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Kanini Mutooni
(Board Chairperson) - Audit and Finance; Human Capital

Kanini Mutooni is a Managing Director at Draper Richards Kaplan, a Venture Philanthropy institution investing in global early-stage entrepreneurs creating impact. She is also a Senior Adviser for Toniic, the global action network for impact investors with over 300 asset owners representing over $16b in investible wealth.Prior to this appointment, Kanini was the Director for Investment at the USAID-funded East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, a $65m, 8 country initiative to attract investment and increase trade in the East Africa region.

Kanini is a UK Chartered Accountant with a record of exceptional leadership gained in East Africa, Europe and the United States. She is the immediate former Board Chair of The Global Innovation Fund, a $250m investment vehicle supported by the UK, US, Canadian, Australian and Swedish Governments. The fund focused on investing a range of capital for early-stage innovations in emerging markets with a focus on Food and Agriculture, Healthcare, clean energy and Fintech.

Kanini has worked at Board level in leadership positions at investment banks in London and US, such as Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. In 2014 she was recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader for her exceptional leadership in business and global entrepreneurship. She is currently Chair of AMREF Health Innovations and she continues to be a Senior Advisor providing strategic advisory support to a number of Africa focused impact funds, such as the $150m African Agriculture SME Fund and Union Bank Privee’s (UBP) listed global equity impact fund.She is currently the Chair of the Investment Committee of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, a pan-African $250m challenge fund focussed on investing in early-stage agriculture and food SMEs.She is also visiting lecturer at the University of Capetown’s Bertha Center for Social Innovation.


Julia Pettengill.jpeg
Julia Pettengill
Human Capital Committee (Chair); Fundraising, Governance

Julia Pettengill is the Executive Director of the Schooner Foundation, a Boston-based private foundation that seeks to advance human rights by leveraging funds where there is the greatest need and opportunity. In her role, she oversees the vision and execution of the Foundation’s strategic direction and grant-making in social Justice, global health equity, education, livelihoods and environmental initiatives, domestically and internationally. Julia comes from a diverse background in international development, nonprofit work, capacity building, and fundraising with a strong focus on sub-Saharan Africa, where she grew up. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and currently serves on the boards Network of Engaged International Donors, Friendship Bench, and co chairs the advisory council for HEAL Initiative. Previously, Julia served as a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Pediatric Leukemia and Lymphoma Steering Committee, and co-chaired the Dana Farber Cancer Institute's pediatric patient and family advisory council.



Elizabeth Puleng Tswana
Programmes and Development

Elizabeth Puleng Tswana holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) with the University of Zimbabwe and a Masters in Human Rights, Peace and Development degree with Africa University.

She has worked for the Ministry of Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission on a vast number of human rights thematic issues.

Elizabeth has carried out human rights Consultancy work since November 2020. Her most recent accomplishment has been successfully carrying out an inclusion assessment on the rights of persons with disabilities to participate in political and electoral processes in Zimbabwe.  She provides useful guidance and advice for the successful implementation of Friendship Bench activities. Elizabeth has a passion for human rights, particularly the respect, promotion, and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities as well as gender mainstreaming. She enjoys dancing, cooking, travelling and reading financial literacy books.


Jiteh Shah 
Friendship Bench International

Jiten Shah, a native Zimbabwean has joined the board of trustees of the Friendship Bench and brings with him a wealth of valuable and relevant experience.

Mr.Shah has a Bachelor of Science Accounting and Finance from Butler University in Indiana, USA as well as an Associate’s Degree in Pharmacy from the same university.

Since graduating in 1995 and for the last 20 years Mr.Shah has been a Director at Graniteside Chemicals PLC in Harare, he has held and continues to hold several Trustee positions on family and private trusts since 2009. In addition, Mr.Shah is a member of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association.

Mr.Shah is particularly well versed in mentoring, conflict resolution, mediation, guidance/career counselling and negotiating.

Mr. Shah has a keen interest in golf and is a member of two courses in Harare as well as being a member of the Friendly Diplomatic Golf Association and the prestigious Young Presidents Organisation. 


Karen Webb

Karen is the Deputy Executive Director for the Organization for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID), based in Harare, Zimbabwe. OPHID is a local organization supporting the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) to implement the National HIV Care and Treatment Program in over 315 public health facilities across Zimbabwe.  She has over 19 years’ experience in public health and development program design and evaluation in sub Saharan Africa.


Karen is a passionate advocate for innovation and implementation science in public health programs and the pragmatic adaptation of evidence-based interventions like Friendship Bench at scale. Academically, Karen holds a Bachelors degree (honours) in psychology, a Masters of Science in Public Health and is currently completing her doctorate in Epidemiology and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.



Dr. Elizabeth Berghuis-Mutubuki

Elizabeth is a Scientific Researcher at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands. In her role, she is part of the health economics team, assessing the impact of COVID-19, where she leads the health effects program. She holds a PhD in Health Economics attained from Vrije University Amsterdam. During her PHD she focused on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of treatments in low back pain. As a post-doctoral researcher at the Amsterdam University Medical Centre, Elizabeth was involved in the development of guidelines for physiotherapy practice using new research methodologies. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Health with a specialization in Health Economics and Health Promotion from Karolinska Medical University (KI) in Stockholm. During which she investigated the health care seeking behaviour of caregivers of children with disabilities in Zimbabwe.

Elizabeth has worked as a physiotherapist in diverse physiotherapy practices in the Netherlands, and owned her own physiotherapy practice. She also worked as a Health Economics Consultant for the Royal tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam and researched into institutional arrangements for health financing in African countries, as part of the Rebuild programme on Universal Health Coverage. Elizabeth is passionate about equity in access and effectiveness of health care. She enjoys photography and is an avid reader.



Umeeda Nathoo

Umeeda is a brand marketer based in the UK with 15+ years spent leading some of the world’s most well-known and well-loved brands - from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to L’Oreal. She is passionate about transferring her blue-chip experience and love of marketing to the non-profit sector to help build and scale pioneering organisations in areas of special interest, particularly in the spheres of mental health and education.


Umeeda has an MA in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford and a Diploma in Professional Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.


Prof. Dixon Chibanda (Founder, CEO)

Dixon Chibanda is associate professor in psychiatry and Global Mental Health at the University of Zimbabwe and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, respectively. He developed the Friendship Bench program in 2006 as part of his MPH field work and has overseen its’ expansion over the years. He brings his vast knowledge in research and global mental health to the trust. He sits on a number of local and international boards. 

Dixon is a martial arts instructor and is passionate about using alternative interventions such as Balavisx, Tai-Chi and Karate to enhance resilience in young people. Dixon speaks 4 different languages and lives in Harare. 


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