The Ford Foundation today announced the appointment of Achmat Dangor as head of its office for Southern Africa, which is based in Johannesburg and serves South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Dangor is a globally renowned leader for social justice who as a writer, poet and advocate for human dignity has lent a strong voice to the cause of freedom. He is currently the CEO of Nelson Mandela Foundation, extending Mandela’s vision and legacy through the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and its focus on dialogues for justice.

Highly respected as a problem-solver and human rights advocate, Dangor has worked in various sectors in South Africa, including as the founding executive director of the Kagiso Trust, leadership of the Secretariat of the Drought Forum, and time spent as a senior executive for Revlon Inc.’s South African subsidiary. At the Kagiso Trust he worked alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other political and church leaders to establish the largest black-led foundation in South Africa.

“Given the incredible accomplishments of Achmat, we are honored to have his leadership at the Ford Foundation as a champion for democracy and freedom,” said Ford Foundation president Luis A. Ubiñas. “As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our office in Johannesburg alongside South Africa’s own 20th anniversary as a democracy, Achmat is the perfect leader to help the foundation envision its next generation of work in support of democracy and justice in the country.”

Prior to joining the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2007, Dangor was director of advocacy, communications and leadership at UNAIDS. Prior to that he was interim director of the World AIDS Campaign and chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Dangor has published five works of fiction and poetry, including “Kafka’s Curse” and “Bitter Fruit,” which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize for fiction. His work has been translated into five languages and was brought to the US in 1999 by Random House.

“I am deeply honored to lead the Ford Foundation’s work and to continue the strong legacy in the region working to promote rights and equality,” Dangor said. “I look forward to advancing the case for justice and inclusion throughout the region on issues driven by visionary leadership committed to social change.”

For nearly 60 years the Ford Foundation has worked in the South African region to promote justice and strengthen democracy. The foundation is working on initiatives to build sustainable livelihoods and economic opportunities, advance social and economic rights and address the HIV epidemic. By supporting efforts to strengthen transparency and accountability in governance, the foundation engages civil society organizations to advocate on behalf of the marginalized and underrepresented.

Dangor will begin his new position in July 2013. He was selected after a broad international search.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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