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Leila Pakkala, Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa

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Leila Pakkala

Ms. Leila Pakkala is the UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, where she has served since March 2014. In this function, she is responsible for leadership, oversight and guidance to 21 UNICEF country offices in Eastern and Southern Africa, and the representation of the organization with governments, donors, the civil society and private sector.

Ms. Pakkala brings more than 24 years of experience to this position, focusing on development and humanitarian programming, private sector engagement and organizational management.

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 where she was 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.

From 1999 to 2001, Ms. Pakkala worked in UNICEF Headquarters as Senior Programme Officer in the Office of Emergency Programmes, 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 on programmes providing psycho-social 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 Master of Arts in Psychology, majoring in Counselling and Supportive Therapy, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Special Education. She is a qualified counsellor in child development psychology.

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