About & Contact

The Team


Ann Pettifor

Executive Director

Ann has a distinguished record in the field of public advocacy, for which she was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2000 by Vice-chancellor Chris Patten of the University of Newcastle; the freedom of the City of Callao in Peru in 1999, an honorary Masters degree from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Pax Christi International Peace Prize in 2000. In 2001 President Obasanjo of Nigeria honoured her as a Member of the Order of the Niger, for her work with Jubilee 2000.

Britain’s Independent newspaper described her as ‘the genius’ behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign – which led to the cancellation of approximately $100 billion of debt owed by 35 countries.

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Sharmistha DasBarwa

Advisor on Gender Issues

Sharmistha DasBarwa has 30 years’ experience in the areas of: rural development, micro-credit lending, SME development, gender policy, women’s entrepreneurship development and project management. She has worked as a consultant for the World Bank, ILO, IFAD, ITC, UNOPS, the African Development Bank and most recently was the Project Manager for the UNDP Gender Equality Project in Afghanistan. She has taught at the University of Central England and Warwick University and has published several articles on intellectual property rights, multilateral trade policy and the role of gender in development.

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Conor Maxwell

Web Developer

With a background in engineering, computer programming and medical instrument design and manufacture, Conor now works exclusively in website development, the programming side of making a website operate and function.

Experienced in the programming languages of HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, PHP and MySQL, as well as Flash and Actionscript3, he now concentrates on using WordPress as the basis of Content Management Systems, adapting and adding to it as necessary, to allow website owners to upload their own content to suit their individual purposes.

Conor has successfully delivered more than 25 websites of different shapes and sizes over the last 10 years.

Moving images around is fun, but making a website easy, obvious and a pleasure to use gives the greatest satisfaction. This is especially so when working for public interest and socially responsible goals.

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Jeremy Smith

Executive Director

Jeremy Smith has been Co-Director of Ai since 2010.  A barrister by profession, he is an expert in European and international local government and urban issues.

He brings to Ai his extensive international, cross-cultural experience, allied to well-honed political, diplomatic, mediating and management skills.

He was Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) from 2002 to 2009, and also led the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA) through a politically complex merger to launch the global organization, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), in 2004.  He was Chief Executive of the London Borough of Camden for 6 years (1990-96), and before that, Legal Adviser to the Greater London Council and Inner London Education Authority.

Jeremy is fluent in French.  He has received a number of awards for his work internationally, e.g. from associations of cities in Poland, Ukraine and Finland, and from UCLG.

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Mark Kaigwa

Creative Web Consultant

Mark Kaigwa is a consultant, technologist and blogger based in Nairobi, Kenya. An expert on digital technology in Africa, Mark advises brands, businesses and nonprofits on how to reach the hundreds of millions of connected users across the continent.

Mark’s expertise in African digital technology is shaped by his multidisciplinary background and network spanning 10 African countries.  Writer of an award-winning African videogame for Warner Bros Interactive, Mark is a recognized leader in Africa’s emerging media industry.

In 2013, Mark was selected as Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 Best Young African Entrepreneurs. He has held leadership roles at Afrinnovator.com and Africandigitalart.com, devising growth strategies in their formative years.

He serves as a representative for one of Africa’s leading innovation centres, the *iHub and Africa Ambassador for the Sandbox Network – the leading global network for the most inspiring innovators below 30.

Mark is a frequent speaker at regional and international discussions on technology, communication and mobile on the African continent.

He can be reached at hello@mark.co.ke and at www.mark.co.ke

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Maz Kessler

Creative Advisor

Maz Kessler is Catapult’s Founder and Creative Director.

She started as songwriter and musician in New York’s downtown music scene at the center of the 80’s digital music revolution. She wrote and produced for a range of artists, garnering several Grammy nominations.

In the ’90s, technology and design increasingly became the main focus, and Maz joined Microsoft’s Social Interface Group. She then founded FunArts Software, helping pioneer socially intelligent and voice interfaces for Microsoft, BMW, Schwab, and others.

In 2002 Maz brought her creative and design experience to citizen-led change. She co-founded Keep a Child Alive, an HIV/AIDS foundation.  She then joined Advocacy International as Creative Director, working with Ann Pettifor. Maz also worked with Women Deliver, where she created Catapult to help address the need for increased funding, citizen engagement, and coalition-building across a strong, multi-generational girls and women’s movement.

She continues to work with Ai as Creative Advisor.

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Kenneth Oliko

African Union Consultant

Kenneth Oliko has a degree in International Relations with over 6 years experience in Social Work, Corporate Communications and Media/Public relations. He has worked on media strategies for the 2011 elections in Nigeria, as well as served as head of Logistics for a youth engagement strategy for the Nigerian Presidency.

He currently works with the African Union Commission’s (AUC) Department of Social Affairs as a consultant to the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality in Africa (CARMMA). As a result, Kenneth was nominated by the US Mission to the AUC to participate in President Obama’s Mentoring Partnership for Young African Leaders in Washington DC and Chicago, USA.

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