Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg Executive Director, Rise, Schmidt Futures
Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg is the inaugural Executive Director of the Rise program for Schmidt Futures. In this role she is responsible for the design and delivery of the program.
Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg previously served as the Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) which works towards inclusive, agriculture-driven prosperity for the African continent by strengthening the production and dissemination of more gender responsive agricultural research and innovation. Prior to AWARD, Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg founded and served as Executive Director of Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator that invests in high-achieving young women from under-resourced families, who are passionate about driving change in their communities. She was also an assistant professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco where her academic research and teaching interests centered on African politics,gender, international relations, ethnicity, and democratization, and the role of technology in social activism.
She has received recognition for her work, including being honored as a White House Champion of Change by the Obama Administration, named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine,recognized as a Ford Foundation Champion of Democracy, awarded the United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award, and named one of Kenya’s Top 40 Women Under Age 40 and an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Fellow.
Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg holds a PhD and Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelors in Politics and a Doctorate of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) from Whitman College. In addition to her work at AWARD, she serves on the Selection Committee of the Africa Food Prize and is a member of the Malabo-Montpellier Panel, a high-level panel of independent experts supporting African governments and civil society to identify and implement policies that enhance agriculture and food security. She also sits on the Board of Twaweza, East Africa’s largest public and policy engagement platform.