News & Events

A message from JudyAnn Bigby

Dear South Africa Partners Community,

With great excitement and joy, I began my tenure as the Executive Director of South Africa Partners on May 1, 2017. As South Africa Partners celebrates its 20th anniversary, I enthusiastically join you in your steadfast support of a just and democratic South Africa. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to continue to build on the strong foundation and incredible legacy that Mary Tiseo and all the partners have built.

I am no stranger to South Africa Partners, but since my appointment by the Board of Directors, I have come to appreciate at a deeper level, the importance of the work in South Africa in partnership with so many of you. South Africa Partners is a trusted and respected organization. The trust and respect has been earned over the years because of the commitment to listening to and working with people. I look forward to continuing in this tradition of “people to people” engagement. I have a lot to learn and know that I have a bevy of teachers both in South Africa and the U.S. ready to share their insights, knowledge, and expertise.

When I first traveled to South Africa in 1990, I was awe struck by the country’s beauty but I was even more in awe of the resilience of the people and the inspiration they gained from their beloved leaders.  What I have learned about South Africa over the years, inspires me and gives me great enthusiasm for actively engaging in the opportunities that lie ahead.

As I begin my tenure, it is impossible for me to adequately thank Mary Tiseo for her leadership and steady hand over the past 20 years, thus making it possible for me to start my new journey. In the more than 15 years that I have been involved with South Africa Partners I have learned so much from her love of South Africa and from her generosity, her concern for humanity, and her big heart.

To our partners, I look forward to continuing our work together to meet the challenges facing South Africa and the U.S. in these turbulent and often uncertain times. We will certainly continue the work in HIV/AIDs, health leader development, and early child education. In the months ahead I hope to find new ways of engaging to deepen our ties and continue efforts to strengthen health and education opportunities for all South Africans.

Over the coming months, as I listen and learn, I will share more about our plans and priorities. I appreciate the board’s support and their commitment to advancing the reach of our work by establishing a new fund to quickly pilot, evaluate, and sustain new concepts and, if successful, bring them to scale. As someone who has devoted much of my life to the well-being of women, I hope that we can explore ways to do more explicit gender-based work. Both the U.S. and South Africa face ongoing challenges due to social and economic inequalities and increasing divisiveness. We can continue to learn how to face these challenges together.

I hope that you share my great excitement about the journey ahead, one that is full of potential, of endless possibilities, and of great promise.




JudyAnn Bigby

We build partnerships with purpose.