Up with People is pleased to announce the appointment of Vernon C. Grigg III as its President and CEO. Under Grigg’s leadership, Up with People will expand its mission of promoting inclusiveness and dialogue by spreading the values of equity, respect, and understanding, and the importance of diversity around the world.
With his lifelong commitment to service, equality, and social justice, Vernon Grigg was the clear choice as the next Up with People CEO. From humble beginnings moving from one military base to another, Grigg’s public-school teacher parents instilled in him the importance of hard work, public service, and education. After high school, he joined Up with People, and traveled with an international cast of young people for a year, making rich personal connections as they worked hand in hand at community service projects and stayed together with host families. These personal experiences solidified the foundation for Grigg’s remarkable global career.
Grigg went on to earn economics degrees from the University of Michigan and the London School of Economics as well as a law degree from Yale Law School. After law school, Grigg served as the first black law clerk to the Supreme Court of South Africa during the country’s transition out of apartheid. He also served as a law clerk in Israel and San Francisco. He later returned to South Africa to build the electoral court that heard challenges during that country’s first free election. These experiences cemented Grigg’s commitment to equity and inclusion. Grigg founded a law firm, where he specialized in civil rights issues for two decades. Ultimately, Grigg turned his energy to public service; he served on the boards of local government agencies and nonprofits focused on art and education, including the Up with People Board. Grigg also served as the Executive Director of the Bayview Opera House, where he led the revival of a historic community theater, which provides arts education programs to disadvantaged youth.
Reflecting back, Grigg commented, “Almost forty years ago, my UWP cast-mates and I learned first-hand the power of authentic service, inclusion, and building human connections across borders and cultures. I am thrilled to lead UWP as we expand our efforts to build a community of leaders for tomorrow.”
Grigg’s proven commitment to improving the lives of all people has now come full circle. In his new role as CEO of Up with People, Grigg is well-poised to further the mission of the organization and to inspire a new generation of young people to tackle the world’s most entrenched social problems.