Mastercard Foundation Appoints Zein M. Abdalla as Board Chair


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Michael Sabia Join Board of Directors

TORONTO, June 25, 2020 /CNW/ — Today, the Mastercard Foundation announced several changes to its Board of Directors, including the appointment of Zein M. Abdalla as Chair and the addition of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Michael Sabia as Directors. This follows the completion of Jim Leech’s term as Board Chair, a position he has held since 2015.

Newly appointed Chair of the Mastercard Foundation Board of Directors, Zein M. Abdallah, visiting the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Centre of Excellence in Senegal. (PRNewsfoto/Mastercard Foundation)

“I am proud of what the Mastercard Foundation has accomplished in the past six years,” said Jim Leech. “It has become a catalyst of economic transformation in Africa with its bold strategy, Young Africa Works, and within Indigenous communities in Canada through its EleV initiative. The Foundation is in excellent hands under the leadership of Zein M. Abdalla and I know that the Board will continue to move this important work forward.”

Zein Abdalla was the President of PepsiCo, Inc., a leading global food, snack and beverage company, from September 2012 through to his retirement in December 2014. Prior to that, he served as Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Europe, a division of PepsiCo, starting in November 2009 and as President, PepsiCo Europe Region starting in January 2006. He previously held a variety of senior positions at PepsiCo since he joined the company in 1995. Mr. Abdalla received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College, London University. He has been a Director of the Mastercard Foundation Board since 2017.

“I am honoured to be appointed Chair of the Mastercard Foundation Board,” said Zein M. Abdalla. “Jim is a tough act to follow. He has established the Foundation as an innovative organization and a driver of transformational change. I want to thank him for his stewardship and guidance.”

Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Canadian Business Leader Michael Sabia Join Board

“President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a global leader for women’s empowerment. The depth of her knowledge on the continent and experience on the world stage will be invaluable as we work to enable 30 million young women and men in Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030,” says Abdalla, Chair, Mastercard Foundation Board of Directors. “Michael Sabia brings extensive experience in working with government and the private sector. He is well-positioned to advise the Foundation on the expansion of our programming in Canada and Africa.”

Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a leading promoter of freedom, peace, justice, women’s empowerment and democratic rule. As Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state, she led Liberia through reconciliation and recovery following the nation’s decade-long civil war, as well as the Ebola Crisis, winning international acclaim for achieving economic, social, and political change. In June 2016, President Sirleaf was elected the first female Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a 12-month term. She also served as co-chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, tasked with crafting a roadmap for the Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to her Presidency, Johnson Sirleaf served as Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and as Director of its Regional Bureau of Africa, with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. She was the first African woman Vice President of Citibank assigned to the Nairobi Kenya office.

“The Mastercard Foundation is committed to equity and inclusivity, and their approach to working with others involves deep listening, collaboration, and respect. These are values that I commend and share,” says Johnson Sirleaf. “I look forward to working with the Foundation’s Board and senior management team to ensure we continue to drive sustainable and meaningful change on the continent.”

Michael Sabia is the Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. He is also Chair of the Board of Canada Infrastructure Bank. He previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) for more than 10 years where he oversaw its strategic direction and global growth. Before joining CDPQ, Mr. Sabia held numerous senior positions with BCE Inc., including President and Chief Executive Officer, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Canada International. From 1993 to 1999, he occupied various roles with Canadian National Railway, including Chief Financial Officer. He spent the preceding decade working as a senior official in the Government of Canada, as the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet and in senior positions in the Department of Finance. Mr. Sabia was a member of the Canadian government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth. He is a trustee of the Foreign Policy Association of New York and a member the Asia Business Leaders Advisory Council. Mr. Sabia is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

“The Foundation works with young leaders who demonstrate an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that will serve them well, especially in these challenging times,” says Sabia. “I’m excited to play a small role in ensuring they have the support and resources they need for success, be it access to education and training, mentorship, or financing for their enterprises.”

Mastercard Foundation Board of Directors

The Mastercard Foundation Board of Directors currently includes:

  • Zein Abdalla, Retired President of PepsiCo, Inc.
  • Valerie Amos, CH, Director of SOAS, University of London and former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator
  • The Honourable Louise Arbour, jurist in residence at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Doug Baillie, Retired Chief Human Resources Officer of Unilever
  • Craig Calhoun, Professor of Social Sciences, Arizona State University
  • Jennifer Fonstad, Co-Founder, Aspect Ventures
  • Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Managing Partner, African Exchange Holdings Company, President of 50 Ventures, LLC and former U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
  • Jay Ireland, Retired President and CEO, GE Africa
  • Jim Leech, CM, Chancellor of Queen’s University, Senior Advisor with McKinsey & Company, and retired CEO of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
  • Festus Mogae, former President of the Republic of Botswana
  • Michael Sabia, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia
SOURCEMastercard Foundation


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