Catherine Chinedum Aniagolu-Okoye—known as ChiChi—is the regional director in the foundation’s office for West Africa. She oversees all of the foundation's grantmaking in the region and leads the team to promote human rights, democracy and social inclusion in West Africa.
She has over 20 years of experience leading a variety of country offices in Nigeria for a range of international development organizations. In this capacity, she has devised strategies, led offices, managed diverse sets of staff, and engaged within regional and global organizational settings. Her work has covered a variety of topics from improving governance and reducing poverty to advancing transparency in the extractives sector and furthering women and girls’ empowerment through engagement with civil society as well as the public and private sectors.
Prior to Ford, ChiChi was country director of Technoserve, an international NGO that provides business solutions to poverty with women at the heart of the work. Before this role, she was country director for WaterAid in Nigeria, where she provided grants to CSOs to advocate for improved access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services and strengthened civil society networks, including one focused on journalists dedicated to telling WASH stories. Prior she led Girl The effect, an initiative of the Nike Foundation, focused on girls’ empowerment, and served as country director for Oxfam/Nigeria. As Oxfam country director, she led strategies focused on reducing inequalities through initiatives on tax and gender justice, including the VOICE program that addressed gender violence and an effort focused on transparency in the extractives sector.
Earlier in her career for five years, ChiChi was deputy program director of a European Union project focused on reforming public sector institution service delivery through more efficient and effective management of public finances, budget reform and accountability in six Nigerian states—through engagement with civil society networks. For six years, she was also West Africa director for ASHOKA Innovators for the Public—with a focus on advancing social entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire, and Mali.
ChiChi has a Ph.D. in sociology specializing in gender and development from University College Cork, Ireland, and BSc in sociology/anthropology from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She is a founder of the South Saharan Social Development Organization; a board member of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre; and Africa Policy Advisory board member of The One Campaign.