Late Ken Robinson, PhD
The late Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education, and in business. He is Professor Emeritus and was Professor of Education at the University of Warwick and holds honorary degrees from Rhode Island School of Design; the Open University; the Central School of Speech & Drama; Birmingham City University, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Oklahoma State University. Sir Ken was awarded the Athena Award for services to the arts and education; Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States; the Arthur C. Clarke Imagination Award; Gordon Parks Award for achievements in education; and the Benjamin Franklin Medal from the Royal Society of Arts. Listed as “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity” and ranked among the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thought leaders. Sir Ken works with governments and education systems in Europe, Asia and the USA, and was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.
A long-time environmentalist and advocate for gender and human rights issues, Meryl has championed women’s rights and the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), and campaigned to end trafficking and violence against women. Meryl has been nominated for an Academy Award an astonishing 21 times and has won 3 times. She has received 33 Golden Globe nominations and won 9 (including the Cecil B. DeMille award. She is also the recipient of 3 Emmy Awards, 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, 5 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, 2 BAFTA awards, 5 Grammy Award nominations, and the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, amongst others. She has been named a Commandeur de L’Ordre Des Arts et des Lettres, a Kennedy Center Honoree, and received the National Medal of Arts. In 2014 President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Joy Crookes has fast become one of the UK’s most exciting new artists. Her unique approach to storytelling within her songs, partnered with her infectious charisma has seen her become a treasured and trusted new voice both musically and across her social media. Joy uses her creativity as a tool to understand her own identity, her place in the world and her relationships within it.
After being nominated for the Brits Rising Star award, Joy went on to become the most widely tipped artist of 2020 and sold out her debut UK tour in a matter of hours. 2021 will see Joy release her long-awaited debut LP ‘SKIN’. A collection of songs built and honed throughout her adolescence and into her early twenties, and finessed last year within the most turbulent of circumstances. Joy has created what can only be described as a truly special body of work that is both perfectly of the moment, and entirely timeless.
An accomplished and award-winning producer-director-writer actor-singer, Farhan Akhtar is the ultimate Bollywood multi-hyphenate. Farhan debuted at the age of 26 as a writer, director, and producer with ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ (2001), followed by ‘Rock On!’ as an actor-singer, winning the National Award for ‘Best Hindi Feature Film’ for both and the Filmfare awards for ‘Best Feature Film – Critics Choice’. Farhan also expresses his passion for music by writing, composing, and performing live with his band Farhan Live. In addition to his contribution to Indian cinema, Farhan founded MARD (Men against Rape & Discrimination) in 2012, an initiative that raises awareness about gender-related issues amongst the youth of India. Afterward, recognizing his sustained efforts, Farhan was made the first male UNWomen Goodwill Ambassador (South Asia) in 2014.
Lord Rumi Verjee
Lord Rumi Verjee is a highly successful multiple entrepreneur. He studied Law at University of Cambridge where he is now an Honorary Fellow. He founded The Rumi Foundation, the goal of which is humanitarian work through education, knowledge building and innovation. Amongst other projects, the Foundation is working with the Clinton Foundation to provide new schools in rural Uganda for thousands of children. He is Chair of Free the Children UK and co-chair of their signature event We Day UK. He is a Member of the World Presidents’ Organisation, the Global Leadership Foundation, and was a member of the Advisory Board of the British Olympic Association. In 2009 he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for charitable services and was appointed by HM The Queen to the UK House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat Peer in 2013.
Kenyan born Rupin Vadera’s sustaining passion, inspired by his family’s philanthropic philosophy, is to support and build transformational education projects. Rupin was the President and Trustee of Chinmaya Mission UK (CM) for nearly 25 years, during which time the charity grew to become a highly regarded institute for the study of Vedanta, Spirituality, Hindu and Indic studies, within the UK. Its message of universal oneness resonates with Think Equal’s philosophy.
Rupin served on the Bank of England Agents’ Committee, is a Trustee at the UK charity Lifelines International Fund for Education, is pursuing the establishment of a digital ‘library’ platform for blind and sensory impaired children (with Sense International), has been an adviser to Sense Romania, sponsored an entire library in the pioneering Indian university dedicated to the study of Vedanta, Sanskrit and Indic Traditions (Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth), and leads adult study classes in Hindu philosophy.
Indrani Goradia is a philanthropist and advocate for women’s health and empowerment. She is the founder of Indrani’s Light Foundation (now Raft Cares), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to ending gender based violence and empowering women around the world with the tools to live healthy and meaningful lives. An author, speaker and certified life coach, Indrani has delivered keynote addresses at conferences and leads workshops around the world.
President Joyce Banda
Joyce Banda was Malawi’s first female president, and second on the African continent. She served as Minister of Gender, Child Welfare, and Community Services and as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In her various ministerial capacities, she designed the Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Child Abuse and established relations with mainland China. She has been popular in Malawi because of her tough stance against government corruption and her strong campaigns for grassroots development and gender parity. Throughout her career Banda received awards and accolades, including the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 1997 and being named Africa’s third most powerful woman by Forbes magazine in 2011.
Vicky Colbert is the Founder and Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva, and co-creator of the Escuela Nueva pedagogical model, known for its effectiveness in improving the quality and relevance of basic education in underprivileged schools across Colombia and beyond. Escuela Nueva has become a part of Colombia’s national education policy with a significant impact on academic achievement. The model has been recognized by UNESCO and the World Bank as among the most outstanding reforms in developing countries worldwide. She served as Colombia’s Vice-Minister of Education and as UNICEF’s Regional Education Adviser for Latin American and the Caribbean. Vicky is an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the 2013 WISE Prize for Education, and the 2017 Yidan Prize for Education Development.
Prof Marc Brackett
Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. His research focuses on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. Marc is lead developer of RULER, an evidence-based, systemic approach to SEL that has been adopted by over 2,000 schools across the United States and in other countries. He has published 125 scholarly articles and received numerous awards. He consults regularly with corporations like Facebook and Google on integrating emotional intelligence principles into employee training and product design. Marc is co-founder of Oji Life Lab, a corporate learning firm that develops innovative digital learning systems for emotional intelligence and related topics. He also holds a 5th degree black belt in Hapkido.
Jack is a social entrepreneur and change-maker at a systems level. He created the World Toilet Organization (WTO) in 2001 as a global network and service platform for toilet associations, academia, government, UN agencies and toilet stakeholders to learn from one another and leverage media and corporate support that in turn influenced governments to promote sound sanitation and public health policies. Amongst many honours, Jack is an Ashoka Global Fellow and was named: Time Magazine Hero of the Environment; Asian Development Bank’s Water Champion; and Reader’s Digest Asian of the Year. He was awarded Channel News Asia’s Asian of the Year, and was Council Member to the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Water Security.
Pratibha Sachdev is a philanthropist and entrepreneur. She co-founded GMSP foundation in 2006 which has given away over $10 million to grassroots organisations in India and the UK focussing on those that are vulnerable, marginalised or face discrimination. Pratibha set up a nursing home to give back to the elderly community. Along with her husband, she grew this into a successful nursing home business employing over 10,000 people. She has a degree in Child Development and was Headmistress at the Aga Khan school in Uganda. She was recently awarded Philanthropist of the Year at the 2018 Asian Awards. Pratibha is passionate about meditation, family and giving back to the community.
Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe
Dr Kedikilwe is a role model for many in Botswana. Treasurer and then Chairman of the Botswana Democratic Party, he took on many ministerial roles including in Education, later receiving the Presidential Order of Honour and an honorary doctorate for his remarkable work. Dr Kedikilwe has also served as Vice-President of Botswana and founded and leads the Dr Ponatshego and Elizabeth Kedikilwe Early Childhood Development Foundation, to contribute to the economic and social upliftment of disadvantaged young children in Botswana through Early Childhood development programmes.
Jaz is a thought leader who champions the transformational power of educators. She began her career as an early years teacher and became an education advisor to governments both in the UK and internationally. Her own journey from life as a child abused by her own parents to foster care and life on the streets was transformed by the impact of a handful of educators. As a result, she has dedicated her life to advocating for a human revolution in the way we teach, learn and connect with children and adults at school and at work.
CEO of Human 1st Ltd, Jaz is an author and speaker delivering transformational keynotes in the corporate and public sectors inspiring them to be a catalyst for change in their lives. Her TEDx Talk has been viewed almost 100,000 times. A seasoned TV and radio presenter, Jaz’s unique ability to connect and enthral made her a natural choice to present our first Think Equal TV series.
Professor Ilian Mihov has been Dean of INSEAD since 2013. He is also the Rausing Chaired Professor of Economic and Business Transformation. His expertise is in macroeconomics, focusing on monetary policy, fiscal policy, and economic growth in the MBA, EMBA, PhD, and many executive education programmes. He has been recognised several times with the Outstanding Teacher Award. In 2018, he received the UN Women (Singapore Chapter) HeForShe Leader Award for his outstanding service and contributions towards gender equality at INSEAD.
Ilian is a board member of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), Stewardship Asia Centre and the Singapore American School (SAS). In addition, he is the Academic Director of the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society Chair of the Board at the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a United Nations Global Compact initiative, in 2020.
Barbara has worked in the field of early years education for the past forty years. In her role as the principal education officer of Montessori Centre International, she contributed to the development of Montessori teacher education and to making Montessori education more accessible to the broader community. This commitment is reflected in her books and articles. She contributed to and witnessed the growth of the Think Equal programme since its early days and is honoured to serve as a Trustee on the Think Equal board.
As President of Montessori Europe, she continues to champion children’s rights and campaigns for assess and quality education for all. She is passionate about ongoing professional development for all teachers and sees education as a key tool for promoting collaborative approaches toward respectful global cooperation.
Dr. Urvashi Sahni
Urvashi is a non-resident fellow of Brookings Institution, a member of Hillary Clinton’s CHARGE commitment and Founder of the Study Hall Educational Foundation. She is a social entrepreneur and educationalist with over 30 years of standing and a leading expert in curriculum reform, school governance, and teacher training in collaboration with national and state governments and NGOs in India. Urvashi holds a Master’s degree and PhD from the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. She was the first of Berkeley’s graduates to be awarded the prestigious International HAAS award for her contributions to education in her home country. Her Schools reach out to over 6000 students in rural and urban areas, more than half of which come from highly challenging backgrounds. She was awarded The Ashoka Fellowship for her work with Digital Study Hall, a program that uses technology to reach out to thousands of teachers, teacher-trainees and students from underserved areas.
PhD in Education (Kenyatta University, Nairobi) and MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology (Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad). An international Education, Gender and Development Consultant, her career has spanned over 30 years working as an academic, researcher, development worker, teacher, trainer and journalist. She has been Head of Development Studies and Senior Lecturer (Kenyatta University, Kenya), External Examiner for the Department of Women and Gender Studies (Makerere University, Uganda), and Chief of Education in UNICEF Uganda. Sheila is the Founding Chair of Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK). She was nominated to be a member of FAWE at the global level to recognise her contribution to girls’ education in the region. She has also served on the Advisory Board of UWEZO Kenya and the Girls’ Education Movement (GEM) in Uganda. She has led a national study on Value-Based Education in Kenya. Now, she is the Director of Jaslika Consulting and CEO of Jaslika Foundation.
Dr Robin Stern
Robin Stern, PhD, is the associate director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. A licensed psychoanalyst, educator, and author, she holds a doctorate in applied psychology from New York University and a postdoctoral certificate in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Centre for Mental Health. Robin is a co-developer of RULER and co-creator and lead facilitator for Yale’s Institutes. In collaboration with Facebook, she created a reporting process for cyberbullying incidents and a help centre for bullied children. She is a member of the Emotional Intelligence Consortium and was a fellow in the Public Voices Fellowship.
Richard J. Davidson
William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder & Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Davidson’s research is broadly focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style and methods to promote human flourishing, including meditation and related contemplative practices. He has published over 400 articles, numerous chapters and reviews and edited 14 books. He is the author (with Sharon Begley) of “The Emotional Life of Your Brain”, published in 2012 and co-author with Daniel Goleman of “Altered Traits”, published in 2017. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2017.
Dr Yuwei Xu is an Assistant Professor in Education and Teacher Development at the University of Nottingham, UK. Previously, he has held academic positions at the UCL Institute of Education (where he remains an honorary lecturer) and the University of Portsmouth. Dr Yuwei Xu is a sociologist of (early) childhood, education, and gender, with a PhD awarded by the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He has researched topics such as gender and men in early childhood education, LGBT teachers, child agency, child-centred diversity and quality education, parenting, and women in STEM. His research is cross-cultural and comparative, and he has conducted projects in contexts such as the UK, China, Europe, Australia, and South Africa in collaboration with international researchers.
Alhassan Susso is a world-renowned educator and author who has devoted his career to transforming the lives of young people. Born in The Gambia, Alhassan migrated to America at age 16. He graduated with honours in Political Science and History from the University of Vermont and received his Master of Arts in Teaching from Bard College in New York.
Alhassan has helped raise his school’s graduation rate from 31% to 84.9% in 5 years. He is certified in therapeutic crisis intervention in schools, creating courageous classrooms and turning adversity into opportunity.
Alhassan is the 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year. He is also the 2019 New York State History Teacher of the Year and the 2020 NEA National Educator of the Year. He was named in 2017 as one of “The Top 50 Outstanding Educators in the World” by the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize. He is the recipient of the prestigious Daylight Africa Award and the Facing History Upstander Award. He was awarded the 2019 Cultural Innovator Award by Long Island University, the 2021 Council for Economic Education Visionary Award and is a two-time recipient of the Social-Emotional Learning Innovation Award for Teachers by Education First through the Rockefeller Foundation.
David has a deep commitment to Africa, women’s causes, and education.
His philanthropic contributions include support for the City of Joy in Eastern Congo, where women, used as weapons of war, recover from rape and brutality to become community leaders.
He has created a foundation at Insead to help finance African students to study for an MBA at one of the world’s leading business schools.
He supports a girls’ school in Ghana that teaches Africa’s brightest girls to A-level standards in maths and science so that they can go on to the best universities in the world.
David has been inspired, first by Christine Schuler Deschryver and by Dr Denis Mukwege in the DRC and now by Leslee Udwin, to believe that only through education which leads to mindset change can we stop violence by men towards women. David is thus funding the implementation of Think Equal across the whole of Gambia.