Employee #1 of the Skoll Foundation Unleashed Social Impact Felt in Every Corner of the Globe
Palo Alto, CA – After 16 years of dedicated leadership, Sally Osberg announced her decision to step down as the CEO and President of the Skoll Foundation. Osberg will remain in her role until a new president has been named and is in place.
In 2001, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jeff Skoll tapped Osberg as his Foundation’s first President and CEO, and she has served in that capacity ever since. Having embraced John Gardner’s counsel to “bet on good people doing good things,” Osberg and Skoll threw the Foundation’s energy behind the emerging world of social entrepreneurship. Today, the Skoll Foundation is the leading philanthropic organization in social entrepreneurship and one of its most credible champions.
Over 15+ years, the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship portfolio has grown to 100 ventures whose returns have been remarkable. Indicators of equilibrium change-in-process across the portfolio range broadly: from steep and enduring declines in the rate of deforestation in the Amazon basin to dramatic increases in health outcomes in some of the poorest countries on earth, from the acceleration of investment needed to ensure educational and economic equity for girls and women to j-curve rises in income and security for small-holder farmers.
In 2004, the Foundation established a partnership with the Saïd Business School of Oxford University and produced the first Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The purpose of this gathering, from the outset, was to help social entrepreneurs succeed: to enable their learning, showcase their solutions, and help them forge the connections that would accelerate their impact. Today, the Skoll World Forum is the premier gathering of its kind globally, and justly renowned for the value it generates for its many thousands of participants.
Osberg is also widely respected for her thought leadership. She has published extensively, both solo and in partnership with other leaders. For example, working with Skoll Foundation board member Roger Martin, Osberg published in the Harvard Business Review and Stanford Social Innovation Review. The Osberg-Martin team most recently published “Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works,” which further codifies the field of social entrepreneurship and its best practices. Together Osberg and Martin received the Thinkers50 Social Entrepreneurship Award. Osberg on her own is oft cited by the media and was recently named one of the social sector’s 50 most influential leaders by The NonProfit Times.
“Driven by an unwavering conviction that a sustainable world of peace and shared prosperity is within grasp, Jeff Skoll has approached his philanthropy as the quintessential entrepreneur. He’s created an utterly remarkable set of organizations, each of which brings a distinctive strategy to bear on solving the world’s most pressing problems,” said Osberg. “For sixteen amazing years, I have had the great privilege of leading one of his first stakes-in-the-ground-for-change, the Skoll Foundation.”
“Today, first and most profoundly, I am flooded with gratitude for Jeff and his trust. What a rare and precious gift it has been to support a man whose intellect is matched by his resolve, whose wit is as ready as his gravitas, and whose creativity knows no bounds. I am grateful as well for the many outstanding women and men who have helped bring Jeff’s vision to life, including and especially every member of the Skoll Foundation team. For me, this is the right move at the right time for all the right reasons. While I will miss more than I can say about the Skoll Foundation, I couldn’t be more confident about its future; indeed, the Foundation truly is poised to deliver even greater value in the years ahead.”
“Sally has been a major pillar of my work to better the world for 16 years,” said Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation. “I was admittedly new to philanthropy after leaving eBay. Having Sally by my side, with wisdom that transcended our work together, has been a joy and a privilege. Working with her team, she has assembled and systematically supported the world’s greatest social entrepreneurs; created opportunity for us to work with and learn from some of the world’s most inspiring leaders, from Nelson Mandela to Malala; produced the annually ever-better Skoll World Forum; and moved out in front of critical issues such as aligning our full endowment with our mission.”
Skoll continued, “Together we have tackled some of the world’s most difficult challenges, all of which Sally has managed with aplomb and grace. On behalf of the entire Skoll Foundation board of directors, I want to express my deep gratitude for Sally’s unwavering leadership, commitment to driving equilibrium change, and kind-hearted friendship formed over our many years working together. Social entrepreneurship and the Skoll Foundation would simply not be the same without her vision and tireless devotion to improving the lives of the vulnerable. Her imagination, rigor, warmth, and passion for protecting the vulnerable has served all of us remarkably well.”
Osberg will continue at the helm of the Skoll Foundation until a new CEO is in place. She will then begin a new role as Senior Advisor to Jeff Skoll and the Jeff Skoll Group of organizations. The search for her replacement is being run by Sally Sterling at Spencer Stuart.
Please note: All inquiries regarding the CEO position and search run by Sally Sterling at Spencer Stuart should be made through SkollPresident@spencerstuart.com.
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