Heide Hackmann to step down as CEO of International Science Council

The International Science Council (ISC) today announces that Heide Hackmann will step down as Chief Executive Officer. Mathieu Denis, Science Director, will become Acting CEO, and a recruitment process for a new CEO of the ISC is underway.

Heide Hackmann has served as Chief Executive Officer of the International Science Council (ISC) since its creation in 2018, and as Executive Director of the ISC’s two predecessor organizations: the International Social Science Council (ISSC), from 2006 to 2015, and the International Council for Science (ICSU), from 2015 to 2018.  

Peter Gluckman, ISC President, said:  

“It is with both sadness and gratitude that I announce Heide’s resignation as ISC CEO. Heide Hackmann played a crucial role in the establishment of the ISC and its successful launch, and the science community owes her an enormous debt for leading the organization through the process, building an efficient, committed and professional staff team, and developing and delivering impactful projects that advance science and international scientific collaboration”. 

Daya Reddy, former President of the ISC from 2018-2021, said: 

“In her position as ISC CEO Heide has made an enormous contribution to the international scientific community. She played a pivotal role, personally and through her leadership at HQ, in the efforts towards ensuring a successful inaugural period for the ISC. She should feel immensely proud of her contributions to the Council’s many achievements during this time. It was a great pleasure to work with Heide, and I wish her all the very best for the next phase of her career.”  

Heide Hackmann said:  

“It has been an honour and a pleasure to serve the ISC and the international scientific community it represents. I could not have asked for more supportive and engaged colleagues at HQ, on the various Boards and in the ISC’s membership that I have been privileged to work with, and I will always value the many friendships that have been cultivated during the last 15 years. My new position takes me back to my homeland to work for the future of science in Africa, both being close to my heart. Given the importance of the continent to international science, I hope it will be possible to continue my engagement with and support for the ISC in the shared enterprise of promoting science as a global public good for a just, inclusive and sustainable world.” 

Heide Hackmann will step down as Chief Executive Officer of the ISC on February 28, 2022, in order to join the University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa, as Interim Director of the Future Africa Institute for an initial six- to twelve- month period from 1 March 2022. Thereafter, she will take up the position of Advisor to the Executive on Transdisciplinarity and Global Knowledge Networks based at the University’s Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship. Heide Hackmann will continue to engage with the ISC through involvement in the Global Commission on Science Missions for Sustainability, and in scoping a new project on transdisciplinarity. 

Looking ahead to the transition period, Peter Gluckman, ISC President, said:  

“Recruitment of a Chief Executive Officer is underway, and we have appointed an international executive search firm to support this process. A search committee comprising members of the Governing Board, together with external expert input and including a member of the headquarters’ staff, is being established. This is a critical role for international science, and as in any equivalent search, we can anticipate it may take some months to have permanent appointment in post. However, this will not slow the rapid progress that the ISC is making, and I am working closely with Mathieu and with Heide to ensure a smooth transition period, and to maintain momentum around delivery of the priorities outlined in the Council’s second Action Plan.” 

In recognition for Heide’s remarkable contribution to international science, the ISC Governing Board is establishing the Heide Hackmann Science Policy and Diplomacy Fellowship. The fellowship will seek to develop the international community of expertise in international science policymaking and diplomacy.  

“The Governing Board wanted to recognise Heide’s sterling and visionary work as the inaugural CEO of the ISC, and as Executive Directors of its two previous forerunners, ICSU and the ISSC. The fellowship will help the development potential of future science policy leaders from around the world, with a particular focus on countries from the Global South”, Peter Gluckman said. 

The fellowship will be launched later in the year when more details will be announced. 

Mathieu Denis, Acting CEO and Science Director, will continue to steer the ISC while the CEO recruitment process is underway.  

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