Founder & CEO
Jacob Lief is the Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Education Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive services to vulnerable children living in the townships of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, from cradle to career.
After visiting South Africa to observe the country’s transition to democracy, he returned to the Eastern Cape to co-found Ubuntu in 1999. He has since developed the organization, which began in a broom closet, into a world-class institution that supports more than 2,000 children on its pathway out of poverty. Overseeing 70 employees across three continents, Jacob has grown Ubuntu into an internationally-recognized model for community development. He has authored a book, I Am Because You Are, focused on his journey in South Africa and the creation of Ubuntu Education Fund, published by Rodale Inc.
Recently, Jacob appeared in Fortune Magazine's ”40 Under 40" list of the most influential young people in business. Jacob was a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's (UPenn) School of Social Policy, and this fall, he will be a visiting fellow at the university's new global policy research center, Perry World House. In partnership with UPenn's Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Jacob was the host of the podcast series Philanthropy Unfiltered. He has served as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative Advisory Committee, was named one of the world’s 101 most innovative visionaries at the Decide Now Act Summit, has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader, and was selected as an Aspen Institute Global Fellow.