20.9°C

Meet The Namers

At this year’s virtual Kwita Izina ceremony, 24 baby gorillas that call Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park home were named by conservation partners, friends of Rwanda and special guests.

 

  • Mr. Jes Gruner
    Mr. Jes Gruner
    Chief Executive Officer and Regional Operations Manager, African Parks Network
  • H.E. Nicola Bellomo
    H.E. Nicola Bellomo
    European Union Ambassador to Rwanda
  • Ms. Carina Bauer
    Ms. Carina Bauer
    CEO of IMEX, the Worldwide Exhibitions for Incentive Travel, Meetings and Events
  • Mr. Mark A. Tatum
    Mr. Mark A. Tatum
    Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, National Basketball Association
  • Mr. Itahiwacu Bruce
    Mr. Itahiwacu Bruce
    Rwandan Singer and Songwriter and CEO and Founder of Igitangaza Music Label.
  • Mr. Masai Ujiri
    Mr. Masai Ujiri
    President – Toronto Raptors; Co-Founder – Giants of Africa
  • Mr. Luol Deng
    Mr. Luol Deng
    Retired NBA star, President of the South Sudan Basketball Federation
  • Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
    Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
    CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility
  • Mr. David Yarrow
    Mr. David Yarrow
    Photographer
  • Ms. Alphonsine Niwemugeni
    Ms. Alphonsine Niwemugeni
    Community Health Worker
  • Prof. Beth Kaplin
    Prof. Beth Kaplin
    Director of the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity & Natural Resource Management at University of Rwanda
  • Ms. Jeanne d’Arc Uwamahoro
    Ms. Jeanne d’Arc Uwamahoro
    Youth volunteer
  • Ms. Clementine Uwamahoro
    Ms. Clementine Uwamahoro
    Conservation Technology officer, Akagera National Park
  • Dr. Max Graham
    Dr. Max Graham
    Founder and CEO, Space for Giants
  • Ms. Reeta Roy
    Ms. Reeta Roy
    President and CEO, Mastercard Foundation
  • Mr. Aristide Mugabe
    Mr. Aristide Mugabe
    Captain, Patriots Basketball Club
  • Mr. Antony Lynam
    Mr. Antony Lynam
    Representative of International Congress on Conservation Biology
  • Dr. Senait Fisseha
    Dr. Senait Fisseha
    Director of Global Programs, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation
  • Dr. Deborah Dunham
    Dr. Deborah Dunham
    Chairperson, Gorilla Doctors
  • Mr. Yann Arthus Bertrand
    Mr. Yann Arthus Bertrand
    Environmentalist & Photographer
  • Ángel Di María
    Ángel Di María
    Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
  • Marquinhos
    Marquinhos
    Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
  • Kylian Mbappé
    Kylian Mbappé
    Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
  • Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
    Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
    Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
  • Sergio Ramos
    Sergio Ramos
    Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
  • Bukayo Saka
    Bukayo Saka
    Arsenal Football Club First Team Player
Mr. Jes Gruner
Chief Executive Officer and Regional Operations Manager, African Parks Network

Raised on a farm in Malawi, Jes Gruner has worked in conservation for 20 years. For the past eleven  years he has been working in Rwanda. Ten years were spent in Akagera National Park since the beginning of the public private partnership between African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board in 2010. Jes’s first role in Akagera was as operations manager from early 2010, then moving into the role of Park Manager in 2012 where he remained till the end of 2020. In 2021 he and his family moved to Nyungwe National Park to kick start this project on behalf of African Parks and the RDB. Born in Switzerland he holds both Swiss and Danish nationality, however, Jes was raised in Malawi and studied in the UK where he obtained a BSc in Applied Biology and Animal Science. Jes began his conservation career when he helped to set up a small community game ranch in Salima, Malawi, before joining African Parks at Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi as Operations Manager in 2006. Jes has also undertaken the course in Chemical and Physical Restraint of African Wildlife. He has a wife and three children.

H.E. Nicola Bellomo
European Union Ambassador to Rwanda

Nicola BELLOMO earned a degree in Law from Università degli Studi di Bari, Italy.

Inspired by the European values and ideal, at the age of 23 he started his career in the EU Institution serving in various positions in the Headquarters, including in the private office of two European Commissioners and in the Office of The Director of the EU Humanitarian Office.

He then moved to the Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations, in New York, where he was in charge of Humanitarian and Political Affairs.

Later he has been working on Good Governance and Dialogue between Cultures at the Delegation of the European Commission to Egypt. Subsequently he took up his duties as Head of the Political/Press and Information Section at the Delegation of the European Union to the African Union, in Addis Ababa.

In 2013, he was appointed EU Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland (now Eswatini).

Since 2018 Mr BELLOMO is the EU Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda.

Almost his entire carrier has been dedicated to Africa both at bilateral and multilateral level. Widely considered a truly passionate diplomat and inclusive team-leader, he spares no effort to promote the relations between the EU and Rwanda and the broader continent-to-continent partnership between Africa and the EU.

His strongly believes that development cannot happen in silos thus his strong inclusive approach which brings together the inputs of multiple actors from different strands of society and in particular the youth.

Fully committed to his vocation towards the protection of the environment and biodiversity, Ambassador Bellomo is a “green-fighter”. Together with his wife Claudia, a dedicated environmentalist by profession, he spares no effort to promote conservation and environmental friendly behaviours and to transmit these values to his beloved kids Nicolo’ and Nuri.

Ms. Carina Bauer
CEO of IMEX, the Worldwide Exhibitions for Incentive Travel, Meetings and Events
Mr. Mark A. Tatum
Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, National Basketball Association

Mark Tatum was appointed NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer on Feb. 1, 2014, following unanimous approval by the NBA Board of Governors.

Tatum, who joined the NBA in 1999, is responsible for the NBA’s business operations, including leading the NBA’s international efforts. He also oversees the Global Partnerships, Marketing, Communications and Team Marketing and Business Operations departments in addition to the NBA G League.

Prior to joining the NBA, Tatum worked for Major League Baseball in Corporate Sponsorship and Marketing, the Clorox Company as a Regional Sales Manager, Pepsi- Cola Company in their Sports Marketing department, and Procter & Gamble in sales management.

Tatum sits on numerous boards including USA Basketball, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, General Motors, LA 2028 Summer Olympics, and Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors. He is Chair of the Harvard Business School Club of New York, and a member of the Executive Leadership Council, a national organization that empowers African-American corporate leaders to make impactful contributions.

Tatum received a B.S. in Business Management from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard University.

Mr. Itahiwacu Bruce
Rwandan Singer and Songwriter and CEO and Founder of Igitangaza Music Label.
Mr. Masai Ujiri
President – Toronto Raptors; Co-Founder – Giants of Africa

When his friends and classmates in Nigeria were playing soccer, Masai Ujiri was watching highlights of Hakeem Olajuwon. His love of the game brought him to college in the United States, and when his career on the court was complete, his career off-court began.

He started on the ground as a scout, working for teams traveling the world and searching for talent in gyms all over the globe. Masai was named general manager of the Denver Nuggets in 2011, becoming the first African GM in pro sports, and won the 2013 NBA Executive of the Year award. In Toronto, he has served as director of global scouting and assistant general manager, and in 2013, Masai was named President of the Toronto Raptors, a title he holds to this day.

Under his leadership, the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship, the first team outside the United States to do so.
Masai has said that while he is proud to be the first African team president in North American sports, he would consider it a failure if he was the last: “Being first is good, but I don’t want to be the only one. There have to be more.” Masai’s belief in equity and diversity is reflected in his organization: he has committed to hiring women, and recently creating the position of vice-president of organizational inclusion and diversity.

Masai has served as director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program. He has travelled with the Prime Minister as part of the Canadian delegation to the 2019 African Union meetings. He has been named Toronto’s most influential person, and his urging of citizens to “believe in this city – believe in yourselves” is often cited as a rallying cry. Masai and his wife, Ramatu, live in Toronto with their children.

In 2003, Masai co-founded Giants of Africa, an organization which uses sport as a tool to enrich the lives of youth on the continent, and create opportunities for them on and off the court. Masai’s ethos is to “Dream Big,” and now GOA connects with youth – both boys and girls – in more than 17 African countries and territories.

The summer of 2018 marked 15 years of the organization, and that July, Masai and former U.S. President Barack Obama opened the Giants of Africa court at the Sauti Kuu Foundation Sports, Resource and Vocational Training Centre, in Alego, Kenya. In summer 2022, the inaugural Giants of Africa Festival will bring together 200 youth from 11 countries in Africa to Kigali, Rwanda for a week- long celebration of basketball, education, culture, and entertainment.

In 2020, Masai launched thatshumanity.org, inspired by his experiences and the lessons learned from leaders like Nelson Mandela. “For me,” he says, “it’s about seeing each other. Really seeing. Trying to understand what someone else is going through. And helping if we can. Even if it’s just a kind word. Some encouragement. That’s humanity.”

Mr. Luol Deng
Retired NBA star, President of the South Sudan Basketball Federation

Luol Deng is a former British-South Sudanese professional basketball player. Now retired, Luol enjoyed a 15-season NBA career as a 2-Time NBA All-Star and fourth all time leading scorer for the Chicago Bulls. Luol was celebrated as an elite competitor known for his leadership, defense, and sportsmanship, having also played for the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2012, Luol captained Great Britain’s national team in the London Olympics.

Luol currently serves as President of South Sudan Basketball Federation and Global Ambassador of Basketball Africa League, expanding his resume as an international sportsman and pioneering statesman of African basketball.

Outside of sport, Luol is an active real estate investor, developer and philanthropist. Across the duration of his playing career, Luol demonstrated a lifelong commitment to humanitarian aid and social impact through sport, with the Luol Deng Foundation as his vehicle for change. Founded in 2005, LDF is a multi regional social change organization with programs and projects in the UK, US, and South Sudan.

Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility

Lawyer by profession, politician by choice, and conservationist at heart, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez was elected as CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility by its governing body, the GEF Council, in June 2020.

The former Costa Rican Environment and Energy Minister was a pioneer in the development of Payment for Ecosystem Services initiatives and strategies for forest restoration, ocean conservation, and de-carbonization, and is an internationally recognized expert on environmental policy, multilateral environmental negotiations, and financing for nature conservation. During his three terms as Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica doubled the size of its forests, made its electric sector 100 percent clean and renewable, and consolidated a National Park System that has positioned the Central American country as a prime ecotourism destination.

Rodriguez has held various technical and political positions over the past 30 years. In the early 1990s, he worked as Director of Costa Rica’s National Parks Service and is also founder and board member of many environmental NGOs and tropical research institutes. Since the 1992 UN Sustainable Development Summit in Rio, he has participated in all multilateral environmental negotiations, as an expert negotiator in UNFCCC, CBD, and UNCCD, and participated in negotiations for the creation and implementation of the GEF and the Green Climate Fund.  After his second tenure as Minister, he was Vice-President for Global Policy at Conservation International, for 12 years, working in 30 tropical countries in Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Mr. David Yarrow
Photographer

David Yarrow was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1966. He took up photography at an early age and as a 20-year-old found himself working as a photographer for The London Times on the pitch at the World Cup Final in Mexico City. On that day, David took the famous picture of Diego Maradona holding the World Cup and, as a result, was subsequently asked to cover the Olympics and numerous other sporting events. Many years later David established himself as a fine art photographer by documenting the natural world from new perspectives and the last nine years have been career defining.

David’s evocative and immersive photography of life on earth is most distinctive and has earned him an ever growing following amongst art collectors. His large monochrome images made in Los Angeles are on display in leading galleries and museums across Europe and North America. He is now recognised as one of the best-selling fine art photographers in the world and his limited edition works regularly sell at high prices at Sotheby’s and other auction houses.

In September 2019, Rizzoli published their second book by David Yarrow. It was Rizzoli’s flagship book and their Autumn catalogue featured David’s image on the cover. The books foreword was written by global NFL star Tom Brady and an afterword written by American cultural icon Cindy Crawford. All royalties from this book will be donated to conservation charities Tusk, in the UK and WildAid, in the US.

David’s position in the industry has been rewarded with a wide range of advisory and ambassadorial roles. He is an ambassador for WildArk and The Kevin Richardson Foundation. As the European ambassador for Nikon, David has been integral to the company’s most anticipated camera release of the last decade. In December 2017 he shot LVMH’s latest “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” campaign with Cara Delevingne. In January 2019 David was appointed as a global ambassador for UBS. In the spring of 2020, David was appointed a Global Ambassador for Best Buddies – one of America’s most established children’s charities. Most recently, David became an ambassador for the African Community and Conservation Foundation and presented his work in the Endangered Rangers virtual fundraiser.

Since 2018, David’s work has raised over $6m for philanthropic and conservation organisations. At Art Miami in December 2019, David’s photograph “The Wolves of Wall Street” broke new records. One print, signed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, featuring the real Wolf of Wall Street – Jordan Belfort – sold for $200,000. The proceeds went to conservation NGOs supported by DiCaprio.

At the start of 2020, David was in Australia documenting the devastating bush fires that have destroyed communities, wildlife, and wildlands. Using the striking and poignant images that he captured of the effects of the fire, Yarrow launched the #KoalaComeback Campaign to support the recovery efforts in Australia. As of early June, the campaign has raised $1.4m. In April 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, David joined the Art for Heroes campaign, to raise money for the NHS. He released a print – Our Pride – with all proceeds going to HEROES. For every print purchased, David donated an Our Pride print to an NHS worker. The campaign has surpassed its original target of £1m. In November 2020 David Yarrow collaborated with charitable organisation Space for Giants to raise money towards stopping the Illegal Wildlife Trade. The campaign raised over $300,000. Since his first collaboration in 2019 with Cindy Crawford, together they have raised $1m for the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison Wisconsin.

Ms. Alphonsine Niwemugeni
Community Health Worker
Prof. Beth Kaplin
Director of the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity & Natural Resource Management at University of Rwanda
Ms. Jeanne d’Arc Uwamahoro
Youth volunteer
Ms. Clementine Uwamahoro
Conservation Technology officer, Akagera National Park
Dr. Max Graham
Founder and CEO, Space for Giants

Originally from Dorset in England, Dr Max Graham has been involved in studying and conserving elephants in Africa for the last 20 years. He was awarded his PhD and rugby blue from Cambridge University in 2007. In 2011, in response to poachers killing several elephants he was studying, Max founded international conservation organisation Space for Giants. Today Max continues to lead Space for Giants’ work in 10 African countries with an increasing focus on attracting conservation and tourism investment to protect and restore the continent’s remaining natural ecosystems. He lives with his family on a wildlife conservancy in the foothills of Mt Kenya.

 

Ms. Reeta Roy
President and CEO, Mastercard Foundation

Reeta Roy is President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation—one of the largest private foundations in the world, with approximately $40 billion in assets.

A thoughtful leader who is deeply committed to equity and inclusion, Reeta has worked tirelessly to build a foundation that is collaborative and known for bold action and transformative impact. Under Reeta’s leadership, the Foundation has focused its work on Africa since 2009; committed to a goal of ensuring 75% of its partners are African organizations; and based the majority of the Foundation’s operations, staff, and leadership, including Reeta herself, in Africa. To date, the Foundation has committed/deployed more than US$ 5.7 billion through financial inclusion, education, and youth livelihood programs—and as part of their pandemic response.  This includes a $1.3 billion investment under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, which is enabling nearly 40,000 talented but economically disadvantaged young leaders to pursue and complete their secondary and/or higher education. It also includes the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative—a historic $1.3 billion partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to roll out vaccination across Africa and safeguard the continent’s long-term health security, which has inspired others to redouble their efforts to bridge inequities in vaccine access for Africa.

Today, the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy, which was launched in 2018, has set a goal of enabling 30 million young people, particularly young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.

A strong believer in listening, Reeta can often be found in the field, working directly with the people the Foundation’s programs serve—young people and future leaders. Reeta’s childhood growing up in Malaysia helped her to develop her capacity to listen and the empathy with which she approaches the Foundation’s work. Reeta was a beneficiary of scholarships that allowed her to complete her education and mentors continue to support her growth as a leader.

Mr. Aristide Mugabe
Captain, Patriots Basketball Club
Mr. Antony Lynam
Representative of International Congress on Conservation Biology
Dr. Senait Fisseha
Director of Global Programs, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation

Professor Senait Fisseha, MD, JD

Professor Senait Fisseha is a globally-recognized leader in public health and reproductive health & rights. An attorney and a physician, her ability to bring the advocacy, practitioner, and policymaking communities together has fundamentally shifted global conversations around access to reproductive and maternal health services.

She currently serves as Director of Global Programs at the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, as well as Chief Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization. An Obstetrician and Gynecologist specialist, previously Prof Fisseha was Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at the University of Michigan, Medical Director of University of Michigan’s Center for Reproductive Medicine and founding Executive Director of the Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT). She also co-directed the Medical School’s Path of Excellence in Global Health & Disparities.

She was included in the 100 Most Influential Africans for 2018 by New African magazine and  the 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy (2019) and top forty most forward-thinking women (2020) by Athena40. She has also received the Ethiopian Ministry of Health’s highest award; University of Michigan’s Bicentennial Alumni Award; the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine; and the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from Southern Illinois University.

Dr. Deborah Dunham
Chairperson, Gorilla Doctors
Mr. Yann Arthus Bertrand
Environmentalist & Photographer
Ángel Di María
Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
Marquinhos
Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
Kylian Mbappé
Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
Sergio Ramos
Paris Saint-Germain First Team Player
Bukayo Saka
Arsenal Football Club First Team Player