Zohra Dawood was appointed as Director of the FW de Klerk Foundation’s Centre for Unity in Diversity as of 17 October 2016.
Ms Dawood has degrees in law and a Master’s degree in economic history. She worked for a decade as chief researcher for a land rights’ organisation. After 1994, she worked with the Department of Land Affairs and Agriculture, where she was involved in policy formulation and implementation, including negotiations and settlement of land claims. Ms Dawood has been an adviser to cabinet members and was an adviser to the Presidency of Nelson Mandela. She also worked for the Department of Defence in drafting its legislation and policies on land and environment. In 1999, she joined the Soros Network’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) and was appointed Executive Director. In addition to her responsibilities for South Africa and African programmes for the Open Society Foundations, she was appointed to lead OSF’s efforts in Indonesia as Regional Director, where she headed up an OSF entity that seeks to institutionalise democracy and an open society in the largest Muslim country in the world.
Ms Dawood has been actively engaged internationally in key issues related to human rights and international justice, social, economic and legal reform and the promotion of independent media. She has written for the media and presented widely at conferences and seminars and has been actively engaged in issues related to foreign policy and international relations, through the South African Foreign Policy Initiative, which she founded in 2011.
She has been a Professional Associate of the Zamyn since November 2013, which is an independent analytical organisation working at the intersection of socio-economic, political and cultural theory and practice.
Ms Dawood was asked to join AgangSA in 2013, under the leadership of Dr Mamphela Ramphele for a period of six months. This involved establishing a new political platform to strengthen democracy in South Africa.
Before joining the FW de Klerk Foundation as Director of the Centre for Unity in Diversity, Ms Dawood had stepped out of her comfort zone to assume the position of Business Development and Fundraising Executive at the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO). This entailed managing the business strategy and fundraising drive for the CPO, including addressing issues of diversity, building career paths for talented musicians and crucially ensuring the financial sustainability of the CPO, which has gone from an organisation perpetually in the red to one that is growing its endowment fund.