Modest, determined, with an eye for detail and a very powerful connector were among many characterisations aptly describing Nina Tellegen. Prominent speakers such as Jörgen Tjon A Fong (director of Kleine Komedie) and Femke Halsema (mayor of Amsterdam) looked back on the eight years during which the outgoing executive director left her mark on the region. Actor Gijs Scholten van Aschat and performer Merlijn Twaalfhoven talked about leadership and daring to dream.
“In an old interview I read you’d like to be the mayor of Amsterdam,” recalled Femke Halsema, the chairperson of our Board, in her very personal and warm speech. Her first six-year mayoral term is almost over, so “who knows what the future holds,” Halsema winked.
“In the Board, there are great competing interests. Nina has been able to accurately choose her allies on the Board to work together on social issues. As a result, much has been achieved in recent years. On themes such as clean mobility, skills centricity, health & prevention and energy efficient data sharing. By stepping outside the comfort zone. There is now an ambitious and close-knit Board.”
Read about our accomplishments over the past eight years.
Nina will not leave the network. In 2024, among other activities, she will once more work with the mayor. As an intendant for the Nieuw Amsterdam Verbond, a new alliance, she will push businesses and government to take action against poverty and segregation in the city of Amsterdam. “I couldn’t wish for a better intendant!”
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Eager to get started
“The way an organisation bids farewell to a colleague says a lot,” Jessica Peters-Hondelink said. Starting in January, she will take over as executive director. “So this beautiful farewell says a lot about Nina, but also about the organisation. It makes me look forward immensely to getting started. I want to keep moving forward, in my own way. Enhancing visibility for the connecting role, for example. Benchmarking decisions against markers for inclusive prosperity and make the voice of the future well heard through Young on Board.”
Read more about Jessica Peters-Hondelink.
Take action now
In a monologue on Shakespeare’s play Richard II, the deposed English king, Gijs Scholten van Aschat shared keen observations. Leaders often show their human side only after they have been dethroned. Only at the end of their careers do they take action for what really matters: the environment, society. But isn’t that way too late? “Take action when you still have power and influence. When you can really change something,” he urged the CEOs and directors in the room.
Future is diverse
At her first Board meeting in 2016, Nina encountered a very homogeneous group of directors. “Not very inclusive, even back then. We need to act differently. You need to involve a variety of partners and have an eye and ear for their interests to build the Metropolis of Tomorrow. The future is diverse. Working together based on trust and connection is hugely important.”
Nina proudly looks back on several highlights that the Amsterdam Economic Board has achieved under her leadership. And is full of enthusiasm about ‘her team’. “After 23 years of being a director of various organisations, I look forward to not having final responsibility in the coming period. It is a privileged position, to be the executive director of the Amsterdam Economic Board. With Jessica, a new era is dawning and I wish her many ‘wow moments’.”
Merlijn Twaalfhoven ended the evening with a spoken word recital. In the fog of transitions, do we still see what is needed for the region, what matters? We should get out of the rush of reality, according to the performer. Dare to dream and tell stories that touch us personally. He invites the network to open its senses. And to act accordingly.
Photos: Terence Loos