Searching for New Leaders

Dec 22, 2021

Great leaders may or may not be born that way, but their skills and abilities certainly evolve and mature over time. That is why we established an Emerging Leader category for the TSEGL Prize.

The jury selected two leaders. Pashtana Durrani, an Afghan activist and educator. Christian Ntizimira, a Rwandan who champions palliative care in central Africa.

Listen as two jurors—Shahidul Alam, photographer and human rights activist and Gouri Mirpuri, a social entrepreneur—discuss leadership with the two winners.


Shahidul Alam is a Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018, photographer, writer, curator and activist. He obtained a PhD in chemistry from London University before taking up photography. Returning to Dhaka in 1984, he documented the democratic struggle to remove General Ershad. A former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up Drik agency, Bangladesh Photographic Institute, Chobi Mela festival, Majority World agency and Pathshala, the South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world.

Shown in MOMA, Centre Georges Pompidou and Tate Modern and a speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, Alam guest curated at Whitechapel Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Shilpakala Padak, the highest national award given to Bangladeshi artists, as well as the Infinity and Lucie Foundation Awards.
John Morris of Life Magazine described his book “My journey as a witness” as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

Alam introduced email to Bangladesh in the early nineties. In 2018 he was jailed for over 100 days for criticising his government. His recent book “The Tide Will Turn” and his ongoing retrospective at Rubin Museum “Truth to Power” have received critical acclaim.

Pashtana Durrani, is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of LEARN, an Afghan non-governmental and non-profit organisation.

Pashtana co-founded LEARN in remote communities in Kandahar, Afghanistan to promote digital literacy for children and train adolescent girls in menstrual hygiene management & reproductive health. She also initiated the Digital Lab as an offline library of general and science subjects designed as a peer learning digital lab that offers content for grades 1 through 12 in two national languages, Dari and Pashto. With support from the Malala Fund, Pashtana is expanding her work to eighteen public schools in Kandahar impacting over 7,000 learners. Pashtana has been working to persuade the government of Afghanistan to consider digital literacy as an alternative teaching and learning pathway in its Fourth National Education Strategic Plan.

Gouri Mirpuri is passionate about social entrepreneurship, youth empowerment and environmental sustainability. She combined these interests to set up the award-winning Learning Farm in Indonesia sixteen years ago, a residential farm working to heal and give vulnerable youth and refugees a second chance in life through organic farming.

Gouri also founded the first ever co-working space for social entrepreneurs in South East Asia, Impact HUB Singapore, and continues to support Social Impact Businesses globally. She is a TEDx and INK speaker, a columnist on environmental issues and author of several published books. She has been working as a consultant at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Washington DC.

Gouri sits on the boards of many non-profit organizations in the US, including Halcyon Incubator, Environmental Film Festival and the Smithsonian Institute’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In Singapore, her home, she serves on the board of Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) and is President of the US chapter of United in Diversity, an organization that brings tri-sector collaboration to find solutions for the common future of South East Asia.

Dr. Christian Ntizimira is the Founder and Executive Director of the African Center for Research on End-of-Life Care (ACREOL) in Rwanda.

Dr. Ntizimira began his medical career planning to become a surgeon, but the consequences of the Genocide against the Tutsis in 1994 led him to a passion for palliative care. He believes that end-of-life care is a human right, and that such care should prioritize individual dignity, local values, humanity and Ubuntu. To that end he founded and has led ACREOL since October 2019 and has also become a leading advocate for developing palliative care in low- and middle-income countries recognized through the World Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance.

Great leaders may or may not be born that way, but their skills and abilities certainly evolve and mature over time. For years the Tälberg Foundation has nurtured leaders who are relatively early on their journeys through a variety of programs. This year we took another step in our own leadership journey by establishing an Emerging Leader category for the Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize. 

The idea is simple: identify and honor leaders who have already had impact but who are still growing and evolving. It’s not about age, but about impact and potential.  

The 2021 jury selected two emerging leaders as the initial recipients of this honor. Pashtana Durrani is an Afghan activist and educator working to create digital learning opportunities, especially for girls, in her ravaged country. Christian Ntizimira is a Rwandan medical doctor who champions palliative care in central Africa, in the belief that dignified death is a human right (and a communal obligation).

Listen as two Tällberg jurors — Shahidul Alam, a Bangladeshi photographer and human rights activist and Gouri Mirpuri, a Singaporean social entrepreneur—discuss leadership with Pashtana and Christian.

Let us know what you think and comment below.

Click on the button to listen to the episode or find us on a podcast platform of your choice, (Apple podcast, Spotify, Acast, Stitcher, YouTube, etc.)


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