John Githongo to visit Stanford as this year's Haas Center Distinguished Visitor

An internationally renowned activist and journalist who exposed government corruption in Kenya, Githongo will spend 10 weeks on campus interacting with students, faculty and community groups and will give a public lecture on authoritarianism in Africa on Feb. 5.

Kenyan journalist and activist John Githongo will visit Stanford over winter and spring quarters as this year's Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor.

Andrew NjorogeJohn Githongo

Kenyan journalist and activist John Githongo, this year's Distinguished Visitor at the Haas Center for Public Service, will also spend time as a visiting scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

Githongo will deliver the Haas Center for Public Service's Distinguished Visitor Lecture on Feb. 5 and will remain on campus through the end of spring quarter. During his time on campus he also will lead seminars and meet with students, faculty and community groups.

A journalist and former correspondent for The Economist, Githongo currently serves as chief executive officer of Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi Ltd., a Kenya-based nongovernmental organization that works with Kenyan youth to provide civic education and address societal problems. From 2003 to 2004, he served as permanent secretary for governance and ethics in the post-transition government of Kenya's third president, Mwai Kibaki. However, Githongo began to expose corruption within the administration that appointed him. Fearing for his safety, he fled Kenya and spent time in hiding in Britain. He returned to Kenya in 2008.

Githongo has served as chief executive officer of Transparency International Kenya, vice president of World Vision, senior associate member at St. Antony's College Oxford and member of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. In 2011 he was selected as one of the world's 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine and one of the world's top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine.

"We believe that public service is an essential part of our students' experience at Stanford," said Provost John Etchemendy. "Mr. Githongo is internationally recognized for his public service work as an anti-corruption activist in Kenya, and both students and faculty will be eager to learn from his example and experience."

During his visit to Stanford, Githongo will also spend time as a visiting scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL).

"Mr. Githongo has been at the forefront of efforts to expose and fight corruption and improve governance in Kenya," said Larry Diamond, director of CDDRL and faculty co-director of the Haas Center. "He is in frequent demand internationally as an expert on corruption, development and democracy in Africa, and has enormous reservoirs of courage. He is really going to inspire our students, faculty, staff and community partners."

The Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor Program is a 10-week residency that brings to Stanford prominent individuals whose lives and careers have had significant public impact at home or abroad and who have distinguished themselves in one or more forms of public service. Previous visitors have included Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway; Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

"Mr. Githongo is an extraordinarily accomplished public servant and adds to the range of perspectives brought by our Distinguished Visitors," said Tom Schnaubelt, executive director of the Haas Center. "Beyond being a global leader in anti-corruption activism and government transparency, he is a playwright and public intellectual. The Stanford community has benefited greatly from the depth of interaction afforded by a quarter-long visit with each of our past Distinguished Visitors, and we are excited for this tradition to continue with Mr. Githongo."

The Feb. 5 lecture is titled "Africa (Up)Rising: Confronting the New Authoritarianism." The event, which will begin with a reception at 4 p.m. in Paul Brest Hall, is free and open to the public. RSVP is required.

Virginia Bock is communications associate for the Haas Center for Public Service.