Our Ambitions: Chris Stone on the Open Society Foundations

George Soros created the Open Society Foundations because he wanted to do something for people he saw struggling for a more open society. It starts in South Africa, it starts in Eastern Europe, it starts in the former Soviet Union. But in place after place, he saw people who were trying to make a more open, diverse, pluralistic, democratic society. And they were trying to do it themselves. And he was willing to give them some support, to make that difference. We are here for them. 10, 20 years after those initial efforts were made, we are continuing that vision on a scale that probably no one then ever dreamed of. We’re not here for our strategies, we’re not here for our ambitions, we’re here for those people that George wanted to help, that he saw trying to help themselves. That’s a trust. That’s a privilege and a responsibility that we carry. We must always keep track of why we do it, what our own ambitions are, what our own hope for change in the world is. But we have to keep faith with the people on whose behalf George Soros created the Open Society, and on whose behalf we are working today. Yes, I have a particular set of ambitions that have driven me in my career. It comes down to probably trying to help people suffering from some kind of oppression, struggling to live in a more open society, trying to help remove the obstacles that prevent their voices being heard, and prevent them from feeling their own power. That work is what drove me, to the work as a public defender, creating a new kind of public defender officer in Harlem here in New York City. It’s the work that took me to South Africa, working with the justice officials and civil society groups. It’s the work that has kept me going in the the last 10 years working with civil society and government officials in Papua New Guinea, in Sierra Leone, in Jamaica, in Nigeria, in Ethiopia. These are all places where people need to remove obstacles that have kept them down for a very long time. But, while I hope to continue that work here at the Open Society Foundations, that’s not my job. My job here is to build an organization in which each person, each member of our board, each member of staff, each grantee can hold on to their ambitions, can make the world better in the way that they find important, while at the same time keeping faith with each other, and keeping faith with the people on whose behalf we work.

6 thoughts on “Our Ambitions: Chris Stone on the Open Society Foundations

  1. Pay attention to what he's saying during those long blinks. There are plenty of resources available for reading body language, do your own research. You can fool others, but your heart knows your mind.

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