20th anniversary royal distinction for our founders

On the 21st of March we celebrated 20 years of Max Foundation, and the mayor of Bloemendaal surprised our founders Joke and Steven Le Poole with a royal distinction.

On the 21st of March Max Foundation hosted its 20th birthday party! The event was kicked off by co-directors Marjolijn Wilmink and Joke Le Poole diving into the 20 year journey that got us here today, while highlighting key Max Foundation elements – such as integration, innovation, systems change, data and entrepreneurship.

Besides it being a celebration, we also dove deeper into the content with inspiring experts, discussing some topical questions with us. Because with greater urgency around development needs, looming effects of climate change, and critical examination of the development sector from within and without, we want to know: How do we reach impact at scale ? And how do we use data and evidence to get there?

After lively discussions moderated by the wonderful Ikenna Azuike, our speakers from different backgrounds shed light on their bold recommendations for reaching impact at scale.

“It’s all about the people”, “consider leaving implementation to partners” “be aware of analysis paralysis” and “step out of your own shadow – cooperation is the way forward” were just some of the bold recommendations the audience received.

Our wonderful speakers were:


Dirk-Jan Koch – Professor International Trade & Development Radboud University

Hayat Chedid – Managing partner at Upshot

Sandra van Pellegrom – National Coordinator of the SDGs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Yvette Fleming – Innovation orchestrator at TNO innovation for life

At the end of the event, a big surprise awaited Max Foundation’s founders Joke and Steven Le Poole. Amongst a group of people , the mayor of Bloemendaal walked in. After a personal speech, she revealed she was there to present Steven en Joke Le Poole with a royal distinction for their work and the impact created with Max Foundation. Find an article from a newspaper in Haarlem describing the moment here, and Heemstede here.

A Max Foundation Dutch press release about the royal distinction can be found here. Please reach out to communication manager Colette Beukman at colette@maxfoundation.org for any questions or more information.

Finally, we would love to thank the great volunteers and in-kind donors that made this event possible:

  • Lyanne van der Hoeven for the photography
  • Vittorio Borro for the videography
  • Tetjana Kosysnka for the live piano music
  • Stadsherstel for the location (Vondelkerk)
  • Peperwortel for the catering
  • De Wasmannen‘ of ‘Man in Pak producties’, Pim Kromhout & Anouk Bouwens for the handwashing
  • Earth Water and LAB paint Foundation for their gifts in the giftbag (and being Max Foundation donors!)

Find more pictures of the event below, and stay tuned for the video!