Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro
President and CEO of Global Fund for Women
Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro is an activist for women and girls’ health and human rights, and passionate about using philanthropy and technology to drive social change.
Born in Kenya, Musimbi traces her passion for human rights, peace, and justice to her Quaker family and community. She is one of 10 children – every daughter given the same educational opportunities as the sons. “I want the same for every girl and woman, no exceptions,” Musimbi has said.
Musimbi’s early work focused on the self-determination of African peoples and the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. She was a national student leader who quickly took leadership on a wider stage, serving on United Nations and other International and Ecumenical Youth Forums, including an early role as an Executive Secretary for the Lutheran World Federation.
In 1998, Musimbi was appointed general secretary (CEO) of the World YWCA, the first non-white woman to hold the role. She made the organization a go-to organization for young women’s leadership and for HIV prevention and care. She also transformed the World YWCA into a young-women-led organization, with young women under 30 making up 55% of the Global Board of trustees.
Before joining Global Fund for Women as CEO, Musimbi was Director for Population and Reproductive Health at David and Lucile Packard Foundation, managing the $30 million grantmaking portfolio.
During her time at Global Fund for Women, Musimbi has seen the organization surpass $100 million in grantmaking and spearheaded a successful merger with another non-profit. She continues to expand the organization’s influence through her frequent contributions to major media outlets and many speaking engagements in prominent global forums.
Musimbi has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Texas, Austin, and a doctorate in Feminist Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
In 2014, she was named one of the 21 women leaders for the 21st century by Women’s E-News. In 2015, Forbes magazine named her one of 10 women “power brands” working for gender equality.
Musimbi serves on the Aspen Leaders Council, the CARE Board, the UN High Level Taskforce for Reproductive Health, UN Women Civil Society Advisory Board, and on The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)’s Scientific Advisory Board.
Profile courtesy Global Fund for Women.