships where Atlantic might add momentum to their aspirations through a social change human capital initiative. The University of Melbourne was one such institution. Since 2000, Melbourne had received nearly US$20 million from Atlantic to build a new research and commercial biotech precinct (Bio21) and for partnering with Viet Nam’s National Mental Health Taskforce as part of a systems change strategy supporting multiple sectors there to improve mental health care programming. During an earlier visit with Chuck, Chris had met Glyn Davis, then director-general of the department of the premier and cabinet to the premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie. Glyn had moved to the University of Melbourne as vice chancellor when Chris called him to suggest visiting Melbourne to hear from grantees about their needs and interests.

Facing page: Marcus Ahuhata-Brown, Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity, addresses other Fellows at the Senior Fellows Global Convening, in Oxford, in 2019. Credit: Lee Atherton.

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These common characteristics included the development of collaborative, change-oriented, values-driven leaders dedicated to equity and fairness, and able to collaborate individually and in catalytic communities.

Arrangements for the two-day visit, in August 2014, fell to James (Jim) McCluskey, Glyn’s deputy and head of research. All Jim knew was that Atlantic was interested in making a final set of big bets that would build on prior investments in ways that might make social impact, and that it was similarly in early discussion with the University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin about an initiative that had grown from their work with Atlantic in health sciences. Jim recalled: “I put together a series of meetings with major medical research institutes and we put all the medical research luminaries in front of him.” Chris remembered hearing “a lot from the biomedical community about potential capital projects and about the value of fellowships for science research. I met with young Australian research scientists and heard that their capacity was constrained by the inability to have international experiences. That resonated: the notion that they needed to step out of their communities to know what was happening in the broader world.” He was impressed that it had been a thoughtful series of authentic conversations about research on a broad range of social issues related to health, not a succession of boilerplate funding requests. As they sat in Glyn’s office reviewing the visit, Jim was perplexed. “We were listening hard, but Chris hadn’t quite conveyed his thinking, or we hadn’t heard it properly. He was patient, thoughtful, considerate, but hard to read. It seemed to me that Chris didn’t quite know what he wanted himself. But he’d know it when he saw it and he hadn’t seen it.” Jim was right; this was a period when Atlantic was just beginning to explore possibilities, not yet knowing how many big bets it might be able to fund beyond the initial two that were beginning to grow out of work with UC San Francisco and Trinity in neuroscience, aging and dementia, and out of population health programming in Viet Nam. Within 12 months, Chris had greater clarity about the scope of available resources and had developed a broad common frame for these culminating initiatives that focused on a shared fabric of attributes intended to strengthen the capacities of leaders to advance opportunities to achieve well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. These common characteristics included the development of collaborative, change-oriented, values-driven leaders

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dedicated to equity and fairness, and able to collaborate individually and in catalytic communities, across international borders and multiple kinds of diversity, in order to impact systems at all levels. Chris returned to Melbourne to explore ideas further and, over a private dinner with Glyn, invited a concept paper. Jim took a stab at it, but was “still hooked by the idea that the paradigm Chris was chasing was medical research for social change.” Atlantic’s feedback pushed Jim and his team to focus on human capital development that would enhance capacity for social change to address issues of unfairness and inequity. And Jim recalled that Chris had earlier wondered what a uniquely Australian lens on social change might look like. “We were now in an intellectual struggle to figure this out,” he mused. In December, Jim convened a diverse group of university thought leaders to ponder this question. He recalled, “I led off with leadership as a seminal ingredient of social change and asked how we could integrate leadership and medicine in a way that would give a powerful impetus to social change and would offer a uniquely Australian lens. And it was Ian Anderson who said: ‘What about an Indigenous leadership program, as health disparities are a critical issue?’” They felt they had hit on the right notion when Jim and Glyn presented this idea to Chris and he asked for a proposal. After preparing and sending off a draft in mid-January 2016, they were in a hotel room in Canberra when Chris called to report that the Atlantic board had significant concerns, given that Indigenous Australians make up only 2% of the population. Jim made an impassioned speech: “Chris, the problems faced by this 2% are the same problems faced by your 10% Black population in America: high levels of incarceration and violence; appalling health, economic and education outcomes; marginalization. We have the same problems and there are solutions that are bespoke but there are also solutions that are shared.” This conversation also left an impression on Chris, driving home that Australia’s Indigenous peoples, while small in number, face the universal issues associated with social exclusion and systemic racism confronted globally by people of color and immigrants, of being underserved, underappreciated, undervalued and mistreated. The case of Australia’s Indigenous people offered a particular entry point, an acute reflection, of universal problems of social inequity.

Above left: Fellows and staff at the Program Principals Convening, Cape Town, in November 2017. Credit: Roger Sedres. Above right: Jim McCluskey at the Senior Fellows Global Convening at Rhodes House, Oxford, in 2019. Credit Lee Atherton.

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This would not be a traditional academic program, but that didn’t mean it would lack evidence, rigor and pedagogical principles and thinking.

The origins of the initial Atlantic Fellows programs had rested firmly on the foundations of Atlantic’s historical thematic interests in health and well-being, and an additional program in this area was being contemplated with partners in South Africa. However, while Jim’s team was fielding the idea of a program that promoted Indigenous leadership development, Chris was also exploring Atlantic Fellows programs on socioeconomic inequality with the London School of Economics and Political Science, and on racial equity growing out of Atlantic’s traditional work in the U.S. As Atlantic listened, and the University of Melbourne persisted in figuring out the best use of this prospect of developing leaders to advance opportunities to achieve well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities in Australia, this new thematic emphasis on the unfair and inequitable treatment of Indigenous Australians that had led to enormous disparities in well-being resonated with Atlantic. When married with Atlantic’s crystallizing social change program frame, this new lens had the potential to address Australia’s long-standing disparities in Indigenous communities. At the same time, this localized issue provided a window on universal inequities and, potentially, could generate shared understandings and solutions in connection with the other Atlantic Fellows programs that were evolving. With agreement reached on the vision, mission and values, the next task became designing the program and its supporting infrastructure to present to Atlantic’s board in San Francisco, in June 2016. Through multiple proposal iterations, phone calls and a further weeklong visit to Melbourne by Chris and David Sternlieb, Atlantic’s chief operating officer, Jim and his team melded their ideas and aspirations with Atlantic’s frame to create a coherent program and a proposal document that drew on many voices but spoke with a single voice. Jim thought: “Since we were looking to bend careers, we needed to have widespread conversations with the community, with key academics and activists like Marcia Langton, Ian Anderson, Rufus Black, Cindy Shannon, Carolyn Evans, Shelley Mallet and Shaun Ewen.” Jim remembered “working iteratively with Chris, with documents flowing back and forward, as he would amplify

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or echo our thinking. He was very keen to see a strong advisory board, very keen for us to have partners, and we agreed this should be a fellowship for mid-career people from all walks of life to collaborate, grow their personal skills, and expand their leadership toolkit and networks to make social change. This would not be a traditional academic program but that didn’t mean it would lack evidence, rigor and pedagogical principles and thinking.” This iterative process had helped the team gradually reach clarity both internally and with Atlantic. In May, Jim, who was in Liverpool on business, flew to Dublin to consult with Billy Hall on how the Atlantic Philanthropies board worked, and with Brian and Ian at Trinity about their experience developing the Global Brain Health Institute and presenting it to the Atlantic board. Jim found the discussions forthright and hugely useful, forewarning him about the intensity of the process and the sorts of topics that were of interest to various board members. The iterative, intellectual process of melding Atlantic’s and the University of Melbourne’s slowly and simultaneously evolving visions, exploring potential partners who would broaden perspectives beyond one institution and one national context, and designing processes, program offerings and governance structures to result in a single coherent proposal document, had taken nearly two years from the initial conversations in summer 2014, to board approval in June 2016. Jim ruefully acknowledged the toll the process took. “Radha Thomas, along with Nick Blinco and Ollie Hansen in our advancement team and I, all lost the Christmas and Easter holidays in 2016 to putting together various iterations of the proposal document.” Following board approval, Jim immediately brought on Sarah Fortuna as chief operating officer to get things started while they built up staffing, set up recruitment and selection processes, and began to pull together an inaugural advisory board. This board was to be chaired by Tom Calma, chancellor of the University of Canberra and prominent Aboriginal human rights and social justice campaigner, whom Chris had known years before as a senior Australian diplomat in Hanoi. The university also winnowed the list of potential international partners down to the University of Auckland, an institution Chris had come to know while exploring twinning relationships for institutions in Viet Nam.

Above: Attendees of an Atlantic board meeting in Melbourne in June 2018 also took time to learn about Indigenous customs. Credit: The University of Melbourne.

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The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program was officially launched by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Australia's Parliament House on Oct. 14, 2016.

The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program was officially launched by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Australia’s Parliament House on Oct. 14, 2016. A year later, the university welcomed to campus the first multisectoral cohort of 15 Fellows drawn from Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds in Australia and New Zealand. The proposed yearlong program experience consisted of eight modules intended to build contextual understanding of the nature of complex systems and problems faced by Indigenous communities. It was also designed to enhance Fellows’ personal growth as leaders through augmented self-esteem, confidence, humility and resilience; and to shape their values and improve their capacity to work with people of diverse backgrounds to formulate and scale solutions, while bonding them into a strong, supportive network. For Jim, developing Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity in partnership with Atlantic, with substantial additional funding from the Australian government, is one of the most important things he has done at the university. It crystallized the power of the university in creative thinking and collaborative engagement. The team effort was inspiring. In his view, the promise the program holds is to heal the rifts in Australian society. “We quickly identified that the root cause of our deepest inequity is the result of the way Australia was colonized, with the absurd declaration by early white explorers of terra nullius (the notion that nothing existed before white settlement), the subsequent violent dispossession of Indigenous Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, the cruelty toward and dehumanization of these peoples, their culture and freedoms, and their subsequent marginalization in a white Australia of mainly European immigrants. This fracture line through Australian society continues to limit any hope of the nation becoming whole by unifying our society, by accepting the powerful narratives of our history and living with some shameful truths, and by creating a society where everyone has the best chance possible to fulfill their individual potential, where cultural diversity and different knowledge systems can coexist with a degree of respect, celebration and pride. Through the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program, and its links with the global network of Atlantic Fellows, we hope to build a confident, alternative style of Indigenous leadership, executing social change and recalibrating the type of society we inhabit over the 20-year life of the program.” (Jim McCluskey, founder)

Facing page, top: Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, announced the launch of the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program in Parliament in October 2016. Among the program leadership attending: Jim McCluskey, Glyn Davis and chair of the program board, Tom Calma (fifth from left). Credit: University of Melbourne. Facing page, bottom: As pro vice chancellor at the program's partner institution, the University of Auckland, Dame Cindy Kiro gave a keynote address at the launch in the Australian Parliament. In 2021, she went on to become the governor general of New Zealand. Credit: University of Melbourne.

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Photo captions go here

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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics (LSE) addresses the major global challenge of entrenched and growing inequality through engaging practitioners, activists and academics with the theories, practices and contexts of social and economic inequality, and supporting these social change leaders to develop imaginative, individual and collective responses to unfair structures and systems. In August 2014, Chris was invited by Craig Calhoun, the director of the London School of Economics, to attend the annual Benefactors’ Board Dinner, set for mid-September, where John Hills would be speaking on the topic of social disadvantage and inequality. Chuck had extensive business interests and a corporate office in London, which, pre-Brexit, was an international crossroads for the flow of goods, people and ideas. The foundation had opened an office there in the late 1980s, funding some $128 million in projects in Great Britain over three decades. Chris was on LSE’s radar because Atlantic had invested just over $9 million to support research streams and major physical capital projects there, including the redevelopment of its library and the construction of a student center. Chris was unable to attend the dinner but he had read some of John’s work on the elderly and inequality. As he thought about how best to use Atlantic’s remaining resources to advance opportunities for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities through addressing the root causes of those inequities, Chris was curious to learn more about what LSE was doing around inequalities. At this point, he was in early conversations with University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin about a culminating big-bet program to strengthen the capacities of leaders that would build on Atlantic’s investments in neuroscience, aging and dementia to address inequities in brain health, and with Le Nhan Phuong, Atlantic’s former program executive for Viet Nam, about a similar program growing out of Atlantic’s population health investments to advance health equity in Southeast Asia. He was also beginning to think with Fitzhugh (Fitz) Mullan at George Washington University about a modest program to develop a more equitable health workforce. Chris and John arranged to meet in London while Chris was on his way to continue discussions with the Rhodes Trust, in Oxford, about forming the Atlantic Institute. John was intrigued and

Facing page: Patricio (Pato) Espinoza, Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity, at the Global Convening of Senior Atlantic Fellows, in Oxford, in 2019. His research examines inequalities in Chile. Credit: Lee Atherton.

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We were keen on doing high-quality research and training but also on seeing that the work led to actual practical impact.

accepted the meeting, “although I had never heard of Atlantic Philanthropies, despite the fact that I walked past the donor’s board for the library building daily,” John said. “They were one of the biggest donors but they had put into the terms and conditions that their name must be no bigger than anybody else’s, and they left the naming rights for someone who liked having their name on a building. That kind of approach was very attractive.” John recalled the hourlong session in his Lincoln’s Inn Fields office: “What we were doing caught Chris’ attention because Atlantic was thinking about fellowships and looking for a multidisciplinary approach to inequality.” Chris remembered the meeting being largely about ideas around exclusion and social policy, as well as some of John’s work on the elderly that intersected with Atlantic’s portfolio on aging. At a certain point, John pulled out of his desk drawer a proposal for a new International Inequalities Institute (III) that would combine cross-disciplinary training and research about social and economic inequality. John had done quite a bit of policy work, and the intention for the III was not only to do high-quality research and training, but also to see that the work led to practical impact. They wanted the research to increase understanding of global inequalities and lead to new economic models. Chris found this combination compelling. One of Craig’s ideas on joining LSE in 2012 was to develop a set of multidisciplinary institutes that would cross departmental silos and gather faculty and students working on critical topics of public import. Mike Savage, a specialist on social class analysis and inequality, had joined around the same time and had become head of sociology shortly after. He reached out to John about developing a cross-campus center on inequalities. When more than 30 faculty members showed interest, they realized they had a critical mass of scholars of inequality working in different geographies and using different disciplinary approaches. They wanted to put LSE at the forefront of research in this area by bringing the scholars into a single institute. They set to work developing the III concept and a related Master of Science in inequalities and social science. The proposal John had pulled from his drawer in September was approved by the academic board in early November, with John and Mike as co-directors, and a launch was planned for the 2015 academic year.

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In early 2015, under the auspices of the Department of Sociology, the International Inequalities Institute announced its launch with an intellectual convening focused around Thomas Piketty’s new book “Capital in the 21st Century.” Chris had kept in touch as the III evolved and John invited him to attend the launch and a small lunch that Mike was hosting for Piketty, where Mike would first meet Chris. “Chris was interested. He was listening, thinking and quite quiet,” observed Mike. “I think he felt the energy in the room and the energy around the School on inequalities. My sense was this was very important for him.” Mike was right. Especially memorable for Chris was Piketty’s statement that the challenges of inequality are too important to be left to economists. LSE was also attractive to Atlantic as an established and internationally influential institution whose graduates and faculty represented some of the most important research and policy work on inequalities. It was a magnet for thinkers from around the globe, with a strong intellectual and philosophical reputation, as well as global networks appropriate to the mission of the Atlantic Fellows programs. Before Chris turned up in John’s office, LSE and the concept for the International Inequalities Institute had already been engaging with many elements of Atlantic’s frame for its culminating investments that were intended to advance opportunities to achieve well-being for those unfairly

JOHN HILLS Sir John Hills (1954-2020) was a co-founder of the International Inequalities Institute in 2015 and co-director until 2018, and co-founder, director and then chair of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion from 1997 to 2020, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He had long-standing interests in inequality dating back to his doctoral studies, and authored independent government-commissioned reports on the future of social housing (2007), on economic and educational inequalities (2010), and on fuel poverty (2012), as well as serving as one of three members of the influential Pensions Commission, 2003–2006. In 2019, he co-edited “Decent Incomes for All: Improving Policies in Europe” with Bea Cantillon and Tim Goedemé. In addition to his intellectual and policy contributions, his colleagues will miss his ready humor, his generosity of spirit and the tales of his Lake District rambles.

Above: Tony Atkinson, Thomas Piketty and John Hills at the launch of the International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics, in May 2015. Credit: London School of Economics.

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disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. By late 2015, the frame had settled around using fellowships as a mechanism for developing collaborative, change-oriented, values-driven, relational leaders dedicated to equity and fairness. These leaders would be able to cooperate individually and in catalytic communities, across international borders and multiple kinds of diversity, in order to impact systems at all levels. International partnerships were seen as a critical element. The School and the Institute wanted to up their game internationally; they wanted to break down internal disciplinary and sectoral silos, impact policy, fertilize across sectors, bridge research and practice, while opening up economics to context, and non-economists to economics. They saw Atlantic’s values as complementary to their own. LSE was founded by Fabian socialists and John noted that “Atlantic had these big progressive ideas, and the idea of being part of an emerging global network, able to be of service, and connected to this wider group of people addressing inequality seemed pretty attractive.” They felt that the scale of Atlantic’s contemplated investment could drive the shift already underway through their own efforts, and could enable them to expand access to the new Master of Science in Inequalities and Social Science to candidates from the Global South who otherwise might not have the opportunity. Chris put the theme of social and economic inequalities on the agenda for a set of exploratory convenings scheduled for July 2016 in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Based on his growing knowledge about the ways LSE’s and III’s directions and aspirations aligned with Atlantic’s, coupled with their energy around research and training related to inequalities, he was beginning to see them as a potential good bet. This felt like a space in which Atlantic could “catch a wave and build on it,” suggested Chris. Following the Cape Town event, he invited John and Mike to begin work on a proposal for an Atlantic Fellows program on social and economic inequalities that married Atlantic’s frame to their directions and aspirations. Throughout late 2015, and guided by Bridgespan, Atlantic’s consultant, the III developed its program concept and proposal through multiple iterations and feedback sessions. This period was a moment of intense activity for Atlantic and its potential partners. Several more Atlantic Fellows programs were being considered beyond the original two.

Above left: John Hills gives the keynote address at the LSE Benefactors’ Dinner, in 2014. Credit: London School of Economics. Above right: John Hills and Mike Savage make plans for the LSE International Inequalities Institute and program activities, in October 2017. Credit: London School of Economics.

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LSE was founded by Fabian socialists and John noted that “Atlantic had these big progressive ideas, and the idea of being part of an emerging global network, able to be of service, and connected to this wider group of people addressing inequality seemed pretty attractive.”

There might be five or more in total, each intended to advance equity through a different thematic and geographical lens. The Atlantic Institute was also in the early stages of formation and Chris was beginning to think of all these programs relationally, contemplating what each could contribute to the whole. The idea that the III’s research, informed by the practical experiences of Fellows, could both offer insights on particular cases and generate more universal theoretical understandings and solutions provided a critical ingredient for systemic change, and opened avenues for connection across the emerging Atlantic Fellows program community. This made the project even more appealing. The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program was approved by Atlantic’s directors in March 2016, and welcomed its first cohort of 19 Fellows from 12 countries in August of the following year. In the search for an international partner, the International Inequalities Institute had landed on the University of Cape Town, given the university’s strong existing relationships with both the London School of Economics and Atlantic. The program was founded on values of courage, community and compassion. Fellows were drawn from multiple sectors, disciplines and geographies, and while some also took the master's degree course offered, all engaged together in modular sessions at the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town. The modules were focused on personal and collaborative leadership development, skills growth in systems thinking, campaigning and community building. The intellectual content drew in academic and practitioner experts to enhance understanding of relevant theories and cutting-edge research in order to develop new economic models. The promise of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program lies in “bringing together scholars, students, campaigners, policymakers and critical voices from across the globe to develop intellectual resources to challenge deeply entrenched economic and social inequality, and to develop a community whose members will engage with each other to advance more equitable models for the future.” (Mike Savage, founding co-director)

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Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa (Tekano) seeks to inspire and sustain the changes South Africa needs to bridge the enormous gulf in well-being between rich and poor and build a healthier nation. In the late 1990s, amidst the hopes of the immediate post-apartheid period, Atlantic opened its office in Johannesburg. Over the next 25 years, the foundation invested some $430 million. Its initial entry points were bolstering legal institutions and the rights enshrined in South Africa’s landmark constitution. By the early 2000s, it was deploying, on average, $25 million annually in population health, especially human resources development, reconciliation and human rights, through funding NGOs, universities and government entities. By the time Chuck made his only trip to the country (in 2005, with Atlantic’s board) having had no prior business investments, post-apartheid South Africa was emerging with promise. As in Viet Nam, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Atlantic’s leadership saw opportunities that both reflected Chuck’s interest in redressing conflict and fit squarely into his frame of investing philanthropically in people with energy and commitment who had been treated unfairly, overlooked and undervalued. His $25.9 million investment in public health and life sciences buildings at the University of the Western Cape demonstrated this approach. Chuck saw an opportunity to make a difference at the University of the Western Cape; he could help realize Vice Chancellor Brian O’Connell’s vision for this underfunded institution that was largely serving students from disadvantaged backgrounds. That difference lay in empowering impassioned and energetic people at an institution with potential. Atlantic’s resources gave momentum to Brian’s aspirations, catapulting the University of the Western Cape into the top ten universities in Africa. Chris had spent considerable time in South Africa as head of the Population Health portfolio, working with Atlantic’s senior staff, Zola Madikizela and Gerald Kraak. Winding down two decades of traditional grant-making and closing the office in 2013 led him to consider how to capstone Atlantic’s traditional work with significant Global Opportunity and Leverage grants. “Every time I went to South Africa, I’d meet with our population health grantees and we’d begun

Facing page: Kodwa Mpepho, Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity in South Africa, promotes access to sexual and reproductive health and justice for girls and women in outlying areas of Pretoria. Credit: Roger Sedres.

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to talk about strengthening human resources and leadership needs. We were already in the space, with people working on human resources in health, and Zola had developed an executive leadership program in health,” recalled Chris. So, as he thought about how best to use Atlantic’s remaining resources to advance healthier, fairer societies through addressing underlying societal inequities, he saw South Africa as fertile space to work together with grantees on developing a big-bet leadership development program. To extend and formalize the conversations Chris had been having, Atlantic’s consultant, Bridgespan, organized a series of convenings in Cape Town and Johannesburg in July 2015. These convenings gathered some 30 South African grantees and other prominent players to explore opportunities where Atlantic might add value by investing in the development of social change leaders around three themes: health equity, racial equity and socioeconomic inequality. These themes resonated with Atlantic’s prior investments in South Africa and offered potential for synergies with other emerging Atlantic Fellows programs. At this point, the first two Atlantic Fellows programs, the Global Brain Health Institute and The Equity Initiative, had been approved for incubation funding. Both centered on developing the capacities of leaders to advance opportunities to achieve health and well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. Atlantic was in conversation with Fitz Mullan at George Washington University about a modest fellowship program to improve equity in the health workforce and was starting to think with the London School of Economics and Political Science about an Atlantic Fellows program on social and economic inequality. With the likelihood of several Atlantic Fellows programs emerging, Chris had begun thinking about drawing them into a collaborative catalytic community, and was interested in how each might use its specific thematic and geographic lens, and unique expertise, to contribute to shared understanding and solutions. Tracey Naledi, then working for the Western Cape Department of Health on improving primary health care, joined the July convening. “I had never been an Atlantic grantee or worked with them, but since getting to know Zola in 2010, when I worked for Management Sciences Health, we often found ourselves in the same meetings,” said Tracey. “I had this admiration for the

Above left: Sello Hatang, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF), and Kavitha Mediratta, at the NMF in Johannesburg, in July 2016. Above right: Tracey Naledi and Chris Oechsli with two Rhodes Scholars, Kopano Mabaso and Vupane Mhlomi, in Cape Town in July 2016. Credit: Chris Oechsli.

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A commitment to the values of fairness and equity enshrined in the South African constitution grounded the program concept. It was designed to be multisectoral and cross-disciplinary because Tracey and her team believed that "social determinants are about sectors other than health."

way they worked. There was an alignment of my personal values with those of Zola and Atlantic Philanthropies. What they stood for really resonated with me, so when Zola invited me, I agreed and gave them my opinion.” She was surprised later when Zola called and asked her to come to the next Atlantic board meeting in London with three longtime Atlantic grantees who had been at the convening: her mentor David Saunders, Steve Reid and Mvuyo Tom. “Our idea growing out of the July meeting was just bare bones, but we convinced them there was an idea to build on.” The board asked them to fast-track a proposal, and in recognition of the fast pace and their already demanding day jobs, offered to provide supporting consultants. The group drew in Laetitia Rispel from the School of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, to what they were starting to call the “steering committee.” In addition, they brought on three consultants as the project development team: Barbara Klugman, Irwin Friedman and Waasila Jassat. The group’s aspirations, as evident in the draft proposal they produced for Chris’ January 2016 visit, accorded well with Atlantic’s frame for their culminating investments, all with the aim of developing the capacities of leaders to advance opportunities to achieve well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. This frame was becoming settled after the July convening to encompass the values of equity, opportunity, dignity and fairness; enabling collaboration across diversity; multidisciplinary and multisectoral approaches; a rich and sustained cohort experience sufficient to build catalytic communities; and a goal of long-term systems impact. The vision of a more egalitarian society and a mission to broaden and deepen the capacities of values-based leaders working individually and in catalytic communities to act to achieve this vision, as well as a commitment to the values of fairness and equity enshrined in the South African constitution, grounded the program concept. It was designed to be multisectoral and cross-disciplinary because Tracey and her team believed that “social determinants are about sectors other than health. Health is everybody’s business.” A sustained program experience would grow relational leaders with the skills and values for

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The investment made in this program is huge and should be matched by the impact Fellows make in pushing back the frontiers of inequity.

collective, ethical thought and action, and capacities for solving problems and making systemic change. Interpersonal bonding would be facilitated, leading to a strong community dedicated to driving change. Candidates with a commitment to public service and a shared set of values around improving equity, opportunity and dignity for all would be chosen as Fellows. In response, Chris laid out a timeline for a process that, in June 2016, would lead to the Atlantic board’s approval for incubation period funding with the objective of an initial cohort of Fellows by late 2017. The timeline also made clear that thinking was advancing about a broader community of at least four similar programs and their Fellows. Tracey recalled that following the board’s approval, the already fast pace quickly accelerated: “It took us nine months from paper to Fellows. If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t have agreed to the timelines that Atlantic set.” They had to build the curriculum and plan the program, staff up, get the program up and running, and develop reflective and evaluative practices for improvement. The values that drove the program and Fellows also drove the founders. Tracey was adamant that: “This program requires all of you, and then some. But we’re service-oriented and derive joy from serving others, so people sacrificed.” As they developed their concept, the steering committee came to believe that in this case, the model that Atlantic had established of embedding these programs in universities was not going to work. Tracey explained: “We thought that social determinants, health equity, is also about power, the power of keeping certain people out. We wanted to be inclusive because social change agents can come from anywhere in life.” The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movements also made universities less attractive as prospective homes for a program with a social equity mission. Atlantic and the steering committee further recognized that a stand-alone, independent organization had the additional advantage of being a neutral space that could bring together diverse voices from universities and institutions that were often competitive with one another, and would enable a catalytic community that bridged historic divides. They named their new organization “Tekano,” a Sesotho word meaning “equality.”

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With this decision came the additional responsibilities of setting up a formally registered standalone NGO, developing policies, becoming an employer, hiring staff and creating a board. The steering committee assumed the role of founding board and, as board chair, Tracey outlined why: “We’ve been a strong and involved board because we designed the program so we had incredible ownership, and because we are an NGO and don’t have institutional infrastructure to fall back on, there is nowhere to go; we are accountable.” In approving the incubation phase grant, the Atlantic board was betting on this board, many of whom were traditional Atlantic grantees. Because they were intensely focused on setting up Tekano and further developing the program, “we didn’t take the time we needed to build the organization as we did to build the program,” Tracey noted, and in hindsight, this led to mistakes that could have been avoided if there had been time for more thought, deliberation and relationship building. For success, “the organization is important, the program is important and governance is important. It’s a triangle.” This new stand-alone organization needed a physical location and there was a great desire to locate Tekano in a place consonant with its mission. As one of its capstone Global Opportunity and Leverage projects, Atlantic had funded the building of the Isivivana Youth and Community Centre in Khayelitsha Township, 30 kilometers outside of Cape Town. Opening in late 2016, it already housed a number of social change organizations that had been major Atlantic grantees. It was agreed that locating Tekano there, rather than in the metropolis of Johannesburg or in Cape Town proper, would provide a set of like-minded colleague organizations for the startup effort and embed it within the kind of community it was intended to serve, while keeping it close enough to an international crossroads to make it accessible and globally engaged. In late 2017, with everything in place, Tekano welcomed its first cohort of 26 Atlantic Fellows from multiple sectors and regions across the country. “Equity has been very elusive for centuries, but that does not mean inequity should be seen as a permanent feature of society or humanity. The investment made in this program is huge and should be matched by the impact Fellows make in pushing back the frontiers of inequity.” (Mvuyo Tom, founding board member)

Above: David Saunders and the team designing the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa (Tekano) program, in Cape Town, in July 2016. Credit: Chris Oechsli.

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MVUYO TOM Mvuyo Tom did not just see or study injustice and oppression, but experienced it personally. Born to farm and domestic workers who never experienced formal education, he saw firsthand the constant harassment and arrests of his parents by the oppressive and discriminatory pass-law system of apartheid South Africa. When he started school in Komani (Queenstown) in the Eastern Cape, his parents struggled to pay the fees on their low incomes. He performed so well at school, however, that sponsors assisted him. He later received bursaries. This did not blind him to the apartheid in the education system. He joined student politics at the height of the Black consciousness movement and suffered expulsion for participating in a students’ strike in 1973. Dr. Tom was briefly detained during the 1976 students’ uprising whilst at the University of Natal Medical School. He participated in the non-racial sports struggle against apartheid, captaining the Medical School and Natal Provincial rugby teams. He participated in the Queenstown Students’ Association, supporting poor students who were performing well. The struggle for equitable access to education started in those early years. His medical school experience and seeing Black people suffer from preventable diseases raised his consciousness of the connection between social and economic conditions, and health outcomes. The struggles against apartheid education and health care continued as he started his professional life as a medical doctor. Dr. Tom was arrested in 1983 for carrying out underground work for the African National Congress (ANC). He spent six months in solitary confinement before being sentenced to three years for refusing to testify in an apartheid treason trial. After his release, he served in various organizations that pursued socioeconomic equity and justice. In 1990, unaware that the apartheid government was preparing to remove the ban on liberation movements, Dr. Tom went back to back to the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg for a master’s degree in family medicine. In 1994, he was absorbed into the new administration to lead the transformation of health services in the Eastern Cape. This was the time to push for the realization of the vision of non-racial, equitable access to quality health care. That year he received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. His promotion to provincial director general offered him an opportunity to drive intersectoral collaboration, as he was responsible for coordination of all departments in the province. This led to him taking up a part-time master’s degree in public policy and management at SOAS, University of London. In 2004, he left to join the University of Fort Hare, where he served in various capacities and as vice chancellor from 2008 to 2016, when he retired. He continues to pursue the struggle for health and education in various boards and organizations, including as a founder of Tekano and on the Atlantic Institute governing board.

Above: Mvuyo Tom speaking at an Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity program session at the Public Health Association of South Africa conference, in 2019. Credit: Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa. Facing page: Lena Stofile, Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity in South Africa, is working to drive up environmental standards and increase access to basic services in Cape Town. Credit: Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa.

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Photo captions go here

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Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity at Columbia University aspires to build an enduring transnational network of leaders across issues, approaches and geographies to dismantle antiBlack racism and build the policies, institutions and narratives needed for a more equitable world. Through leadership development, community building, idea labs and narrative change, the program supports the personal development of these leaders and the broader social change activity required to achieve racial equity. While race had not been one of Atlantic’s four traditional program areas, grant-making under the tenure of the chief executive officer Gara LaMarche included an explicit focus on race, both in the U.S. and in South Africa. However, these portfolios were phased out in the early years of Chris Oechsli’s tenure as he prepared for the foundation’s conclusion. Following the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement the next year, racial equity grew more prominent in the U.S. public landscape, drawing renewed attention within the foundation. In the aftermath, the Obama White House began conceptualizing the initiative that was to become My Brother’s Keeper, and Chris was invited to join those discussions. In 2013, Chris asked Kavitha Mediratta to lead a retrospective assessment of racial equityrelated grant-making and identify prospects for Global Opportunity and Leverage grants in this space. Kavitha had joined Atlantic in 2010 as a program executive and led its grant-making to reform school discipline, which included a specific focus on eliminating racial disparities. Her investigation revealed that Atlantic had contributed extensively to dismantling barriers and creating opportunities for people of color. It had invested some $350 million in areas that addressed racial discrimination both in policy and practice, encompassing work on criminal justice reform, pursuing the abolition of the death penalty, civil liberties, children’s health and well-being, elder economic security, and her own area of school discipline reform. She proposed making racial equity an explicit focus of Atlantic's final investments and, specifically, to strengthen the infrastructure for sustained action to carry forward the kinds of work Atlantic had already been doing. This included investing in anchor institutions, enhancing coordination among key players, building new capacity in strategic communications for narrative change and developing effective leaders. Her review suggested a number of potential Global Opportunity and Leverage grants for organizations

Facing page: Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and program team on a walking tour of Harlem as part of the New York City module. Credit: Zeuxi De La Cruz.

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such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense Fund, Advancement Project and Color of Change. As part of leading the Racial Equity Global Opportunity and Leverage projects, Kavitha worked with Chris on My Brother’s Keeper. He was increasingly focused on human capital development and beginning to develop the ideas that would grow into the Atlantic Fellows programs. One of the Racial Equity Global Opportunity and Leverage projects was a fellowship for school superintendents run by the Southern Education Foundation to enhance leadership awareness and capacity to address racial disparities in schooling outcomes. It gradually became clear to her that “the kind of sustained, long-term investments in leadership development that Chris was thinking about could be a place where Atlantic Philanthropies could create something really lasting” in the racial equity space, and that the school superintendent fellowship could be a prototype. “While I was not directly involved in the early formulation of the new human capital development initiative, I was, through My Brother’s Keeper, talking with Chris about why racial equity was such a critical issue for the foundation,” Kavitha recalled. She remembered walking back from a My Brother’s Keeper meeting at the White House in 2014, urging Chris to move beyond drawing on the elites typically tapped for leadership training to think about ways the potential big-bet legacy investments in leadership could support the kinds of young people represented by the Black Lives Matter movement, essentially creating new pathways for their growth and impact. Kavitha felt that Chris "was deeply committed to issues of equity and very humble. There was a capaciousness in the space between us. I knew I could say what I had to say and there would be thoughtful, respectful engagement around it.” Chris was indeed listening, and beginning to think racial equity could be a theme for one of Atlantic’s culminating big bets. By the second quarter of 2015, the first two Atlantic Fellows programs, the Global Brain Health Institute and The Equity Initiative, had been approved for incubation funding. Both were centered on advancing opportunities to achieve health and well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. Atlantic was also in conversation with Fitz Mullan at George Washington University about a modest fellowship

Above: The Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity team work with the Nelson Mandela Foundation during the program development phase at the foundation’s headquarters in Johannesburg, in June 2017. Credit: Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity.

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Through leadership development, community building, idea labs and narrative change, the Racial Equity program supports the personal development of leaders and the broader social change activity required to achieve racial equity.

program to improve equity in the health workforce, and was starting to think with John Hills and Mike Savage at the London School of Economics and Political Science about an Atlantic Fellows program around issues of social and economic inequality. As it began to seem possible to incubate additional programs to enhance the capacities of leaders to tackle the root causes of inequities, Chris worked with Bridgespan to organize a series of convenings in Cape Town and Johannesburg, in July 2015, to explore opportunities where Atlantic might add value; he chose racial equity as one of three themes for these convenings. He asked Kavitha to co-lead the session, giving her a chance to see if elements of the U.S. case had more universal relevance while expanding her contextual knowledge and networks to South Africa and getting to know the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Foundation had not been a traditional Atlantic grantee but Chris had recently been introduced to its chief executive officer, Sello Hatang, at an event at the New York Public Library with Graça Machel. On learning about the Foundation’s convening power and mission to facilitate dialogue across diverse perspectives on tough issues, Chris suggested they keep talking “because we’re thinking of doing something around the issue of race and it would be interesting to explore cross-country opportunities to address legacies of race and structural inequality.” He asked Kavitha to follow up. Sello, and Head of Leadership and Knowledge Development, Verne Harris, then attended the July convening, which deepened their mutual exploration of potential synergies and alignment. Discussions with Atlantic’s South African grantees and other experts at the July convenings had helped expand and clarify the emerging frame for Atlantic’s big bets, intended to advance opportunities to achieve well-being for those unfairly disadvantaged by underlying societal inequities. The frame was becoming settled, focusing on the shared values of equity, opportunity, dignity and fairness; collaboration across diversity, multidisciplinary and multisectoral approaches; a rich and sustained cohort experience sufficient to build catalytic communities; and a goal of long-term systems impact. While working within this model, Kavitha recalled needing to figure out how the model could be leveraged to meet the needs in the field. “I wanted to make sure this initiative could move the needle on racial equity and was responsive to the needs of field leaders,” which she saw as lifting up a new generation of Black leadership arising from Black Lives Matter in the U.S. and Fees Must Fall in South Africa; offering practical, solutions-oriented programming that focused on the long game, strengthening connective tissue across races and sectors to support movement

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infrastructure; and operating with a broader understanding of what constitutes leadership than had been typical of academic programs. As a way to test Atlantic’s thinking and her own, in late October Kavitha organized a New York counterpart to the South Africa convening with a group of 20 Atlantic grantees and additional experts, including policymakers, researchers, NGOs, activists, artists, communications specialists and specialists in using fellowships as a tool for leadership development. These discussions helped Kavitha and her team assess the value of Atlantic’s frame in addressing the needs of the field, to align the frame with those needs and to determine how resources could best support “the development of a pipeline of leaders to advance issues of racial equity across disciplines and sectors.” Attendees emphasized the value of going beyond the frame of racial equity to be explicit about tackling anti-Black racism, and of using the initiative to change public narratives on structural racism while developing a connected community of leaders. This community would be cross-sectoral, multiracial, values-based, mutually caring, intergenerational, cross-national and, therefore, able to communicate across diverse perspectives and learn from each other to tackle anti-Black racism. It now looked like there was a prospect for Atlantic and its partners to craft a social change leadership program together, dedicated to enhancing the capacities of leaders to advance racial equity in the U.S. and South Africa. The focus then turned to designing the program, developing both the proposal and the timeline toward board approval, and searching for an administrative host. Kavitha felt strongly that the design team emerging from the October convening should represent the diversity of key influencers involved with the issue, while recognizing that it was going to be complex and challenging to create a coherent program across a diversity that was often competitive and not in agreement on strategies and tactics. The final design team included two of Atlantic’s Racial Equity Global Opportunity and Leverage grantees, Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change, Sherrilyn Ifill from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense Fund, and two influencers in key sectors, john a. powell from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley and Denise Perry from Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity. The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Sello and Verne joined as the potential South African partners. Mindful of keeping the Atlantic board abreast of thinking as it evolved, Kavitha organized

Above left: Richard Wallace, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, speaking at Rhodes House, Oxford, in July 2019. Credit: Lee Atherton Above right: Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity at a module in Magaliesburg, South Africa, in June 2019. Credit: Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity.

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This community would be cross-sectoral, multiracial, values-based, mutually caring, intergenerational, cross-national and therefore able to communicate across diverse perspectives and learn from each other to tackle anti-Black racism.

a panel of racial equity experts for the December 2015 board meeting to discuss learnings from the convenings, the progress that had been made, and the rationale for a big bet in this area. From January through May, the team worked on multiple iterations of a program design and proposal, informed by regular feedback from Chris and Atlantic’s board. Simultaneously, assisted by Bridgespan’s research capacity, Chris and Kavitha searched for an administrative home for the initiative, taking into consideration a number of universities and notfor-profits. Based on criteria such as alignment in vision and values, brand recognition, convening power, administrative and communications strengths, experience with human capital development programs, and expertise in content that would be valuable to the program, Columbia University was chosen in the second quarter of 2016. In a departure from what had become traditional hosting arrangements for the Atlantic Fellows programs, Columbia had not been an Atlantic grantee or partner. However, it offered compelling leadership in the form of a formidable dean, Alondra Nelson, a highly regarded track record of scholarship and teaching on racial equity, and close physical proximity to Atlantic. From Chris’ perspective: “Kavitha had good reasons for Columbia and I took her advice because Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity was a lot like The Equity Initiative, in that we were betting on somebody from inside Atlantic who had good experience and relationships and was really very competent.” The program outline that was approved in June 2016 consisted of a fellowship experience that was experiential, field-based in the U.S. and South Africa, interactive, and intended to cultivate community and drive collaboration. The core curriculum included examining historical struggles for racial equity, understanding structural racism, and thinking about how to redesign systems and develop strategies for social change, including narrative change. This stood alongside leadership training intended to raise self-awareness, build capacity to collaborate across divides, and enhance executive management skills. The opportunity to explore these issues transnationally was significant for Fellows, who cited the value of holding a mirror up to one’s own experience, comparing two countries that were different but grounded in the same problems and, for the Americans, understanding the ambiguities of a Black majority country with a Black majority government. In June 2016, Atlantic’s directors approved the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity program,

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I always say to our team that we have an opportunity to make real change, and making the most of Chuck’s extraordinary gift requires rigor and commitment.

alongside Tekano. The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity program had started its incubation period at the London School of Economics and Political Science a few months earlier, which meant that three Atlantic Fellows programs with South African dimensions would be able to compare thinking, share insights and learn from each other’s experiences. Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity, focused on advancing Indigenous leadership across Australia and the Pacific, was also approved that month, offering potential synergies with Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. As Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity’s founding executive director, Kavitha led the effort to settle into Columbia, staff up and turn program concept into curriculum. This would be done with the Program Management Committee of partner organizations in the U.S. and the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa, who would together carry the program design into implementation. Over time, the program would evolve into a fully integrated transnational partnership between Columbia University and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Moving from the nascent idea that racial equity was a space where an Atlantic human capital development investment in leadership development could make an important contribution, to the January 2018 arrival on Columbia’s campus of the inaugural cohort of 20 Fellows from the U.S. and South Africa, had taken five years of advocating, consulting, iterating, designing and organizing. Throughout this period, Kavitha was driven by her values and passion to advance racial equity. “I fought for Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity as an idea because I believe that a strategic, thoughtful human development pathway for a new generation of leaders is vital for the future of our country, and certainly for South Africa. Our countries are in a pivotal moment. And our job is to help usher in the structural change that can make them realize their promise and their potential. So, when Chris asked me to take on the leadership of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and bring the idea to life, it was not a decision I took lightly. I knew I would need to do the hard work to make it succeed. That’s what the commitment meant to me. I always say to our team that we have an opportunity to make real change, and making the most of Chuck’s extraordinary gift requires rigor and commitment.” (Kavitha Mediratta, founding executive director)

Facing page: Kavitha Mediratta and Mohamed Motala, founding executive director of Tekano, at the Leadership Conference, at Rhodes House, Oxford, in July 2018. Credit: Mary McDonnell.

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Acknowledgements Thank you to everyone who helped make this book possible

You journeyed with me in bringing to life the founding narratives of Atlantic’s final big bets — the Atlantic Fellows programs and community. You gave the project your time, enthusiasm, support and insight as we worked together to peel back the layers of the past decade, make sense of the memories and enliven the pages with your photos of key players and events. INTERVIEWEES

Without your willingness to engage in genuine dialogue throughout lengthy oral interviews, these stories — your stories — could not have been told. Guenevere Burke Billy Hall John Hills Ben Kerman Ben King Brian Lawlor

Le Nhan Phuong Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Jim McCluskey Kavitha Mediratta Bruce Miller Tracey Naledi

Evie O’Brien Chris Oechsli Ian Robertson Mike Savage Peter Smitham Victor Valcour

Foremost, I am thankful to Chris Oechsli for his patience over many hours of questions that both explored the conceptual issues and probed the details. His encouragement inspired me through multiple iterations of the text with a sense that we had this rare moment to uncover and document memories while they were still fresh. Ben King kept the project moving, gently pushing me to move from talking to writing, and he was tireless in helping to fill in the gaps between memory and reality with concrete evidence, as I triangulated among the multiple memories of the founders. The executive directors and their teams, the Atlantic Institute team, Atlantic Philanthropies’ staff — especially MaryAnn Nesdill and Elizabeth Cahill, and Atlantic’s archivist at Cornell University, Phoebe Kowalewski, responded cheerfully and quickly to my numerous requests for clarifications and “just one more photo”. And my colleague Alexis Brown supported the project throughout, from scheduling and tracking files and photos, to editing transcripts and designing visuals of a complex process.

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BOOK PRODUCTION

Writer: Mary Byrne McDonnell, Ph.D., MBM Learning and Evaluation Strategies Copy Editor: Fionnuala Sweeney, Atlantic Institute Project Manager: Maria Jeffery, Atlantic Institute Designer: Dan Dyksen, Pluperfect Illustrator: Alicia Bramlett, Dpict Proofreaders: Brenda Campbell and Karen Shook Printer: David Mullord, Artisan Print & Sign Solutions July 2021

AUTHOR’S BIO Mary Byrne McDonnell designed and directed multiple human capital development programs and served as executive director at the Social Science Research Council before becoming engaged in bringing formative evaluative evidence to organizational and programmatic learning for improvement. She began working with Atlantic Philanthropies’ Viet Nam office in the early 2000s, combining these two concerns in a longitudinal study that followed Atlantic’s interventions to improve health while strengthening capacity among Vietnamese social scientists to provide evidence about how the interventions were working and how they could be improved for scale-up by the Ministry of Health. As Atlantic started to develop the Atlantic Fellows programs, she joined the effort early, working closely with several programs, Atlantic executives and board as an external Learning and Evaluation Partner and Coordinator. Following her growing passion to use evidence to improve organizations and programs, she left her position as senior vice president for Strategic Learning to devote herself fully to learning from Atlantic’s final phase and documenting the launch of the programs and community. McDonnell holds a Ph.D. in history with a focus on Southeast Asia and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University. Her publications include “Helmet Day! Structural Intervention and Strategic Learning in Vietnam, in Structural Approaches to Public Health.” Growing up in the rural American South in the 1960s as the civil rights movement unfolded, and spending extensive time in the developing countries of Asia as a young adult, attuned her to disparities in opportunities and outcomes and to unfair policies and practices that deliberately favored some groups over others. When not following her work passions, McDonnell enjoys being by and in the sea with her husband, two grown boys and two hounds, Nellie and Porter.

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“ I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living — to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition. More important, today’s needs are so great and varied that intelligent philanthropic support and positive interventions can have greater value and impact today than if they are delayed when the needs are greater.”

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— CHUCK FEENEY EXPLAINS THE GIVING WHILE LIVING PLEDGE IN A LETTER TO BILL GATES