NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations are pleased to announce the appointment of Ayisha Osori as executive director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), effective September 4.
Osori is a lawyer, development consultant, and communications strategist with 18 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. She has worked with the World Bank, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the National Democratic Institute, and the Department of International Development on a wide range of issues, such as projects on good governance, gender equality, women’s economic and political empowerment, and ending violence against women. A longtime advocate for women’s rights in Nigeria, she serves on the board of directors of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund.
“I can’t wait to get started,” said Osori. “OSIWA has been at the forefront of civil society’s work across West Africa, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help lead its efforts to promote democratic practice, economic advancement, equality, justice, and human rights; and to work with some of the smartest and most committed people in the region and the world.”
A regular commentator on radio and television in the region, Osori wrote a regular column on legal and social issues for such leading Nigerian news outlets as This Day and The Citizen. She is the author of the 2017 book Love Does Not Win Elections, which is about her experiences as a candidate of Nigeria’s Peoples’ Democratic Party in a primary contest for a seat in the country’s National Assembly. She has also written a series of children’s textbooks on social studies used in Nigeria’s primary schools.
A graduate of the University of Lagos and Harvard Law School, Osori is licensed to practice law in Nigeria and New York State. An Eisenhower Fellow, she also holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Osori begins her new role with a deep knowledge of OSIWA, having served as board chair for the past three years. With Osori’s appointment as executive director, Senegalese scholar, author, and OSIWA board member Felwine Sarr takes over as board chair. Board member Mariama Anthony-Williams, an accountant and public financial management advisor from Sierre Leone, becomes vice chair.
“We are honored to have the leadership of the next chapter of OSIWA’s work in Ayisha Osori’s capable hands,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations. “She has already built an impressive legacy of work on a wide variety of issues of concern to Open Society in the region, and she always puts the advancement of women’s rights at the fore. I look forward to partnering with her to advance our work and our values throughout West Africa.”
OSIWA works in 10 countries throughout the region: Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Senegal. Among other areas of concern, OSIWA has helped to develop civil society’s capacity, improve transparency and public service delivery, and promote good governance. For more on the foundation’s mission and accomplishments, visit www.osiwa.org.