African Wildlife Foundation Chief Executive Officer

African Wildlife Foundation Published: August 7, 2017
Nairobi, Kenya
Post Type
Experience (minimum)
Not specified
Education (minimum)
Not specified
Travel Required?



Reporting to the Board, the CEO will provide strategic direction, management, and thought leadership for AWF and pursue a compelling and impactful vision for the organization going forward.  The CEO will build consensus around key goals and, in partnership with AWF’s senior leadership – a COO based in Washington, DC and a President based in Nairobi – move those priorities into actionable plans and growth strategies.

The CEO will serve as the principal ambassador for AWF, broadly raising the profile and translating the mission of the organization to a global public while engaging and invigorating long-time supporters and attracting new partners.  The CEO will take a leading and highly visible role in fundraising, including developing and implementing engagement strategies that significantly increase the organization’s base of financial support from major donors, NGOs and government agencies, and corporate sponsors around the world.

The CEO will support new advocacy and programmatic initiatives across the continent and build critical awareness of the institution’s principal needs and concerns, while nurturing mutually beneficial relationships and aligning AWF’s global priorities with those of conservation advocates in Europe, China, and the United States.

To achieve these goals, the CEO will embrace the unique position of AWF as an Africa-centric organization, engage a base of national government and NGO leaders, and demonstrate a level of programmatic responsiveness which reflects the needs and priorities of a new African economy.  Additionally, the CEO will pursue a conservation agenda that personifies and embodies AWF’s premise that Africans must be the authors of and then own and pursue a conservation agenda as part of the sustainable economic development of the continent.



The CEO will have the following priorities:

  • Assure that multiyear strategic planning leads to effective resource allocation and management execution within planning processes that respect both the collaborative nature of AWF’s decision-making and the need for bold institutional vision and leadership;
  • Quickly establish close working relationships with AWF’s two key senior officers internally – the COO and President – who are responsible for the delivery of AWF’s programs, advocacy efforts, and day-to-day administrative functions; with these individuals, oversee, motivate, and guide the extended team of senior programmatic and administrative leadership staff;
  • Become familiar with and support the development and expansion of AWF’s core programs and initiatives which feed into expanded community engagement and promote economic sustainability, including Species Protection Grants, Classroom Africa, and Umiliki Investments, among others;
  • Assess AWF’s current impact across Africa’s conservation-related and political landscape; begin to formulate and reinforce relationships with heads of state, local government, and corporate leaders; articulate new programmatic strategies and direction which reflect shared priorities and agenda.

Additionally, the CEO will have the following ongoing responsibilities:

Strategic Vision

  • Fuel innovative thinking internally; create and nurture an aspirational culture and values to enhance creativity, strategic thinking, transparency, collaboration, and accountability, and bring out the best in each person; listen to staff and harness their energy and ideas.


  • Represent AWF at a very high level, interacting with bilateral and multilateral funding agencies including USAID, the European Union, the World Bank, and others; engender confidence in AWF and its leadership so that external agencies may entrust AWF with multimillion-dollar contracts;
  • Broadly engage in the CEO’s even larger role in raising support from within the private sector including individual major donors, speaking at fundraising events, and accompanying philanthropy staff on key visits to foundations and corporate partners.

Board Development

  • Working closely with the Chair, the Executive Committee, and the Chairman of Nominating and Governance, the CEO is responsible for interacting with committee chairs and individual Trustees to facilitate the optimal contributions of Trustees to the work and success of AWF;
  • Engage and gain the support of the Board; find ways to bring forth their best efforts; manage expectations and keep Board members well informed and updated on AWF’s institutional and fiscal standing;
  • Collaborate with the Board to identify and attract the next generation of impactful Board leadership with a global reach, particularly African Trustees.

Organizational Management

  • In partnership with the COO, ensure that AWF’s complex systems and operations (budgets, HR systems, IT issues, government contracts, procurement procedures, and compliance issues) are working and up to date, and that funds and resources entrusted to the organization are used responsibly;
  • Strengthen and bridge interdepartmental communication between Nairobi and Washington, DC; encourage and facilitate cross-departmental programming;
  • Ensure that AWF remains compliant with high standards of ethics and with compliance across many jurisdictions in Africa, the United States, and in other countries where registered.

Marketing, Communications, and Media

  • Continue to strengthen the AWF brand, raising awareness of the organization and its programs through external relations, publications, and local and national press and social media, while reinforcing AWF’s reputation as a relevant leader and trusted partner in the global conservation community;
  • Improve communications internally; specifically encourage partnerships and enhance Communications’ departmental ties with the Advocacy and Policy Area to ensure that messaging is consistent and on point;
  • Maximize the appropriate use of technology and digital media in promoting AWF, reaching new conservation audiences and creating innovative and engaging programs; drive the best efforts of AWF in the areas of effective use of new technology, improved internal coordination, and communication.

Advocacy and Policy

  • Serve as a diplomat and primary advocate for wildlife and wild lands in the future of Africa; interact regularly and at a very high level with African governments, Pan African institutions like the AU and the African Development Bank, as well as embassies, international bodies, and foreign governments;
  • Work in tandem with the President, who leads AWF’s advocacy efforts and is based in Nairobi; much of AWF’s Africa-based advocacy work is currently carried out by this person.

Program Development, Implementation, and Evaluation

  • Expand the reach and impact of AWF’s programs; nurture the continued development of senior technical capacity which exists for each of these program areas; understand and be highly conversant with initiatives and engagements in the field, while ensuring the linkage of AWF’s programs to the mission of the organization;
  • Review AWF’s systems and modes of communication and data collection; assess how the organization measures progress and ensure that AWF has systems to measure success in implementation and impact; strengthen its capacity to track and disseminate impact internally and to its funders and partners.



The CEO will be a charismatic leader with global experience and perspective who demonstrates a very personal and authentic passion for AWF’s mission.  She or he will also be or have:

  • Proven managerial and strategic planning capabilities, ideally on an international level in a highly complex environment in a public, an academic, or a nonprofit setting; significant private sector experience may also be considered; conservation experience is less important than knowing how to raise awareness, increase funds, and generate enthusiasm for a mission-driven organization;
  • The ability to develop, execute, and bring clarity to AWF’s plans and activities, with the ability to grow an organization in size, impact, and visibility; a person who can affect and manage change and manage multiple priorities and engagement strategies in a competitive landscape;
  • A demonstrated interest in, or understanding of, Africa, its politics, economics, cultures, and the programs that have and haven’t worked in the developing world; an appreciation of what working on the ground in Africa means and/or experience with programs in developing countries is a huge plus;
  • Experience aligning goals and objectives with organizational capacity and fiscal, political, and human resources; financial acumen, with the ability to oversee the budget of a complex nonprofit institution; unafraid to make the tough call;
  • A person who leads with enthusiasm and can listen to and motivate others in a similar vein, with success in building and retaining staff along with the ability to coalesce others around a vision, break down silos, and manage effectively in all directions;
  • The ability to serve as the public face of the organization; media savvy; a quick study; able to represent AWF across mediums, in live interviews, and in presentations to a range of audiences;
  • A persuasive and accomplished fundraiser with the ability to: connect with untapped philanthropic resources and public sources of support; identify potential political, economic, and conservation-oriented partnerships; and target new avenues for corporate sponsorships;
  • An engaging personality and professional demeanor; confident, innovative, and holistic; demonstrable creativity, nimbleness, intellect, and perspective; resourceful and dedicated, with integrity and a strong work ethic;
  • On message about African ownership of the conservation agenda, she or he need not be African; being bilingual or trilingual is a plus; able to balance external responsibilities with day-to-day management, advocacy, and fundraising; must spend significant time in Africa writ large and in Nairobi, at headquarters, in specific, as well as in Washington, DC, to oversee staff in both geographies; additional international travel will be required as needed.

For more information on African Wildlife Foundation, please visit

Please send applications or nominations to Mark Tarnacki and Addie Jones at


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