It is with a great deal of pride that I join Peace Direct as its new CEO, taking over from Carolyn Hayman, who has steered this organisation to great success. As the incoming CEO, I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude, as she has transformed the organisation from an idea, born ten years ago, into a dynamic and thriving organisation, which can count partners in 9 countries and funders including the European Union and the Big Lottery Fund as well as many others in the UK, Europe, the United States and beyond. All have endorsed Peace Direct’s unique approach to supporting local peacebuilding efforts in some of the most hostile places on earth, and this success is something that I am keen to sustain and grow, just like our peace fund, so that we can continue to support local peacebuilders around the world. Peacebuilders like Heartbeat, a vibrant youth group based in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, who bridge the growing divide between Israelis and Palestinians through music. Or Pan Zagar, a local peacebuilding organisation in Myanmar which uses social media and peer education to address ethnic tensions. These new partners show just how diverse local peacebuilding is, and that peacebuilders are everywhere, even in the most inhospitable places.
Over ten years ago I wrote a report on the role of local peacebuilders in helping prevent or resolve violent conflict around the world. Back then, I was astounded at the variety of stories and evidence of impact, and was delighted that the report helped build momentum behind the idea for Peace Direct. Since then I have been inspired by Peace Direct’s mission and vision and am honoured now to be taking the reins from a friend who has done so much for the organisation. I hope you will join me as we continue to reach out to peacebulders worldwide, to support their efforts and enable their voices to be heard here in the UK and around the world.