Meet Alison (Ali) Goldsworthy
Ali is Vice Chair at the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust which uses its $90m fund to support political causes. Born and raised in South Wales, Ali was Managing Director at New Power where she launched the international Best Seller of the same name. She splits her time between the UK and US first coming to America as a Sloan Fellow at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Previously, Ali was Head of Supporter Strategy and Engagement at Which?, the UK’s Consumer Association. She cut her campaigning teeth running the successful campaign for opt out organ donation Wales; a campaign that was recognized as the NGO Campaign of the Year.
For fifteen years, Ali was a senior political advisor and active member of the Liberal Democrats, coalition partners in the UK’s government from 2010-2015. She became the youngest ever Deputy Chair of the party. In 2012, Ali was one of four women who whistleblew about unwanted sexual advances by the Party’s former CEO and member of the House of Lords, Lord Rennard. After 18 months of intense media scrutiny Ali was found credible, yet no action was taken against the perpetrator and she walked away from party politics.
A frequent keynote speaker and political commentator. Ali has been featured in wide range of outlets including The Times, Guardian, Independent, New Statesman, BBC, and The Economist.
What is the world missing?
More people who can admit they have changed their mind on something, acknowledge that, and credit the people who influenced them in doing so. We aren’t going to have a less polarized society unless people recognize a dialogue means more than aiming to persuade others to agree with you.
What’s the best advice you have ever given?
“No one should have more power over how you feel than you do.” Ed Batista said this to me in a coaching session when I was struggling to control my reactions to people who were, quite frankly, being dickheads. It’s an expression I’ve often found myself replaying to others since. If you let others control your reaction you are ceding power to them. And who wants to give power to assholes? Not me.
A little known fact about yourself?
If you look very carefully in an international top ten pop video from the early 1990’s you can see me in the background dancing. Don’t mistake me for being hip. I was dancing badly and wearing a pair of very cheap leggings that developed a hole in the crotch. Resilience building started young.
Who helped get you here?
I was exceedingly lucky to have two parents and a brother who liked, loved, and believed in me. When my dad died in my teens that support made something horrendous far less scarring.
My husband’s ongoing support, including moving half way round the world with me, continues to leave me in awe. Many, many wives do that, but not too many husbands.
I’m very lucky to have some great groups of friends who are never slow to tell me when I make them proud or am screwing something up. One particular group has been close since our teens and I first became active in politics. Slowly we’ve stopped being surprised we could spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine, to become professionals with families, and some pretty amazing jobs. I hope I’ve helped some of them get where they are too.
At Stanford, Professors Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Saumitra Jha, and David Broockman continue to humble me by how much they support, challenge, and push me. Wherever I’m going next, I’m sure they will have helped me get there.
What do you do when you feel stuck?
Stick some boots on my feet, a rucksack on my back, grab my husband (if he is free), and head out in to the hills hiking. A change of scenery, great company, and fresh air can alter the framing on many an issue.
Photo credit: Stanford GSB