The Ford Foundation has announced the appointment of Innocent Chukwuma as Representative for West Africa, serving Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, The Gambia, Mali, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Chukwuma will be based in the Ford Foundation’s office in Lagos and will oversee all of the foundation’s work in the region.
Chukwuma is a globally renowned advocate for human rights and good governance as well as a leading scholar on police and criminal justice reform in West Africa. Most recently, he founded and led the CLEEN Foundation, a civil society group that promotes public safety, security and accessible justice in West Africa. He has also held various posts with the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), one of Nigeria’s first human rights organizations. He is the CEO and Chair of the Altus Alliance, a global network of nonprofits, and is a member of the International Society for Criminology.
Chukwuma is a member of the boards of many nonprofits and initiatives against crime and violence around the world. These include the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC), African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF), Open Society Global Criminal Justice Fund and a member of the Africa Advisory Council of Human Rights Watch.
“Innocent is an absolutely ideal leader to continue the Ford Foundation’s long legacy of support for democratic participation, equal opportunity and transparency throughout West Africa,” said Darren Walker, Vice President for Education, Creativity and Free Expression at the foundation. “We couldn’t be more excited for him to assume this important leadership position at this moment of incredible potential for the region.”
Chukwuma is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Reebok International Human Rights Award. He holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Leicester in the UK and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nigeria. He also served as a Visiting Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he designed and taught a course on management of nonprofits in the Global South.
“I am deeply honored to lead the Ford Foundation’s work in West Africa,” Chukwuma said. “Ford has long been an essential resource for social change and visionary leadership throughout the region, and I am incredibly optimistic about what we can continue to accomplish in the important years that lie ahead.”
For more than half a century, the Ford Foundation has been committed to strengthening democracy throughout the region. Today, as West Africa is on the verge of a new era of peace and prosperity, the foundation is working with visionary leaders in civil society and government who are expanding participation in the democratic process and accelerating the pace of social change. The foundation support efforts to engage government on behalf of the marginalized and underrepresented, and help civil society empower these communities.
Chukwuma began his new position in January 2013. He was selected after a broad international search.