Sonja Leighton-Kone is a management professional with more than 25 years of service in the international development field. She has extensive experience overseeing operations, financial and administrative activities in complex environments. Most recently she has overseen the financial and managerial frameworks for engagement with the private sector and has pioneered policies and operational modalities which have successfully increased income and expanded UNICEF’s engagement with the private sector. With a career spanning almost 20 years with the UN, she has held varied and increasingly senior roles managing risks and change, introducing innovative approaches and overseeing financial stewardship, information technology initiatives, human resources and procurement. She has had senior roles in engagement with governing bodies and other key partners.
Prior to this assignment, Sonja was the Regional Chief of Operations for the UNICEF Middle East and North Africa region based in Amman, Jordan. Her UN career began with the World Food Programme in 1999 and she subsequently joined UNICEF in 2002. During her 19 years in the UN system, she has led Operations teams in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Jordan, the Middle East and North Africa Region and Switzerland.
Before joining the UN system, she worked in the banking and non-profit sector in the United States of America. She is a dual national of Jamaica and the United States of America. Sonja has a Master’s in Business Administration from Fordham Graduate Business School, New York, United States of America, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Science from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Sonja has a passion for understanding organizational dynamics, leading and managing people, maximizing impact and results and getting the best out of teams. She is married with 2 children.