CFK Africa, an international nonprofit with offices in Kenya and the U.S., announced it has hired Jeffrey Oduro Okoro to be its fifth executive director since its founding in 2001.
A resident of Kibera, Okoro first volunteered with the organization as a youth leader after post-election violence in 2009.
He has since risen through the ranks of CFK Africa, from a peer mentor to administrative assistant, project officer, program coordinator, and most recently as deputy director.
In 2018, he co-founded the organization’s Best Schools Initiative with Professor Steve Arnold and has since collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to strengthen the program’s research objectives, which aim to improve education in primary schools in communities where it works and guide transformative policies for informal settlements globally.
“When people want to improve education in informal settlements, they provide scholarships for individuals, or help a school, or even build a school,” said Arnold, who was recently appointed to CFK Africa’s Board of Directors.
"Jeffrey is that rare person who can inspire and enable others to work for the good of the whole community, which is key to transforming informal settlements in powerful ways,”
Okoro said he was humbled to accept the new position. “As someone who has both benefited from and overseen CFK Africa’s programs over the years, I am humbled and honoured to be taking on this new leadership role,” said Okoro.
“I have seen firsthand how these efforts provide opportunities to residents of Kenya’s informal settlements, and I look forward to working with the team to expand and enrich them to benefit even more communities in the coming years.”
As a 13-year-old, Okoro left school in grade eight due to a lack of funds to pay his school fees. He worked in construction while actively seeking scholarships for three years.
Through his persistence and hard work, he earned a scholarship from Guadalupe Catholic parish and finished secondary school.
While working at CFK Africa full-time, Okoro earned his bachelor’s degree in project planning and management from Moi University, and he earned a certificate in conflict analysis from the United States Institute of Peace. In 2019, the Metis Fellowship selected Okoro for a prestigious fellowship for East African leaders focused on improving education outcomes.
“Tabitha Festo, Salim Mohamed, and I co-founded CFK Africa in 2001 with the conviction that solutions to extreme poverty can be found from within the community,” said Rye Barcott, cofounder, and chair of CFK Africa’s Board.
“It’s immensely gratifying to see one of CFK’s most promising youth volunteers rise up the ranks to now lead our organization.” The application process for the position was highly competitive.
“Jeffrey was elected from a candidate pool of nearly 300 applicants, some of whom had more degrees, fancier titles and longer lists of accolades,” said Board Treasurer Francis Kibet.
“But none had better experience or more proven, servant-leadership in tough circumstances than Jeffrey. He is truly one of the most exceptional people with whom I have worked in any context.”
Okoro said he looks forward to his new job.
“When I reflect on where I came from, I see that it’s not just my story, but also the story of the community that shaped me and gave me opportunities I might not have had otherwise,” Okoro added.
“I look forward to expanding those same opportunities to help the next generation of young leaders in informal settlements in Kibera and beyond.”