The ONE Campaign is sad to report that Michael Elliott, our much-loved former President and CEO, died yesterday evening, July 14.
Emma Oxford, Michael’s wife, said: “My daughters and I are heartbroken at the loss of Mike, my beloved husband of forty years, and adored father to Roxana and Gina. Mike’s zest for life never dimmed, even as he coped courageously with an aggressive cancer over the last two and a half years. Indeed, his awareness that he might run out of time far too soon only deepened his appreciation of life, of his work for ONE, and his love of family and friends. He was thrilled to see many good friends at ONE’s celebration for his retirement, only two days before he died, and it was completely characteristic that in his remarks he not only focused on thanking family, friends, colleagues, and his outstanding medical team, but also painted a lyrical picture of his well-travelled life, finishing up with words from Derek Walcott, one of his favorite poets. Roxie, Gina and I will miss Mike more than we can say.”
Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of the ONE Campaign, said: “Mike loved his life, lived it boldly and wanted the rest of the world to have that same experience of it. He was annoyed and sometimes angry at the waste of human potential. Above all else, he wanted his life to be useful. If you were around him, that’s what he demanded of you. He was a natural as well as professional storyteller. As the leader of ONE he communicated with ease just how doable was the transformation of the lives of the poorest. He spoke with a clear-eyed conviction that could raise the eyebrows of most seasoned journalists, which in fact he was! His decades as scribe and editor had not made him cynical, rather he saw himself as an evidence-based optimist. As his beloved friend and wife Emma and their two daughters Roxana and Gina will tell you, he was also great, great fun. In the world that ONE lives to change, that quality is one of the rarest and the one I personally will miss the most.”
Tom Freston, Chairman of the ONE Campaign, said: “Mike was a great man with a big heart. He had lived with cancer for more than two years, with indomitable courage and irrepressible good humor. He had just stepped down as our CEO, so he could entirely focus on his recovery. Just two days ago, we celebrated him at a farewell party in Washington DC where he gave a long, well-prepared, impassioned, barnburner of a speech in front of hundreds of his friends, supporters, and ONE employees and alums. He spoke of his pride in his work with us, and we all celebrated his enormous achievements at ONE, in journalism, and beyond. He laughed as ONE members thanked him for his work: nothing gave him greater pleasure than being with members and hearing their stories of how they had come to ONE, and how much it meant to them. Michael had many great and influential jobs in his career, but said that none had meant more to him than his work at the ONE Campaign. He will be missed greatly, as both a colleague and a great friend. We all have his wife Emma and his two daughters Roxana and Gina in our thoughts and prayers.”
Our thoughts are with Emma, Roxana and Gina. Michael had many friends and family in Washington DC, in New York, in the UK, and across the world who will join them in remembering him with love and admiration.
Michael Elliott: Bio
Michael Elliott was President and Chief Executive Officer from 2011 to 2016. In his five years leading the organization, ONE increased its global footprint, and saw its membership rise from 2 million to more than 7 million, of which 2.8 million are in Africa. Elliott also oversaw the successful merger of (RED) with ONE in 2012. He died in 2016 after living with cancer for more than two years, having moved on to become a Senior Strategic Advisor to ONE earlier in the year. He is much missed by his family, friends and colleagues around the world.
Before joining ONE in 2011, Elliott had a distinguished career in the media. He served as editor of both TIME International and Newsweek International, and as Political Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of The Economist, where he was the founding author of both the “Bagehot” and “Lexington” columns. Elliott was a columnist on the global economy for FORTUNE magazine, and has written and presented many television documentaries that have been broadcast all over the world. He was the author of four books, including “The Day Before Yesterday,” an acclaimed history of the post-1945 United States.
Elliott was born and raised in Liverpool. He earned two degrees from Oxford University, and prior to his career in journalism, he was a member of the Central Policy Review Staff in Britain’s Cabinet Office. He started his career teaching in universities in the US and UK, ending his time in academic life with a tenured position at the London School of Economics.
Elliott sat on a number of official bodies, and served on the boards or advisory committees of many non-profits, including currently InterAction, the International Center for Journalists, Beyond Sport, and Transparency International (USA). He was chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Sustainable Development and sat on the advisory panel of the UNDP’s Human Development Report and the Board of the Global Poverty Project. Among other honors, he was named one of the world’s 25 inspiring CEOs by GoodNet in 2015, and was an officer of the Order of the British Empire.