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2019 Conference Speakers

Quick Links:   2019 Conference Agenda 


Moiyattu Banya-Keister is the founder and director of Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone (GESL) and has coordinated leadership programs to help young girls become social change agents in their communities. She is also the founder of Women|Change|Africa that profiles young African women leaders while connecting them to investor programs and her communications firm, WCA Creatives, provides communications solutions for women-owned start-up social enterprises. She consults for international organizations focusing on women’s and girl’s rights across Africa and has over a decade of experience working in entrepreneurship, education, gender, and youth development with organizations and companies in Africa and across the Diaspora.  Moiyattu teaches Social Entrepreneurship at Columbia University, is a coordinator for the African Youth Philanthropy Network, and a board member of the African Women’s Development Fund-USA. She earned a master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship from Columbia University and spends her time between the United States and Sierra Leone. Read more at

Felicitas (Flanny) Chiganze is Chief Executive Officer at SRHR Africa Trust (SAT) based at the Regional Office in Johannesburg. She has worked with SAT for over two decades and is passionate about working with communities. She has extensive experience in community HIV and SRHR programming in Southern and East Africa. She has a strong gender and development background having spent many years working in the Zimbabwe Ministry of Women’s Affairs where she rose to the level of Under Secretary for Women’s Affairs. She also spent several years working in CIDA as a Development Officer

Stephen J. Downs is Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), working to ensure that RWJF staff have the resources they need to practice philanthropy at the highest level. He has emphasized technology directions such as mobility and social CRM that encourage informal knowledge-sharing, data-informed decision-making, and peer-to-peer engagement. Stephen works with his colleagues to institutionalize an approach to program strategy that is based on the integration of learning, co-creation, and reflection into strategy development and assessment and adaptation. From 2007 to 2011, he served as the assistant vice president of the Health Group and worked with the senior vice president of the Health Group to oversee the Foundation’s strategies and investments in  childhood obesity, public health, tobacco control and support for vulnerable populations.

Jonathan Gunthorp is Executive Director at SRHR Africa Trust (SAT), an organization working in gender equality, SRHR (sexual reproductive health and rights) and HIV, and adolescent health in Eastern and Southern Africa. He oversees SAT’s strategy for gender equality and youth health, focusing on increasing the protectiveness of the environment for adolescents, meaningful youth participation in health, and adolescent access to health. For the past 13 years he has been consulting on and leading programs in health, HIV and SRHR. He has worked in cities from Cape Town to Asmara in 13 African countries. Jonathan grew up in the anti-apartheid movement and never got over being an activist.

Sean Jacobs is an Associate Professor of International Affairs at The New School in New York City. He is the founder of Africa is a Country, a site of criticism, analysis, and new writing which has become one of the leading intellectual voices in the African online media sphere. Writer and photographer Teju Cole stated: “I love Africa is a Country, because it is basically the inside of my head.” Sean earned a Ph.D. in Politics from the University of London and an MA in Political Science from Northwestern University. He was born in South Africa and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. 

Nkirote Koome is a Program Associate in the Ford Foundation’s Nairobi office where she supports the implementation of the #AfricaNoFilter initiative. She works with the inaugural cohort of fellows in executing their individual projects. She also supports the office in executing its strategy through grantmaking and continuous learning. Nkirote joined the Ford Foundation in 2016 from the Clinton Foundation where she coordinated assessments of forest and landscape restoration, and local community projects in restoring degraded landscapes in Ethiopia and Kenya. Nkirote holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Governance, a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Biology, and is a certified environmental impact assessor

Steven Lawrence is an independent consultant who partners with funders and nonprofits to develop the knowledge they need to strengthen the field and make well-informed decisions. Previously, Steven served as Director of Research for Foundation Center, which represents the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. In his more than 20 years at the Center, Steven led ground-breaking research on philanthropic support for priorities such as human rights, social justice, health policy, education reform, peace and security, and mission investing.

Dr. Babalwa Magoqwana is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology, Anthropology and History Department at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Previously she was a Lecturer at Rhodes University in the Sociology Department where she completed a PhD in Sociology with a focus on Call Centre Work and Worker Experiences in the City of Johannesburg.


Elaine Martyn is Vice President and Managing Director for the Private Donor Group at Fidelity Charitable,® an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 240,000 nonprofit organizations with over $35 billion in grants since inception in 1991. She is passionate about family philanthropy, impact investing, international grantmaking and values-based giving, and oversees a philanthropic strategies team who support donors make over $5 billion in annual grants. She has been a lifelong advocate for refugees, immigrants, medical education and women’s economic empowerment and rights, and has a passion for the arts.  Elaine previously served as vice president of development at Global Fund for Women. Elaine double majored in medical studies and English literature and communications at Gannon University and has a Master’s degree in Victorian literature from the University of Leeds.  In 2013, she was appointed as a special international advisor to the U.S. State Department’s Under Secretary of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy.  She has published on topics including equal opportunities, medical education, mentorship, and philanthropy. She serves on the advisory boards of Prosperity Catalyst and New England International Donors.

Bongiwe Mlangeni is Chief Executive Officer of the Social Justice Initiative (SJI), a South African nonprofit organization which promotes philanthropy in support of human rights and social justice work. Previously, she consulted as Communications Director at the Graca Machel Trust and was the founding Deputy Director of Corruption Watch. She has also worked as a journalist, covering socio-economic and women’s rights issues in Southern Africa. Bongiwe earned a Masters of Management degree from the Wits School of Governance and has completed postgraduate studies at the Wits Business School and London School of Economics.

Yvonne Moore is the Principal Advisor at Moore Philanthropy. She has worked in the government, civil society, and philanthropic sectors. As a practitioner and a philanthropist, Yvonne brings a dual understanding to her work which includes advising donors funding in several African countries. Previously, she was Chief of Staff to Abigail E. Disney and served as the Executive Director of the Daphne Foundation. Yvonne is a trustee of the New York Women’s Foundation, Philanthropy New York, and Cause Effective. She earned a master’s degree in nonprofit management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and a master’s degree in urban policy from the New School.

Dr. Bhekinkosi Moyo is Director of the newly formed African Centre on Philanthropy and Social Investment at the University of Witwatersrand’s Business School in South Africa. He previously served as CEO of the Southern Africa Trust in South Africa and Program Director at TrustAfrica in Senegal. Bhekinkosi currently serves on the boards of several philanthropic organizations.


Paul Nwulu is Senior Program Officer at Ford Foundation’s West Africa office. His grantmaking has focused on the creation of high-quality content that increases awareness of key issues in governance and youth sexuality, reproductive health, and rights. His work has also promoted greater public engagement with the media to accelerate social change. Paul has more than 15 years of experience as a media content developer and lecturer in media production and theory. He founded TriCom Productions, an Abuja-based media production, and consulting company, and is actively involved in a number of innovative development media projects in Nigeria. Prior to joining the foundation, Paul was an associate professor of communication and multimedia design at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State.

Dr. Aleesha Taylor is the founder and principal of Herald Advisors, a strategic advisory firm that helps clients shift systems and resources to  serve the disadvantaged. She has worked with governments, nonprofits, international networks, and the private sectors.  She has been essential to the exploration and implementation of innovative partnerships and funding arrangements in the education sector. Aleesha was previously deputy director at the Open Society Foundations where she served as the representative of the Private Sector/Foundations constituency of the Global Partnership for Education Board of Directors’ Financial Advisory Committee, which provided $1.2 billion in grant funding to developing country governments during her tenure. Originally from the Bronx, NY, Aleesha brings a critical global perspective to her work that is informed by her travel to over 60 countries, particularly the years she lived and worked in Kenya, Tanzania, England, and Liberia. 

Leon Wilson is the Chief of Digital Innovation & Chief Information Officer at the Cleveland Foundation. In this dual role, Leon is part of the executive committee leading the foundation’s Information & Technology Services department, focusing on strategic and transformational use of technology and data within the foundation and in the philanthropic sector. Additionally, as the Chief of Digital Innovation, Leon oversees the foundation’s Digital Excellence grant-making strategy geared toward “building a stronger, more equitable, and inclusive digital community”; along with elevating Greater Cleveland’s position as a major regional smart tech and technology innovation hub. Previously, Leon served as the Senior Director of Technology & Data Engagement for the Michigan Nonprofit Association where he assisted nonprofits with leveraging technology to support their social mission.  He is a frequent speaker at many nonprofit conferences and a former lecturer at the University of Michigan teaching information technology in the schools of business and public administration

Dr. Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Acting Dean of the Veronica Adeleke School of Social Sciences at Babcock University in Nigeria. Her research has explored the positions of women in conflict and post-conflict situations in Africa, with a focus on refugee and displacement concerns. Olajumokehas conducted fieldwork in Liberia, Nigeria,  and Geneva and researched issues related to the comparative politics of African states. She is co-editor of four books including Gendering Knowledge in Africa and the African Diaspora: Contesting History and Power (Routledge 2017) and Africa’s Big Men: Predatory State-Society Relations in Africa (Routledge, 2018). She is editor of the Journal of International Politics and Development, and co-editor of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies. She earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.