Christopher Stone will step down as president of the Open Society Foundations at the end of the year, and Patrick Gaspard, a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and currently a vice president at the organization, will take over as acting president, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Stone, who has served as president of the organization since 2012, submitted his resignation letter to OSF founder George Soros on Monday. Gaspard, a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa (2013-16), aide to President Barack Obama, and executive director of the Democratic Party (2011-13), met Stone at a lecture in South Africa 2013 and became involved with the organization before joining its staff in 2016. In the year since, Gaspard has overseen the foundation's advocacy work in Washington and Brussels and provided strategic direction and oversight for its programmatic agenda. Leonard Benardo, a regional director at the New York City-based foundation, will serve as acting vice president after Stone's departure. An OSF spokesperson told the Journal that no search was planned for either the president or vice president post, and that the foundation's focus would not change under Gaspard.
In a letter to the foundation Monday, Soros said that Stone had successfully prepared the foundation to be run by a global board when Soros, who is 87, is no longer involved. The board should have a broader mandate than simply hiring and firing presidents, Soros wrote, and the organization's direction should come from board members who "commit themselves to take responsibility for the interests of the foundation." Soros added that he was confident Gaspard and Bernardo would "provide inspiring and effective leadership in these challenging times."
According to the Journal, Stone, in his resignation letter, said he believed his task was "largely complete, though it will continue to require correction."
"I am grateful to Chris Stone for his wise stewardship of the Open Society Foundations," Soros said in a statement to the Journal. "Patrick Gaspard has invaluable experience both inside and outside government, strong advocacy skills, and the strategic savvy the organization and the governing board needs to build on Chris's contributions."
(Photo credit: László-Mudra)