When Azzedine Downes became CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2012, one thing was clear to him: "Talking to people who already agreed with us just isn’t enough to get real results."
As IFAW’s Executive Vice President since 1997, Azzedine had worked closely with experts from across the sciences and decision makers from around the world. But when he became President, IFAW started bringing together what Azzedine likes to call “the unusual suspects.” Seamstresses in Malawi. Auction houses in China. Military intelligence officers in Minnesota. Working together, IFAW’s eclectic network is now helping animals and people thrive together in more than 40 countries.
Azzedine has led IFAW through a groundbreaking period of geographic expansion and strategic consolidation. He’s helped open offices on four continents, including IFAW’s first office in the Middle East.
Azzedine has also influenced international policies to create positive change on the ground. In Azzedine’s first year as President, IFAW signed a historic lease agreement with a Maasai community near Amboseli National Park in Kenya, securing 16,000 acres of precious habitat for elephants. Months later, Azzedine helped establish a first-of-its-kind cooperative framework between IFAW and INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Program. For years, Azzedine has served as the Head of the Delegation to the CITES Conference of the Parties. And recently, he directed IFAW’s successful campaign for membership to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Before joining IFAW, Azzedine served as the Chief of Party for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Jerusalem and Morocco, as well as the Acting Regional Director for the United States Peace Corps in Eurasia and the Middle East.
In 2015, Fast Company named Azzedine one of the “The Most 100 Creative People in Business,” and he has been listed among The NonProfit Times’s “Power and Influence Top 50.” He is a member of the Global Tiger Forum Advisory Council, and he currently sits on the U.S. Trade and Environmental Policy Advisory Committee.
Named to the prestigious Council for Hope of the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation in 2023, Azzedine joins a group of prominent global thought and business leaders committed to using their influence to improve the world around us.
A graduate of Providence College and Harvard University, Azzedine is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.
Chief of Party, AMIDEAST Morocco
Chief of Party, AMIDEAST Israel
Acting Regional Director for Eurasia and Middle East Region, United States Peace Corps, Washington D.C.
Chief of Operations for Eurasia and Middle East Region, United States Peace Corps
Bachelor of Arts, French Language Providence College, United States
Masters of Education, Administration, Planning, Social Policy Harvard University, United States
Certificate, French Linguistics University of Fribourg, Switzerland