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HomebioShem Ochola: Seasoned Kenyan Executive at the Helm of Commonwealth Foundation

Shem Ochola: Seasoned Kenyan Executive at the Helm of Commonwealth Foundation

Shem Ochola is the Deputy Director General at the Commonwealth Foundation and most senior member of staff from Africa.

He assumed office in January 2020 at the Foundation’s headquarters at Marlborough House in St James’s, City of Westminster, London.

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

File image of Commonwealth Foundation Deputy Director General Shem Ochola. |Photo| Courtesy|
File image of Commonwealth Foundation Deputy Director General Shem Ochola. |Photo| Courtesy|

Background & Education

Shem Ochola holds a Master of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Bombay in India.

He also holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Leadership and Governance from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

Career

Shem 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.

Also early in his career, he co-founded the Sugar Campaign for Change, a campaign for reforms in the sugar industry.

Later, he joined ActionAid Kenya as Parliamentary Liaison Programmes Officer before becoming the organisation’s Head of Governance, where from 2005 to 2008, he played a significant role in establishing the Movement for Political Accountability, a citizen-led coalition aimed at empowering Kenyans to hold their public leadership to account.

During the 2007-2008 post-election violence, Shem Ochola served as a technical committee member of the Kenyan Cabinet Sub-Committee on the National Accord, which developed a strategy for national reconciliation, including social and economic recovery.

Ochola’s recent appointments include Regional Policy and Partnerships Director at the Aga Khan Foundation, East Africa and Director of Programme Development and Grants Acquisition at World Vision.

File image of Commonwealth Foundation Deputy Director General Shem Ochola. |Photo| Courtesy|
File image of Commonwealth Foundation Deputy Director General Shem Ochola. |Photo| Courtesy|

Prior to joining the Commonwealth Foundation, Shem Ochola was Head of Network Development and Coordination at HelpAge International, where he led the Africa global hub in network development, advocacy, campaigns, and communications.

As Deputy Director-General, Ochola is the second most senior member of staff and is mandated with liasing with programme managers to ensure that the foundation’s programmes are in line with its strategy.

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.