STARKVILLE, Miss.--One Kenyan leader is setting an example both in Africa and the world as an empathetic leader representing the sick, the poor and the isolated.
He will share his knowledge and his mission at Mississippi State University's Taylor Auditorium at McCool Hall on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. as a 2012 Maroon Edition speaker. The Kenyan ambassador to the United States, His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya Elkanah Odembo, will offer a free presentation, and the public is welcome to attend.
Odembo personally knew fellow Kenya-native Wangari Maathai, the late author of "Unbowed" who wrote the memoir selected by university leaders as the 2012 Maroon Edition. The annual reading experience shared among the MSU family features a book for incoming students, as well as returning classes, faculty and staff, and anyone interested in being part of the extended university family, to connect with a powerful and inspirational narrative.
"Our Maroon Edition book is about Kenya, and the ambassador personally knew Wangari Maathai," said Linda Morse, chairwoman of the Maroon Edition committee and professor and director of the counseling and educational psychology department. "His personal ties to the author and his global perspective as a diplomat are going to offer a unique and special presentation to our campus.
"It's always an exciting opportunity when we have a diplomat, especially of Odembo's rank, who's willing to come and talk."
Even though he was educated in the United States, Odembo uses his degrees in biology, sociology and public health to benefit his native country. As a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative and a Synergos Senior Fellow, Odembo's career has concentrated on promoting philanthropy and using natural resources to improve quality of life in Kenya.
Odembo has encouraged social responsibility, cross-sector partnerships and policy research among his many roles as a Kenyan leader over the years, and during his visit to MSU, he plans to meet personally with the Kenyan-national students enrolled at the university, including one Fulbright Scholar.
Odembo, a former research officer for Nairobi's African Medical Research Foundation in its Community Health Division, also plans to visit MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine during his Thursday tour of the university.
Odembo will visit the Social Science Research Center at MSU, the African American Studies Program and the President's Commission on the Status of Minorities.
Like Maathai, Odembo's work focuses on improving quality of life for the poor and unrepresented: prior to becoming ambassador to the U.S., Odembo was the East Africa representative for World Neighbors and was appointed chairman of the Kenya Community Development Foundation and named the lead facilitator for the Kenya Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Consultation Process.
Furthermore, Odembo was a member of the National Committee for Social Dimensions of Development and the Non-Governmental Organizations Co-ordination Board. Additionally, he was a founding member of the NGO Coalition for East Africa, a member of the National Advisory Committee for Health Research, chairperson of the Kenya National Council for Non-Governmental Organizations and founding director of Ufadhili Trust.
To learn more about Odembo's visit or MSU's Maroon Edition, visit http://www.maroonedition.msstate.edu.