Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO

Azzedine Downes

President and Chief Executive Officer


As President and CEO, Azzedine Downes is responsible for the strategic vision that will guide IFAW’s contribution to a standard for conservation and animal welfare worldwide.

Azzedine has been a leader on conservation issues over the past sixteen years. In his previous role as IFAW's Executive Vice President, Azzedine oversaw both the Programmes Team and International Operations.  His coordination of these key areas led to an increased global impact on animal issues and led to the expansion of IFAW’s work to the more than forty countries in which IFAW is found today.

Under Azzedine’s leadership, IFAW opened its first office in the Middle East and expanded its work on global animal conservation and welfare issues. He was responsible for designing and launching IFAW’s Prevention of Wildlife Trafficking (Wildlife Law Enforcement) programme, which provides ongoing training and support for law enforcement and customs officials faced with growing illegal trade issues. His leadership on international illicit trade in wildlife has resulted in the development of IFAW’s Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness programme.

Azzedine spearheaded the expansion of IFAW’s Tiger Team work into Bhutan and South Asia, expanding and strengthening protection for tigers in their range states.

Azzedine has served as Head of the Delegation to the CITES Conference of the Parties, leading campaigns to reduce and restrict negative impacts of wildlife trade. His programme teams also provide direct assistance to wildlife and domestic animals through the Animal Rescue and Companion Animals Programmes.

In 2015, Azzedine was named to Fast Company’s “The 100 Most Creative People in Business,” and he was invited to join the Global Tiger Forum Advisory Council and US Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee.  In 2016, The NonProfit Times recognized Azzedine as one of 16 new honorees on their Top 50 Power and Influence list.

Fluent in English, French and Arabic, Azzedine is an accomplished public speaker and regularly presents IFAW’s work to the media in those three languages.

Azzedine is committed to finding solutions to the problems facing wildlife and companion animals in today’s complex world by combining good science, sound animal welfare concepts and culturally appropriate solutions.


Background prior to joining IFAW

Chief of Party, USAID:AMIDEAST, Morocco

Led a team financed by the United States Agency for International Development on the development of finance and education systems to improve education of girls in the national school system.

Chief of Party, USAID:AMIDEAST, Jerusalem

As part of the 1994 Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, led the United States Agency for International Development funded project to improve administration of Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

United States Peace Corps, Acting Regional Director for Eurasia and Middle East Region. 

Named by President Clinton to lead Peace Corps efforts in the region

United States Peace Corps, Chief of Operations, Eurasia and Middle East Region



Harvard University, Master’s Degree, Administration, Planning and Social Policy

Providence College, Bachelor of Arts (BA), French Language, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

University of Fribourg, Fribourg Switzerland, Certificate in French Linguistics

Press contact

To schedule an interview with Azzedine Downes, contact:

Kate Farinella
Director, Global Communications | IFAW 
Tel: +1-646-838-3951 

Related articles:

Kill them to save them?
Watch Azzedine Downes on CNN’s Quest Means Business discuss wildlife conservation and trophy hunting.


Huffington Post: A reflection on “Trophy Hunting’s Tragic Victims” and the long-term implications of this callous sport - Read more.


CNN: Texas hunter moves forward with plan to hunt a critically endangered Black Rhino in Namibia, a highly controversial move he claims will save the species — Read more.