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Sally Osberg Reflects on 16 Years of Building the Field of Social Entrepreneurship

May 4, 2017

By Sally Osberg

After 16 years at the helm of the Skoll Foundation, Sally Osberg announced plans to step down as President & CEO. She will continue to lead until her successor is in place, then transition to become Senior Advisor to Jeff Skoll and the Jeff Skoll Group of organizations. Here, Sally reflects on what she and Jeff built together.

Thanks to our dear, mutual friend Peter Hero, Jeff Skoll and I met two years after eBay had gone public. Jeff had begun to focus more on his philanthropy, and he and I quickly discovered we shared a belief in people with the creativity and drive to take on the world’s toughest social challenges. In February of 2001, I became Skoll Foundation employee #1.

What a rare and precious gift it has been to partner with someone whose intellect matches his resolve, whose wit is as ready as his gravitas, and whose creativity knows no bounds! I am grateful as well for all the women and men who have helped bring Jeff’s vision to life, including and especially our incredible social entrepreneurs and all of my wonderful colleagues.

While I will turn over the reins to the Foundation once my successor is in place, I will continue to fight on—as a Senior Advisor to Jeff and the Jeff Skoll Group of organizations. In this exciting capacity, I will dedicate time to unleashing the full power of Jeff’s remarkable portfolio approach to driving change where that change matters most.

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 and our work together, I couldn’t be more confident about the future. Indeed, the Foundation truly is poised to deliver even greater value in the years ahead.

Looking back, I am mindful of a John Gardner quip. “Self-congratulation can be habit-forming, and most organizations are long gone in addiction!” So, let me refrain from hyperbole and simply acknowledge the obvious: Together, we have been a force multiplier for change driven by many of the world’s great social entrepreneurs and for bringing rigor and meaning to social entrepreneurship as a field.

There is more to say over the coming months, but nothing more important, at this moment, than “thank you” to the social entrepreneurs, colleagues, partners, friends, and supporters who have driven our progress. I am grateful to the Skoll community beyond anything I can easily put into words—for your trust, your steadfast commitment to our work together, and for your deep dedication to Jeff and the enduring vision we share for a fair and flourishing world.

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