In Honour of Pamela Hartigan

STILL_BIF_PH_Skoll_Interview1It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that our fearless leader, Dr Pamela Hartigan, passed away today after a two-year battle with cancer.

The Saïd Business School has created a page in her honour, listing many of her accomplishments, though the list could certainly have gone on for many more pages.

While we have all been inspired by her accomplishments, anyone who knows Pamela will have been touched by her energy, her fierce disdain for bureaucracy, and her unique ability to get things done when others would have found the task impossible. As the book she wrote with John Elkington was titled, Pamela certainly did channel “The Power of Unreasonable People.”

At the Skoll Centre, we gathered this morning to mourn and reminisce over tea, and felt a huge sense of loss for the powerful force that had brought us all together. The global community of Skoll Scholars and Saïd Business School alumni whose lives have been touched by her generosity have been reaching out, sharing their gratitude for the opportunities she opened up for them, the inspiration she provided, and the lessons she left them with. And the wider world of social impact educators and practitioners will certainly be mourning the loss of her thought leadership and passion for change.

At the core, the message we at the Centre feel left with is a sense of love. She had an incredible love for her family and for making others feel like family. There are many around the world who know and love the Hartigans as well as a global network of changemakers because of her incredible ability to connect people to each other to get things done, while building life-long friendships along the way. She also had an incredible love for her work. She poured her heart into it, because she saw it as her channel to change the world, and that she certainly did. We can remember how, a few years ago, a group of students asked her to teach a course about social entrepreneurship because they weren’t in the Business School and they wanted to learn from her. She told them “I’ll give up my next 5 Saturdays to teach you, if you commit to showing up.” She had more than 100 people taking that class, on a Saturday morning, and she held true to her commitment, bringing in speakers and lecturers. She offered this course, on her Saturdays, for no pay and no fee, because she loved helping people learn how to improve the world.

She will be greatly missed. Our heart is with Pamela’s family and her global network of friends today as we mourn the loss of such a unique and “unreasonable” woman. Saïd Business School and the Skoll Centre will be celebrating her life in the weeks to come, but today we wanted to share this sad news with our community so you too can hold up your teacups and sing her praises. She lived an incredible life, and we all feel blessed to have been touched by it.

– The Skoll Centre Team

26 replies
  1. Ndidi Nwuneli
    Ndidi Nwuneli says:

    Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute! I share your loss! Pamela was my dear mentor and one of my biggest champions. I met Pamela in 2004 when she served as the managing director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. We worked together to launch the Trendsetters Social Entrepreneurs Programme in Nigeria. She immediately took me under her wing and became my friend and mentor. She brought me to Oxford twice to speak at the Skoll and SBS. She was the first person that I reached out to when I decided to write my recent book titled “Social Innovation in Africa: a practical guide for scaling impact,” and she provided incredible guidance and support through the entire process. I was scheduled to speak about my book at her class at the Columbia Business School on September 20th. When she broke the news about her battle with cancer over a year ago, she did it so casually, and told me that everyone was worried, but that she was not! What an amazing soul! She gave so much of herself to the world and lived every day to the fullest! A huge advocate for Africa, Social Entrepreneurs, Youth and Women! I will miss this wonderful friend and mentor!

  2. Ximena Escobar
    Ximena Escobar says:

    Pamela was an exemplary, generous, brilliant, tender, compassionate, teacher, a social innovator and role model for many. She broke many barriers ideological, political and across other divides. I am deeply grateful to her and will miss her immensely. May she rest in peace.

  3. Liz Nelson
    Liz Nelson says:

    Condolences to family, colleagues and her global community of friends. Pamela was a remarkable force for honesty and focused determination. She personified the oft used and misused phrase: “going the extra mile” She did – for me and for many others. R.I.P.

  4. Parvis Hanson
    Parvis Hanson says:

    I had the honor to work with Pamela during my time at the World Economic Forum. She left everywhere she went such a positive can do attitude which gave many entrepreneurs inspiration.
    My deepest condolences to the family and may her soul rest in peace.
    Parvis Hanson

  5. Jan piercnn
    Jan piercnn says:

    I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Pamela’s death. She was a life force, and the ripple effects of her generous mentoring, scholarship, teaching and friendships will continue to enrich the world. Such vitality, energy, piercing intellect, originality…let us take inspiration from Pamela’s life and carry on these qualities. Sending great sympathies and consolations to her family and closest friends, all those nearest Pamela who feel this loss most acutely.

  6. Juan Manuel Sotelo
    Juan Manuel Sotelo says:

    I am very sorry and sad with this announcement. Pamela was a great colleague and friend at the Pan American Health Organization. I was touched by her force and convictions in many occasions.
    My condolences to her family and the the Skoll Centre’s personnel.

  7. Ron Layton
    Ron Layton says:

    Love and power are related in that it is only power that will take the last 700 million out of extreme poverty. Enabling a massive increase in the trading power of the women producers of South Sudan and northern Uganda is one part of the love-inspired solution.

    Goodbye, Pamela, dear friend and colleague, always willing to be supportive.

  8. Daniela Papi-Thornton
    Daniela Papi-Thornton says:

    Hi all – please note that there is now a website dedicated to Pamela’s memory where you can share your reflections with the family:

    Feel free to repost your comments or add news one there as I know her family is keen to collect these lovely reflections.

  9. Bill Kramer
    Bill Kramer says:

    What a terrible loss, for her family, colleagues, friends and the world of social entrepreneurship. She was whip-smart, generous to a fault, fiercely committed to social and economic justice and a warm and gracious human being. I am deeply indebted to her for her many kindnesses to me, personally, and to her interest in, and support for, causes and projects about which we both cared deeply. She was that rarest of combinations: compassionate yet street-smart and effective in the world. May her legacy live on in her family, at Skoll and Said, and with her many friends and colleagues.

  10. Nat Ware
    Nat Ware says:

    Pamela was a truly amazing woman. Incredibly selfless, incredibly supportive, incredibly fun, incredibly optimistic, incredibly energetic… a tireless worker with an infectious smile. She was always so generous with her time, and always willing to give advice and make introductions. She’ll be missed by many – not least me.

  11. Forrest Metz
    Forrest Metz says:

    Pamela’s passion, conviction, tenacity, and inimitable ability to connect people have made a meaningful contribution to our world. May she continue to inspire those who seek economic and social justice. Thoughts are with her family and colleagues.

  12. Mick Blowfield
    Mick Blowfield says:

    The first time I met Pamela she bounced into the room. You meet a lot of smart people at Oxford – and Pamela was definitely one of those – but you don’t meet so many who bounce. Throughout her period of cancer she carried on bouncing. I worked with her on many occasions and she was kind enough to make me an academic visitor at the Skoll Centre. With her passing, she becomes one of those people I will always wish I could have spent another day with. But wherever she is now, I am sure her soul is still bouncing.

  13. Willy Foote
    Willy Foote says:

    A beautiful tribute to a passionate, charismatic person who was incredibly committed to making the world a better place through social entrepreneurship, education, and more. Pamela’s legacy will burn bright in the storied halls of Oxford and also across the pond at Columbia University, where each fall she’d roll up her sleeves and introduce students stateside to the world of social entrepreneurship. I had occasion to speak in her class and how she would light up everyone’s minds and imaginations with her deep knowledge of social entrepreneurship and its evolution. I can only imagine the influence she had on her students across the years – and so many other creative disruptive leaders through The Schwab Foundation and beyond. We’ve already benefited from tons of NextGen talent unleashed by Pamela, and will continue to feel the impact of her work for many years to come. Her students, and all of us, will miss her profoundly.

  14. Joy DiBenedetto
    Joy DiBenedetto says:

    My sincere condolences to the entire-wide Skoll family and to the Hartigan family. I met Pamela once at CGI and her commitment, dedication and tireless efforts to make the world a more equitable place for all are truly her global legacy. We are better for having had her with us, albeit for all too short of a time. She will be greatly missed as the world continues to take on the large and difficult challenges we still face together; and her spirit in celebrating the successes we have in building a greater good world will no doubt stay with us. May the warm loving memories we all shared with Pamela during her time on this earth, comfort us and you, during this very difficult time. With gratitude….may she rest in peace.

  15. Isabel Maxwell
    Isabel Maxwell says:

    Dear Sally and Jeff and all the Skoll Family – I am so sorry to hear this sad news of Pamela’s passing – who I first met at the World Economic Forum in 2001, in another life-time…. Thank you for this moving tribute – the quote is so apt for her I am paraphrasing just a beautiful line – Life was no “brief candle” for Pamela. It was a sort of splendid torch which she got hold of for her moment.. May all of us be further inspired in her memory to fight on to right our “humpty dumpty world”, and live her great qualities in her name, forever and forever more.

  16. Cathy Stevulak
    Cathy Stevulak says:

    I am deeply saddened to learn of Pamela’s death. I had the privilege of working with Pamela while she was with the Pan American Health Organization. Just as Pamela was a pioneering force in furthering social entrepreneurship, so did she champion at PAHO a path to integrally involve non-governmental organizations in the multi-lateral development process. Her vision will surely carry on through the groundwork she created. With my sincere sympathy.

  17. Jack Heath
    Jack Heath says:

    It was a privilege to have known Pamela and been touched by her presence. I think we first met at the Schwab Foundation conference in Sao Paolo many years ago and then a couple of times when she was with Skoll. While our exchanges were few, Pamela had a generosity of spirit that touched me deeply – she had an ability to acknowledge people that was profoundly affirming. Her piercing eyes could see into the future of what might unfold as she saw in people qualities and possibilities they often did not yet see or recognise in themselves.

  18. vicky colbert
    vicky colbert says:

    We loose an extraordinary woman and firend that gave us wings, confidence and energy to fly in the world of social entrpreneurship. We owe her so much! May she rest in peace. She will always remain in our hearts and soul.
    Vicky Colbert

  19. Susan Davis
    Susan Davis says:

    Pamela Hartigan was one of the pioneers in forging a global path for social entrepreneurs and legitimizing their choice. She tenaciously molded a field, a profession and a way of seeing the world. We owe her a great debt which, for generations to come, gratitude will be her high SROI. She walked the planet in ways that made it better, in ways that left her joyful. She will be mourned and missed in her physical form but carried forever in the hearts she touched.

  20. Wendy Kopp
    Wendy Kopp says:

    Pamela was such a rare soul and bright light. She was really extraordinary in her generosity — always behind the scenes supporting us on our journeys, inspiring new generations of social entrepreneurs to join the fold, and working so hard to create an environment conducive to our success. Even before I knew her well, she was making connections, lending positive energy and providing moral support. I’m so sorry for her very premature loss and my heart goes out particularly to her family and close colleagues.

  21. Dr Herta von Stiegel
    Dr Herta von Stiegel says:

    I am deeply saddened by Pamela’s death and express my heartfelt condolences to her family. I had the privilege of collaborating with Pamela during several events that took place under her leadership at Said and am honored to have known her and seen her in action. She invested heavily in her legacy and her impact will be felt for many years to come.

  22. Mario Morino
    Mario Morino says:

    My condolences to Pamela’s family. I had the good fortune to meet Pamela via her initial work with the World Economic Forum in 2000 and 2001 and always thought highly of her work and of her as leader in the field and as a wonderful person.

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