Breakdown of the Social Contract: Resilience?

October 24, 2020  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

“Where do you start? You start with yourself.” – Chadia El Meouchi Naoum

A tragic explosion. Economic collapse. COVID-19. A revolution. Some of the latest challenges in Lebanon – a country wracked by decades of them – serve as a poignant reminder that we each have a role to play to ensure our leaders lead well, that our citizens stay engaged, and that we don’t get too comfortable in our own leadership while our world is falling apart. 

In this episode, listen in on a dialogue with poignant and honest reflections from Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows in Lebanon on their experience living through the compounding crises the country is experiencing. The Fellows’ share reflections on their roles, leadership, and failures up to these latest challenges, as well as how they’re moving forward.  

As we all try to navigate roles in an increasingly unstable and uncertain world – where fundamental decisions are being taken every day by governments and stakeholders that shape our systems and our lives – these insights are all the more relevant regardless of where you live. 

This conversation features Chadia El Meouchi Naoum, co-founder of the Middle East Leadership Initiative and Managing Partner, Badri and Salim El Meouchi Law Firm, Walid Maalouf, co-founder of the Lebanese Food Bank, Rima Maktabi, journalist and Bureau Chief in London at Al Arabiya, and Ramez Shehadi, managing director for the MENA region at Facebook. It is moderated by Stace Lindsay, president of Fusion Venture Partners and Aspen Institute moderator. 

More on the Featured Fellows: 

Chadia El Meouchi Naoum, is co-founder of the Middle East Leadership Initiative and Managing Partner, Badri and Salim El Meouchi Law Firm. The explosion in Beirut’s port on August 4 altered her life. Her husband suffered a severe cranial injury, her children still struggle with trauma, and their home was completely destroyed. Since the blast, Chadia has been struggling with her role and responsibility in the situation that led to that fatal day, with her decisions that led to her family’s suffering, with the meaning of resilience and collaboration in leadership, and with how to find hope and strength to rebuild in an uncertain, violent, and chaotic environment. Chadia is a 2008 Henry Crown Fellow.

Walid Maalouf is the board general secretary and the chair of fundraising and expansion at the Lebanese Food Bank (LFB) – his Fellowship venture – an NGO aiming to eradicate hunger in Lebanon by saving what would be food waste. The organization has acted swiftly throughout the COVID-19 crisis and the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion. LFB, in partnership with other NGOs, raised over $1 million and distributed more than 35,000 food relief boxes throughout the country, effectively helping about 140,000 of the most vulnerable citizens. Walid is a Middle East Leadership Initiative Fellow of Class I.

Rima Maktabi is the Bureau Chief in London at Al Arabiya. From 2012-2015, Rima extensively covered the war in Syria and showcased the emergence of ISIS in Iraq’s Mosul. Rima was given the Al Maktoum award for her work covering the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict. August 4, 2020 and the April 26,1980 are dates that have marked her life. On the latter, her father was killed, and she lost what was left of her dreams in Lebanon. In between, she worked, dreamed and built a life that would lead her one day back home. In the recent Beirut blast, many close family members were injured, and her brand new home was in ruins within minutes. Rima lived through the war in Lebanon, but the Beirut blast changed her forever. She is a Middle East Leadership Initiative Fellow of Class VI.

Ramez Shehadi is managing director for the MENA region at Facebook. Ramez was less than a kilometer away sitting in a meeting outside by the sea facing the port when the explosion hit, and he survived when others around did not. While the explosion shattered so much for so many, helping others, and in particular, small and medium enterprises, has helped him to heal. Ramez is a Middle East Leadership Initiative Fellow of Class II.

Moderator: Stace Lindsay, is president of Fusion Venture Partners, a firm he started in order to bring together: people of great vision who inspire change, engender trust, and are moved deeply to make a difference; insights that have the power to improve our quality of life, protect that which is in danger, or to fix what is broken in our world; and capital that can be deployed with foresight, patience, and commitment to finding ways to be leveraged for economic and social good. He is a 2002 Henry Crown Fellow.

About The Value of Leadership

Here at the Aspen Institute, we believe leadership comes from those whose motivations are grounded in values and whose actions are rooted in purpose. That all sounds nice, but what does a values-driven leader actually look like? How does ‘leading with values’ change their day-to-day decision making? How do they react when they’re tested with a challenge? And how does it make them a better leader than the next person?  

We ask our Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows to look inward, to understand themselves, to challenge their thinking. In the new podcast, “The Value of Leadership,” they’re ready to get vulnerable with you, and share mistakes made, lessons learned, and how the values they’ve honed in on are expressed in their actions when faced with challenges. So, if you’ve ever questioned why you’ve done something that way you did or are trying to dig a little deeper and tap into your own values – tune in and learn from leaders who are doing just that. 

The Value of Leadership is a podcast from the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN). AGLN’s mission is to develop authentic, high-integrity leaders. People who are committed to proactively confronting societal challenges, individually and collectively, in order to create a more just, free, and equitable society. And Fellows are putting their values to work all across the globe. To learn more about the network and the work of our Fellows, visit