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Kenya Presidential Debates

Kenya Debates
P.O. Box 2805
Washington, DC  20002
Tel: 202.754.3488

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Kenya Debates

Management Team

Francis Wang'endo: Publicity Manager

Francis Wang'endo is currently a professor at Howard University, Washington DC, USA. He holds a Masters degree in Linguistics from Ohio University, Athens, USA. He also holds a Bachelors degree in Education from Kenyatta University, Kenya. Prior to taking up a scholarship to pursue post-graduate studies in the USA, he worked as a journalist - both as reporter and as sub-editor for 8 years at The Nation Media Group, East Africa's largest media house in Nairobi, Kenya. During that stint, he covered both the Constitutional Referendum Debates at The Bomas of Kenya and also The Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry.

He served as a parliamentary reporter for 4 years and gained extensive experience interviewing Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and their Assistants. As part of his role in investigative journalism, he witnessed first-hand the vagaries of ethnic clashes during the general elections 2002 at Narok South where he covered a flare-up in which 100 Maasai manyattas were razed to the ground and their owners driven into the Maasai Mara National Park. He also wrote a newspaper column that ran continuously for 5 years.

Before switching careers from education into journalism, he taught high school in Kenya for 10 years. It was during that time, while serving as House-Master and patron of 5 boys' clubs at Starehe Boys Center, that he was selected to undertake a course in School Administration at Wellington College in The United Kingdom. Francis Wang'endo This further helped to hone out his interpersonal skills.

His other training includes Drama in Education. He wrote, directed and produced a solo verse which reached National level and won him a certificate of merit and cash token. He also holds a Diploma in Outdoor Skills from the American-run National Outdoor Leadership School. He has also offered consultation services for UNHCR, Microsoft Corp, Action-Aid Kenya, Transparency International, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Clarion International, Centre for Governance and Development (Kenya), Inter-Region Economic Network (Kenya), The Defense Language Institute (California, USA) and The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (VA, USA).

Regina Njogu: Legal Advisor

Regina Njogu

Ms. Regina Njogu is the principal at RNW Law Firm LLC, a general practice law firm based in Silver Spring Maryland. She graduated with a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Nairobi, a diploma in legal practice from the Kenya School of Law, and a Master of Laws degree from the American University in Washington DC. She is currently admitted to practice in the states of Maryland and New York.

Ms. Njogu is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Outside her law practice, Ms. Njogu participates in many community initiatives aimed at promoting the rule of law, greater democratization, civic and civil rights, social justice, and other initiatives aimed at improving people's lives. She is particularly involved in the integrity and success of the electoral system in Kenya. In this respect, she advocates for an issue-driven election and prevention of ethnic polarization in the electoral process, activities, and exercise.

Other projects to which Ms. Njogu is lending her expertise and time include the area of dual citizenship for Kenyans and realization of the right to vote by Diaspora Kenyans.

Benjamin Machar:
Political Advisor - Research and Policy

Benjamin A. Machar is from South Sudan. He is currently a political science PhD graduate student at Howard University in Washington, DC, studying international relations and comparative politics with an in-depth focus on Africa & Middle East. His special focus is on the sub-regions of Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes Region, which comprise of the Sudan (North-South), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. Ben is also studying the construction of socio-biological, ethno-racial, ethno-lingual, and ethno-religious identities in pluralistic nation-state; and democracy & the developmental state in Africa; nationalism, secessionism & irredentism politics in Africa & Middle East; regional integration (the East African Community); the regionalization and globalization of the African national and local affairs such as the Zimbabwean land, the Tunisian revolution, and the Somalis piracy to become global crises; and the role of the African customary law in shaping the contemporary African constitutional reform debate. Another research area includes the emerging of political Islam and sharia law in North Africa, Northern Nigeria, Northern Sudan and Somalia, among other nation-states.

Ben is a consultant with the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) on socioeconomic, sociopolitical, state capacity building and foreign policy issues. He has participated in the Benjamin Machar 2011 GoSS Comprehensive Evaluation which was commissioned by President Kiir from June 1st, 2011 to August 10th, 2011 to 2011 to August 10th, 2011 to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency performance of the government and its institutions at all levels in delivering of the most needed peace dividends to South Sudanese between 2006 and 2010.

With his political savvy and experience in research, political consultancy and policy analysis, Ben brings to the team enormous brain power necessary in bridging the gap between poor political discourse and Kenya Debates' envisioned issue-driven, ideology-centered political discourse that will set the foundation for a mature and unique brand of politics in Kenya.

Margaretta wa Gacheru, Ph.D (nee Swigert):
Civil Societies Coordinator

Margaretta was born and raised outside Chicago, in Evanston, Illinois, USA; but she feels as if she was 'born again' in Kenya after receiving a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to study at University of Nairobi where she received a Masters degree in Literature under the tutelage of Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Micere Mugo. She was a member of UoN's Free Traveling Theatre and also acted in the premiere performance of Ngugi and Micere's co-authored script, The Trial of Dedan Kimathi.

Immediately thereafter, Margaretta went to work in the Kenya media, writing about everything from Kenyan theatre and visual arts to democratization, women and economic development. She wrote for The Nairobi Times, Weekly Review, Kenya Times, Men Only, The Daily Nation, and The East African. She was also the editor-in-chief of Women's World Banking/Africa News, a quarterly publication advocating the first micro-credit programs for small-scale African business women. During Kenya's so-called Second Liberation, she wrote extensively about Kenyan women's role in the democratization process and produced a series of profiles on women political activists for the National Commission on the Status of Women that featured in The Daily Nation in the early 1990s.

Returning to the US for family reasons in 2000, Margaretta got masters degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University and in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago. She went on to obtain her doctorate in Sociology from Loyola, Margaretta wa Gacheru writing her dissertation on 'Globalizing Kenyan Culture: Jua Kali and the Transformation of Kenyan Contemporary Art: 1960-2010.' She has taught classes in Media studies and Globalization at Loyola and at Chicago's City Colleges.

Throughout the new millennium, Margaretta has been back and forth to Kenya, writing about issues related to Kenya's performing arts and visual culture. Today, she continues to write both for The Daily Nation and The Nairobi Star.

Margaretta also has a bachelor's degree from DePauw University in comparative religion and a masters in education from National Louis University. Her son Migwi currently lives and works in the US.

Ashford Mbaabu:
Resource Development Advisor

Ashford Mbaabu Njogu is the Senior Program Officer at American Councils for International Education (ACIE) in Washington D.C. HeĀ holds a Masters degree in Community Development planning from the University of Queensland, Australia and a Bachelor of Education degree from Kenyatta University, Kenya. He coordinates summer and year-long language and cultural immersion programs for American college students to Africa and brings junior faculty from African Universities to US for training. He works closely with both US and African partner Universities to coordinate program activities. Among the universities he works with are; Indiana University, University of Florida, University of Zululand (South Africa), University of Ibadan (Nigeria), The State University of Zanzibar (Tanzania) and Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique.

Prior to joining American Councils for International Education in 2009, he was a lecturer at the University of Kansas in the Department of African and African-American Studies. In 2004 he taught for a short stint at the Institute of Modern Languages (IML), in Australia while completing his graduate

studies in Australia while completing his graduate studies

He has also consulted for various organizations such as American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) based in New York, Ashford Mbaabu Njogu National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) in Maryland and Avant Assessment in Oregon among many others.

In Kenya, Ashford taught for seven years at Kangaru and Muthingiini high schools and was an examiner for the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC)

Ashford attends various forums in the Washington DC area that focus on good governance and like many other Kenyans with deep love of their country; he is keen to see Kenya transition into a society where laws are respected and the people who are elected to positions of leadership conduct the affairs of the country with integrity.

Mkawasi Mcharo Hall: Project Director

Mkawasi Mcharo Hall is a Kenyan living in the US. She has been a leadership and conflict resolution trainer in New York high schools, working with theMkawasi Mcharo HallLeadership Program. She also worked as the Coordinator of the Washington Peace Center, challenging politically sensitive issues such as war decisions, war budgets and the death penalty.

She served as a campaign manager for a Montgomery County candidate, successfully putting the candidate in office and gaining invaluable experience in elevating issues on political platforms.

Mkawasi is one of the founders of SpotBeam whose goal is to inspire innovation and creativity in Kenya's students, equip rural schools in Kenya with video-conferencing technology, and to end the churning of a failure generation in Kenya stemming from straitjacket academia that does not recognize individual talent and genius.

She is a playwright and director with her US-based company, Balozi Productions.

Mkawasi majored in Literature at the University of Nairobi, acquired her Masters in Theatre Arts from Hunter College

in New York, studied Performing Arts administration at La Guardia Performing Arts Center, and was a Directing Fellow at Arena Stage in Washington, DC.She has taught at John Robert Powers School and Southeastern University (now Washington DC Graduate School).

Mkawasi has been actively engaged in diaspora affairs since 2000 when she became a member of the Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA), served as an executive member at‑large, as vice president, and eventually as KCA's first female president between 2006-2008. She currently serves on KCA's Interim Board of Trustees. During her term as KCA president, Mkawasi started the STOP Campaign against child molestation, an initiative that fundraised for the protection of Kenya's vulnerable children, treatment of survivors of child molestation, and supported the prosecution of pedophiles. She also initiated the exploration of a KCA think tank, networked with key policy-makers with an aim at establishing a diaspora footprint in Washington's policy corridors. She continues building relationships in DC for the diaspora.

Mkawasi was the Americas diaspora representative in the 2011 16th Biennial Ambassadors and High Commissioners Conference in Mombasa.

As a concerned citizen with loved ones in Kenya whose lives are directly impacted by the quality of our politics, Mkawasi's drive is to rally the diaspora to build the Kenya Debates Institute that will see to the establishment of mature and issue-driven political discourse.

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