Sonja Leighton-Kone is the Acting Deputy Executive Director at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.
She has been the Director of the Corporate Services Division at UNEP since 2018, leading the organization’s strategic engagement with Member States, UN agencies and partners in global environmental financing mechanisms, resource mobilization and, financial and human resource management.
Ms. Leighton-Kone has more than 30 years of experience in international development overseeing operations in complex environments, including emerging and fragile States. As a senior member of the UNEP leadership team, she has introduced a wide range of initiatives to strengthen the organization’s systems, donor partnerships and capacity building programmes.
Prior to joining UNEP, Ms. Leighton-Kone served as Deputy Director of Operations and Finance at UNICEF in Geneva, where she led the development of the management framework for private sector partnerships and integrated private sector fundraising processes within UNICEF’s global systems.
She has held a series of high-level positions at UNICEF, including Regional Chief of Operations in Jordan, Chief of Operations in Ethiopia, Senior Operations Officer in South Sudan and Operations Officer in Myanmar.
Ms. Leighton-Kone started her international career as a humanitarian worker engaged in the Bosnia and Herzegovina conflict. Subsequently, she supported several projects in the former Soviet Union as they transitioned to newly independent States. Her UN career began with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan in 1999.
During her 22 years in the UN system, she has participated in several UN management reforms and supported key global partnerships with the private sector, including Unilever, Ikea, MAC Cosmetics, FC Barcelona and H&M.
Ms. Leighton-Kone is a dual national of Jamaica and the USA. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Fordham Graduate Business School, USA and a Bachelor’s in Management Science from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. She is married with two children.