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Regional Director – Leila Pakkala

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UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Leila Pakkala.

Leila Pakkala is the UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa since 17 March 2014. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, she is responsible for leadership, oversight and guidance to 21 UNICEF country offices in the region, and the representation of the organization working with governments, donors, the private sector and civil society.

Ms. Pakkala brings more than 20 years of experience in development and humanitarian programming and management to this position, having previously worked for UNICEF in Switzerland (Geneva), Mozambique, Somalia, United States of America (New York), (the former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia and Uganda, and for the UN  and the private sector in Ethiopia and Lesotho.

From 2010 to 2014, Ms. Pakkala was UNICEF’s Director of Private Fundraising and Partnerships. In this capacity, she was responsible for private sector operations that generate one third of the organization’s revenue from the general public, civil society, business and private foundations. This included leading the strategic relationship with 36 UNICEF National Committees and guiding UNICEF country offices in private sector fundraising and partnerships activities.  

From 2004 to 2010, Ms. Pakkala was the UNICEF Representative in Mozambique, responsible for the overall strategic direction to the UNICEF Programme, working with governmental and non-governmental partners in the development and delivery of programmes for children. As Deputy Representative for UNICEF in Somalia from 2001 to 2004, she oversaw planning, implementation and monitoring in one of UNICEF’s largest country offices and led the organization’s collaboration with a wide range of partners. 

Ms. Pakkala worked in UNICEF Headquarters as Senior Programme Officer in the Office of Emergency Programmes from 1999 to 2001 where she was responsible for the coordination and management of resources dedicated to strengthening the organization’s humanitarian action at global and regional levels. During this period, she also served in FYR Macedonia as Emergency Coordinator, responsible for overall management of the UNICEF response in support of the Kosovo refugee crisis. From 1997 to 1999, Ms Pakkala held the position of Programme Advisor with UNICEF Uganda, working specifically on programmes providing psychosocial care and support for children in northern and western Uganda. 

Prior to joining UNICEF, Ms. Pakkala worked as Information Officer for the United Nations Development Programme in Ethiopia from 1994 to 1997. She worked in the private sector and as a consultant for the United Nations in Lesotho from 1990 to 1993.

Ms. Pakkala is a national of Iran. She holds a Post Graduate License, Master of Arts in Psychology, majoring in Counselling and Supportive Therapy (1992), a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (1990) and a Graduate Diploma in Special Education (1989). She is a qualified counsellor in child development psychology.



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