The Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation operates with a mission to catalyze Africa’s Economic Transformation through various avenues, including social entrepreneurship, science and technology, innovation, public health, and progressive policies that foster economic opportunities for all. It is a non-profit organization with several departments, including the Nkafu Policy Institute, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center, and the Sustainable Development Programs.
The Nkafu Policy Institute, a prominent African think tank, is dedicated to the mission of providing independent, in-depth, and insightful policy recommendations that facilitate the prosperity of all Africans within free, fair, democratic, and sustainable economies. The Institute convenes leading analysts, experts, and contributors from around the world, specializing in the fields of governance and democracy, health and education, peace and security, science and technology, and economic policy. Its reputation is built on the values of independence, rigor, and innovation.
In pursuit of its objectives, the Nkafu Policy Institute is currently seeking a highly motivated and passionate leader to join its team as Executive Director. This position directly reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation and involves full-time on-site work at the Nkafu Policy Institute in Yaoundé.
The Role of the Executive Director
With the support of the Chief Executive Officer and the Board, the Executive Director provides direction for all aspects of the institute, setting a forward-looking agenda for advancing the Institute’s mission. This leader will be expected to exercise discretion and judgment regarding the administration of all internal Nkafu operations as well as the management of key external relationships. The Executive Director should be able to articulate the Institute’s mission and vision to all stakeholders, communicate Nkafu’s research results effectively to the scientific community and policy makers, secure funding for Nkafu’s operations and growth, and ensure the overall programmatic and fiscal integrity of the institute.
The Executive Director is expected to engage the Foundation’s Board, team members, and financial sponsors in the regular assessment of organizational goals and priorities. They oversee the development of a five-year strategic plan and monitor progress towards successful implementation.
Internally, the Executive Director guides and motivates Nkafu’s leadership team, consisting of four directors, as well as Nkafu’s research and programs team members. Through regular evaluation and appropriate training, this leader encourages team members’ growth and cultivates a team ethos that mirrors the organization’s commitment to quality, credibility, and impact. The Executive Director ensures that Nkafu adheres to all professional and quality standards and legal requirements, including those related to sponsored research funding and the policy research and review process.
The Executive Director maintains clear communication channels with the CEO, Nkafu team members, financial sponsors, and community partners, among other stakeholders, and participates in the communication of Nkafu’s findings to a wide range of public and private audiences.
As the fiscal manager for Nkafu, the Executive Director develops and administers the institute’s operating budget and ensures proper management of all institutional funds. To this end, the Executive Director establishes and fosters productive external relationships with private and public funding agencies that support Nkafu’s research initiatives. To ensure continued success of Nkafu’s funding model, this leader should sustain productive relationships with current funders while exploring other areas for programmatic growth. The Executive Director, along with senior division leaders, solicits funding through strategic grant-writing and by cultivating relationships with individuals, corporations, philanthropies, and other potential sponsors aligned with Nkafu’s mission.
Opportunities and Challenges for the Executive Director
The Executive Director will conceive and implement creative strategies to promote Nkafu’s mission and enhance its visibility nationally, regionally, and continentally. In addition, Nkafu’s next leader will be prepared to address the following opportunities and challenges:
Defining and guiding Nkafu’s next chapter through the creation of a strategic plan.
This plan should address the Institute’s most pressing internal needs and external focus areas, considering both an evolving political landscape and new opportunities for increased and widespread impact. While Nkafu has made significant contributions to advance public policies, there is more work to be done. Nkafu celebrates a well-earned and regarded status as one of the leading think tanks in the region but there is more room for growth and scaling policy impact. It will be the responsibility of the next Executive Director to keep up the momentum and ensure the Institute’s priorities are reflected in the next strategic plan.
As new research opportunities, community partnerships, and policy questions emerge, the Executive Director will work with the CEO, team members, partners, and sponsors to identify the highest priorities. They will be responsible for the development of a 5-year strategic plan and will approach this work with an open mind, flexibility, and the creativity to envision, plan, and realize new possibilities for Nkafu.
Leading a diverse and experienced team, maintaining cohesion, and encouraging mentorship.
Nkafu’s talented and dedicated team members look to the Executive Director as a thought leader who inspires and empowers the team to support the Institute’s important mission. The Executive Director must be actively engaged in listening to and guiding the team members’ collective passion and commitment and foster formal and informal mentorship structures to empower each member of the Nkafu team.
The Executive Director will foster a collegial and supportive working environment that invests in the professional development of each team member and provides opportunities for training, mentorship, growth, and recognition. In the current working environment that is both in-person and virtual, the Executive Director will need to lead by example by being a strong in-person presence, paying extra attention to ensuring that team members feel included and connected.
Sustaining Nkafu’s vital public and private sponsorships while securing additional revenue streams.
Nkafu’s steady support from funders enables its ability to provide credible and timely policy prescriptions to policymakers and other key stakeholders. The Executive Director will maintain and build upon these important relationships by taking the time to understand fully the goals, needs, and expectations of its sponsors, donors, and the broader stakeholder community. Nkafu’s next leader must be capable of creatively managing within a complex financial structure in which funds may be constrained by donor policies.
In addition, the Executive Director will anticipate funding shifts related to fiscal cycles, regulatory and policy processes, and evolving funding priorities. The Executive Director will navigate a diverse set of funding environments and will be entrepreneurial in building bridges with potential new funders. Guided by Nkafu’s mission and values, this leader will recognize and assess risks in seeking additional funding, anchoring Nkafu to its core objectives while advancing the organization’s priorities.
Communicating effectively and nurturing relationships with external constituencies.
Fundamental to Nkafu’s success is the management of its relationships with critical external parties. The Executive Director will nurture relationships with policymakers, advocates, and community partners and include team members in these external-facing opportunities where appropriate. With an understanding of how applied research informs policy actions, this leader will spend a great deal of time navigating relationships with a variety of public and private sector constituents, communicating regularly with Nkafu sponsors, the media, community leaders, and other stakeholders. The Executive Director must articulate Nkafu’s mission and goals in a compelling fashion to donors and policymakers to ensure Nkafu’s continued funding and potential for impact.
Experience and Qualifications
While no one person will embody all desired characteristics, the successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications and attributes:
- A doctoral degree (PhD, ScD, MD, MBSS) or equivalent combination of training and experience in public policy, public management, economics, public health, social sciences, or any related field.
- Significant expertise and experience in policy development and practice. Expertise in organizational development, strategic planning, and management.
- Bilingual proficiency in English and French.
- A creative thinker able to set the strategic vision for an organization that involves many fields.
- A tested leader, communicator, and fundraiser.
Ability to provide decisive leadership while receiving insight and advice from diverse stakeholders.
- Capacity to advocate for Nkafu and promote its mission and objectives to various constituencies.
- Experience and an understanding of the responsibility of institutional fundraising and grantsmanship, along with a creative understanding of how to access and use various funding sources.
- Financial acumen and evidence of fiscal leadership in setting budgets and priorities as well as assessing organizational risk.
- Management skills to inspire and motivate team members, instill trust, and lead change.
- The ability to grasp the meaning of and communicate research findings to diverse audiences.
Potential interview dates for this position have been outlined as follows:
- Paper presentation of qualified candidates to Search Committee: October 12, 2023.
- Round One interview dates (online): October 18 and 19, 2023.
- Round Two interview date for finalists: November 3, 2023.
Selected candidates should plan to hold the above dates in the event they are invited by the committee to participate in the interview process.
How to Apply
Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until October 10, 2023.
All applications must be submitted ONLINE using the Application Portal. To complete an application, candidates will need:
- A one-page cover letter (letter of interest) indicating why they are the best fit for the position (in PDF).
- A curriculum vitae/Resume (in PDF).
- A professional photo.
The deadline for applications is October 10, 2023, at 23:59 (Cameroon time).