Our team’s wide spectrum of interests, passions, and experience is centered on building and supporting the African women’s movement.
Chief Executive Officer
Born in Ghana, she has lived and worked in many countries in Africa, as well as the UK, Europe, and the USA. Her work includes advisory roles to African and other international women and children’s rights activists and leaders, plus policy development and advocacy with a variety of international agencies and organisations. She was Senior Programme Advisor on the UN Study on Children and Armed Conflict (the Machel Report) and led the five year review of the report.
Theo is a board member of various national and international civil society organisations and grant making foundations, including being a trustee of Comic Relief (a multimillion grant making foundation) and Chair of Comic Relief’s International Grants Committee; a member of the African Advisory Board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation; a Patron of Evidence for Development; a member of the UBS Optimus Foundation and a board member of the Graça Machel Trust.
She has authored many publications, including being a contributing editor to ‘The Impact of War on Children’; a contributing author and co editor of a Harvard Law School/UNICEF Innocenti publication on ‘Children and Transitional Justice’; and co author of ‘Groupwork and Intermediate Treatment’.
Theo was awarded a CBE in June 2010.
Special Programmes Manager
The combination of her social justice philanthropy and feminist background, experience of women’s rights coupled with her International Relations experience in political economy, practice in negotiations, partnership management and democratic governance background gives her a unique and grounded ability to blend practice and theory of promoting African women’s rights, women’s leadership and development.
In 2008 she received the Feminist Leadership in Africa award from the Akina Mama Wa Africa (AMWA) Leadership Institute and in 2015 she represented CSO’s in Ghana at the African Growth and Opportunity Act meeting in Gabon having been recommended by the USA State Department and the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) to represent CSO’s in Ghana.
Abigail graduated from the University of Ghana with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and obtained an MA in International Relations from Boston University, European programme, UK. She has also received specialist training in International Negotiations from the Centre for Applied Studies in International Negotiations (CASIN), Geneva, Switzerland.
Human Resources Manager
Gertrude Bibi Annoh-Quarshie
Director of Programmes
Jessica Horn has worked for over 15 years supporting activist organisations, funders and the UN to deepen analysis, shape policy and funding, and refine interventions to defend women’s rights to health, bodily autonomy and freedom from violence. This includes 10 years in women’s rights and social change philanthropy as a grantmaker, in donor governance and advisory roles, and as grants assessor and evaluator.
Through her consultancy, Akiiki Consulting, Jessica worked as a technical lead in ground-breaking initiatives, including in social justice philanthropy with the creation of UHAI-EASHRI- the first African-led fund supporting the rights of sexual minorities and in early thinking around funding models for FRIDA– The Young Feminist Fund. From 2005 to 2007 Jessica managed funding for Women’s Rights and Minority Rights at the Sigrid Rausing Trust, one of the largest private human rights funders in Europe, overseeing substantial growth in both funding portfolios. She is also former Coordinator of Amanitare (the African Partnership for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Girls) and Senior Advisor to AIR -The African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence against Women & Girls and HIV/AIDS.
Jessica is a founding member of the African Feminist Forum Working Group. She has served as a board member of Urgent Action Fund–Africa, Mama Cash and on the International Grants Committee of Comic Relief. In 2012 she was named an African woman changemaker by ARISE Magazine and as one of Applause Africa’s List of ‘40 Under 40 Changemakers. Her research and analysis has been published in professional journals The Lancet and Feminist Africa, and media platforms The Guardian, Al Jazeera, openDemocracy and The Feminist Wire. She is the author of two monographs on the impact of Christian fundamentalism on women’s rights in Africa, and authored the Overview Report for the BRIDGE Cutting Edge Pack on Gender and Social Movements. She is also a published poet.
Born to a Ugandan mother and an American father, Jessica has lived in Sierra Leone and Lesotho and has travelled and worked extensively across the African region. She was educated at the Armand Hammer United World College, Smith College and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Maame Akua Kyerewaa Marfo
Communications and Fundraising Assistant
Maame Akua Kyerewaa Marfo is a singer, a feminist and a writer. She is passionate about social change, progressive feminist thought and using the arts to effect social change. She is an avid reader and continues to broaden her knowledge on feminist thought and development whenever she can. She holds a B.A in Political Science from Dickinson College.
Executive and Fundraising Assistant
She holds a B.A. in Public Administration from Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), an MSc in NGO Management and Studies from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and a teaching certification from Tamale Teacher Training College, Ghana.
Communications and Fundraising Specialist
Lydia Maclean is a seasoned Communications Professional with extensive experience in Public Relations, Corporate Affairs and Humanitarian work.
Prior to joining AWDF, Lydia worked as the Customer Service and Public Relations Manager of A-Plus Life Assurance Ltd, and has also been the Communications Manager of the Ghana Red Cross Society.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Modern Languages from the University of Ghana, a Certificate in Marketing, Advertising and PR from the Ghana Institute of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in International Development from Andrews University, Michigan.
Lydia is a passionate advocate of Social Justice and is strongly committed to the promotion of women’s rights.
ABLODEGBO AMEYO SAVI DEKOLEADENU
Communications & Fundraising Assistant (Francophone)
Ablodegbo is a Communications professional (Bilingual), passionate about using communication as a tool to promoting feminism and gender equality. Prior to joining AWDF, Ablodegbo worked at Borderless Alliance as a Communications Specialist and at International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) as a Communications Assistant.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Management Option) from Ghana Technology University College as well as a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Bilingual Secretaryship and Management Studies from Accra Technical University.
She is a member of International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).
Donor Liaison Officer
Dahmata Yabre is a development practitioner and a professional translator, with a strong interest in gender initiatives and women empowerment issues. Prior to joining AWDF, she worked with the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) on the Mandela Washington Fellowship Programme under YALI, the Young African Leaders Initiative.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Translation from the School of Translators in Ghana. She also holds an interdisciplinary Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) Degree with a specialisation in Conflict Studies and Management from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt in Germany.
Knowledge Management Specialist
Rita Nketiah is a second-generation Ghanaian-Canadian currently completing her PhD research in Critical Human Geography at York University, with a focus on second-generation immigrant transnationalism among young adults of Ghanaian origin. She completed two previous degrees (Honours Bachelors and Masters) in Women and Gender Studies from Western University and the University of Toronto, respectively.
Rita is currently an advisory board member for the Sankofa Initiative (ISDAO), a new LGBT fund supporting activists in West Africa. She also has over ten (10) years of experience of feminist activism and scholarship with a focus on Black/African women’s empowerment, anti-racism and Pan-Africanist movement-building. Rita has had the opportunity to work for several international development agencies including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF HQNY) and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) as a Gender Research consultant. She is also a creative writer, publishing in online spaces, such as This Is Africa (TIA) and Pambazuka. Rita has joined the African Women’s Development Fund as the Knowledge Management Specialist.
Nana Akosua Hanson
Programme Officer: Catalytic Initiatives
A writer, an actress, and an activist, Nana Akosua Hanson was recently selected as an Obama Foundation leader in recognition of her feminist activism in Ghana.
She has worked for seven years in radio and TV and curates a personal blog at darkmosaic.blogspot.com. She has published articles such as ‘Ebola and the Africa-hating Single Story’, ‘A Girl’s hopes for Women’s Day’, ‘Shashii, Ghanaian Twitter and Slut Shaming’, ‘Could We Be Protecting the Cosby Next Door?’ on thisisafrica.me; this includes short stories such as ‘Love is a Two-letter Word: Me’ on ‘Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women’ and some poetry.
Akosua runs Drama Queens, a non-profit theatre organization, which has feminism and pan-Africanism as its core defining values. Drama Queens seeks to centre women’s stories through theatre and aims to contribute to a cultural revolution by having the necessary conversations through Public Conversations called Speakeasies and sex education workshops dubbed ‘Let’s Talk Consent’.
As an actress, Nana Akosua has graced the stages of the National Theatre and the Efua Sutherland Drama Studio in plays such as The Seamstress of St. Francis Street, Vagina Monologues, A Raisin in the Sun amongst others. She is currently acting in the popular web-series, An African City playing the role of the latest returnee Adomaa, and in Leila Dzansi’s action packed drama series, 40 and Single.
With a Bachelors degree in English and Philosophy, she just completed her MA/MPHIL degree in African Studies at the University of Ghana, with a focus on Gender and African Philosophical Thought. She finalized her research on the topic “Does Accra have a Rape Culture? Rape, a Gendered Society and Social Media.” She is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow.
Prior to joining AWDF, she worked as an Administrative Assistant for Charles Kendall & Partners: Fiscal & Procurement Agents for the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) Ghana project. Abigail holds a BSc. in Management with Computing (HR Option) from the Regent University College of Science & Technology and also has the following certificates to her credit; Higher National Diploma in Secretaryship & Management Studies from Accra Polytechnic and a Private Secretaryship Certificate from NACVET.
Mavis Gardiner joined AWDF in January 2007 and has 10 years’ experience in Financial Management in the NGO sector. She is a Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (UK) and an alumna of University of Coast where she studied Accounting and Economics. She is passionate about children and believes every child is unique and with the right environment and exposure they can achieve their full potential.
Senior Finance Assistant
Afi’s responsibilities in the Finance Department include working to achieve the objectives of the day to day operational management, processing Grants payments and managing the Fixed Assets of the organisation. She is a student of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and a graduate from the University of Cape Coast with a Bachelor of Commerce. Afi believes her years with AWDF have been an ideal foundation for developing both her financial expertise and passion for African women’s rights.
Sheila Anum is passionate about women’s right issues and empowering of the African woman. She believes that women often excel when they are empowered. Prior to joining the AWDF, she worked with the Amaris Terminal Limited.
Sheila Anum is a graduate of Valley View University, Oyibi with a degree in Business Administration, Banking and Finance Option.
Belinda Amankwah is the program assistant of AWDF and contributes to managing AWDF”s grant making portfolio in the six thematic areas. She holds a B. A in Social Work with Sociology from the University of Ghana with special interest in gender studies. Prior to joining the AWDF she worked as a customer service assistant at Alliance Waste Limited to complete her National Service.
Growing up she has always wanted to work in the development sector specifically on women’s rights issues.
Programme Officer: Special Initiatives
Madonna Kendona is an economic development specialist with over a decade of experience working on issues of gender, social development and economic empowerment. Most recently she was the Country Manager for Reach for Change, a venture philanthropist organisation that invests in early stage social entrepreneurs whose work impacts children.
Madonna started her career at Ghana’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and has worked in both business and social worlds, as Head of Business Development for Cape Logistics, an energy infrastructure and consulting firm, as Lead Consultant at New York University Abu Dhabi’s Center for Technology and Economic Development and at the New York Women’s Foundation.
She is also passionate about sustainable design, entrepreneurship and gender-focused ethical fashion. In 2013, she founded Raffia, a womenswear brand that works with women indigenous textile weavers in Northern Ghana.
She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Economics and French from the University of Ghana and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University.
Shirley Serwaa Boakye
Capacity Building Assistant
She holds a B.A in Integrated Development Studies from the University of Development Studies, Ghana, and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. in Marketing at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
Zeytuna Abdella Azasoo
Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist
Programme Officer for Francophone Africa
She is also a professional translator and has used these skills to facilitate the participation of francophone African feminists in many feminist spaces on the continent (added). She holds an executive M.B.A. in project management from the University of Ghana Business School, a post-graduate qualification in public administration from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, and a B.A. in modern languages and translation. She is an alumna of the African Women’s Leadership Institute in Uganda and a member of the Association of Women in Development (AWID).
Programme Officer for Anglophone Africa
Gifty Ayebea Anim
Nana Bamea Kyei-Boadu
Monitoring & Evaluation Assistant
Prior to joining AWDF, Nana Bamea worked as a faculty intern at Ashesi University and then as a graduate assistant at the Statistics department of University of Ghana. Nana likes teaching and believes quality education is one of the major drivers of development.
She also utilizes her in-depth statistical knowledge to improve decision making in a challenging environment. Nana Bamea holds B.A in Statistics & Economics and an MPhil degree in Actuarial Science from University of Ghana.
Capacity Building Specialist
Nancy is a gender, and monitoring and evaluation consultant with seven years’ experience in gender and development, research, policy analysis, participatory community engagement and project monitoring and evaluation. She has worked for over 5 years as the Project Manager at JMK Consulting Ltd where she was responsible for the design of capacity building programmes, implementation of research, as well as monitoring and evaluation.
Prior to joining AWDF as the Capacity Building Specialist, she was the Gender Expert for SMEC International Pty Ltd, a Progrmme Management Consultant for the Ghana Power Compact II, under the Millennium Development Authority.
Nancy holds a master’s degree in Environment, Development and Policy from the University of Sussex (UK) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrated Development Studies from the University for Development Studies. She has certificates in Gender Mainstreaming from the University of Sussex and a certificate in Project Management from the Project Management Research Institute of Ghana. She also holds a certificate in Gender and Diversity from the Radboud University in the Netherlands.
Nancy is a member of the Ghana Gender and Energy Networking Group.
Joyce Renee Ago Djanie : Programme Officer –Amplify Change
Joyce started her career at the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) as a volunteer and later became a staff working as a Project Officer for the Accra Young and Wise Centre. She recently worked with the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development as a Consultant on the World Bank funded Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GSOP). She has also served on the UNFPA Global Youth Advisory Panel, National HIV Anti-Stigma Taskforce, PPAG National Governing Council and the Board of Purim Youth Development Platform (PAYAD).
She holds a Master of Arts Degree in International Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Ghana. She also holds a certificate in Project Management / Procurement and Financial Management from the Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) and a certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). She is an alumnus of the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI); International Programme for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) by Carlton University and the Ghanaian Women Social Leadership Programme by New York University.
In her free time, Joyce writes and directs original plays on socio-religious themes for audiences of diverse backgrounds. Some of her recent pieces are Crack in the Pulpit: When the Women Decided to Form Their Own Church; God Loves the Fishermen and Melodies from Our Family Well.