A time for coming and a time for going

With news unfolding this week that our much-loved Executive Director, Luke Disney, plans to step down from North Star Alliance in early 2016, it was a time of reflection on our beginnings and the road we have travelled together so far.

We share with you below Luke’s letter to our North Star friends and family, along with a letter from our Supervisory Board.

Dear friends,

I am writing to let you know that next year I will be stepping down as Executive Director of North Star Alliance. They say that timing is everything in life, and finding the right time to leave something you love is one of life’s hardest challenges.

When our founding partners TNT and WFP asked me to build a network of Roadside Wellness Centres across Sub-Saharan Africa they asked me to set off on a journey without a map armed only with a great idea that could improve many, many lives.

Nine years into our journey we have helped establish 50 clinics, done more than 1,000,000 treatments, and created an organisation with solid structures and processes, a fantastic team, an amazing (and growing!) group of supporters. North Star is on course to continued growth and impact and that makes me incredibly happy and, if you will permit me the sin, proud.

The experience of growing an idea into an organisation definitely bears repeating. It is now time for me to find the next great destination in need of a map; all the wiser from my journey with North Star.

As strong as the call of the undiscovered country is, it will be tremendously hard to leave North Star. My time here has been some of the most fulfilling of my life. I’ve learned and experienced more than I could have imagined. I’ve had the privilege to see North Star grow from a pilot project with big ambitions to a mature organisation employing over 160 people across 32 Roadside Wellness Centres in 12 countries. We’ve formed partnerships with over 70 companies, governments and civil society organisations. Together we’ve put the issue of mobility and health firmly on the map. The work we do is essential, the people we do it with inspirational.

As the attached letter from Bas Janssen, Chair of North Star’s Supervisory Board indicates, we have planned a smooth and seamless transition to new leadership. A recruitment committee has been established and the search for my successor has begun. I will continue in my current role until a new Executive Director has been installed and a proper hand over has been completed. North Star’s Regional Directors Ms Eva Mwai (East Africa) and Mr Paul Matthew (Southern Africa) will ensure operational and strategic continuity. After the installment of the new leadership I will continue to serve North Star in an advisory capacity.

Working with people like you has been a privilege. I’ve known some of you since the beginning and others I’ve only just met. Many of our conversations have inspired much of what has happened over the last nine years. I can safely say that neither I nor the organisation would be the same without them. I look forward to continuing these dialogues during my remaining time with North Star and beyond. In the meantime, let me take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for North Star and me personally so far.

Feel free to get in touch if you want to learn more about this pending change or other aspects of North Star.

Yours in health,


Letter from the Supervisory Board

More on the Executive Director role

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