Kenyan Appointed to Lead Commonwealth Foundation in London

  • The commonwealth foundation has announced Shem Ochola as its new Deputy Director-General making him the most senior member of staff in the organisation hailing from Africa.

    Via a press release to media houses on November 28, the institution stated that Mr Ochola's appointment came following a rigorous selection process and approval from its member states.

    He will assume the role in January 2020 at the Foundation’s headquarters at Marlborough House in St James's, City of Westminster, London.

    "Mr Ochola brings over 20 years of experience in programme management, governance, and policy influence in appointments spanning civil society, the private sector, academia, and government," the organisation disclosed.

    As Deputy Director-General, he is the second most senior member of staff and will direct the programme managers to ensure that the organisation's programmes are in line with its strategy.

    On his part, Mr Ochola stated that he was honoured by the appointment adding that the Foundation played a unique role within the Commonwealth system as a facilitator of collaboration between civil society and governments.

    "I look forward to supporting the growth of a vigilant and strong civil society able to constructively engage and positively influence governments to develop progressive policies, laws, and institutions that improve people’s lives," he conveyed.

    Mr. Ochola began his career as a lecturer in Economics at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies before working at the High Commission for Pakistan as a Trade Development Officer.

    He later joined ActionAid Kenya as Head of Governance, where from 2006 to 2008, he played a significant role in establishing the Movement for Political Accountability (MOPA), a citizen-led coalition aimed at empowering Kenyans to hold their public leadership to account.

    During the 2007-2008 Kenyan crisis, he served as a technical committee member to the Kenyan Cabinet Sub-Committee on the National Accord, which developed a strategy for national reconciliation and social and economic recovery.

    He has served in various organisations at different capacities including as the Regional Policy and Partnerships Director at the Aga Khan Foundation, East Africa and Director of Programme Development and Grants Acquisition at World Vision.

    He is currently the Head of Network Development and Coordination at HelpAge International, where he leads the Africa global hub in network development, advocacy, campaigns, and communications.

    As the Commonwealth’s agency for civil society, the Foundation provides funding and capacity development support each year to help civil society organisations work with governments towards the achievement of critical development goals.

    It's funding also supports the work of storytellers and creative practitioners through its sub-brand Commonwealth Writers. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize now receives over 5000 submissions each year from 50 countries.