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Shem Ochola appointed as Deputy Director-General

Mr. Ochola will lead on programmatic and grant-making priorities as the Foundation’s eleventh Deputy Director-General.

Posted on 28/11/2019
By Commonwealth Foundation

Following a rigorous selection process and approval from its Member States, Shem Ochola will become the new Deputy Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation. Mr Ochola will assume the role in January 2020 at the Foundation’s headquarters in Marlborough House.

As the Commonwealth’s agency for civil society, the Foundation provides £2 million worth of funding and capacity development support each year to help civil society organisations work with governments towards the achievement of critical development goals. Its 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.

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

Mr. 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.

He later joined ActionAid Kenya as Head of Governance, where from 2006 to 2008, he played a significant role in establishing the Movement for Political Accountability (MOPA), a citizen-led coalition aimed at empowering Kenyans to hold their public leadership to account. During the 2007-2008 Kenyan crisis, he served as a technical committee member to the Kenyan Cabinet Sub-Committee on the National Accord, which developed a strategy for national reconciliation and social and economic recovery.

His 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. His current appointment, until he joins the Foundation in January, is Head of Network Development and Coordination at HelpAge International, where he leads the Africa global hub in network development, advocacy, campaigns, and communications.

On news of his appointment, Shem Ochola said:

‘I am honoured to be appointed as Deputy Director-General. The Foundation plays a unique role within the Commonwealth system as a facilitator of collaboration between civil society and governments.

‘I look forward to supporting the growth of a vigilant and strong civil society able to constructively engage and positively influence governments to develop progressive policies, laws, and institutions that improve people’s lives.’

For more information

For further information, please contact Leo Kiss on l.kiss@commonwealth.int. Photos available on request.

About the Commonwealth Foundation

The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organisation established by Heads of Government to support people’s participation in democracy and development. It is the Commonwealth agency for civil society; a unique, stand-alone organisation established by, funded by, and reporting to governments.


  • The Commonwealth Foundation is one of the Commonwealth’s three intergovernmental agencies alongside the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth of Learning
  • Annual priorities of the Commonwealth Foundation are determined by a Board of Governors, comprising representatives of all its Member States, civil society representatives, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General. The Chair of the Board is a distinguished private citizen of a Commonwealth country appointed by Heads of Government
  • The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual competition which is free to enter for Commonwealth citizens.