Narciso Matos to leave Carnegie Corporation and head Mozambican civic organization


Narciso Matos, chair of the International Development Program and an expert in the field of African higher education, will be leaving Carnegie Corporation of New York in July 2007 to lead the Community Development Foundation of Mozambique, a civic nonprofit institution that supports local initiatives through community investment, with the aim of defeating poverty and promoting social justice. Established in 1990 by Graça Machel, widow of the late president of Mozambique and wife of Nelson Mandela, the Foundation is the first and foremost institution of its kind in the country. It was in response to the direct request of Ms. Machel, who knows Matos well from her days as Education Minister of Mozambique, that he accepted the executive director position.

"Narciso Matos is the architect of our work in African higher education," said Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation. It has been a privilege to have him guiding the Corporation’s strategy in this area. He has a deep understanding of Africa from several critical perspectives, and his expertise has been invaluable to our efforts to stimulate scientific and education leadership. Higher education is a critical element in Africa's future and we will miss Matos’ insight and experience, which have been so vital to our endeavors to make a difference for the university system and Africa's future leaders."

Matos will continue to steer the Corporation’s critical work in African higher education while an international search is conducted for his successor.

Helene Kaplan, chair of the board of trustees of the Corporation, expressed appreciation for Matos’ many contributions to the Corporation’s ongoing programs in Africa. “We could never have equaled the progress that has been made on the continent without an expert of Matos' scope and integrity to shape our strategy," she said. “As a scholar and education leader, he is deeply familiar with culture and aspirations of the African university community and understands the needs of the higher education sector. He has been a dedicated and powerful advocate, and a partner to the continent’s educational leadership.”

Matos has been a vital force in the work of The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, of which Carnegie Corporation is a founding member. This cooperative effort with the Ford, MacArthur, Rockefeller, William and Flora Hewlett and the Andrew W. Mellon foundations, supports capacity building within universities and throughout the field of higher education in Africa. Since 2000, more than $150 million in support has gone to universities in six African countries. In September 2005, $200 million more was pledged over the next five years.

Born and raised in Mozambique, Matos attended Eduardo Mondlane University in the capital city of Maputo, and is a scientist by training with a PhD in chemistry. In the late 1980's, he served as the university’s Dean of the Faculty of Science and later as its Vice Chancellor, the university’s highest administrative position. He was a Member of Parliament for nine years. Prior to joining Carnegie Corporation in January 2000, he was the Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (AAU) and a member of the Advisory Group on Higher Education to the Secretary General of UNESCO.

“I have always hoped that I would someday return to Mozambique, where I can apply the many valuable lessons learned in my years at Carnegie Corporation,” Matos said. “The Community Development Foundation needs a leader who can help focus its work and move the organization in a more strategic direction, and they need that person now. Such organizations can be a lifeline for African countries like Mozambique, where the needs are great. But they cannot be expected to address all needs for all people,” he stressed. “My goal is for the Community Development Foundation to become an umbrella association and trainer for other hands-on non-governmental organizations throughout the country. This change, however, will not be easy,” Matos added. “It requires consolidation of the Foundation’s financial base and strengthening the confidence of local, national and international partners in order to build up an endowment that can be maintained through the years. That will be my primary challenge.”

Matos said he was amazed at changes that have taken place in Mozambique since he moved away eleven years ago. One positive difference is the growth of civic organizations and nonprofits and the increased numbers of people who, “if they were properly trained,” would be qualified to work for them. Strengthening the nonprofit sector is critically important to the role Matos sees for the Community Development Foundation, which he envisions becoming “the voice of civil society. We will speak out on policy matters,” he predicted. “On issues such as debt relief, for instance, where once only the government would act as interlocutor with institutions like the World Bank, we could be involved as an advocate as well.

“Carnegie Corporation has been a school for me,” Matos explained. “I’ve learned not just about field operations but also about the dynamics between donor and receiver. It’s been an eye-opening experience that’s taught me the importance of empowering those who have to do the real work. My role will be to act as a facilitator and to build trust in the organization. And my goal will be to provide for the community based on what they tell us is needed – not on what we want to do for them.

“Of course it is with some sadness that I leave my many friends at the Corporation, and with some trepidation that I change the direction of my professional life,” Matos admitted. “As I see it, what I’m doing here at Carnegie Corporation, hundreds of others could do as well. But in Mozambique we don’t have enough people. One person can make more of a difference."

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in this world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $2.2 billion on September 30, 2005. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.