It is a bittersweet moment whenever we have a staff transition, but we are happy to announce both the next adventure for an outgoing team member and a new addition to our team.
Please join us in welcoming Ivan Amanigaruhanga (Amani) as our new regional community engagement manager in Rwanda. Ivan is taking over a position that has been filled by Sarah Tolbert since 2017 and will oversee all our work with local communities focused on education, livelihoods and food/water security in both Rwanda and DR Congo.
While we are sad to see Sarah leave, we are thrilled to announce that she was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to pursue her PhD and will be studying how government policies regarding forest use ultimate affect conservation. Sarah is hoping to use the work at our community led field site in Congo—the Nkuba Conservation Area–as part of her studies so we have a feeling she won’t be away for too long! During her tenure with the Fossey Fund, Sarah has been instrumental in expanding the community program work that we do. When asked what she will miss the most, Sarah said “the people! I will miss every single person I had the opportunity to work with, both from the Fossey Fund, but also the people I’ve developed relationships within the areas where we work.” While leading our community engagement team, Sarah enjoyed being able to “incorporate women’s voices into our work in the Congo,” and expanding conservation efforts to attract and include everyone in the community.
Ivan is a seasoned conservationist, born and raised in the foothills of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda where the only other population of mountain gorillas’ lives. He is passionate about wildlife conservation, specifically the conservation of gorillas, and shared, “for this region, gorillas are our national heritage. They have given people in park-adjacent communities a meaning to life.” He has been working in conservation for the past 14 years and says he is “excited about the new opportunities that will come with the job. I want to feel challenged to deliver beyond the usual business. I want to rekindle my regional coordination skills to translate our community projects into real community benefits that help gorilla-host communities appreciate the value of conservation.” We are looking forward to seeing Ivan lead the Fossey Fund community engagement programs in the coming years!
We wish Sarah so much luck in her next adventure and we hope to see her back in Africa very soon!