Our Staff | African Wildlife Foundation
  • Spread the word

Our Staff

Investing in Potential

African Wildlife Foundation has always been an organization about people. Empowering people is at the heart of our mission statement, and this philosophy extends to the relationship we have with our employees. We value dedication and initiative, and actively look for opportunities to nurture potential within our team. This is why AWF is filled with success stories—such as a one-time research intern who now manages all of AWF’s conservation work in the region in which he grew up, or a young Peace Corps volunteer who worked his way up to eventually become AWF’s chief executive officer (CEO). The staff listed below provide just a few examples of the careers in African conservation that AWF offers.


Daniel McGahey

Program Design Officer—Europe, Oxford, UK

Danny joined the African Wildlife Foundation's Program Design Team in 2011 based on AWF's reputation, which extends into Europe: "AWF's track record of developing innovative community conservation initiatives in Africa is something that intrigued me." Danny, who is based in the UK, represents AWF to the European audience of public-sector and foundation donors. Danny’s work not only provides needed funding for our programs in Africa, but his expertise also helps shape the work that we do there. Danny holds an M.S. in environmental monitoring and assessment in drylands from Sheffield University, and a Ph.D. from the school of geography and environment from Oxford University. 

Godlisten Matilya

Coordinator of Climate Change Project, Maasai Steppe Heartland, Tanzania

Hailing from the Kilimanjaro region of Northern Tanzania, Godlisten joined African Wildlife Foundation as the Program Coordinator for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in 2010. Godlisten was well aware of AWF's work before becoming an employee: "I was born and grew up in the Maasai Steppe Heartland. I had personal and professional knowledge of AWF, and so it was my dream to become part of this exciting organization. I have a profound trust in AWF." Godlisten has almost 20 years of conservation experience, and holds an M.S. in conservation biology from the University of Cape Town.

Smitha Allapat

Accounting Manager, Washington, D.C., USA

Smitha, a Certified Public Accountant, has served as African Wildlife Foundation’s Accounting Manager since 2010. Like many in the Washington office, Smitha battles the U.S/.Africa time difference by being an early bird. She can generally be found at her desk before 7 a.m. each morning working through accounting issues with her team in Nairobi and with AWF’s various Program Finance and Administrative Officers spread throughout Africa. Smitha is responsible for ensuring that funds are tracked properly, managing AWF’s global accounting systems, and overseeing the numerous financial audits mandated by AWF's operating countries and donors. Smitha is originally from India and holds a master’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Mumbai.

Elizabeth Opee

Human Resources Manager, Nairobi, Kenya

Liz joined African Wildlife Foundation in 2003 as Executive Assistant to the President and, thus, was involved in the highest levels of AWF’s operations right from the start. That experience, and her mentorship under AWF’s then-president Helen Gichohi, inspired Liz to pursue additional responsibility within AWF. While working full time, Liz obtained an executive master’s degree in organizational development from the U.S. International University. She eventually moved into AWF’s human resources department and now oversees all aspects of staffing, payroll, compensation, and benefits. Liz is quick to smile and has an infectious laugh that carries throughout the open office space in our Nairobi Conservation Centre.

Perrin Banks

Program Design Officer, Livingstone, Zambia

For Perrin, working with African Wildlife Foundation is a natural fit: "In conservation, the relationship that bridges the people and natural resources of Africa has always been of great interest to me, and that is at the heart of AWF's mission." Perrin, serving as Program Design Officer based in AWF's Kazungula Heartland, works in collaboration with AWF's Program Design Team to ensure the raising of programmatic funds via bilateral and multilateral government donors for AWF's work in Southern Africa. Perrin holds a B.A. in environmental science from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an M.S. in climate change and development from the Institute of Development Studies at University of Sussex, UK. 

Susan Sekirime

Program Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation, Kampala, Uganda

Susan, a native Ugandan, comes to the African Wildlife Foundation team with an expertise in statistics and knowledge of data analysis tools such as Statistical Product and Service Solutions (SPSS) and STATA Data Analysis and Statistical Software. This may not seem like the typical background for a conservation professional, but Susan’s work compiling data and analyzing results of AWF’s programs, commonly known as Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E for short), is a critical input to AWF’s Performance Measurement System and informs our efforts to constantly improve our conservation methodologies. Susan holds an M.S. in development evaluation and management from the University of Antwerp. 

Théo Way Nana

Conservation Management Training Program, Samburu Heartland, Kenya

A native Congolese, Théo joined African Wildlife Foundation in 2009 as Program Officer within the Congo Heartland where he worked to develop the legal framework for national forest policy. Théo was recently accepted into AWF’s Conservation Management Training Program (CMTP), an intensive 24-month program designed to identify and mentor top talent in African conservation and build AWF’s bench of future leaders. On his application to CMTP: “This was the opportunity for me to broaden my base of expertise in the field of conservation in Africa through the pragmatic and unique approach of AWF.” Théo has a master’s degree in international and comparative environmental law from Limoges University, and a law degree from Protestant University of Congo.

Benson Lengalen

Samburu Heartland Coordinator, Nanyuki, Kenya

Benson first came to African Wildlife Foundation in 2003 as a wild dog Research Assistant and has since worked his way up to become AWF's Samburu Heartland Coordinator. As Coordinator, Benson is responsible for managing all aspects of program implementation, ensuring that AWF maximizes conservation impact on the ground. "Growing up in the wildlife rich Samburu region of Kenya, I had the passion of working in conservation. When I was introduced to AWF while in university, I was thrilled with AWF’s approach, and the fact that AWF involves local communities and partners as an integral part of the process." Benson has an M.S. in the biology of conservation from the University of Nairobi.

Leadership Team

Brian McBrearity

Program Director, Conservation Enterprise, Nairobi, Kenya

Brian is an experienced international development professional with expertise in areas such as program management, microfinance, agriculture development, and value chain analysis. He has lived and worked in East and Southern Africa and comes to African Wildlife Foundation with a varied background, including positions at TechnoServe, FINCA, and AllianceBernstein. In his current role, Brian oversees the AWF conservation enterprise portfolio and provides thought leadership as part of AWF’s senior program technical team. Brian holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University.


David Loubser

Program Director, Climate Change, Nairobi, Kenya

With more than 25 years' experience in the environmental and environmental information arena in Africa, New Zealand, and the Middle East, David is an expert in carbon accounting, forest mapping, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), land-use change, blue carbon, climate-change adaptation, and clean energy. In his role as Program Director, David manages the technical design, funding, and implementation of African Wildlife Foundation's portfolio of climate-change monitoring, mitigation, and adaptation projects. David obtained his undergraduate degree in zoology and microbiology, and holds graduate degrees in avian biology from the University of Witwatersrand and spatial and landscape ecology from the University of Cape Town.

Fiesta Warinwa

Program Director, Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya

Growing up in the Equitoria region of South Sudan, a land once abundant in wildlife before civil war, the seeds for a career in wildlife were planted early. Fiesta began her career with African Wildlife Foundation in 1999 as an intern until being hired full time as a Landscape Conservation Officer. Fiesta spent several years directing AWF’s Samburu Heartland and later moved on to direct AWF’s program in the Kilimanjaro Heartland. Fiesta now oversees all of AWF’s program implementation activities for Kenya, including Kilimanjaro, Samburu, and Mau Forest. Fiesta holds an M.S. in wildlife conservation and management from University of Reading, UK.  

Jef Dupain

Director, AWF African Apes Initiative, Nairobi, Kenya

After a decade of conserving wildlife on behalf of African Wildlife Foundation, Jef has rightly developed his reputation as an authority on great ape conservation in Africa. Reflecting on his decision to join AWF: “Coming to AWF was an easy decision. AWF looks at sustainability ecologically, economically, and socially, which is a perspective that I strongly support." Jef holds degrees in biology and zoology from the University of Antwerp, has served as an associate professor for great ape conservation at Kyoto University, and has nearly 20 years of practical experience working on great ape conservation in and out of the field. 

Jimmiel Mandima

Program Design Director of Policy, Washington, D.C., USA

Hailing from the Masvingo Province in Southern Zimbabwe, Jimmiel has been interested in conserving African wildlife his entire life. "African Wildlife Foundation's mission fits what has always been my passion—to contribute to environmental conservation work that connects community livelihoods." Jimmiel began his career with AWF in Zimbabwe and now uses that experience to represent AWF in policy discussions with the U.S. government and other public-sector constituents. Jimmiel holds an M.S. degree in applied zoology with a focus on aquaculture and fisheries management from the University of Kuopio.

Philip Muruthi

Chief Scientist,Landscape Conservation Programs, Nairobi, Kenya

Philip, who has worked with African Wildlife Foundation for more than 16 years, faces conservation challenges from a broad perspective. His role is to ensure strong/appropriate conservation science inputs to AWF's integrated conservation strategies that take into account landscape-level approaches, social issues, and economic issues. He is responsible for issues as varied as the kind of endangerment classification a species should receive, or how resources should be allocated and oversees AWF's species program. In addition, Philip represents AWF in the international conservation dialogue, such as at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. Philip’s educational qualifications are extensive, including both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University, and numerous publications.

Daudi Sumba

Vice President for Program Design and Government Relations, Nairobi, Kenya

Daudi started with African Wildlife Foundation in 1999 as a Project Officer in Arusha, Tanzania. He has since progressed through a number of positions and been stationed in almost every area in which AWF operates. Due to Daudi’s breadth of experience, he rose to the position of Vice President for Program Design and Government Relations in 2013. In this role, Daudi leverages his 20-plus years of experience at AWF to raise government support for African conservation. A native Kenyan, Daudi studied economics at Egerton University, holds an M.S. in environment and development from the University of Manchester, and studied operations management at the Kellogg School of Northwestern University.

Kathleen Fitzgerald

Vice President for Conservation Strategy, Nairobi, Kenya

Kathleen has more than 20 years' experience directing landscape-scale conservation and community engagement. Prior to joining AWF, Kathleen held key positions at the Land Stowe Trust, the Wildlands Project, Wild Earth, and was the co-founder and first Executive Director of the Northeast Wilderness Trust. Since joining AWF, Kathleen has been key in AWF’s land conservation projects across Africa, including establishing community conservancies, developing carbon mitigation projects, securing wildlife corridors, and helping to improve management of protected areas and community lands. Kathleen holds a master’s degree in botany from the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont and is trained as a naturalist.

Jeff Chrisfield

Chief Operating Officer, Washington, D.C., USA

Jeff began his career as an auditor and consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers and later served as Controller in a for-profit biomedical contractor. Unsatisfied with simply earning a salary, Jeff decided to join African Wildlife Foundation as Accounting Manager in 2002. He has since progressed through several positions within AWF, serving as Chief Financial Officer for several years before being appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2013. As COO, Jeff provides leadership for all of AWF’s program activities, streamlining operations to ensure that conservation goals are achieved on time and within budget. He has been key to maintaining AWF’s financial growth and stability. Jeff is a Certified Public Accountant with a B.S.B.A. in accounting and finance from American University.

Kaddu Sebunya

Chief of Party, Uganda Program, Kampala, Uganda

With more than 20 years of experience, Kaddu has worked in many areas of conservation and specializes in strategic planning, program feasibility, and implementation management. Kaddu first came to African Wildlife Foundation in 2006 as the Director of Program Design, based in Washington, D,C. Kaddu is a native Ugandan and has since returned to Uganda as AWF’s Chief of Party for the countrywide Tourism for Biodiversity sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Kaddu holds two master’s degrees from Imperial College London in law and diplomacy, and sustainable resource management and policy.

Patrick Bergin, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer, Washington, D.C., USA/Nairobi, Kenya

Patrick found his love for Africa while serving in the Peace Corps in Tanzania and initially joined African Wildlife Foundation as a Community Conservation Project Officer in 1990. Within AWF, Patrick has pioneered initiatives that forge linkages between conservation and human well-being. Patrick was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2002 and under his leadership, AWF has seen significant growth and change, including the formulation of AWF’s successful large-landscape approach to conservation, the establishment of our Nairobi-based headquarters, internationalization of AWF’s Board of Trustees, and a tripling of AWF’s operating budget. Patrick holds an M.S. in the management of extension systems from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in development from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

Craig Sholley

Vice President for Philanthropy and Marketing, Washington, D.C., USA

Craig's experiences with wildlife and conservation began in 1973 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire. As an L.S.B. Leakey grant researcher in the late 1970s, Craig studied mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey and, in 1987, became director of Rwanda's Mountain Gorilla Project, of which African Wildlife Foundation was a sponsor. Craig has acted as Scientific Advisor for the award-winning IMAX film, "Mountain Gorilla," and with National Geographic, he surveyed the conservation status of mountain gorillas in the aftermath of Rwanda's civil war. Craig’s direct involvement with AWF began as a Senior Associate and member of AWF’s Board of Trustees. He became a full-time employee of AWF in 2001 and now serves as Vice President for Philanthropy and Marketing.