Bernard Kitonyi was born in Machakos County, in the lower Eastern part of Kenya. After his ‘A’ levels, he taught for eight years as an untrained teacher in several secondary schools. He then proceeded to study Marriage and Family at Pontifical Lateran University where he earned his Master of Science (MSc.) degree.  In 1985, he initiated a youth programme in the Catholic Diocese of Machakos.  By then he was already involved in community work, though on a part-time basis.

Bernard was also the programmes manager of the Family Life Counselling Association of Kenya (FLCAK) for over two years.  He has over 20 years’ experience working in the field of community development.  Out of these, he was the Development Coordinator, Catholic Diocese of Machakos, for eight years and the Managing Director of Inades Formation Kenya for over 12 years.

Bernard has also been a member and chair of the Board of Governors in several secondary schools.  He has been a member of the District Education Board in Machakos for close to 10 years.  Currently, he is a freelance Development Practitioner following his recent retirement from Inades Formation Kenya.

An educationist by profession, Chester Chenjerai, from Zimbabwe, has a Master’s degree in Administration, Planning and Policy Studies and a Permaculture Design Certificate. In his long and illustrious career, he has served in various capacities such as school head (1985-2007), as well as being a founding Board member of Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust (CELUCT), an environmental NGO in Chikukwa, Zimbabawe, where he served in the same capacity from 1996-2007. In January 2008, he was appointed as its Director. Chester joined the ABN board at the end of 2013 and his vision for ABN and its partners is the realisation of an Africa with a people that are proud of, responsible and accountable for their heritage, culture, way of life and ecosystems.

Oussou Lio Appolinaire holds a BA in Natural Sciences, an MA in Geography (specialising in environment and health), a degree in Agricultural Entrepreneurship and an engineering degree in Community Management. As the President of GRABE BENIN and founder of “Nature and Culture” clubs, he is very close to local communities, indigenous people, traditional leaders, traditional chiefs and the youth. This association has presented him with more opportunities to strengthen his capacity through various trainings and exchange of experiences with other network members courtesy of ABN. In his own words, “ABN for me is home. It is a place of learning and continuous fraternity for African development.” As a member of the ABN’s Board, his vision is to enhance its visibility in Francophone Africa. He further believes in the growth of ABN with partners who are truly committed and are actually working for the development and promotion of African values.

Sulemana has been on the ABN Board of Trustees since 2009, rising to become the Chairman of the board in late 2013. He has a PhD in Land Economy, MSc in Rural and Regional Resources Planning and a BSc in Land Economy. Sulemana has worked for nearly 25 years in the field of development. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Transform UK and CODA International. He is also a member of a Panel of Advisors for Stars Foundation, which makes awards to deserving organisations working on issues affecting children and young people. Abudulai is a keen supporter of the Earth Jurisprudence movement and over the last few years, working closely with friends and colleagues at RAINS, Ghana, has worked hard to inspire Earth Jurisprudence  (EJ) and Community Ecological Governance (CEG) processes in his homeland of Tamale, northern Ghana. Abud, as he is commonly referred to as, is currently a field agent for the Steven Louis Foundation.

Mere Jah is a dedicated Panafrican Elder who with her “Kingman ” (husband) has established an experiential Center in Benin that targets to train and to shape a new generation of proud, environment friendly citizens. this inspiring school is located in a Forest as, for Mere Jah, Nature is the ultimate classroom! She is an Ecology activist and a motivational speaker hosting a weekly program on the National broadcasting for a change of mindset towards Mother Earth and she advocates to use original African knowledge to solve today’s challenges. Meeting ABN philosophy and methodologies came as a confirmation and way forward. She feels honored to have been called on the Board.


Dr. Fassil Gebeyehu is the general coordinator for ABN. He has been part of the wider ABN network for very many years, having worked for the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) in Ethiopia as the head of finance and administration, a partner organisation of ABN and one of the key organisations that worked to found the network.  He holds an MSc. in Conservation and Tourism from Kent University in the UK and a PhD. in Anthropology Development from Durham University in the UK – his thesis focused on the – Social Life of Seeds: An Ethnographic Exploration and Farming Knowledge in Kibtya Ethiopia. He is the Thematic Coordinator  for Youth Culture and Biodiversity (YCB) and Community Seed and Knowledge (CSK).

Simon is  the regional programme coordinator of ABN. He is also  the thematic coordinator of Community Ecological Governance (CEG). Simon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nairobi in Sociology and Linguistics and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy and Administration (MPA), from Kenyatta University. He has more than 15 years of experience working in challenging leadership positions with various leading organisations/networks at the national, regional and international level. Simon has a diverse wealth of skills in project cycle management, organisational leadership and development, team-building, networking and relationship building, guidance and counseling, conflict resolution, marketing, resource mobilisation and reporting, administration and logistical support, training and facilitation and possesses excellent communication skills among others. He has been very instrumental in the growth of the ABN Secretariat and the regional network in general since he joined in February 2007 to date.  Simon is regarded as the custodian of ABN’s ‘culture and practice’ and is extremely passionate about indigenous knowledge systems of Africa.

Jane holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Kenyatta University. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). She has over fourteen years progressive work experience in various roles, providing both mainstream finance and administration and consultancy services. She has the ability to carry out detailed organisational assessment/diagnosis; develop and oversee implementation of comprehensive capacity development plans; capacity to develop training and facilitation programmes; has excellent appreciation of the computerised financial management systems; has working knowledge of donor reporting requirements having successfully managed multi-donor relations including quality control, accountability and impacts. She has skills in human resource and office management. Jane is passionate about the intersections between women farmers and seed sovereignty in Africa.

Karen Nekesa Samukoya is the communications and Advocacy Officer at the African Biodiversity Network (ABN). She is passionate at strengthening and enhancing the skills of partners and coalitions to advocate and influence policies from local, regional and international level. Karen is a trained Journalist at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC). She is studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies (BDS) at the Management University of Africa, Kenya.

Karen has skills and knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Economic Literacy, Resource Mobilization, Policy and advocacy all from Ms- Training Centre for Development Corporation Arusha, Tanzania. Prior to joining ABN, she worked for the Forest Action Network (FAN) as their Programme Officer under a programme known as Policy Research and Analysis. Her Major strengths gained through experience include strong networking, leadership, dealing with multiple cultures, excellent communication skills and a strong team player.

Belynda Mackinnon is the ABN assistant finance and administration assistant. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with skills and knowledge in Computer Maintenance and Repairs. Belynda has over four year’s solid experience in financial and administrative management. Prior to joining ABN, she worked for FF-SPAK Farm Forestry small holder Producers Association of Kenya as the Accountant and Administration Officer. She has working knowledge on donor reporting and is passionate in meeting their deadline. Belynda easily adapts to different cultures and able to interact with individuals and partners freely to contribute towards enhancing their capacity in accounting.