Civil Society Advisory Governors: new appointments

We take great pride in announcing the appointment of five new Civil Society Advisory Governors (CSAG) to our Board.

The Commonwealth Foundation has a tradition of involving civil society in its governance structure. The Foundation’s Board of Governors comprises representatives of its Member States as well as five CSAG members: distinguished civic voices that each represent a region of the Commonwealth. The representatives provide guidance on aspects of our programmes as well as our long-term strategy. Browse the profiles of the new appointees below.

Goretti Kyomuhendo (Africa)

Goretti Kyomuhendo is Director of the African Writers Trust (AWT), a literary initiative based in Uganda. Established in 2009, AWT aims to bridge the divide between African writers and publishing professionals living in the Diaspora and on the continent.

A writer herself, Ms. Kyomuhendo is one of Uganda’s leading novelists and has published four novels, several children’s books, short stories, and a writer’s guide.

Ms. Kyomuhendo’s career as a literary and cultural practitioner spans over 20 years. She is a founding member of FEMRITE—The Uganda women writers association and publishing house—and worked as its first director for ten years between 1997 and 2007, where she pioneered writing projects to promote, inspire and publish women writers.

The first Ugandan woman writer to receive the International Writing Program Fellowship at the University of Iowa, Ms. Kyomuhendo has been recognised for her work as a writer and practitioner nationally and internationally, and has represented her country at numerous forums worldwide.

She holds a BA in English Studies and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

Kalpana Kannabiran (Asia)

Kalpana Kannabiran is a Professor and Regional Director at the Council for Social Development, Hyderabad.  She taught sociology and law as part of the founding faculty of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad between 1999 and 2009.  A women’s rights activist, she is a co-founder of Asmita, a feminist collective in Hyderabad that was founded in 1991 and worked for three decades in the areas of feminist publishing, rights training and advocacy, legal literacy, and pro-bono counselling.

Her work has focussed on understanding the social foundations of non-discrimination, structural violence, and questions of constitutionalism and social justice in India. Author of Tools of Justice: Non-discrimination and the Indian Constitution (2012), her writing encompasses law and gender studies, disability rights, rights of religious minorities, indigenous rights, law and literature, and violence studies. She is a recipient of the Amartya Sen Award for Distinguished Social Scientists (2012) for her work in the discipline of law.

Dr. Marlene Attz (Caribbean)

Marlene Attz is a Lecturer in Economics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad and Tobago. She has served as Head of the Economics as well as Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI. She has more than 20 years’ experience as an economist focussing primarily on the economics of sustainable development. She currently serves in an administrative capacity within the University, bringing to bear her academic skills to support the University’s strategic objectives.

Dr. Attzs’s research portfolio primarily focusses on sustainable economic development issues confronting Caribbean Island States. Her specific research interests include sustainable development, climate change adaptation, and gender mainstreaming. She has worked as a consultant in many Caribbean countries and also consulted for Governmental and Non-Governmental agencies in Trinidad and Tobago, regional institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, as well as internationally with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, D.C.

Between 2005 and 2006, Dr. Attzs was based at the IDB Headquarters in Washington as a Consultant in the Sustainable Development Division, with responsibility for coordinating the Bank’s Natural Disaster Network, which comprised the national focal points for disaster risk management across the Bank’s Member Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Celia Wade-Brown (Pacific)

Celia Wade-Brown is a former Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to her local government career, she worked as a programmer, teacher, and IT analyst. Born in London, United Kingdom, Ms. Wade Brown has worked in Europe, Africa, China, and Australia.

As Mayor of Wellington, she strengthened business and cultural relationships between cities in Asia and Wellington. She was a founding member of the New Zealand Internet Society. In 2002, Ms. Wade-Brown founded Living Streets Aotearoa, a walking advocacy organisation. Wellington became the first New Zealand Council to introduce a Living Wage and a goal of Predator Free Capital.

Improving pedestrian access, cycling facilities, public transport, urban biodiversity and social housing have been integral to her political career. She has promoted the value of cultural diversity by adding Asian, African, and European events to the city’s calendar.

After standing down as Mayor, Ms. Wade-Brown was appointed to Biophilic Cities Network Advisory Board, Walk21 Foundation, Te Araroa Trust, Predator Free Wellington, and the NZ Walking Access Commission. She is Patron of the Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve and the African Film Festival, a trustee of the Great Harbour Way Trust, she co-chairs the Wellington Sea Kayak Network, and is currently working to restore biodiversity in native forests.

Ajay Chhabra (Europe)

Ajay Chhabra is an artistic director, producer, advisor, and actor. He has been active in civil society since the late 1990s, bringing people from different countries, cultures, and communities together through festivals, events, and partnerships.

With his company, Nutkhut, Mr. Chhabra uses partnerships and experiences to unearth untold stories and hidden histories. He is currently working on the final instalment of a trilogy of multi-disciplinary performances that mark significant historical moments in the relationship between Britain and Commonwealth communities around the world.

Mr. Chhabra currently sits on several boards at local, regional, and national level. As an Ambassador on the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, he engaged in the launch of the London Borough of Culture Award; and has helped develop a comprehensive, inclusive cultural strategy for the capital over the next ten years. Mr. Chhabra is Founding Chair for the National Mela Partnership, and has developed and delivered Mela strategy for Arts Council England and European Union bodies for the past 15 years across three continents.

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