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.
Controller, Washington, D.C., USA
Smitha, a Certified Public Accountant, has led African Wildlife Foundation’s accounting team 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.
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.
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.
Senior Director of Strategic Communications, Washington, D.C., USA/Nairobi, Kenya
Sandra has 20 years of experience in communications and marketing strategy for corporations, nonprofits, and international organizations in the advertising, education, humanitarian, and health fields. Some of her accomplishments include media placements in Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and successfully managing a global brand relaunch. Sandra works closely with AWF’s senior leadership team and Board of Trustees to manage AWF’s brand and ensure that the organization’s positions and mission are represented in the global media. She holds an M.A. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Beatrice (Bi) Karanja
Partner Relations Manager, East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
Bi’s interest in conservation began during her gap year between secondary school and college when she interned with AWF in Kenya through a connection with Richard Leakey. Bi returned to AWF in 2013 and now works to promote AWF’s mission in the region, build strategic partnerships, and cultivate relationships with stakeholders across all sectors of society. Bi is passionate about ensuring that Africans, especially youth and women, have a voice to talk about the environment and its importance for the continent’s future. She holds a B.A. in communications from Duquesne University, U.S.A., and has extensive experience in media relations, strategic communications, and journalism.
Managing Director, African Conservation Schools, 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. Brian joined AWF in 2012 as the program director for conservation enterprise, and has led the African Conservation Schools program since early 2015. Brian holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
Kenya Country Director, 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.
Technical Director, Central and Western Africa, 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.
Director, U.S. Government Relations, 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. in applied zoology with a focus on aquaculture and fisheries management from the University of Kuopio.
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.
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.
President, Nairobi, Kenya
Kaddu has more than 15 years of experience, ranging from grassroots to national and regional technical support in the United States, the Americas, Africa, and Europe. He has worked with several international organizations and holds two master’s degrees—an M.A. in law, policy, and diplomacy from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and an M.S. in sustainable resource management and policy from Imperial College at Wye, London University. As President, Kaddu serves as the primary spokesperson for, and the personal embodiment of, AWF’s vision of wildlife thriving in modern Africa. As one of the principal leaders of the organization, he helps drive the long-term strategy and culture of AWF.
Vice President for Species Protection, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.