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NEF Team

Thierry Zomahoun, Founder and Chairman  

Thierry Zomahoun is the President and CEO of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Next Einstein Initiative and Founder and Chairman of the Next Einstein Forum. Thierry is a global development expert with a successful 22-year track record in educational and scientific programmes administration, not-for-profit business start-ups, and growth and microenterprise development in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Under Thierry’s leadership, AIMS – Africa’s first network of centers of excellence in mathematical sciences founded in 2003 – has won international acclaim for its scientific model for independent thinking, problem-solving and widely applicable mathematical solutions to development fields of greatest relevance to Africa and the rest of the world.

Thierry earned a Master’s of Business Administration from McGill Desautels Faculty of Management, a Master’s Degree in development studies from the University of Geneva and a Master’s Degree from the National University of Benin.


Dr. Youssef Travaly – Vice President of Science, Innovation and Partnerships

Dr. Youssef Travaly (PhD, MBA) is the Next Einstein Forum Vice-President of Science Innovation & Institutional Partnerships. He is in charge of articulating the NEF’s scientific and technological ambitions including managing the policy aspects and Global Gathering program. He is also responsible for developing and sustaining relationships with multiple partner institutions and stakeholders, resource mobilization, donor relationship as well as driving innovation across the entire AIMS network. Youssef holds an MBA together with a PhD in Materials Science. He has extensive experience in a variety of sectors including semiconductor and biomedical research, low carbon circular economy and climate change.

He was also the chair and co-chair of several international scientific committees and has in-depth experience in managing national, regional and transcontinental initiatives of strategic importance, with multiple stakeholders in a variety of sectors. Before joining NEF, he was managing a multi-country European project on carbon capture and utilization.


Nathalie Munyampenda – Managing Director

Nathalie Munyampenda is the NEF’s Managing Director. She ensures the smooth implementation of the NEF impact work plan and provides day to day leadership of the NEF team. Nathalie also manages donor relations and resource mobilization, and leads the NEF’s communications and public engagement efforts.

Prior to joining the NEF, Nathalie worked in the Canadian public service and international social media consulting before working to build the Government of Rwanda’s central communication unit as coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesperson. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Strategic Communications from Seton Hall University.


Esther Kunda – Policy, Innovation & Community of Scientists Manager

Esther Kunda is the NEF’s Policy, Innovation and Community of Scientists Manager. She manages the development of the NEF policy initiatives  and works closely with the NEF Community of Scientists on various programs including ensuring a successful NEF Africa Science. She also provides supports Scientific African, the NEF journal. She previously was the  Programs and Operations Coordinator.

Before joining NEF, she was at Intel as Education Support Manager where she supported the Rwandan Ministry of Education to design and pilot the ICT in Education policy. Prior to that she worked in product development for telecommunications company Tigo Rwanda. She has experience in product development, business strategy and innovation. Esther holds a M.SC in IT from Carnegie Mellon University.


Pearl Karungi – Online Community Manager

Pearl is the NEF’s Online Community Manager. She supports the digital and public engagement efforts of the NEF, creating and updating content across NEF digital platforms. She develops and implements an integrated content schedule across NEF platforms. As well, she supports the Scientific African journal, by preparing content and managing the journal’s digital platforms. Pearl brings communication and digital expertise from working at the UN Population Fund, and for private PR firms with corporate clients including MTN. Previously, she has been the NEF Digital Media Coordinator.

Pearl holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Fine Art and Design, majoring in Advertising and Graphics Design from Makerere University, has a certificate in Public Relations from University of Cape Town and a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Mount Kenya University. She is committed to using her education and experience combined with her interest in digital media to drive the NEF’s global digital footprint and public engagement efforts.


Joëlle Rubagenga – Project Officer

Joëlle is the NEF’s Project Officer. She oversees NEF’s procurement and logistics processes, and provides support for NEF’s resource mobilization and funds management. She brings her expertise in administration, logistics, project management and customer service, from Entreprenarium Foundation, where she handled administration procedures, record keeping, logistics and event managements. Joëlle holds a Master’s in International Business and Management from the Catholic Institute of Business Studies (ICHEC) and a Social Entrepreneurship Certificate from Wharton University in Pennsylvania. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship.


Gloria Mutunge – Administrative Officer

Gloria Mutunge is the NEF’s Administrative Officer. She provides support to the Next Einstein Forum and its team members, to ensure smooth and efficient delivery of its ongoing initiatives, and acts as the point of contact for NEF’s key stakeholders and partners, as well as responding to and redirecting inquiries. Gloria holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Studies from Cardiff Metropolitan University. With her interest in community development, she is committed to use her acquired skills from Rwanda’s Business Development Fund (BDF) combined with her educational background, to assist with ongoing NEF’s initiatives.


Sylvie Amani – Consultant

Sylvie is a consultant, helping the NEF to find partners in West Africa. Sylvie is also supporting the opening the next NEF Liaison Office for the sub-region, which will be based in Ivory Coast. Sylvie also supports the team in logistics and supports the NEF Volunteer Program at NEF Global Gatherings.

She holds a professional diploma in protocol technique which allowed her to work for years as a Protocol Officer for several personalities in West Africa and as a result, she has been able to participate in several international events. Sylvie has been a member of the NEF team since 2015.


Kevin Eze – Communications and Public Engagement Manager

Kevin Eze is the NEF’s Communications and Public Engagement Manager. He manages the communications and public engagement efforts at NEF, creating engaging content and using various genres to tell the NEF story. He collaborates with the Managing Director NEF in developing and implementing the NEF communications plan, and manages external communications—including press releases and various communiques.

Prior to joining the NEF, he recently worked for AfricaLead (USAID), CORAF/WECARD and the Centre for Development Initiatives (CEDEI), Dakar, as Regional Communications and Media Manager. An internationally published writer, with degrees in Social Development and Communications, he contributes to the work of NEF using his background and experience in global publications, impact storytelling and advocacy.

Sampson Kofi Adotey – Communications and Policy Intern

Sampson Kofi Adotey is NEF’s Communications and Policy Intern. He plays a key role in the delivery of NEF’s communications function, including preparing press releases, web content, and social media activity. He also plays a key role in the delivery of NEF’s policy function, including researching and preparing consultation responses, and preparing briefing notes for stakeholders.

Prior to joining NEF, Sampson played several roles in Communications, Program Management as well as Development Design and Facilitation. He is an ex-Multimedia Journalist & Radio Show Host and holds a B.A (Hons) in Integrated Development Studies. He also holds a Certificate in Science Communication and Reporting from the United Nations University, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Business Management, and is an alumnus of MIT D-Lab’s IDDS Program where he led a team to work with the Embu County Government of Kenya on facilitating Financial Inclusion through Waste Management. He is also a member of the International Development Innovation Network, a 10 Academy Inaugural Fellow, and a Global Shapers Climate Speaker.