As we launch into Founders Week celebrations at UWCSEA, marking 50 years since the official opening of the College by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, we were pleased to welcome the incoming Executive Director of UWC International, Faith Abiodun for his first public speaking engagement since taking up the position in December 2021.
In the 50 years since UWCSEA joined with Atlantic College, in effect creating a global movement by extending the mission to a second location in Singapore, much has changed, shifted and accelerated in the world.
And much has stayed the same.
One constant is the continued need to provide access to education that will prepare young people to be leaders who can take courageous well informed action to address the urgent challenges we face. From Hahn’s original vision of students learning together through solving problems has come the UWC mission to create solutions for the most urgent problems of our time: peace and a sustainable future.
Two UWCSEA High School students, Ruth and Anthony, joined College President Carma Elliot and Faith in a wide-ranging, honest and inspiring discussion that examined how UWC and UWCSEA might continue to be a force in the reimagining of education to create a sustainable future for all.
A sense of possibility and a sense of agency: that things can be done, and I can do something about those things. Anyone who encounters UWC should come away with those two ideas.”Faith abiodun, incoming executive director, uwc international, speaking at the KMSS event: celebrating the UWC mission on 13 December 2021, in describing what he would like anyone encountering the UWc movement to understand about a UWC education
Executive Director, UWC International
In a career spanning nearly a decade at the African Leadership Academy (ALA), Faith served as an executive leading the recruitment of thousands of young leaders from all over the world for ALA’s programmes. He also headed the Communications, Marketing, Programme Recruitment and Partnerships departments, helping to build ALA’s global brand and developing strategic partnerships with governments, corporates, foundations, NGOs and schools.
Going back further, Faith started his career as a reporter in Nigeria with The Guardian. Today, he regularly provides socio-political commentary for global news outlets such as the BBC and South African Broadcasting Corporation, and he is a contributor to Common Action Forum, a transnational network of intellectuals, academics, politicians and journalists.
In 2009, he founded The Speech Academy, a leading elocution and public speaking institution in Nigeria. In 2013, he led the initiative to establish the ALA Model African Union, where more than 1,500 young leaders from 58 countries have participated in a simulation of the African Union, including several students from Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa. In 2016, he also founded Future Africa, a public sector leadership organisation with a network of emerging leaders spread across more than 30 African countries. Previously, he worked in corporate communications at the Bi-Courtney Group and recently served a stint with the international secretariat of Catalyst 2030, where he developed and managed the inaugural Catalyst 2030 Awards, recognising exceptional models of systems-change philanthropy.
A member of the Board of Trustees for the global education news service News Decoder, Faith previously served as an International Advisory Board member for Global Youth Innovation Network and as a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Syracuse University, New York, where he was a University Senator and President of the Coalition of Multicultural Public Affairs Students. He is also an alumnus of the Learners Voice Executive Education programme at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). Faith completed his undergraduate studies in his home country, Nigeria.
Officially joining UWC International on 1 December he will assume full responsibility as the new Executive Director on 1 February 2022. Before relocating to London to assume the role of Executive Director, he lived in South Africa with his wife, IniOluwa and daughter, Oluwadabira.
College President, UWCSEA
Carma joined UWCSEA in 2019 as the first College President, following a career as a British diplomat. For 23 years, until 2010, Carma worked in a wide variety of roles and across continents, including bilateral politics, trade and investment, immigration and protocol. Her final three postings were as Consul-General in Chongqing (China), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and finally Shanghai (China).
Carma spent much of her adult life in China; first going to China as a student at Fudan University in Shanghai over 35 years ago. After leaving the Foreign Office, Carma became Executive Director at China’s single largest international NGO, the Half the Sky Foundation (2010–2013), focused on enriching the lives of China’s orphaned children, before joining the British Council in 2013 as Director China, and concurrently Minister for Culture and Education in the British Embassy Beijing, a member of the Ambassador’s senior leadership team. Throughout her professional life, Carma has affected meaningful change in the government, international education and development sectors in several countries, most recently completing a complex business transformation at the British Council in China.
Carma is originally from Scotland, and is proud to call herself a global citizen. A ‘third culture kid’, she grew up living in multiple countries as her family moved around with her father’s job. Through her professional life, she has developed a deep knowledge of the cultural nuances required to successfully navigate and create intercultural understanding and an appreciation of the importance of respecting diverse perspectives when working towards peace between people. Carma has been honoured twice by Her Majesty The Queen, for her service to the UK abroad.
She is single and has two adopted daughters.
Carma's Blog is called Thought: Process