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USF Champion of Change at the White House


Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg (third from left), USF assistant professor of politics, is honored at the White House as a Champion of Change.

The University of San Francisco’s Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, assistant professor of politics, has been honored by the White House as one of its Champions of Change — part of President Barack Obama’s Winning the Future initiative.

A native of Kenya, Kamau-Rutenberg was honored on Jan. 30 (video) as one of 14 Champions of Change who are leaders in American diaspora communities with roots in the Horn of Africa. 

“These men and women are American leaders we want to celebrate,” said Denis McDonough, deputy national security advisor. “We commend the innovative practices, achievements, and leadership these change makers bring not only to their communities around this country – but also to the development of and diplomacy with their countries of origin.”

Kamau-Rutenberg is the founder and executive director of the international nonprofit Akili Dada, a leadership incubator that pairs prominent female Kenyan businesswomen, politicians, educators, and activists with underprivileged high school women as mentors and provides the high school women with scholarships to stay in school. 

Previously honored by the United Nations for her work with Akili Dada, and the recipient of the Foundations for Change Thomas I. Yamashita Prize and the African International Achievers Award, Kamau-Rutenberg was selected as a Champion of Change because of her passion for promoting a synergy between rigorous academic analysis and social entrepreneurship, the White House said.

“This honor from the White House and State Department is a wonderful endorsement of Akili Dada's social-change work,” Kamau-Rutenberg said. “It also provides a platform from which Akili Dada can spread the message about our work. I can only hope that this recognition will lead to increased donations, which we desperately need to continue this vital work.”

by Ed Carpenter | Office of Communications and Marketing »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews