Following consultations with the Executive Board of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 3 October 2017 the appointment of Natalia Kanem of Panama as the Fund’s new Executive Director.
Dr. Kanem succeeds the late Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin of Nigeria. A champion of a life with dignity for all, Dr. Osotimehin was admired globally for his leadership of UNFPA and for his immense and invaluable advocacy for the world’s women and girls.
Dr. Kanem currently serves as Acting Executive Director of UNFPA, prior to which she was Deputy Executive Director (Programme), and earlier UNFPA Representative in the United Republic of Tanzania from 2014 to 2016. She brings to the position more than three decades of strategic leadership and management in the fields of medicine, public health, international peace and development, human rights and social justice. She brought to those positions her expertise in direct programme implementation, mission advocacy and in building strong local, national, international and donor-partner alliances.
Before joining the United Nations, Dr. Kanem was Senior Associate at the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago from 2012 to 2013. From 2005 to 2011, she was the founding President of ELMA Philanthropies Services, a private institution focusing primarily on children and youth in Africa.
She served The Ford Foundation from 1992 to 2005 in various capacities, including: Deputy Vice-President and Senior Director of the Peace and Social Justice Programme; Senior Director of the Office of Management Services; Representative for West Africa (based in Lagos and Dakar); and Programme Officer in the Nigeria Office for Women’s Reproductive Health and Sexuality.
Dr. Kanem began her career at the Johns Hopkins and Columbia University schools of medicine and public health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Science from Harvard University; Doctor of Medicine from Columbia University; Certification in Tropical Medicine from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research; and Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Washington.