Samuel Odawo- Mombasa, Kenya

Samuel Odawo spent his Professional Fellowship at the University of Rochester Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities.

“I have realized that if one is committed to a given vision, then the results are definitely going to be realized. If that commitment is paired with partnership, that is partnering with all the stakeholders that have got an interest in the matter, the results will be even better. For ultimate success you need commitment, partnerships, and resources and that is something that I take to my country. I am committed to my vision and I partner with the right stakeholders and I will find a way to mobilize and allocate the right resources.”

Samuel is a self-employed consultant and director of the Ulemavu Research Institute, a disability research firm that advises businesses, individuals and policymakers on mainstreaming disability inclusion. He is also a member of Kenya’s National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) and currently serves as head of the NCPWD Inclusive Emergency Response Taskforce on COVID-19.

In his role with the NCPWD, Samuel plays a key role in both oversight and advocacy for disability policy reform and implementation. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has played a key role in public efforts to include Kenyans with disabilities in relief measures. He most recently coordinated a nationwide data collection effort in partnership with disability rights advocates around the country that enabled more than 30,000 Kenyans with disabilities to receive mobile emergency cash transfers during the country’s lockdown.

In addition to advising businesses and policymakers on best practices for inclusive employment, Samuel’s roles as a private consultant involve providing services to people with disabilities and special education needs and promoting . He has conducted extensive research in the disability field, and mentors young people with disabilities through motivational talks and guidance, both in person and through social media platforms.

Samuel brings with him a wealth of experience garnered from past work experience in organizations such as SOS Children’s Villages and CARE International Kenya. He received a master’s degree in the management of special education in developing countries from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and very much enjoyed this international experience and perspective.

Samuel developed a project during his Fellowship that aimed to establish an employment center for people with disabilities tasked with offered services both to employees with disabilities and their potential employers. The first of these centers would be in Nairobi, with the aim of creating new ones across Kenya.