Managing Director, AWF Conservation Schools | African Wildlife Foundation
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Managing Director, AWF Conservation Schools

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2014
  • Nairobi, Kenya (with significant travel)

In September 2013, AWF announced a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to build at least 15 new conservation primary schools over the next 10 years. In Africa, typically, the best schools, qualified teachers, and the majority of educational resources end up in cities and towns. The commitment by AWF upends this paradigm. We intend to build modern “campuses” that are thoughtfully conceived, designed, and constructed, and give students in rural areas of Africa access to the same—if not better—educational resources as their urban counterparts. This is AWF’s Conservation Schools (ACS) program. AWF believes the ACS program has the potential to far exceed our Clinton Global Initiative commitment, and needs a leader who can maximize its potential to deliver the greatest possible conservation and educational gains for communities living with wildlife in Africa.

ACS provides communities with educational opportunities and resources in exchange for the communities’ participation in conservation. ACS is about more than simply constructing or renovating school buildings. The program intends to deliver improved educational outcomes for children through continued professional education for teachers, conservation curriculum, technology and media, and other areas of need. Further, AWF aims to build a sense of ongoing community ownership of ACS schools and a sustainable economic model linking in local businesses.

AWF does not own or operate any schools—ACS projects are public schools. Our goal is to support the foundation for good education, while improving the capacity of teachers, communities, and education ministries to ensure the ongoing advancement of the school and AWF’s conservation agenda. To achieve this, the program needs a leader who has a passionate commitment to the ACS model, with the business skills to manage all stages of the ACS project lifecycle.

The Managing Director (MD) position is an exceptional opportunity for the right person. ACS will be a quasi-independent entity within AWF, and so the MD will need to be a social entrepreneur, able to work closely with AWF’s management team and the ACS committee of AWF’s Board of Trustees to conceive, fund, and execute projects. The MD will report directly to AWF’s Chief Operating Officer. To date AWF has built three conservation primary schools, and in so doing has secured more than 100,000 acres of land for conservation.

Key Responsibilities

Develop & Expand the Program

  • Working with the ACS committee, finalize the ACS program business plan.
  • Bring the ACS program to scale by facilitating the development of ACS school clusters—three to five schools located in communities around key wildlife areas. ACS clusters must be executed in a coordinated manner so as to reduce the incremental cost of each school, while creating widespread excitement for conservation among communities.
  • Finalize school infrastructure templates (architectural designs, landscaping concepts, and furnishing solutions) so as to create predictable time and cost budgets. Create a series of vendor partnerships that ensures schools can move from design to build in a timely fashion.
  • Take an active role in fundraising for the ACS program as a whole, working with AWF’s philanthropy & marketing team and program design & government relations team. As opportunities present themselves, serve as the voice and face for the ACS program.
  • Develop models for school economic sustainability, preferably through connections to local businesses.
  • As the ACS program grows, hire and develop a team of professionals capable of continuing the success of the program.

Build the Schools

  • Participate in and ensure the completion of site scoping and preliminary relationship building with communities, governments, and the relevant education ministries in new sites.
  • Ensure that school agreements are written and executed so as to create the proper linkages to conservation, and ongoing accountability for teacher performance and maintenance.
  • Create a workable school sustainability plan prior to construction.
  • Oversee the building of ACS schools and the execution of school programs.
  • Ensure that school designs are appropriate, that vendors are engaged and dismissed as appropriate, and that construction is completed on time and within budget.
  • Ensure that follow-on programs are initiated and maintained after construction is complete.
  • Establish systems for the collection of results data—both with regard to conservation successes and educational outcomes.
  • Ensure that annual site visits of each school are conducted for monitoring and evaluating educational outcomes, conservation impact, and facilities maintenance.

Magnify the Results

  • Develop models for teacher training that can benefit teachers beyond the ACS program.
  • Develop conservation curriculum and programs that enhance the educational experience for children without altering national curriculum standards. Examples may include conservation clubs, murals and art, contests, linkages to local safari operators or park authorities, teacher conservation awareness trainings, etc.
  • Innovate low-cost models for construction, power, technology and other program elements that can be used to improve results and increase the pace of delivery.


  • The entrepreneurial drive and passion to maximize the potential of the ACS program.
  • Bachelor’s degree in business, project management, sustainable development, or related field. Advanced degree preferred.
  • At least 10 years’ working experience, with experience building a new business, or in driving the expansion of a department or new functional area within an existing business.
  • Solid general and project management experience, with associated budget accountability. Ideally, some background or experience with construction.
  • A high level of business acumen and the ability to negotiate, innovate, and balance the delivery of programs against the realities of a budget.
  • Previous exposure to conservation or education management preferred.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, interpersonal skills, flexibility, and cultural sensitivity.
  • Willingness to travel throughout Africa, often to remote areas.


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