Panel of Elders

Geneva lake

Panel of Elders

Supporting the world network of Initiatives of Change and the International Council

Panel of Elders

The International Panel of Elders was formed at the 1999 global consultation in South Africa, at the same time as the formation of the International Council of Initiatives of Change.

The mandate of the Elders is to be an informal 'resource body' supporting the world fellowship of Initiatives of Change and the International Council.

The Panel of Elders will consist of 8-10 individuals with, between them, a wide understanding of, and care for, IofC’s world network and fellowship; a good diversity balance; and an ability to offer counsel. Elders will serve no longer than five years and no less than two years. New Members will be selected by a nomination process open to the IofC fellowship and in conjunction with the International Council.

The Elders can work and speak as individuals or as a group, maintaining confidentiality on matters put before them, but having the freedom to discuss with other Elders unless asked not to do so.

Contact the Elders here

Evelyn 'Randy' Ruffin (USA) (Elders' Co-convenor)

Randy grew up in Virginia on the campus of a boy’s boarding school, where her father was headmaster. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Vassar College in New York and then did a year of research at the London School of Economics.

Having stumbled across a magazine about the work of IofC, then Moral Re-Armament, in her college library, she was amazed when her boy friend wrote her from Oxford about his own transforming contact with individuals engaged with the programme. Intrigued by the change in that man – Dick Ruffin – when he returned from his first year in the UK, Randy decided to explore IofC herself while at LSE. She was deeply impressed by people who were so involved in the life and needs of their country and who 'walked the talk' in their own lives. Additionally, she met a remarkable group of young Indians from different religions, castes, economic and educational backgrounds who had created a musical show giving evidence of how Indians could work together to overcome divisions and corruption to achieve the development their country needed. As a result she went to India in the autumn of 1966 and has worked with IofC ever since.

She and Dick were married in 1970 in Washington and, after a year during which he completed his assignment at the Pentagon, spent three years with IofC in Europe. Since then they have lived in the US, where Randy and Dick worked in Richmond for six years, then moved to Washington, where they hosted the IofC center for 27 years. Randy has also edited the US newsletter and served as Program Director for the Caux Scholars Program and as its Chair. She and Dick have two adult children, Catherine, a behavioral specialist, who is married to Sven Lancaster and lives in Australia, with their two boys, and David, a Unitarian minister, who is at a large church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  

David Alan Curtis (UK)
David Curtis

David Curtis is 67 years old and a retired Business Consultant specialising in Team Collaboration and Co-operation. He worked in this realm for over 15 years both in the UK and around the Globe within the private and public sector, as a Director of JCP Consultancy and latterly as Managing Director of Allium Consulting Ltd based in Sheffield, and he had many highly successful projects to his credit.

In his early career, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, David worked for The House of Fraser as a Buyer for the Harrods Provincial Store Group. He joined them straight from Sheffield City Grammar School at the age of 16 and completed his higher education at the Sheffield Polytechnic.

David first met Initiatives of Change (MRA) when he was serving as President Elect of the Chamber of Trade in Sheffield over 35 years ago. He has been involved with many IofC global initiatives since then.

For the last 20 or more years, besides his paid professional work, David has been travelling to Eastern Europe - particularly Ukraine - with the IofC Foundations 4 Freedom Programme (F4F) working with students and young politicians, building teams of young people within that region who now form an important presence in their local commercial and academic circles and in local and national government. He was a founder member of F4F and has served as a committee member ever since, as well as being practically involved in running the programmes. He has travelled to Ukraine well over 30 times during this period and still continues to do so.

As a Christian, David is very involved in church activities besides having many other interests. He has been happily married to Judith for 48 years and she has always been a strong supporter and collaborator in whatever path he has chosen to take in life. Their son, Christopher and daughter Helen, both married, have given them five wonderful grandchildren. The Curtis IofC home is based in Sheffield.


Rajendra Gandhi (India)
Rajendra Gandhi

Rajendra first came across the ideas of IofC in 1967 while pursuing his engineering degree at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Mumbai). Since then, he has been closely associated with IofC India in various capacities.

After completing his engineering degree, Rajendra promoted in 1974 a company to recycle end of life tires and other scrap rubber into reclaim rubber, a useful raw material. The company GRP Ltd today is considered as one of the top global rubber reclaiming companies which annually recycles over eighty thousand tons of scrap rubber into a useful raw material for the manufacture of variety of new rubber products. Rajendra is the current Chairman and Managing Director of GRP Ltd which has an annual turnover of over US$ 55 Mln.

Rajendra has served on the Board of Trustees of Friends of Moral Re-Armament (India) for more than 15 years.

Rajendra is 65 years young and lives with his wife Nayna in Mumbai. They have three children and five grandchildren.

Rajendra is also closely associated with several educational Institutes in India. He enjoys reading spiritual texts particularly about Jainism.

Nombulelo Khanyile (South Africa)
Nombulelo Khanyile

Nombulelo grew up in the province of the Eastern Cape in South Africa, and is a Science Graduate from Fort Hare University. She is 64 years old and has three children and three grandchildren. She plays tennis and is a member of the university choir.

In 1974, Nombulelo had an opportunity to attend an IofC conference at Caux, Switzerland. Following the conference she decided to work fulltime with IofC, and was able to travel and work in the UK, USA, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

In 1980 to 1982 Nombulelo was back in the UK with her husband Vusi, who had won a three-year scholarship to Birmingham University. During their final year in the UK she studied for a Post Graduate Diploma in Urban and Regional Studies. Their return to South Africa was during the difficult time politically. Vusi, a political activist, was in and out of detention for varying periods, the longest being for two years. This put a lot of strain on the family and marriage, and in 2001 they divorced.

In 1998 Nombulelo decided to give more time to IofC. In 2000 she represented IofC-SA at the Global Consultation in India and the following year attended the Global Hoho in India along with her daughter Ndoni. One of the outcomes of the Global Hoho was the birth of the Clean Africa Campaign Leadership Training Programme. The pilot programme took place in Kenya in 2003. It later developed into the Harambee Leadership Training Programme, which has taken place in South Africa, Ghana Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Alongside her work with IofC, Nombulelo was the Community Liaison manager with FHA Homes, liaising with community organisations, unions and parliamentary groups. She was also the Human Resource Officer for Nedcor Bank, one of the four major banks in South Africa, assisting in the transformation of the bank. As an entrepreneur, she started her own hair salon business, 'Hair Afrique' from 1996 until 1999. 

In 2006 Nombulelo was elected to the International Council and served for six years. She was on the Africa Coordinating Group (ACG) for seven years.  She says the ACG opened her heart, and helped her to love the continent of Africa.

Dr Visier Sanyü Meyasetsu (Australia/India)
Dr Visier Sanyü Meyasets

Visier was born and brought up in Khonoma village in Nagaland, in North East India. He first met IofC in 1970, through Anything to Declare in Shillong. This encounter with IofC led him to a world far greater than he had ever imagined possible. After graduating from St Joseph’s college in Darjeeling he travelled with Song of Asia for three years in different parts of the world. He then lived and worked at Asia Plateau Panchgani for two years. Before moving to Australia, Visier was the Head of History Department at Nagaland University.

Visier has lived and worked in Australia for the past 20 years specializing in refugee work. His last position was with World Vision as Project Officer for Welcome to My Place. Prior to this he worked with ACT for Peace, National Council of Churches in Australia.

Visier has a PhD in History and a Bachelor of Theology and is strongly involved in the Interfaith Movement. He was a Member of the Advisory Council for the Parliament of World’s Religions Melbourne 2009 and is on the Board of Directors of Melbourne Interfaith Centre. Visier is deeply involved in indigenous peoples issues. He has presented at various international forums including being Spokesperson for the Asian delegation at the Working Group for Indigenous People at the United Nations Geneva, in the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People.

Visier is married to Pari, who currently serves as International Coordinator for Creators of Peace. Pari and Visier are the anchorpersons for the Cultural and Structural Change process at Armagh, the Australia-Pacific Centre for Initiatives of Change. They have three children, two sons and a daughter.

Andrew Stallybrass (UK/Switzerland)
Andrew Stallybrass

British-born, in Liverpool, in 1948, both of Andrew’s parents were involved in MRA. Since 1967, Andrew Stallybrass worked ‘full time’ with MRA, to begin with, in some of the travelling shows, Pitié pour Clémentine and Anything to Declare. For many years, he was part of the team carrying and planning the international conferences for Initiatives of Change (Moral Re-Armament) in Caux, Switzerland, for most of that time working with public relations for the Caux centre. He also worked on the production of conference reports and programmes, as well as writing weekly newsletters from Caux during the summer conferences.

In 1980, he married Eliane Maillefer. They have no children. From 1984 to 2014, they lived in Geneva, and Andrew now has dual nationality, British-Swiss. In 2014, they moved to live in Caux, in the Chalet de la Patinoire. Andrew is Managing Director of Caux Books, the small international publishing house linked with Initiatives of Change. He is also an independent writer and journalist. He has been a lay preacher in the Geneva Reformed Church, and was long active in the Geneva Inter-Faith Platform. He holds a post-graduate certificate of specialisation in theology from the University of Geneva.

Barbara Lawler (Australia)
Barbara Lawler

Barbara was born in Brisbane where she initially came across Initiatives of Change when she was 21.  She experienced a personal transformation to a new and constructive direction in her life and in her large family.   She went on to work on a full-time voluntary basis with IofC 1970-85 in Europe, India and Australia.  Barbara has over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources and Industrial Relations in two of Australia’s largest media organisations in Sydney (retired from Australian Broadcasting Corporation in June 2011) where she attained a Master’s Degree in Business (Employment Relations).  She relocated from Melbourne to Brisbane in April 2017.

Since 2003, Barbara has been particularly inspired by many visits to Indonesia and to Timor-Leste, working with IofC’s young team.   She has a calling to build bridges of trust and friendship between Australia and its neighbours.  She feels Indonesia has much to give the world through its struggle for democracy and through its sound and true Islamic leadership which in turn builds bridges of trust across the world’s divides. 

From 2010-2014, Barbara was IofC Australia’s National Coordinator.  This was followed by roles in a new organisational structure for IofC Australia; and currently in a transitionary role of Convenor, Network, Activities and Connections.  She is also the Queensland representative on the Creators of Peace National Advisory Group Australia. 

Barbara is passionate about supporting IofC’s ongoing transition and growth as a channel of transformational and empowering values needed in the world, bringing its dynamic and unique approach of connecting the personal with the global. 

Marie Chaftari (Lebanon)
Marie Chaftari

Marie, who holds a degree in Business Administration from St. Joseph’s University, has known and worked with IofC Lebanon for many years and is at the heart of many initiatives involving women from different backgrounds. It was her experience of change that ultimately lead to her husband Assaad’s remarkable transformation.

She is a Creators of Peace facilitator and launched a ladies group “L’naltaqui” to facilitate dialogue across the divides between women after the war. It is this group that is at the heart of the Peace Circles in Lebanon. Marie has also been part of a team that conducts camps for young teenagers from different backgrounds to meet and get to know each other during summer holidays. 

Marie has nurtured and cared for young Muslim women from Egypt and also a young woman (and her growing team) from Syria, keeping in touch with them and caring for them during visits, as well as hosting them in her home. She has a great talent for caring for people and supporting them while allowing them to grow and develop. She is greatly respected for her integrity, honesty and personal experiences which she readily shared as needed to help others. 

Hatem Akkari (Tunisia)
Hatem Akkari

Towards the end of the 1960s, my father, who was a primary school teacher, had to emigrate to France for political and intellectual reasons. With this move came a new  social status and identity as «North African  Arabs», an identity that invariably contained a negative connotation, with all the reactions that this provokes.

In July 1973, my father encouraged me to go on holiday in Switzerland for a few days, with a back-pack and a very little money. Chance or Providence or the inner voice – call it what you will – led my footsteps to a wonderful place called Caux, the international conference centre of Moral Re-Armament (MRA – now known as Initiatives of Change). I stayed 24 hours - a short time - but it was decisive for the rest of my life.

After 15 years in France, I decided to return to my country, because if we want to build bridges, we need to work on both sides. I learnt so much on the European side of the Mediterranean and I wanted to pass on what I learnt to the other side to contribute to the consolidation of our relations, and to lessen the differences, without losing either side’s religious and civilisational particularities.

After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), I taught in high school and in University, where I was a Director of a higher institute. After retiring in October 2017, I became teaching manager in a private high school. Today I am a grand father of four grand children.

In 2001, I set up a private center, the CDC (Centre Dialogue et Cultures), which is a space for communication and learning about democracy. CDC seeks to contribute to social change through changing the individual.

In recent years with a small team, I am engaged in launching an Initiatives of Change association.