BRAC Governing Body
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMG
Founder and Chairperson, BRAC
Sir Fazle was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He was educated at both Dhaka and Glasgow Universities. He was a professional accountant in his thirties, working as a senior corporate executive at Shell Oil when the 1971 Liberation War had a profound effect on him, dramatically changing the direction of his life. He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh’s war of independence. There, he helped initiate a fundraising and awareness campaign called HELP Bangladesh.
When the war was over, he returned to the newly independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. Millions of refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, started returning to the country and their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts. It was then that he established BRAC to rehabilitate the returning refugees in a remote area in north-eastern Bangladesh. He directed his policy towards helping the poor develop their capacity to better manage their lives. Thus, BRAC’s primary objectives emerged as alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor. Under his leadership, in the span of only four decades, BRAC grew to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions.
BRAC University, founded in 2001, is integral to BRAC’s work to create a more just and peaceful world by providing relevant, high-quality education and equipping its students with the knowledge and skills to address contemporary and future challenges. BRAC University is the embodiment of BRAC’s fundamental conviction that education and training are forces for positive change.
Sir Fazle has been honoured with numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC, including the World Food Prize (2015), Trust Women Hero Award (2014), Spanish Order of Civil Merit (2014), Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal (2014), CEU Open Society Prize (2013), Inaugural WISE Prize for Education (2011), Entrepreneur for the World Award (2009), David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership (2007), Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) Award for lifetime achievement in social development and poverty alleviation (2007), UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development (2004), Gates Award for Global Health (2004), Gleitsman Foundation International Activist Award (2003), Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Award (2003), Olof Palme Prize (2001), InterAction Humanitarian Award (1998) and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980).
He is also recognised by Ashoka as one of the 'global greats' and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2009, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) by the British Crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. He was a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2010 to advise on support for the Least Developed Countries. In 2014, he was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
Sir Fazle has received many honorary degrees, including from Yale University (2007), Columbia University (2008), the University of Oxford (2009) and Princeton University (2014).
Dr Chowdhury is the vice-chairperson of BRAC. He is also the advisor to the founder and chairperson. Previously, he was the interim executive director of BRAC, the founding director of the research and evaluation division and the founding dean of the James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University.
He is also a professor of population and family health at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York. During 2009-2012, he worked as a senior advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation, based in Bangkok, Thailand. He also served as a MacArthur Fellow at Harvard University.
Dr Chowdhury is a founder of the Bangladesh Education Watch and Bangladesh Health Watch, two civil society watch-dogs on education and health respectively. He is on the board and committees of several organisations and initiatives, including the International Advisory Board of the Centre for Sustainable International Development at the University of Aberdeen. Dr Chowdhury was a coordinator of the UN Millennium Task Force on Child Health and Maternal Health, set up by the former Secretary General Kofi Annan.
He is a co-recipient of the ‘Innovator of the Year 2006’ award from the Marriott Business School of Brigham Young University in USA. He also received the PESON oration medal from the Perinatal Society of Nepal in 2008. He has a wide interest in development, particularly in the areas of education, public health, poverty eradication and environment. Dr Chowdhury has published books and more than 150 articles in peer-reviewed international journals including the International Journal on Education, the Lancet, the Social Science & Medicine, the Scientific American and the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr Chowdhury holds a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an MSc from the London School of Economics and a BA from the University of Dhaka.
Active in the women’s development movement since the early sixties, Ms Abdullah worked at the Comilla Academy for Rural Development for nine years as an instructor in charge of the Women’s Education and Home Development programme. She served as chairperson of the Bangladesh Shishu Academy and Bangladesh Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha. She also worked as the chairperson of core groups in the preparation of the National Plan of Action for Children from 1997 to 2002. She was also a member of the team assigned to prepare the National Action Plan for Women’s Development: Implementation of Beijing Platform for Action, and a member of the Local Government Commission.
Ms Abdullah served as a member of the Board of trustees of the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines (1984-88), and Aga Khan University, Pakistan (1991-1994). At present, she is the chairperson of Gono Bishwabidyalay, chairperson of ASA, and member of the Board of Directors of the Polli Karma Shahayk Foundation, as well as BRAC.
She received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1978. She has written a number of papers and articles on her work and in 1982 published a book, titled Rural Women of Bangladesh - Prospects for Change, co-authored by Dr Sondra Zeidenstein.
Ms Abdullah received her MA from Dhaka University and MS from Michigan State University.
Mr Rahman is the chairperson and CEO of Transcom Group . He is also the chairperson of Nestlé Bangladesh Ltd., Holcim Cement (Bangladesh) Ltd., and National Housing Finance & Investments Ltd. He is the vice-president of the International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh.
Formerly, Mr Rahman served as the president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (premier trade body in Bangladesh) for seven terms, Bangladesh Employers’ Federation for two terms and as a member of the executive committees of Bangladesh Jute Mills Association and Bangladesh Tea Association. He was the member of the executive board of Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Better Business Forum. He has been closely involved with fiscal and trade policy-making bodies of the government as the chairperson of the trade body reforms committee, the member of WTO’s advisory committee and the member of national committee on export promotion of Foreign Trade Institute.
Mr Rahman is the recipient of the Oslo Business for Peace Award (2012) and of the Business Executive of the Year Award (2001) by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh.
Rokia Afzal Rahman
Ms Rahman was a former minister in the caretaker government of Bangladesh, former director in the Central Bank of Bangladesh, and is currently the chair of Airlinks Group of Companies and R. R. Group of companies. She is involved in the media as the chair of Mediaworld Ltd, director of Mediastarand ABC Radio. As chair of Midas Financing Ltd, Ms Rahman has initiated loan facilities to several thousand women. She is also a director at Reliance Insurance and Mercantile Securities Ltd.
She is the founder of Women Entrepreneurs Association, Bangladesh, which works for women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship development, facilitating access to collateral free credit, and organising management and skills training for women throughout Bangladesh. Ms Rahman founded Dhaka’s Presidency University as well as several marketing outlets owned and managed by women under the name of Mini Marts. She is also the Founder-President of Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs.
Ms Rahman was elected president of Bangladeh Employers’ Federation in 1997-1998. She was a director on the Board of the Central Bank of Bangladesh in 1999-2001. Her commitment towards development brings her to several boards including BRAC and the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, of which she was elected the president for 2013. She is a member of the Business Advisory Council of ESCAP based in Thailand and member of Women’s Business Network of WIEF based in Malaysia. She is also a board member of Asian University for Women.
Some of the awards received by Ms Rahman include the Priyadarshani Award in Delhi for her contribution towards development, Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World Award in Monte Carlo in 1999, Amcham’s Business Person of the Year Award in 2003, and Bangladesh Shilpa Bank’s Award for Good Business Management.
Luva Nahid Choudhury
Ms Choudhury is an architect and heads the Abashan Upodeshta Ltd, an architecture practice in Dhaka. She is the director general of Bengal Foundation, a trust that supports and promotes the arts in Bangladesh. She also heads the ICE Media Ltd, a leading publishing concern.
Ms Choudhury completed her Bachelor of Architecture from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology in 1986.
Dr Martha Alter Chen
Dr Chen is a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and an international coordinator of the global research-policy-action network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). An experienced development practitioner and scholar, her areas of specialisation are employment, gender and poverty with a focus on the working poor in the informal economy.
Before joining Harvard in 1987, she had two decades of resident experience in Bangladesh working with BRAC and in India, where she served as field representative of Oxfam America for India and Bangladesh. Dr Chen received a PhD in South Asia Regional Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous books including Bridging Perspectives: Labour, Informal Employment, and Poverty (co-edited with Namrata Bali and Ravi Kanbur), The Progress of the World’s Women 2005: Women, Work and Poverty (co-authored with Joann Vanek, Francie Lund, James Heintz, Renana Jhabvala and Chris Bonner), Mainstreaming Informal Employment and Gender in Poverty Reduction (co-authored with Joann Vanek and Marilyn Carr), Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture (co-authored with Joann Vanek) and Perpetual Mourning: Widowhood in Rural India.
Dr Chen was awarded a high civilian award, the Padma Shri, by the Government of India in April 2011 and a Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War award by the government of Bangladesh in December 2012.
Adeeb H Khan
Adeeb Khan is a Chartered Accountant and the Senior Partner of Rahman Rahman Huq (Member Firm of KPMG International). He was elected to the BRAC Governing Body in 2015.
He is a Council Member (elected position) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh. He is also a Committee Member (elected position) of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI), the oldest and one of the most prestigious trade chambers of Bangladesh.
Adeeb’s past directorships include Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national flag carrier of Bangladesh.
Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan
Syeda Rizwana Hasan is an enrolled lawyer with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. In professional life, she is working for the cause of environment as the Chief Executive of a reputed national Non Governmental Organisation named Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA). Her main focus is to promote the notion of environmental justice in Bangladesh.
Rizwana did her masters and graduation in law from the University of Dhaka with distinction. She started her career with BELA in 1993 and till today is continuing with the same organisation.
As the Chief Executive of BELA, Rizwana is responsible for the overall co-ordination of the activities of BELA that include research, awareness raising, public interest litigation (PIL) and advocacy. Rizwana has filed PILs on various environmental issues most of which have received favourable orders/judgments. She has fought against vehicular pollution, river pollution, industrial pollution, ship breaking, grabbing of wetlands, cutting of hills, unregulated mining, unplanned urbanisation, commercial shrimp cultivation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and so on. Her cases are redefining the current notion of development that is devoid of environmental consideration. Since she is an anthropocentric environmentalist, her efforts are adding values to conventional human rights movement by bringing in the elements of environmental justice. She places people’s legitimate rights at the center of her activism.
BELA, the organisation that Rizwana runs has received the Global 500 Roll of Honors of the UNEP in the year 2003. BELA has won the Environmental Award in 2007 given by the Department of Environment for popularising environmental law.
Rizwana is a recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. She has been named as one of the 40 Environmental Heroes of the World by the TIME magazine. Recognising her impassioned leadership, hard-driving skill, and uncompromising courage in the campaign of judicial activism that has demonstrated that the right to environment is nothing less than a people’s right to dignity and life, Rizwana has been awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012.
Syed S Kaiser Kabir