Lesley Donna Williams

Lesley Donna Williams


Lesley is a practitioner of inclusive innovation. She facilitates participatory leadership dialogues and processes for collaborative action across multi-stakeholder innovation ecosystems. She has worked across diverse industries including academia, mining, banking, animation and energy. Lesley is the CEO of Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct and founded Impact Hub Johannesburg in 2010 to advance social innovation in Africa. She currently serves on the boards of the Innovation Foundation for Democracy (Treasurer), Power Grids Education Trust (Chair), Hitachi Energy South Africa, South African Women in Dialogue, Gauteng Premier’s Office: 4IR Advisory Panel, Civic Tech Innovation Network, and Amis de l’IFAS/Friends of the French Institute of South Africa. She is a sought after international public speaker, including a TEDx alumni. Her work has been recognized through various awards, including bestowment of Chevalier de l’Ordre national du mérite (Knight of the French National Order of Merit), recipient of the InspiringFifty award by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and recognition as an Obama Leader by the Obama Foundation. In 2009 she was selected on a BP Antarctica Expedition to design solutions for Climate Change and in 2019 as part of the Mandela centenary celebrations, she moderated a dialogue on Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the Future of Africa between President Barack Obama and Graça Machel at the African American Museum in Washington DC. Her work is regularly presented in South African and international media as well as conferences, including, Afreximbank’s Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, Egypt; the World Incubation Summit, Qatar; the New Africa-France Summit, Viva Tech, and Annecy International Animation Festival, France; UNDP Africa Youth Conference, Kenya; African Union, Ethiopia; Forum for Innovation in African Universities, United Kingdom; Africa Business Media Initiatives by Bloomberg, Zambia; Creative Industries Expo, Nigeria; Mandela 100 USA Gala; Durban International Film Festival, Gauteng Provincial Government and the South African Presidency’s Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Along with fellow Obama Leaders across Africa, Lesley contributed to the published poetry anthology “A Better World, Hope from Africa”. She is completing her MPhil in Inclusive Innovation and the title of her master’s dissertation is “The Influence of Cultural Diplomacy on South Africa’s Animation Industry”.


Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct


Intermediaries in Africa, Now and Beyond



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