Conservation, Culture, and Couscous with Azzedine Downes

In his debut personal memoir, The Couscous Chronicles, Stories of Food, Love and Donkeys, Azzedine Downes ruminates on travels and work abroad as Chief of Party for USAID and Acting Regional Director of the Peace Corps in Eurasia and the Middle East. Recounting a plethora of stories resulting from his time living in countries including Morocco, Yemen, Romania, Bulgaria,and Israel, he shares his cultural reflections as an American in rapidly changing countries.

Azzedine will use the context of his adventures to discuss the past quarter-century of his professional career as one of the most recognizable figures in the field of conservation and animal welfare, befriended and mentored by renowned individuals including conservationist Jane Goodall. As President and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Azzedine will discuss his and IFAW’s perspective on global conservation and how he has vastly increased the size, scale, and impact of the organization, embracing some of the largest conservation efforts to date, all built upon a foundation of trust within the local community.

From transnational wildlife connectivity initiatives across Africa, aptly named ‘Room to Roam’, to recent adventures in the Himalayan foothills of India to release rescued bears in the Pakke Tiger Reserve, Azzedine will offer a taste of adventure, a generous serving of humor, and a deep cultural understanding of distant places that will whet the appetite of any avid explorer.


Azzedine Downes became President and CEO of IFAW in 2012. He has worked closely with experts and decision-makers from around the world, leading a groundbreaking period of geographic expansion and strategic consolidation. Before joining IFAW, Azzedine served as the Chief of Party for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Jerusalem and Morocco and was appointed by President Clinton as Acting Regional Director for the United States Peace Corps in Eurasia and the Middle East. He has been listed among The Nonprofit Times’s “Power and Influence Top 50,” was selected to join the Forbes nonprofit business council, and named to the prestigious Council for Hope of the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation in 2023. His first book, The Couscous Chronicles, was released in June 2023. Azzedine is a graduate of Providence College and Harvard University, and is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.


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This program was organized by Alan Feldstein #1094.