News from Headquarters

Passing the torch: a new chairperson

Earlier this month, HI's Federal Board of Trustees elected Jean-Noël Dargnies as its new chairperson. After a career in industry and higher education, he is taking over for Jacques Tassi, who is retiring as chairperson after devoting nearly 18 years to HI.

Jean-Noël Dargnies as new HI chairperson

After training as an engineer, Jean-Noël Dargnies worked in industry for many years, but this father of five spent most of his career in the world of education. In 2010, he took over as head of Sainte Geneviève, a higher education establishment known for the quality of its preparation of students for France’s top-tier universities or “grandes écoles.” Motivated by the values of this institution – mutual assistance, solidarity and service, which he opened up to more underprivileged students, it was a natural next step for him to engage in humanitarian work with HI.

“There were two things in particular about this great organization that touched and attracted me,” he explains. “First, its unique social mission alongside vulnerable people, through which it seeks to make them actors in their own destiny and help them regain their rightful dignity. Second, its ability to call itself into question and modernize its organization and working methods.”

“My visits to HI’s projects in Kenya, Mali, and DRC confirmed my belief that HI’s actions in the field are remarkable. I am very happy to be joining this big team. It does fantastic work and its does it well.”

Jean-Noël Dargnies is taking over from Jacques Tassi who is retiring as chairperson after devoting nearly 18 years to HI.

Jacques Tassi: 18 years of service to HI   

During his 18 years with HI, Jacques Tassi played a key role in all of the organization’s major developments. Elected Treasurer in 2000 and then chairperson in 2006, he helped create HI’s Federation, the supranational organization that today federates eight national associations and runs projects in more than 60 countries. He also supported the professionalization of its teams and helped develop the organizational culture of HI.  Today, HI is globally recognized as a leading NGO. Strongly attached to the organization’s social mission, Jacques Tassi worked to develop its expertise and its mission in standing alongside people with disabilities.

Supporting HI’s 10-year strategy

HI’s newly elected chairperson, Jean-Noël Dargnies, intends to pursue work in progress on the organization’s 2016-2025 strategy alongside the Global Managing Director, Manuel Patrouillard.

“At a time when crises are creating a vertiginous increase in the needs of the most vulnerable, we must be capable of scaling up our action and becoming even more efficient. The role of the Board of Trustees is to support HI’s executive management and teams to achieve these goals". 

“I consider it my duty to be reachable. I have set myself the objective of being a chairperson who is close to everybody, attentive to everybody, who brings everybody together." 

And there will certainly be many challenges. Today, HI works in 63 countries, runs 386 projects, employs almost 3,300 staff and has an annual budget of over 178 million euros.

About Humanity & Inclusion

Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, HI is a 35-year-old, independent international association that focuses its actions on people with disabilities and vulnerable groups living in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. HI acts and speaks out to meet their basic needs and improve their living conditions. HI is committed to promoting respect for dignity and fundamental rights. Since its inception in 1982, HI has implemented development programs in more than 60 countries and is involved in many emergency situations. The network of 8 national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) is constantly working to mobilize resources, co-manage projects and promote the principles and actions of the organization. For its work, HI has received an array of awards, including the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and the Nansen Refugee Prize. 

Humanity & Inclusion is the new name of Handicap International.