We are deeply saddened by the passing of Kate Gross on Christmas day yesterday. She died peacefully at home in Cambridge, as she had wanted, after a two year battle with cancer.
Kate was AGI's founding CEO. Much more than that, she was a friend to many and an inspiration to us all. Her commitment to public service, her relentless optimism, and her passionately held view that Africa's future lies in the hands of Africa's leaders have come to define our young organisation. Our team today and our alumni alike share a deep loyalty, a common purpose and shared values – it's much more than a job, more like a family, because that is how Kate built us to be.
Kate will be sorely missed by all in AGI as well as by our friends and colleagues whose lives she touched from Freetown to Kigali and around the world.
Tony Blair, Patron of AGI said:
“Kate's death at such a young age is utterly tragic. My thoughts and prayers are with Billy, the boys, Kate's parents and her many friends.
But the tragedy of her death only illuminates the magnificence of her life. Her work and her achievement will endure. She created and built AGI as an organisation that took a new and innovative approach to development and today is making change happen in many different African countries. She gave it an ethos and spirit that is a unique combination of public service and enterprise. She took the small band of staff at the beginning and helped put together the flourishing and strong team of professionals which represent AGI today.
She was a fabulous colleague, a wonderful leader and a dear friend. Her illness saw her reach new heights as a writer and sage, giving everyone around her hope and purpose in their lives even as her own drew to a close. Kate was an inspiration when she was with us. She will remain an inspiration now and for the future. She was a life changer and a life giver. I feel privileged and proud to have worked with her and been part of her life.”
Liz Lloyd, Chair of the AGI Board said:
“Kate was the first leader of AGI, taking it from a an idea to a fully formed organisation with a growing reputation and credibility amongst our partners and those we work with. At every stage she was one step ahead, anticipating strategic or management challenges with options to discuss on how to tackle them. Moreover, she was funny, chic and had a sharp eye for detail. She will always be remembered as the founding CEO who established AGI and prepared it for success in the future.
In the past months she has shared her thoughts on matters profound and where there is no certainty and in doing so, has touched many others with her insights and wisdom, so lightly and generously given.
On a personal level she has been my friend over these many years and I treasure especially the moments and experiences we have shared over the last year or so.”
Nick Thompson, AGI CEO said:
"We are all heartbroken by the news of Kate's death. If life is to be measured in achievements rather than years, then Kate set the standard to which we will always aspire. She stood apart in so many ways, and through her combination of optimism and steel inspired and challenged us always. We are proud to be a part of her legacy.
In the last two years she demonstrated also that she was an incredible writer, with an ability to see life and to tell it as it is. No tribute can capture the essence of Kate as well as she did herself in her book and her blog. That people around the world have drawn comfort and strength from her extraordinary words, written in her final weeks and months, is itself a remarkable gift and achievement.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Billy and her family, who will always be a part of our family too."
The work carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.