Heinrich Boll Stiftung Southern Africa has a new director

Katrin Seidel joined the Southern African team in Cape Town at the beginning of August. “It’s my thirteenth year with the Foundation and clearly a lucky one! This is an important new task that fills me with excitement and respect in equal measures. At this point in time it seems that South Africa not unlike Germany is in a battle for its soul.” Katrin is moving with her partner and two children from the West Coast of Canada. Her professional career started in Cambodia sixteen years ago. Where after short stints as an adviser with the German Development Cooperation giz and a local forum for non-governmental organizations, she headed the hbs Cambodia office. “We are still very connected to this part of the world and try to visit regularly. It is, however, painful to witness how the ruling party is keeping the country in a chokehold and with it the future and imagination of the first generation born after the Khmer Rouge genocide.” In 2011, Katrin became the director of the Regional Office East and Horn of Africa. “This was a first for the Foundation and a steep learning curve for me. There had not been a transfer of directors between continents before. It’s these six years in Kenya that give me confidence for my new role here in Southern Africa. I am familiar with many of the debates the Cape Town Office has been a part of and our offices have collaborated in the past. This is also how I got to know the team, who is without overstatement one of the best the Foundation has worldwide.” Katrin’s academic roots are in agriculture. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Agriculture from the Humboldt University in Berlin. “It often comes as a surprise to people that I studied agriculture. It provides me with a bit of grounding. In my thesis, I looked at the legal recognition of the communal land systems of indigenous peoples in Cambodia. This experience helps me to navigate the discussions on land reforms in Southern Africa.” Katrin would like to thank those who have lead the team before her: “I want to recognise the contribution of my predecessor Layla Al-Zubaidi who has done an amazing job in making hbs a trusted partner in the region for organisations, networks and activist that push the conversation on a social and ecological transformation for a sustainable, just and equal future. Last but definitely not least a big thanks to Paula Assubuji who next to her role as Human Rights and Gender Justice Programme Manager also acted as director since the beginning of the year.”