Skateistan is a woman-led NGO!

November 3, 2023

Warning! While this announcement is really, really cool, it also contains a potentially lethal level of 'org speak'. We've done our best to dilute this, but honestly, sometimes, the technical terms are just the most accurate. We suggest listening to some smooth jazz to help the denser paragraphs seem a little more laid-back.

This week it was officially announced that Hala Khalaf, our Deputy Executive Director, has joined Skateistan founder, Oliver Percovich, as Co-Executive Director.

Why write an entire blog post about that, you may ask? Well, the NGO space ('space' is just 'org-speak' for 'sector') is always developing new ways to direct change. Skateistan has taken that seriously, pursuing flatter structures and more inclusive HR policies. Hala's dedication to Skateistan, alongside her expertise and background, made her the perfect person to lead our organization into its next phase.

But, as you might have guessed (since this is not the end of this blog post) there's a lot more to it than that...

First up, a note on women's leadership at Skateistan. We have always worked to diversify our leadership in the past, in the present and will continue to in the future. Currently, three of our Schools are led by women of colour, The Goodpush Alliance is women-run, and we have seen the work of women shape our model, from Communications to Programs, since its inception. Today's announcement takes this commitment to the next level, and helps us position ourselves to realise further inclusivity into the future for our organisation.

Who is Hala Khalaf?

Hala's experience spans over two decades, where she has been at the forefront of global efforts, working for the United Nations to support individuals in conflict zones and advance social programs and learning opportunities. Women and girls in sports must go on a very different journey to men, and Hala, as a former athlete herself, recognizes the immense potential for transformative change through sports engagement when it comes to sense of community and resilience among young individuals


Hala Khalaf has been our Deputy Executive Director since August 2022. When she came on board, a first exchange took place. The young girls in our programs benefited from programmatic leadership by a woman from the global south, and Hala herself took on a new challenge beyond just her role. She learned to skateboard.

As an organization that works within the global south and specifically aims to provide for young girls and women, it's important for us to ensure that we have diverse perspectives and that leadership comes from people who understand those contexts well. Hala, who hails from Jordan, has spent the past year focusing specifically on programmatic direction across the board. This covers Skateistan's Schools in Afghanistan, South Africa, and Cambodia, as well as its Skateistan In A Box partnerships across the world, which exist in many countries, including, incidentally, Jordan.

Why embark on a co-leadership journey?

At Skateistan, we pride ourselves on being bold, inclusive, and playful. With the co-leadership setup, we demonstrate our accountability to uphold Skateistan values and establish trust, communication, and support. It embodies our belief in diversity as a catalyst for innovation and change. It reflects our organization's commitment to inclusivity and our dedication to being a place where all voices are heard and valued. By sharing accountability, we aim to foster an environment of trust, creativity, flatter hierarchies, and adaptability and always be at the cusp of change.

"This endeavor signifies a commitment to growth and collaboration. It is an opportunity to harness our individual strengths and experiences while acknowledging our unique backgrounds. As a woman from the global south, this step brings forward much-needed change in external perception of success, achievements, and qualifications, breaking traditional leadership norms. Representation is fundamental, and it's a humbling moment to be a role model for so many others." — Hala Khalaf

Co-leadership demonstrates the power of synergy (which is org-speak for 'working together'). It exemplifies that leadership isn't a solo endeavor but a collective journey where diverse perspectives enrich decision-making. It creates a dynamic, flexible, and sustainable support mechanism that strengthens our ability to fulfill our mission, foster collaboration, and enable us to adapt more rapidly to the evolving needs of our organization and community.

"In 2023, Skateistan finally has a woman at the top, and I’m thrilled! Since day one, Skateistan has been about giving girls and women leadership opportunities, but our students really need to see it to be it. Hala is an incredible “roll model” for all the girls in our programs to showcase the dedication, grit, and kindness that leadership requires." — Oliver Percovich

The decision to lead together extends beyond just Skateistan as an organization. It sends a message to our colleagues, partners, and program participants, especially the youth we serve. It underscores the importance of representation and the belief that everyone, regardless of their background, has a role to play in shaping the future. In this co-leadership journey, we embark on a shared mission, recognizing that together, we are stronger and more resilient. We rely on colleagues, partners, and community to succeed. We are eager to learn, grow, and inspire others to embrace diverse leadership models.

You may now pause your jazz.


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