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Meet Our 2017 Conference Speakers

Quick Links to  2017 Conference Agenda    Sessions & Workshop Descriptions  

Opening Dinner Speaker – March 28, 2017 
Darren Walker, President, The Ford  Foundation


Darren Walker is President of the Ford Foundation, the nation’s second-largest philanthropy, and for two decades has been a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. He led the philanthropy committee that helped bring a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and chairs the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. Prior to joining Ford, he was Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation where he managed the rebuild New Orleans initiative after Hurricane Katrina.  In the 1990s, as COO of Harlem’s largest community development organization, the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Darren oversaw a comprehensive revitalization program of central Harlem, including over 1,000 new units of housing. He had a decade-long career in international law and finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and UBS.  He is a member of the Commission on the Future of Riker’s Island and serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, New York City Ballet, the High Line, the Arcus Foundation and PepsiCo. Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren received the “Distinguished Alumnus Award,” the highest honor given by his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin.  In 2016, TIME magazine named him to its annual list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of ten honorary degrees and university awards.


Yinka Adegoke, Africa Editor, Quartz oversees and coordinates coverage of the news and ideas in partnership with writers across the continent. He has reported from more than ten countries across Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Before joining Quartz, Yinka was deputy editor at Billboard where he ran the business coverage. Before Quartz he was Reuters’ senior media correspondent covering the global media business where he focused on the digital disruption of the traditional media industry. He has written for The Financial Times and The Guardian in the UK among others.

Kara Alaimo

Kara Alaimo, Ph.D. is a global public relations consultant, trainer, and professor. A former communicator in the Obama administration and the United Nations, she now consults on global communication campaigns, designs customized employee training programs for companies on how to adapt messages and strategies for different global markets, and teaches public relations at Hofstra University. She is the author of Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street: How to Practice Global Public Relations and Strategic Communication and a member of the board of the World Communication Forum in Davos.

Doug Balfour editedDoug Balfour, CEO, Geneva Global has more than 25 years of experience in philanthropy, international development, leadership, and organizational development. He has published the book Doing Good Great: An Insider’s Guide to Getting the Most out of Your Philanthropic Journey.  Before joining Geneva Global 2006, Doug was Executive Director of London-based Integral, a global alliance of 12 relief and development agencies. He previously served as General Director of Tearfund, one of the United Kingdom’s largest aid agencies and held management and consulting roles with the U.K.-based Lucas Group. He has lived and worked in various countries in Africa. He has published the book Doing Good Great: An Insider’s Guide to Getting the Most out of Your Philanthropic Journey. He studied at the University of Southampton in the U.K and has a master’s in business administration from the Cranfield School of Management in the U.K.

Nina BlackwellNina Blackwell, Executive Director, Firelight Foundation joined Firelight as Executive Director in 2015 from Humanity United, a leading human rights foundation, which is part of the Omidyar Group of philanthropies where she led teams to support and leverage the organization’s strategic work in the prevention of conflict, mass atrocities, and modern slavery. Before joining Humanity United, Nina worked at Yahoo!, Inc., where she led two global teams as Senior Director of Americas Communications and Senior Director of Global Public Affairs. She also worked for U.S. Senator Clinton, first as Special Advisor and then as Press Secretary and Spokesperson from the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks and spanned the 2006 Senate reelection campaign and the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

EllenEDorsey Dorsey is Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation focused on progressive social change in the fields of environment, democracy, human rights and corporate accountability. Under her leadership, the Fund is recognized for creative philanthropic strategies and mission-related investing, including its support for the global fossil fuel divestment movement. Dorsey was awarded the 2016 inaugural Nelson Mandela – Graca Machel Brave Philanthropy Award for launching Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of over 155 foundations committed to aligning investments and grants to address the climate crises and accelerate the clean energy transition. Dr. Dorsey came to Wallace Global Fund from a series of academic, philanthropic and non-profit leadership positions in the human rights and environmental fields. Dorsey holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Pittsburgh.  She was a Fulbright Research Fellow in South Africa during that country’s historic transformation.  She served on the faculty of several universities, teaching human rights and environmental sustainability and has written extensively on effective strategies of non-governmental organizations and social movements. Dorsey is co-author, with Paul J. Nelson, of New Rights Advocacy: Changing Strategies of Development and Human Rights NGOs, Georgetown University Press, 2008.

Cynthia Eyakuze, DirCynthiaEyakuzeector – Women’s Rights Program, Open Society Foundation was previously Director of the Open Society Public Health Program’s Accountability and Monitoring in Health Initiative that supported civil society organizations using community monitoring and budget work. Previous positions include director of the Francophone Africa Program at Family Care International, program associate with the International Program of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Women’s Environment and Development Organization, where she coordinated advocacy efforts at the UN and with UN agencies. She conducted research on government implementation of the agreements reached at the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995).She holds a master of arts degree from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Public Health (epidemiology) from Columbia University.

SHalleSahlu Halle is a Senior Scholar with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; He has over 30 years of experience in the development and management of health and development programs including access to contraceptive services, maternal and child health, HIV/AID prevention, youth development, environmental protection, girls’ education and women empowerment. His track record of effective advocacy work has translated, in many countries, into a policy environment that is conducive to youth and women’s rights. Sahlu has extensive experience in program and human resources management in a multicultural and multidisciplinary environment. He has an extensive knowledge of the African continent after working in more than 35 countries. He has also worked in Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America.  Sahlu speaks English and French. 

HargreavesSamantha Hargreaves, Regional Director, Women in Mining (WoMin) is a land, agrarian and extractive industry specialist, promoting analysis and organizing by women in South Africa and the rest of the continent. She has been employed by organizations fighting domestic violence, promoting landless peoples’ rights, building international anti-poverty social movements and addressing problems caused by mining and petroleum industries. She has served social movements as a field worker, researcher, campaigner and program manager and in 2013, co-founded the WoMin African Gender and Extractives Alliance where she is currently the director. Samantha holds an MA in Development Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand and is an associate of the Wits Society Work and Development Institute. 

HonwanaNyeleti Honwana, Program Officer, H.F. Guggenheim Foundation has been a Program Officer at the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation since August 2015, having completed an M.A. in International Relations from Boston University last May. Ms. Honwana hails from Mozambique and is a self-proclaimed “suitcase kid” having grown up in South Africa, Senegal, England and the US. She received the Herman Eilts Thesis Award for best graduate thesis for her dissertation, titled ‘Social Movements in Africa: Mozambique and Civil Disorder’, which examined the role of the state in mitigating the effect of Mozambican popular protests.

HoughtonIrungu Houghton, Chairperson, Kilimani Project Foundation is the founding Chairperson of the Kenyan based Kilimani Project Foundation, one of Africa’s youngest foundations that has created a model for cross-class urban organizations and local government advocacy. Before joining Society for International Development as Associate Director, he completed a decade of service with Oxfam. He is widely known as a skillful change campaigner fighting corruption and protecting civic organizations and public spaces. He has been recognized with awards from Oxfam, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union. Twitter @irunguhoughton

Lisa IssroffLisa Issroff, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Issroff Family Foundation and her husband, David, co-founded the Issroff Family Foundation in 2007 which partners with community-based organizations to improve outcomes for children, youth, and their communities. Serving as IFF’s Executive Director, Lisa is interested in providing funding, capacity, and advisory support to early stage organizations engaged with empowering youth in South and Eastern Africa, New York and Israel. Building on her experience working with these organizations, Lisa is also focused on helping to build networks in the New York area to support a vibrant and supportive funder community. She serves on several boards of IFF’s partner organizations. Currently, she is Board Chair for Generation Citizen and Ongoza, serves on the boards of the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, Educate!, the Advisory Board of Afrika Tikkun, and the Executive Advisors Circle of Echoing Green. She is also the New York Chapter Head for the African Leadership Academy. Lisa graduated from Wesleyan University and currently lives in New York City.

E.J. Jacobs is Program Director of the Nduna Foundation. The motto of the Nduna Foundation is “Make it Matter.” For EJ Jacobs, the Programme Director of the Foundation, this is more than a motto; it is a guiding principle. Since 2010, Mr. Jacobs has embraced philanthropy beyond simple grant-making. Through listening to the populations of the areas he hopes to serve, amplifying the voices of those who don’t always have access to the proper audience, strengthening multilateral partnerships, and embracing, as well as offering a fresh set of ideas in areas lacking innovation, Mr. Jacobs and the Nduna Foundation have found success in often ignored or underserved areas. Before joining the Nduna Foundation, EJ Jacobs was the Editor-in-Chief of Topcoat Magazine.

Alex KyerematenAlexander Kyerematen, Senior Associate, Geneva Global assists the grant management team with research and analysis, strategy implementation, monitoring, and evaluation support for Geneva Global programs throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2013, he has been involved in programs across various sectors including education, health, and economic empowerment. Before joining Geneva Global, Alex was an institutional banking manager at Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited and held positions at Optimal Solutions Group and the Bank of New York as a research analyst and research correspondent. At Optimal Solutions, he was involved in the collection, management, analysis, and reporting of data to advice various domestic and international economic policies. He also tested and implemented Management Information Systems to facilitate the execution of these research projects. Alex graduated from the College of Wooster with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and obtained a Master’s in International Business from Hult International Business School. He is a certified in micro, small, and medium-scale lending, as well as the environment and social risk analysis.

MatiruViolet Matiru, Grantmaking Advisor for Global Greengrants Fund (Kenya) V is a program advisor for the Millennium Community Development Initiatives, a local organization that promotes community learning and development, with a focus on environmental issues. She also works as a consultant for local and international organizations assisting with natural resources management, gender analysis, and monitoring and evaluation. She has also acted as the acting Executive Director of the Environment Liaison Centre International, the liaison organization for the United Nations Environment Programme and Kenyan non-governmental organizations. Violet is trained as a wildlife biologist and holds an MBA.

MiniszewskiUrsula Miniszewski, Program and Development Officer of Gender and the Environment at Global Greengrants Fund is a contributing author of Climate Justice and Women’s Rights: A Guide to Supporting Grassroots Women’s Actions, and co-coordinator of the Summit on Women and Climate. As part of her work at Global Greengrants, she travels around the world speaking about the gendered impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. She has experience working on women’s human rights issues in Africa, Europe, and Latin America, and has worked in internationally focused nonprofits that advocate for women’s rights to a clean, healthy, and safe environment. Ursula holds an MA in International Studies and a BA in History.


Sibongile “Bongi” Mkhabela, CEO, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund & Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust.  The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund was established by Nelson Mandela “to change the way society treats it children and youth”. The Trust was established in 2010 to design, build and equip the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital that is ready to admit its first patients in 2017.  Previously, Bongi worked in the Office of Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki as Director of Programmes and Projects and was a Programmes Officer at the United Nations. She holds an Honours degree in Social Science from the University of Zululand and is a Duke University Joel L Fleishman Civil Society Fellow. Bongi completed the Management Advancement Programme through the University of Witwatersrand Business School. She is Chairperson of Black Sash and is a non-executive director of Barloworld. Bongi is married to Ish Mkhabela, she is the mother to Ntsako, Hlawulani and Lindokuhle and grandmother to Lwandle.

YLM Bio PicYvonne L. Moore, Principal Philanthropic Advisor, Moore Philanthropy brings over 25 years of experience in the government, civil society, and philanthropic sectors. She served as the Chief of Staff to filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail E. Disney and managed the family’s network of media, philanthropic and advocacy organizations. With the creation of Moore Philanthropy, she has expanded her international work advising donors on their giving in the Eastern U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa. Yvonne has significant experience in economic security, energy, clean water, education, and health. She has successfully forged connections with foreign government officials, built strong relationships with grassroots organizations and community advocates, and co-developed projects in challenging environments such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia. Yvonne holds a BA from Texas Tech University and a MS in Nonprofit Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School. She has completed post-graduate studies in democracy and civil society at the University of Cape Town, and nationalism, post-conflict violence, and gender at the University of Lower Silesia in Poland.

William_MosesWilliam “Bill” Moses, Managing Director, Education, The Kresge Foundation was a key architect in restructuring Kresge’s Education programming and leads the education team’s continuum of grant activities from developing program strategy, reviewing preliminary ideas, and helping grantees develop proposals or initiatives, to awarding funding and monitoring existing grants. He was instrumental in developing Kresge’s Green Building Initiative and has spearheaded the foundation’s international grantmaking. Bill was the co-chair of the seven Foundation Partnership for Higher Education in Africa and co-founder the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group

MoyoBhekinkosi “Bheki” Moyo, CEO, Southern Africa Trust is also a renowned writer, author, researcher and thought-leader with the keen interest in questions of African resources, democracy, and governance. Bheki has championed African discourse on philanthropy, contributed to the growth of many African civil society formations and has taken part in most of the continental processes of development and governance. He has written extensively on African philanthropy, civil society, and governance. He joined the team after an extensive and profound contribution to the establishment and growth of the Dakar-based TrustAfrica where he was Program Director. Bheki served on the board of WINGS until 2013, and currently, he is on various boards that include the African Grant Makers Network (AGN), ICCO Southern Africa Regional Council, the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), as well as the African Union Foundation Council. He has worked tirelessly and very innovatively in the fields of governance, development, and philanthropy in Africa.

Niamani 2017Niamani Mutima, Executive Director, Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group joined AGAG in 2001 and has guided its work promoting philanthropy to benefit African communities.  Before joining AGAG Niamani worked with the Africa-American Institute for seventeen years on a range of programs including education, women’s equality, democracy, and American economic and foreign policy on Africa. She was Field Services Director for USAID’s African Leadership and Advanced Skills project and managed its Africa grants program. She traveled extensively throughout the continent working with the public and private sectors.  Over her career, Niamani has conceptualized and implemented numerous meetings focusing on issues related to Africa. Before joining AAI Niamani worked in New York’s theater and dance community as a director and dance videographer. Central to her work is a commitment to connecting people and ideas. Niamani has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Princeton University and a Master’s degree in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

KumiNaidooKumi Naidoo,  Launch Executive Director, African Civil Society Initiative. The African Civil Society Initiative is an ambitious and evolving new initiative seeking to unite civil society across the continent around the issues of corruption, inequality, shrinking democratic space, climate change, poverty and gender equality. Formerly Executive Director for Greenpeace International, Kumi has served as Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Board Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and President of the Global Call for Climate Action. Kumi now serves as Board member for and the Global Greengrants Fund and as an ambassador to the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute (SAFCEI). Kumi has campaigned on issues ranging from apartheid at the age of 15, to adult education and violence against women.

Nicolette Naylor, Representative for Southern Africa, Ford Foundation

Nicolette Naylor, Regional Director, Southern Africa, Ford Foundation’s grantmaking focuses fon human rights and governance, including realizing the progressive rights enshrined in the region’s constitutions and advancing the human and socioeconomic rights of poor and vulnerable populations, with special emphasis on issues of transparency and accountability. Before joining the Ford Foundation in 2007, Nicolette worked as a lawyer in the equality program at the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (Interights) in London, focusing on international human rights and litigation before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the European Court of Human Rights. Previously, she served as a public interest lawyer at the Women’s Legal Centre, based in Cape Town, where she worked to protect and promote women’s rights. Nicolette has been appointed to advisory bodies in South Africa and other parts of the continent, such as the Committee on Gender Equity, established by the South African minister of education, and a Nigerian committee of experts, set up to review draft legislation on violence against women in Nigeria. She has also served as a member of ACHPR’s expert committee for the protection of the rights of people living with, at risk for, or otherwise affected by HIV in Africa.

Robert NolanRobert Nolan, Director of Communications and Content Strategy, Carnegie Corporation is the Corporation’s director of communications and content strategy, overseeing the production of digital and print materials highlighting the work of the Corporation and its grantees, previously he was editor-in-chief of new media at the Foreign Policy Association and producer of the PBS television series Great Decisions in Foreign Policy. He also produced the 2009 documentary From Pharaohs to Facebook: Egypt Today. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe, Robert is the author of The Quest for African Unity: 50 Years of Independence and Interdependence, a monograph about the African Union. He has written extensively on African politics, transatlantic relations, the United Nations, and public engagement on U.S. foreign policy. Robert is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the National Peace Corps Association. Robert holds an MSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

Evans blue2

Evans Okinyi is currently the acting Chief Executive Officer for the East Africa Association of Grantmakers (EAAG). Before this, he was the Head of Finance and Administration at EAAG. He holds a BSC degree in Agri-Economics from Egerton University and a Masters degree in Economic Policy Management from the University of Nairobi. He is a highly experienced and passionate Executive with over five years progressive experience in Administrative, Operations, Financial Management and Program functions with  a focus on Organizational Administration/Management, Policy Formulation & Implementation, Stakeholders & Partnerships Management and Budgeting & Financial Management.

Vuyiswa Sidzumo

Vuyiswa Sidzumo, Director, South Africa, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation joined the Mott Foundation in 2005 as an associate program officer. During her tenure, she has focused on grantmaking to promote community participation in local government, overseen grantmaking that aims to build and strengthen the country’s nonprofit sector, community-based legal centers called “advice offices,” and indigenous forms of giving. Before joining the Mott Foundation, Vuyiswa was Director of Donor Relations at the Department of Provincial and Local Government in Pretoria, South Africa where she was responsible for monitoring and evaluating donor-supported programs. She is currently Steering Committee Chair of the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Biochemistry from Wits University, South Africa.


Stigmata Tenga is President of the Foundation for Civil Society in Tanzania, a grant-making non-for-profit organization. She is also a Strategic Advisor for the Africa Philanthropy Network – a continent-wide membership infrastructure organization of African philanthropists and innovators that facilitates knowledge generation, convening, fostering collaboration and representing the interests of philanthropy in Africa and promote its values to the public.

Dr. Tenga has worked as a development advisor and facilitator for more than 20 years.  Her field practical experience includes policy analysis, strategic planning, gender responsive programming, social inclusion, institutional capacity building, accountability, monitoring and impact measuring.  She has participated in the Government poverty eradication and other reform processes, both at the local and central levels.  She has intensively engaged and led efforts to reform and strengthen civil society organizations to become key catalysts for the on-going transformation and development processes in Africa.  Her leadership style serves to empower communities into realizing equal opportunities to socio-economic justice and improving the quality of life.

Marcia Thomas

Marcia Thomas, Executive Director, USA for Africa has been an Executive Director, manager, consultant and organizer for efforts on the East and West coasts of the United States.  She is a member of the International Working Group of Africans Rising. She has directed and/or worked for organizations such as USA for Africa and Oxfam America, where she developed international and Africa related experience. She has also been associated with project events such as Hands Across America and 1984 Olympic Games. Ms. Thomas served as a consultant on the Jubilee 2000 Debt Relief Campaign and provided networking and outreach services for the campaign’s UK office. She has served on several Boards and Advisory Committees for Africa-focused, women and youth organizations. Marcia was a Founding Board member of the National Summit on Africa (Africa Society) and is presently on UCLA’s James S. Coleman African Studies Center Advisory Board and is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. Marcia has a Master’s Degree in Education and worked for the Boston Schools in various capacities during the 1970s when the system was under a federally mandated desegregation order.

WaldorfLee Waldorf, Director of Policy, Stephen Lewis Foundation works with grassroots community-based organizations which are turning the tide of HIV and AIDS in eastern and southern Africa. Before joining the Stephen Lewis Foundation, Lee worked for fifteen years at the United Nations as an advisor on human rights, constitutional reform and the rule of law with UNIFEM, UN Women, and UNICEF. She played a leading role in the UN’s system-wide adoption of the human rights-based approach to programming and evaluation, the expansion of the UN Trust Fund to eliminate violence against women, and the UN’s support for the advancement of gender equality in international human rights jurisprudence, national constitutional reform processes, and the reform of local and traditional justice systems. Lee is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and holds LLB and LLM degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. 

Emira-WoodsEmira Woods, Director of Social Impact, ThoughtWorks is a consultant, strategist, researcher, and advocate specializing in international development, social impact and innovation. She is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, board member of Action Aid International and on the International Working Group for Africans Rising. Emira co-founded African Innovations for Social Impact and served as the Director of Social Impact at ThoughtWorks, a global technology firm committed to economic and social justice. Originally from Liberia, she led ThoughtWorks’ efforts to bring more robust technology solutions to the Ebola crisis. Before ThoughtWorks, she worked at the Institute for Policy Studies as Director of Foreign Policy In Focus where she focused on U.S. foreign policy.

Emira is a Trustee of the Wallace Global Fund, serves on the Board of Directors of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, Africa Council and the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. She has been a regular commentator on CNN’s Your World Today, BBC’s The World Today (Weekend), and appears regularly on Al Jazeera, NPR, and VOA. She has written on a range of issues ranging from climate change to labor rights to U.S. military policy. She completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science at Columbia University and her graduate studies in Political Economy and Government at Harvard.