Kennedy Odede, renowned community organizer, social entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities, joined the Americares board in 2022.
Raised in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Kenya, Mr. Odede experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty. Determined to make a difference in his community, Mr. Odede saved money from working at a factory to purchase a soccer ball, which led to the founding of Shining Hope for Communities, a grassroots movement that catalyzes large-scale transformation in urban slums by providing critical services for all, community advocacy platforms and education and leadership development for women and girls. Today, the organization reaches over 2.4 million people across 32 urban and rural slum areas in Kenya.
Mr. Odede has been lauded for his steadfast commitment to international development and has received numerous awards honoring his organization’s achievements, including the 2022 Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship Innovator of the Year Award, the prestigious UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour and the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. He was named to Forbes 2014 “30 Under 30” Top Social Entrepreneurs list and received the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award that same year. Mr. Odede is also a Clinton Global Initiative member, Obama Foundation Fellow, Aspen New Voices Fellow, UBS Global Visionary, Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council.
Mr. Odede speaks six languages, and without prior formal education, he received a full scholarship to attend Wesleyan University, becoming one of Kibera’s first to receive an education at an American liberal arts institution. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wesleyan and represented his class as the 2012 commencement speaker. He went on to serve on Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2017.
He is also a New York Times best-selling co-author of the book “Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in African Slum,” which he wrote with his wife and business partner, Jessica Posner.