ONE’s interim CEO Adrian Lovett on the people who made the world better in 2016

ONE’s interim CEO Adrian Lovett on the people who made the world better in 2016

Here at ONE, we are determined to count our blessings.  We all know the bad stuff from this year.  But darkness doesn’t drive out darkness, only light can do that, as MLK said. And if you look hard, there were signs of light throughout the year.  A jury of one person (me) has deliberated long and hard, and the results are in. Here are my own personal 2016 awards.  Yes, they are focused on the work of my amazing colleagues here at ONE and (RED) and our partners and members around the world.  No apologies for that.  These people are worth celebrating and in 2016, they have made the world better.



A remarkable, twenty-minute tour-de-force by our former boss, Michael Elliott, in front of hundreds of friends and colleagues in Washington, D.C., on July 12.  All the more powerful and poignant because two days later, he passed away.  His life was expressed through wise thoughts and kind words.  The words he chose to end his speech that night came from Derek Walcott, who wrote of “the chance you now have, to give those feet a voice.” Mike gave a voice to many, and the award created in his memory to champion excellence in African storytelling will ensure those voices – and his – will not be forgotten.



We’ve said it and we’ll keep saying it: Poverty Is Sexist.  And it turns out, a lot of people agree – from the million new ONE members who have joined us after hearing the message, to world leaders like Canadian PM Justin Trudeau who made the line his own (and he’s welcome).  Our Poverty Is Sexist message helped deliver $13 billion for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and next year it will be bigger than ever – as we tackle the injustice of girls denied a chance to go to school and get a decent education.



This has to go to ONE’s White House Bounce House, the inflated replica of the real thing.  It toured the key US states through the summer as the centrepiece of our ONE Vote ’16 campaign, calling on both presidential candidates to put a plan for ending extreme poverty on their to-do list for government.  18,000 people got involved and as their reward, they got to have a bounce in the bounce house.  (As you can see, I did too.  Just to test it.)



The winner of this one is French member of parliament, Pascal Cherki.  In October, as the parliament’s finance committee debated the level of international aid planned for 2017, Mr. Cherki pulled out ONE’s annual Data Report and began quoting facts from it.  He was seen on live TV pointing out the page in the report that shows France’s aid in comparison with other donors and leaning over to show it to another MP.  His arguments won the day: following that session, parliament approved amendments to increase French aid by €270m, which means the first overall increase in aid since President Hollande took office.


A photo posted by (RED) (@red) on

How about this for a supergroup? When Jimmy Kimmel brought together Bono, Julia Roberts, Kristen Bell, DJ Khaled, Halsey, Herbie Hancock, Neil Patrick Harris, The Killers, and Channing Tatum for World AIDS Day, the Rat Pack became the (RED) Pack.  The song was great, but the result was even better.  The live TV moment was part of (RED)’s biggest ever World AIDS Day, and (RED)’s partners are now on track to deliver an incredible half-a-billion dollar accumulated contribution to the Global Fund, to help stop AIDS in its tracks.



Step forward, Faiza Shehu from Tirwin, in North East Nigeria. She volunteered to work with our partner organization, Ummah, on our campaign to improve health care for millions of Nigerians – Make Naija Stronger.  She gave her time to the campaign because she lost both her parents, who could not get the health care they needed. And the campaign is making progress – just last week they saw an increase in health allocations that will directly impact the Nigerians who need it most. She is currently an apprentice seamstress, and yes, she created that ONE-branded hijab herself… For all of us on the ONE team, working alongside Faiza and nearly three million other African ONE members is why we are here.


This one goes to Kristalina Georgieva, the outgoing Vice President of the EU.  Hours after our Brussels team got up early to put posters around the city calling on the EU to protect life-saving aid, the VP tweeted a picture of one of our posters, with an instant response to our lobbying effort.  Love it when a plan comes together.  We have to admit to being quite big fans of Ms Georgieva and are thrilled to see her going to the World Bank.



There’s only ONE.  When almost all of our global team gathered together in October, I almost burst with pride at the talent and passion in front of me.  When I look at this picture, I still do.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Thank you, Margaret Mead).  But we couldn’t do it on our own… so thank YOU, too.  Here’s to 2017, and light that drives away the darkness.


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