Kenya’s agriculture leader Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg will deliver the 2017 Whitman College Commencement address this May.
Kamau-Rutenberg is the director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), an organization that invests in African women scientists, research institutions, and the agribusiness sector by supporting the development and upscaling of those agricultural innovations with the potential to bridge the gender gap in African Agriculture.
“I am overwhelmed by the honor to speak at commencement,” said Kamau-Rutenberg. “I am very excited to return ‘home’ to Whitman and to engage our thoughtful and committed community in conversations about the challenges and opportunities that we all-but especially the class of 2017-face as we work to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable world.”
Prior to joining AWARD, Kamau-Rutenberg founded and served as executive director of Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator that provides scholarships and mentors for high-achieving young Kenyan women from under-resourced families who are passionate about driving change in their communities.
“Wanjiru embodies many of the values of our own students,” said Whitman College President Kathleen Murray. “Her career shows that there are endless possibilities for our graduates to positively impact the world.”
Kamau-Rutenberg has received widespread recognition for her work empowering women. She’s been honored as a Champion of Change by the Obama White House, 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.