Vice President of Programs
Lena Slachmuijlder brings 25 years of experience working for peace and social change in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Before joining the Washington, DC headquarters, she lived and worked in Africa for 21 years as a journalist, editor, human rights defender, director, producer, performing artist, cultural facilitator, trainer, and project manager. Lena graduated from Stanford University before heading to South Africa in 1990 and working as a journalist and human rights defender during the transition to democracy. She joined Search for Common Ground in Burundi in 2001, heading the ‘Studio Ijambo’ radio production studio, while supporting regional media efforts. In 2005, she was appointed Country Director in DR Congo, growing it to become Search’s largest program, with seven offices around the country working on repatriation, sexual violence, governance, elections, security sector reform, and regional cohesion. In the DRC, Lena pioneered tools such as participatory theatre, a reality TV show, and innovative approaches to army and police reform. She has trained journalists, artists and peace builders on all continents, has published numerous articles, and wrote and produced a documentary film about Burundi's 'Heroes.' She now oversees all of Search’s Regional Directors and supports our programs across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Lena is fluent in English, French, and Zulu and has working knowledge of Swahili, Lingala, and Kirundi.