Ken Wilson serves as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Christensen Fund. He joined us in August 2002 as Christensen’s first non-family Executive Director and to refocus our mission around biocultural diversity. Born in Malawi with a life spread rather across the world, Ken studied zoology at the University of Oxford and anthropology at University College London where his doctorate focused on indigenous knowledge, health and human ecology in the agro-pastoral arid savannahs and woodlands of Southern Zimbabwe. During those years as an ethno-biologist he was particularly interested in linking participatory research on ecological histories with community-based landscape management. He then took a Research Officer position at the University of Oxford in the Refugee Studies Programme.
During his years of field studies and advisoral work on issues of war, famine, persecution and refugee movements he became increasingly interested in history, in traditionalist socio-cultural movements and resilience. Then followed nine years with the Ford Foundation. As Program Officer for Mozambique in their Office for Eastern and Southern Africa he focused on supporting Mozambican efforts to strengthen their higher education system, secure their artistic and cultural heritage, and launch environment and development efforts rooted in indigenous culture and participatory management (including ecotourism). Subsequently he came to New York as the deputy to the Vice President of the Education, Media, Arts and Culture Program, supporting Ford’s effort worldwide to become a “learning organization”. During his term in New York he gave particular attention to such issues as threats to indigenous languages and sacred landscapes in the USA and worldwide, strategies for educational reform, the implications of new media technologies, and the links between contemporary and traditional artistic and cultural expression.
Ken has personal interests in wilderness, photography, poetry and music; has published widely academically; and been involved in the production of several films. He has been involved in participatory research and community health and development activities in Mazvihwa in Southern Zimbabwe for over thirty years and is currently documenting changes in that community and their agro-ecological system with Abraham Mawere Ndhlovu and other members of that community. Ken serves on the Boards of the the Seva Foundation in Berkeley and the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity. He is also active in a number of grantmaking associations, including the Environmental Grantmakers Association, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples and the Northern California Grantmakers Association.
To download an in-depth explication of The Christensen Fund’s mission by Ken Wilson, click here.