Blessing Omakwu, Head of Goalkeepers, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Blessing Omakwu is a Nigerian-American women’s equality advocate, strategist and writer. She is also the founder of The She Tank: a modern think-tank supporting the realisation of equality for women of African descent. In 2017, the British Council recognised Blessing as one of the top 50 emerging global policy leaders.
In 2019, Blessing served as the Co-Curator of Melinda Gates’s session on gender bias at Goalkeepers New York City. She is currently a deputy director at the Gates Foundation, where she leads Goalkeepers: an initiative to accelerate progress on sustainable development goals.
A lawyer turned policy wonk, Blessing has been researching and working on human rights and women’s equality issues for the past decade. Her career has been dedicated to the public sector, and she has worked and consulted for various government agencies and international organisations including the United Nations and the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives.
In her role as executive director of a faith-based foundation, Blessing brokered a partnership with the First Lady of South Sudan office and coordinated on the ground post-conflict humanitarian relief in the country. Between 2016-2017, she served pro bono on the Victory Counsel (legal) team for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
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As the Special Advisor to the Executive Director of Global Policy at the ONE Campaign, Blessing advised a global gender campaign that centered around African female activists, and led to the creation of a docu-series. She also served as Co-Chair of ONE and RED’s global staff advisory group on equity, diversity and inclusion.
Blessing previously led the design of a learning strategy related to religion and gender for the foundation as part of its gender equality special initiative. A wearer of many hats, Blessing has been a participant of the 17 Rooms Initiative (a project by the Rockefeller Foundation and Brookings Institute) since 2018, and a co-lead of “Room 5” (for SDG 5) since 2019. Between 2021-2022, she is curating Room 5 around a simple question: How can faith actors be catalysed to advance gender equality?
Blessing has been invited to speak and moderate panels in cities around the world like Abuja, Johannesburg, London and New York; and delivered the keynote address at Cargill’s HQ for its 2019 International Women’s Day event (livestreamed by 100,000+ Cargill employees around the world).
Blessing graduated summa cum laude from Oral Roberts University with a B.A in Government and International Relations, and earned her Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law School.
She is a recipient of the 2012 USA National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Graduate award, and a member of the New York Bar. She has also completed executive education on Public Policy, Design Thinking and Leadership at Cambridge University.