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Ugandan refugee Derreck Kayongo named CEO of Center for Civil and Human Rights

(Photo Courtesy: The National Center for Civil and Human Rights)

(Photo Courtesy: The National Center for Civil and Human Rights)

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc. on Friday, Dec. 4 announced Derreck Kayongo as its new CEO, effective immediately during a morning press conference. A well-known corporate social entrepreneur, Kayongo personifies the spirit of “being the change you wish to see.” His own story as a Ugandan refugee fuels his passion for social activism and his more than 15 years of experience in developing national and international programs for human rights embodies The Center’s mission to challenge, inspire and empower people from all walks of life.

As a child, Kayongo and his family fled a civil war in Uganda and settled in Kenya. Eventually, he came to the United States where he founded the Global Soap Project in 2009. The project takes partially used soap from hotels and recycles them into new soap to redistribute to vulnerable populations that otherwise would not have easy access to these basic necessities. Today, the Global Soap Project’s distribution operation is active in more than 90 countries and has donated more than five million bars of soap to refugees, including people affected by humanitarian disasters like the 2010 Haitian Earthquake and the recent Ebola health crisis in West Africa.

Kayongo has received several prestigious awards for his work, including CNN’s Top 10 Heroes award, the Maxx Entrepreneurship Award, the Certificate of Congressional Recognition by Congressman John Lewis and accolades from Noble Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“I am honored to have been appointed as The Center’s new CEO and am looking forward to bringing my personal experiences and my expertise to such an important organization,” said Kayongo. “Seeing the success of my social entrepreneur endeavors has shown me the power of one small idea and how it can generate passion to solve a problem. The Center provides a safe haven for people to dialogue about our social challenges and opportunities, giving way for those small ideas that can someday change the world.”

“I can think of no one better to lead The Center’s efforts in provoking thoughtful discussion on important and topical issues, such as race, gender and equality,” said former Atlanta Mayor and Center Board Chair Shirley Franklin. “Beyond pioneering the Global Soap Project, Derreck has a renowned record in non-governmental organization capacity building, fundraising, diverse program implementation and grassroots organizing, among many other talents. The Board is excited to work with Derreck in our continuing efforts to drive social reflection and dialogue.”

Kayongo has been a guest on several news programs, including CNN’s “Amanpour” and BBC’s “Focus on Africa.” Currently, he working on a new book that focuses on how he found his calling in life as a former refugee, scheduled to be released in 2016.

Kayongo is a graduate of the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.