Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg

Executive Director, RISE, Schmidt Futures


Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg is the Executive Director at RISE, Schmidt Futures.

Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg holds a PhD & Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, a Bachelors in Politics and a Doctorate of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) from Whitman College. 

She serves on the Selection Committee of the Africa Food Prize & is a member of the Malabo Montpellier Panel. She also sits on the Board of Twaweza, East Africa’s largest public and policy engagement platform.

Before joining RISE, Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg worked as the Director of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).

Prior to AWARD, she founded and was Executive Director of Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator that invests in high-achieving young women from under-resourced families, who are passionate about driving change in their communities. Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg was also an assistant professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco & a lecturer in International Relations at the Jesuit Hekima College, a constituent college of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Her academic research and teaching interests centered on African politics, gender, international relations, ethnicity, and democratisation, and the role of technology in social activism.

Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg is a 2018 Tutu Fellow. She has been honored as a Champion of Change by the Obama White House; named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine; recognised as a Ford Foundation Champion of Democracy; awarded a United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award; and named one of Kenya’s Top 40 Women Under Age 40.


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