Zanele Sibanda

Zanele Sibanda

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Zanele’s belief in the power of communities to drive social change grew out of watching her parents mobilizing communities to realize the social, political, and economic rights of people in Zimbabwe. Her parents set a shining example of how our connecting to our own inner light makes the light of others shine more brightly.
Since then, she has spent her career supporting local communities to solve their own problems as a researcher, facilitator, and funder. She evaluated community driven change as a member a research team at the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. She led the social and education components of Invest in Chicago, a community revitalization initiative on Chicago’s South Side. She also supported women’s social, economic, and political empowerment using an entrepreneurship program.
Over the last ten years Zanele served as the Director of Programs for Firelight Foundation, where she led a seven-member team in identifying, funding, and building the capacity of grassroots organizations in southern and eastern Africa. Zanele transformed the foundation’s funding model by defining a long-term to partnership model, capacity building strategy, and learning and evaluation approach. Zanele is the co-founder of Africans in the Diaspora, which focuses on increasing philanthropy in the diaspora community. She currently works as a consultant, facilitating transformative relationships between family foundations and grassroots organizations in Africa.
Zanele and her son love to dance. They have been known to forget they are in a store when they are cant resist the rhythm of song.