Paula Kahumbu, CEO
Paula Kahumbu received her PhD in Ecology from Princeton University where she studied elephants in coastal Kenya. She is one of Africa’s best known wildlife conservationists. She is the CEO of WildlifeDirect and brainchild of the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign with Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya. The campaign is widely recognized for its singular successes in advocacy and the engagement of the people of Kenya to support the protection of elephants. At a popular level this never has been experienced before in Kenya or any other elephant range state. Paula is the winner of the Whitley Award 2014, National Geographic Howard Buffet Award for conservation leadership in Africa in 2010 and is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She received a special commendation at the United Nations Person of the Year celebrations for her critical role in creating awareness and mobilizing action around the crisis facing elephants in Kenya. She is recognized as a Kenyan conservation ambassador by Brand Kenya and in 2015 received the presidential award and title of Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW).
Jim Karani, Legal Affairs Manager
Jim Karani is the current Legal Affairs Manager at WildlifeDirect (Kenya). He advises on Environmental Law, Animal Law and Criminal Law. He is also Africa’s first animal law attorney specializing in Wildlife Law with an advanced Master’s Degree from Northwestern University – Lewis and Clark Law School, in Portland, OR. Jim is also an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya.
Trish Sewe, Communications Manager
Trish Sewe joined WildlifeDirect in April 2016 as the new Communications Manager. Trish has over ten years of experience in the communications and development sector, and has an Masters degree in International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Sociology from the University of Nairobi. Prior to joining WildlifeDirect, she worked with various nonprofit organizations at the grassroots, national and international levels. Trish is a self-motivated individual with a ‘can do’ approach and is passionate about empowering people with knowledge and skills that allow them to make informed choices.
Joy Omulupi, Operations, Education & Outreach Coordinator
Joy Omulupi joined the organization in May 2007 and is considered the longest serving employee. She is responsible for handling all office management including purchasing, logistics and bookkeeping and is the ‘go to’ person in the office. Prior to joining WildlifeDirect, she worked at GTZ International Services, Coca-Cola Africa and International Rescue Committee both in Nairobi and Kigoma, Tanzania. She loves wildlife and nature and is slowly nurturing a secret passion for photography that she didn’t know she had.
Vincent Ontita, Education and Outreach Assistant
Vincent Ontita is a Kenyan-based wildlife activist and a travel consultant. Vincent started off his journey at WildlifeDirect as a volunteer in 2014 and then as an intern in 2015; now he is working with WildlifeDirect as Education and Outreach Assistant. Vincent enjoys engaging others in WildlifeDirect projects, from community work to arranging field trips for young people. His biggest hobbies are travel, the environment and spending time with wildlife.
Leslie Olonyi, Legal Affairs Assistant
Leslie comes from a legal background and joined WildlifeDirect as the Legal Affairs Assistant in October 2015. His work has enabled him merge two things he’s passionate about: conservation of the environment and law. He has previous work experience in the areas of commercial law, human rights and electoral law, among others. Leslie is also a registered Arbitrator and Mediator and intends to apply those skills to resolve community, wildlife and environmental disputes.
Ken Gitau, Communications Assistant
Ken Gitau joined WildlifeDirect in 2014 as a Volunteer Illustrator, and he later joined WildlifeDirect in June 2016 as a Communications Intern. Ken creates cartoon illustrations for WildlifeDirect’s children books, short videos and some design work for campaign posters. Ken became interested in Wildlife conservation after hearing WildlifeDirect CEO, Paula Kahumu, discuss the plight of African elephants on the radio.
Kristina Lederer, Executive Director
Kristina brings a decade of domestic and international experience in nonprofits, project management and resource development, including over three years specifically working with international development organizations in East and Southern Africa. Most recently, Kristina served as the Director of Development and Communications at Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa (AGE Africa), where she managed their institutional fundraising strategy and sustainable revenue development, prospect research and grant proposals, and developed effective marketing and communications strategies and materials. Prior to AGE Africa, Kristina led the fundraising operations for a startup NGO, Kale Uganda, based in Jinja, Uganda, where she managed their community-based holistic development through income generation, education and microfinance programs.
Kristina’s career has focused on strategy development and sustainable organizational growth to maximize social impact, with attention to the intersections of education, health, rural livelihoods, gender equity and youth empowerment in resource-limited settings. She is a talented relationship manager, a collaborative leader and brings a passion and energy for social justice. She received her BS in Sociology and American Studies, magna cum laude, from Towson University and a MPP with a concentration in Social Policy from Johns Hopkins University.