Following approval by Commonwealth Heads of Government last week, Dato’ Sudha Devi K.R. Vasudevan has been announced as the new Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation, the Commonwealth’s agency for civil society.
The Chair of the Foundation is a distinguished private citizen of a Commonwealth country appointed by Heads of Government. As Chair, Dato’ Sudha will lead Board meetings which govern the Foundation and support its future direction. She succeeds His Excellency Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, a Mauritian National, who has served with distinction since 2016.
The Commonwealth Foundation is one of the Commonwealth’s three intergovernmental agencies with a mandate to support Commonwealth civil society and, through that work, to advance the interests of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion citizens.
The Foundation delivers an annual grants programme which supports civil society to engage with governments to advance participatory governance, democracy and human rights. It also administers a creative programme that aims to showcase Commonwealth culture from writing to filmmaking, including through the widely acclaimed Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Through a range of other initiatives, from the Commonwealth People’s Forum to the Critical Conversations online event series, the Foundation works to amplify the voices of the People of the Commonwealth, helping them participate in shaping the policies and decisions that affect their lives.
Dato’ Sudha brings extensive leadership experience to the role. She recently served as Malaysia’s High Commissioner to Australia and, before that, was Ambassador of Malaysia to the Federative Republic of Brazil. Her other diplomatic postings have included Germany, Singapore and Switzerland. Throughout her career, she has held various positions within the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs including Director-General of the Department of Policy Planning and Coordination, Undersecretary for the East Asia Division and Deputy Director-General for the ASEAN Malaysia National Secretariat.
Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, Dr Anne T. Gallagher AO, said:
‘I am thrilled to welcome Dato’ Sudha to the Commonwealth Foundation. Her appointment comes at a pivotal moment for the international community as we strive to help our countries and communities recover and rebuild from the shocks of the past year.
‘Civil society engagement with governments will be essential for progress on this and many other fronts. The Foundation’s Governors, which Dato’ Suhda will lead, are critical to ensuring a Commonwealth that is truly of—and for—its people.’
The outgoing Chair of the Board of Governors, Ambassador Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, who has come to the end of his two-year term, said of the appointment:
‘I would like to congratulate Dato’ Sudha on her appointment as the new Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation. I have no doubt that her wide experience and deep involvement in diplomacy will help to steer the Foundation to the next, exciting stage of its development.’
The Foundation welcomes Dato’ Sudha Devi’s historic appointment as Chair of our Board. Her wealth of experience as a high-level diplomat will prove invaluable as we continue to promote the interests of the People of the #Commonwealth in 2021 and beyond. https://t.co/X3TtwXaE50
— Commonwealth Fdn (@commonwealthorg) December 14, 2020
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- Annual priorities of the Commonwealth Foundation are determined by a Board of Governors, comprising representatives of Commonwealth governments and High Commissioners based in London, civil society representatives, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General. The Chair of the Foundation is a distinguished private citizen of a Commonwealth country appointed by Heads of Government.