ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc. today announced Derreck Kayongo as its new CEO, effective immediately. 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’s at work 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.
About The Center for Civil and Human Rights
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Downtown Atlanta is an engaging cultural attraction that connects The American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. The Center features a continuously rotating exhibit from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, which includes many of Dr. King’s documents and personal items. Visitors will be immersed in experiential exhibits through powerful and authentic stories, historic documents, compelling artifacts, and interactive activities. The Center is a source for ongoing dialogue — hosting educational forums and attracting world-renowned speakers and artists who work on a variety of human rights topics. For more information, visit www.civilandhumanrights.org. Join the conversation on civil and human rights on Twitter @Ctr4CHR and Facebook.