Board of Directors Weekend Highlights Courage and the Legacy of Salzburg Global Seminar

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Jun 26, 2017
by Nicole Bogart
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Board of Directors Weekend Highlights Courage and the Legacy of Salzburg Global Seminar

Board members and guests revel in a weekend of stimulating discussion and reflection as 70th anniversary celebrations continue Salzburg Global Seminar Vice President Clare Shine and guest speaker Thuli Madonsela

“Courage is not simply the opposite of fear; it is the audacity to act in pursuit of a cause you believe in, regardless of fear,” said Thuli Madonsela, a human rights lawyer and former Public Protector of South Africa, during the inaugural Salzburg Global Lecture. With this speech, filled with reflection on the weekend’s core theme of courage, Madonsela set the tone for the annual Board of Directors Weekend.

Madonsela’s keynote speech highlighted some of the most pressing social issues of today; from homeless African students going days without food in their pursuit for higher education, to persistent economic inequality, and young people’s political disengagement. Yet, despite these challenges, good things continue to happen: such as technological innovations helping Africa enjoy its own industrial revolution. Madonsela called on global leaders to find the courage to fight for progress and justice, urging Fellows and guests to contribute to small acts of change.

“The peaceful world we yearn for lies in our collective hands. At the core of that world is social justice and the rule of law,” she said. “The invincible summer of hope that fueled the courage behind the Salzburg story lies in all of us. Together, through courage anchored in the invincibility of hope, faith and love, we are more than equal to the challenges of our time.”

Finding courage on the front line and for the long haul

On Saturday, guests took part in panel discussions on “Speaking Truth to Power,” “Courage on the Front Line,” and “Courage for the Long Haul.” Panelists included award-winning political cartoonist Tom Toles and founding member of the EY Global Women in Business Advisory Council Seema Khan. Guests also heard from Ferdinand Richard, president of the Roberto Cimetta Fund, an organization which supports artists in conflict zones and LGBT rights activist Bisi Alimi, both of whom are Salzburg Global Fellows. Other speakers included freedom of expression advocate Dunja Mijatovic, economist Guy Standing, and Salzburg Global Fellows, Baroness Usha Prashar and Mahasin Tanyaui.

As speakers shared personal stories and reflections, a common thread emerged; we rarely self-identify as courageous beings, despite others seeing our actions as courageous. “Do I have courage?” mused one speaker. “I think I am a fool who goes where angels dare to tread.”

Each panel discussion was followed by a question and answer session where board members and guests deliberated the future of government and political action, global equality, and personal development in a changing world.

A salute to Board Chair Heather Sturt Haaga

The weekend also served as an opportunity to salute outgoing Board Chair Heather Sturt Haaga. Haaga has served on the Salzburg Global Seminar board of directors since 1999 and was appointed its first female chair in 2011.

As part of the 70th anniversary celebrations, Salzburg Global Seminar board members collectively purchased a mirror that once belonged to theatre impresario Max Reinhardt, former owner of Schloss Leopoldskron. The silver- and gold-plated mirror, carved out of coniferous wood, is an original piece, crafted by a Berlin carpenter around the beginning of the 20th century.

The mirror was presented to Haaga during a presentation in the Max Reinhardt Suite of Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron, where it will now hang in her honor.

On Friday, Haaga, together with her husband Paul G. Haaga Jr., was also presented with the Salzburg Cup, first given to the Salzburg Seminar by The Honorable John P. Humes, who established the Cup as an honor to be bestowed upon individuals whose service to the Seminar merited special recognition.

Both Haagas have served in numerous Board leadership positions, including Paul’s leadership of the Finance Committee and Hotel Task Force, and Heather’s personal engagement with the 2001 renovation of the Meierhof.

Melodies and memories

As well as stimulating discussions, guests were treated to a weekend filled with art and musical performances, including Saturday night’s upbeat gala performance from the David Gazarov Trio and a Sunday matinee by the Vienna Philharmonic Quartet.

Guests also visited Schloss Frohnburg for a concert commemorating the centennial of Edward T. Cone – a long-serving board member whose estate continues to support Salzburg Global Seminar’s arts and culture sessions.

In-keeping with the property’s artistic history, the weekend saw Schloss Leopoldskron invaded by the sheep of the “The Blue Flock Art Project,” which aims to promote “mutual understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.” The two dozen life-size blue sheep statues moved around the Schloss gardens and buildings, delighting the guests young and old throughout the weekend. They were also available for purchase, to support the disability charity that produces them, with many flocking their way to new homes across the globe by the end of the festivities.

On Sunday, Fellows and guests reminisced over pivotal moments in Salzburg Global’s history as part of the fireside chat titled the “Four Ages of Salzburg Global Seminar.” Fellows from all generations of Salzburg Global’s history spoke of their personal connection to the organization, many reflecting on the impact it has had on their lives.

“What I want to say is that this place changed my life,” said one Fellow. “But everybody says that.”

This year’s edition of the Salzburg Global Chronicle, which this year focuses on the seven decades of Salzburg Global Seminar, was also launched at the weekend, as was a special video, featuring Fellows such as international jurist Richard Goldstone and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva.

The 70th Anniversary Chronicle incorporates features on the “four eras” and profiles on several Fellows for whom participation in sessions at Schloss Leopoldskron has been instrumental in advancing their careers.

Throughout the weekend, staff and guests were encouraged to post on social media platforms. All their posts have been collected on the dedicated 70th anniversary website, where you can find the Chronicle and video also: 70.salzburgglobal.org

The weekend was part of the ongoing year of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of Salzburg Global Seminar. At its previous board meeting in March, Salzburg Global hosted a special anniversary debate entitled “Angry World: Great Unraveling… or Wake-up Call?” Current and former members of staff were also invited back to Schloss Leopoldskron for a homecoming weekend in late April. Further festivities are planned throughout the year.