Our Board

Board members serve for maximum two terms of three years each. The aim is to eventually have a majority of women and young people on the Board. The founding board members are (from left to right: Nirina Kiplagat, Maggie Ainley (alumnus), Lionel Louw (Chair) James Taylor (Associate) Eleanor du Plooy, Nomfundo Walaza, Andries Odendaal, Chris Spies):

Board Members


Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar

is a contributor and writer for The Daily Maverick and has been a contributor for The Huffington Post, and has been published in South Africa’s Weekend Argus, Sunday Times, Mail and Guardian as well as The City Press.

Andrew Ihsaan’s professional background includes having worked at a top tier pan-African commercial law firm, the professional services environment, the South African party-political environment (on a national level) as well as having worked in the public sector in a senior capacity.

Andrew Ihsaan currently works on public transport and infrastructure projects, with large multinational with a focus of supporting governments to implement solutions that act as a catalyst for development, change and growth, and supporting the public sector and governments to deliver on transport and infrastructure projects.

Andrew Ihsaan has also received recognition for his leadership as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper, Mandela Washington Fellow, Leader of Tomorrow by St Gallen’s Symposium (recognised twice), Leader of Today by St Gallen’s Symposium, an Africa Leader by Amnesty International and also as an Obama Africa Leader. Furthermore, Andrew Ihsaan has been recognised as a Goalkeeper by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a SDG Talent by the UNLEASH Innovation Lab focused on finding solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Akunna Ethel Onwu

is an avid student of life, a bursting bank of global experiences and a wealth of knowledge eager to make an impact whenever she is presented with the opportunity.

A safer, more educated and more developed African continent is a dream she is insatiably dedicated to realizing. Over the past 6 years, she has contributed towards realizing this dream through her work in compliance, regulatory and legislative affairs and in product development in the largest bank in Africa (by assets) across 18 jurisdictions on the continent.

Akunna is an admitted Advocate and a Certified Integral Coach. Her work as a coach has not only allowed her to empower her clients to achieve what matters most to them, but more importantly it has instilled in her the importance of empathy, collaboration and co-creation.

She is also a vlogger of an inspirational weekly segment entitled Wisdom Wednesdays and writes for The Corporate Canvas, a Careers, Finance and Culture/lifestyle platform for African Millennial.

In short, she is  a melting pot of skills, drive, grit, passion and diversity all of which contribute to her ability to inspire transformation and create positive change through whatever medium, means and opportunity available to her, because at her core is her drive to build; to build people and businesses whose dreams are to improve the lives of others by making the world an easier, kinder, empathetic and more efficient and safer place for everyone.

Dr Andries Odendaal

has substantive experience in mediation and violence prevention, particularly at the level of local government. He has provided support to national peacebuilding processes across the African continent and elsewhere; and has offered training in conflict resolution to various audiences ranging from grassroots communities to politicians and senior government and security officials. Andries was a Regional Coordinator of the Western Cape Peace Committee and a Senior Trainer and Project Coordinator at the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University of Cape Town. He is currently freelancing as a conflict transformation expert. As a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace he authored A Crucial Link. Local Peace Committees and National Peacebuilding (USIP Press).

Mr Chris Spies

is the Founding Director of Dynamic Stability, which is a conflict transformation practice, and the Unyoke Foundation. He has decades of extensive experience as a trainer, facilitator, accompanier and peacebuilder in South Africa and internationally. His passion is to accompany young people so that a viable and strong web of peacebuilders can grow, first in Africa, and then internationally. He is currently part of a team that accompanies young peace leaders in South Sudan, Uganda and South Africa.  Chris and Nomfundo have been co-facilitators of intergenerational dialogues with international and local peacebuilders, including Unyoke Reflective Practice Retreats, since 2012.

Ms Nirina Kiplagat

is a very experienced peacebuilder in the UN system. Nirina is based in Addis Ababa as the UNDP Project Manager, Preventing and Responding to Violent Extremism in Africa She has worked in a number of other internationally and regionally renowned organizations, specializing in the fields of conflict analysis, prevention and peacebuilding. Nirina holds a Masters of Science Degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and has published several articles on thematic issues related to conflict transformation and peacebuilding.

Nobukhosi Zulu

a passionate human rights defender who has a deep passion for justice. Professionally trained as a lawyer, Nobukhosi completed her articles of clerkship at Lawyers for Human Rights working in the refugee and migrant rights clinic. Thereafter she was awarded the UCLA Sonke Fellowship where she earned her LLM in Los Angeles graduating with a dual specialisation in International and Comparative Law as well Public Interest Law and Policy.

Upon returning to South Africa she took over the management of the Freedom of Information Program law clinic at the South African History Archive.The work strongly focused on transitional justices, access to information on apartheid era files and the prosecution of apartheid-era crimes. She has published work that focuses on the transitional justice challenges of South Africa.

Nobukhosi currently works in rural KwaZulu-Natal focusing on gender-based violence and strengthening traditional leaders capacity.

Ms Nomfundo Walaza

is a visionary and compassionate clinical psychologist and human rights activist with 20+ years’ experience developing impactful conflict mediation and peacebuilding programmes on a global scale. Nomfundo is a trauma specialist, who has dedicated her life to facilitate and hold spaces for difficult conversations and dialogues. She was until recently the acting CEO of Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement and before that the CEO of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre and the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture. She assisted students and staff at the University of Cape Town with mediation during the Rhodes/Fees Must fall protests. She obtained her Clinical Masters degree from the University of Cape Town.




has over 25 years’ experience as a Personal Assistant and Administrator. She has had previous exposure to the NGO environment, such as Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement. She worked closely with Inyathelo’s Executive Director, as well as fulfilling her portfolio as the Events Coordinator at Inyathelo.

Previous NGO work included a long tenure at LEAF College of Commerce and Engineering / National Access Consortium Western Cape for almost 10 years, where she served as PA to the Deputy CEO.

She thrives on working with a diverse group of people and contributes her energy and acumen to enhance the effectiveness of the space she finds herself in. Dianne believes that life-long learning is a fundamental part of the course of life and that people, herself included, should grab each opportunity that comes their way.

MAGGIE Wairimu Ainley

is what some have called a reluctant academic.  Driven by an inordinate sense of purpose to better understand the nature of leadership and governance on the African continent and in her home country Kenya, she recently undertook her PhD studies in International Relations at the London School of Economics.  Her thesis, ‘A Re-Imagining of the State in Africa’ sought to move away from the traditionally state-centred analysis of politics and state in Africa, focusing instead, on the role of ideas and leadership in shaping state formation processes on the same.

Prior to joining the LSE, Maggie worked as a research consultant at the Institute for Security Studies and thereafter, joined the Kenya Institute of Governance where she led a series of nationwide workshops on Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue in Kenya in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme.  Bringing together key leaders in government, civil society and the public sector, this programme aimed to support the transformation of Kenya’s leadership through the development of effective and holistic strategies for managing and resolving differences while building inclusive processes that advance governance.

Maggie is an ESRC scholar and more recently, a postdoctoral researcher at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa at the LSE.

Stephan Fourie

is a finance professional with a heart for positively impacting society at large. He has served in various finance and managerial position of both corporate and non-profit organisations. While working for Deloitte in South Sudan, he gained first-hand experience of the challenges facing multinational humanitarian organisations. He is a qualified chartered accountant and lives in Cape Town with his wife and 3 young children.

Tumi Jonas Mpofu

has over the past decade been involved in social justice work across Africa and abroad. She has been working as a dialogue and transformation practitioner designing and facilitating dialogue processes across difference. She is a PhD candidate and affiliate at the Hub for Decolonial Feminist Psychologies in Africa based at the University of Cape Town where she is completing her PHD. The focus of her research is on the racialized and gendered violence Black woman experience because of their intersecting identities. She thinks of her research as part of her activism and with a particular focus on how academic research can contribute to social change and advance gender equity as well as non-violence.

She became a Project Manager and Coordinator for the United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA) with focus on promoting the goals and principles of the United Nations and its agencies through community engagement with the emphasis of achieving the 8 Millennium Development Goals. She has also worked as a Researcher in the Strategic Development Department at the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) where she envisaged and facilitated partnerships with the Department of Education and the Department of Social Development to deepen SACAP’s social impact as well as contributed to the curriculum development.

Later, she became an Affiliate at the Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation based in Stellenbosch University where she completed her master’s degree in research psychology. Her research focussed on processes and factors that either hinder or facilitate transformation in cross racial dialogue.


There are eleven associates — all experienced peacebuilders and accompaniers:

1. Alfred Kibunja Kenya
2. Celia McKeon United Kingdom
3. Clever Nyathi Zimbabwe
4. Deon Snyman South Africa
5. Elizabeth Solomon Trinidad and Tobago
6. James Taylor South Africa
7. Joe Washington Netherlands/USA
8. Nyambura Mpaayei Kenya
9. Maggie Ainley Kenya
10. Philip Visser South Africa/Indonesia
11. Wilhelm Verwoerd South Africa

Current focus areas

Generic Unyoke Reflective Practice Retreats in South Africa for national and international peacebuilders. UF is also responding to requests for retreats in other parts of the world and has held retreats in Denmark and Finland.

South Sudan: Chris Spies and Nomfundo Walaza facilitate Unyoke processes with two South Sudanese cohorts of young people. This initiative is a collaborative effort between UF and Humanity United. 

Uganda: UF associates, in collaboration with Oxfam, facilitate Unyoke processes for young South Sudanese peace leaders living in refugee settlements in Uganda.

Growing African Peace Leaders: a sustained initiative to accompany and mentor younger peace leaders, especially women, first in Africa and then globally.

Unyoke facilitators: The first session to increase the pool of Unyoke process faciltators was held in June 2019.

Lionel, Nomfundo, Clever Nyathi and Chris Spies at the awarding of the Waging Peace Award to Clever. 

Nomfundo Walaza, Bishop Paride Taban of Kuron Peace Village in South Sudan and Chris Spies


Unyoke Foundation is a (RF) Non-Profit Company (Number 2017/527862/08) registered in South Africa as a Non-Profit Organisation (Number 202-923 NPO) and Public Benefit Organisation (PBO number 930063074). Unyoke Foundation

The Unyoke Foundation’s Equivalency Determination certification is valid through February 28, 2021