Secretary Kerry Underscores Importance of Partners for a New Beginning

John KerryUS Secretary of State John F. Kerry recently met with leading business and education leaders to discuss the Partners for a New Beginning (PNB) public-private partnership, for which the Aspen Institute is the Secretariat.

Leaders from around the world joined the meeting to discuss how to further expand the partnership over the next two years. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent, and President and CEO of the Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson attended the meeting in their capacity as co-chairs of PNB.

Launched in 2010, PNB advances economic opportunity in the areas of entrepreneurship, education, and innovation by catalyzing partnerships and convening networks of global leaders. PNB works under the leadership of its US Steering Committee and its chapters in each of its ten countries. This latest discussion set out the initiative’s agenda for the next two years and members agreed to activate their networks to make meaningful differences in the region.

“The reality is that in difficult budget times at home and times of challenge overseas, helping the Middle East and Northern Africa meet the demands of their populations for dignity and opportunity requires new and creative partnerships,” said Secretary of State Kerry. “We have to leverage private sector leadership more dramatically than at any time in our history. We need a new collaboration that reaches beyond government to include business and civil society groups working together to promote economic growth.”

PNB leadership from leading US businesses and universities attended the event and included Hilton Worldwide President & CEO Christopher Nassetta, Holsman International Chairman & CEO Henrietta Holsman Fore, Wellesley College President Kim Bottomly, Kosmos Energy CEO Brian Maxted, Intel Corporation Vice President Shelly Esque, and Cisco Systems Senior Director of Corporate Affairs Laura Quintana. Tom Nides, Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley and former US Deputy Secretary of State, also participated in the discussion.

The event also brought together business and civil society leaders from the Middle East and North Africa who serve on PNB local chapters, including Usama Fayyad (PNB Jordan), Amel Bouchamaoui Hammami (PNB-NAPEO Tunisia), Nevine ElKadi (PNB Egypt), Dr. Guven Sak (PNB Turkey), Aly Sy (PNB-NAPEO Mauritania), Lana Abu Hijleh (PNB Palestinian Territory), and Mehdi Bendimerad (PNB-NAPEO Algeria).

Muhtar Kent underscored PNB’s progress and the opportunities to enhance its work in collaboration with Secretary Kerry. “Looking back on the first three years, I’d say we are making a lasting, positive difference in communities around the world at a watershed moment in history,” he said. “But we can do more. We can do better. We have the opportunity to focus our collective efforts to foster the kind of entrepreneurship and economic opportunities that can transform communities around the world.”

Bouchamaoui Hammami, who also serves as chair of PNB’s local chapter in Tunisia, remarked that “the US support, embodied by the PNB initiative, has enabled the development of many projects in Tunisia such as FICRA, Smart Center, and programs that work to enable a better environment for private equity and venture capital businesses in Tunisia.”

Representatives from the US Department of State also included Chief Economist Heidi Crebo-Rediker, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace David Hale, and Acting Special Representative for Global Partnerships Thomas Debass.

To read more of Secretary Kerry’s remarks from the event, click here.

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