She has always been the one to bring the proverbial stray cat home. This is a fact borne out by her mother and her 16-year long career in the non-profit sector. She affectionately refers to these years as her time spent in the trenches.
The ‘trenches’ is where she became acquainted with the heartache of abject poverty. She has seen the resilience of those determined to succeed; she has been moved to tears by young women who, despite their abuse, rise as survivors; and she has felt her chest swell in pride when young men graduate with honours despite numerous temptations to throw in the towel.
Letitia goes on to explain, “I find fulfilment in helping others and exhilaration when those self-same individuals rise above their circumstances to become successful, self-sustaining individuals who contribute to society.” This is perhaps why the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation struck such a cord with her. She loves what the Foundation stands for and believes that her contribution to the organisation will not only impact future generations but will create an environment that her two children can one day thrive in. “I believe that by working towards the Foundation’s vision, I am able to contribute, vicariously, to the greater good of this country.”
Before joining the Foundation as part of the Events and Logistics Team, Letitia worked with Christel House South Africa (CHSA) for more than seven years. She managed various projects during the launch phase of the organisation and later took on the responsibility of selection and recruitment. Her role within the Foundation is ensuring that her team delivers events with excellence so that the outcomes of the Fellowship and Scholarship Programmes are achieved. The events that this team manages covers the entire journey of a Candidate Fellow – from the time they are selected, throughout their programme, to the time they are admitted to the Association as fully fledged Allan Gray Fellows.
Letitia believes that she is ideally placed to play to her strengths. Her strong belief in people and her patience during challenging times allows everyone to win. “I enjoy seeing people win,” she emphasises smilingly.
When asked about her dreams for South Africa, Letitia doesn’t skip a beat. She hopes to see poverty eradicated in her lifetime. She started believing this is possible ever since the Foundation attuned her to entrepreneurship as the key to creating socio-economic transformation in this country. The other issue that is close to her heart is the support and empowerment of women. As a member of the Women in Business Society, at the UCT Graduate School of Business, she raises funds in support of individuals who pursue postgraduate studies. “I know that when we support women through education we are raising up leaders with authentic power.”
Letitia Wilson’s life is a case in point. She is the embodiment of authenticity, leading as she cares.