Dr. Katharine “Kate” Thompson

Amani Foundation Founder & Director

Kate Thompson moved to Tanzania when she was a teenager and has never truly left. She began working with Kigongoni Orphanage, the predecessor to The Amani Foundation, in 2011. At the invitation of the Tanzanian team, Kate established the Amani Foundation as a US-based 501c 3 charity in 2015, and has been the director of the Foundation for nearly a decade. She works to amplify the tireless efforts of her Tanzanian colleagues, invest in their training, and jumpstart their own continuing education pathways. Beyond this, Kate leads the Foundation’s operations overall and uses her background in the social sciences to generate and assess program output metrics. 

Now a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in Medical Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology of Penn State University, Kate received her BA in Anthropology and BS in Community, Environment, and Development from Penn State University, and both her MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stony Brook University. She is also a licensed NYS EMT with a wilderness medicine concentration. Apart from Amani, Kate has over a decade of experience leading research expeditions in African nations, and studies how humans interact with nature. She has conducted research in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Nigeria. Kate specializes in using mixed-methods, qualitative and quantitative ethnographic methods to understand how ecosystem health, human well-being, and wildlife conservation are interconnected. She focuses on understanding who hunts and consumes wildlife, how it acts to community resilience, and the driving factors of why people hunt. Kate believes in the primacy of decolonization within One-Health approaches to wildlife issues. 

In her abundant free time, Kate enjoys trail running, nature illustration, and driving the center’s motorcycle along the escarpment. She has a residence in Nyasi (a three minutes’ walk from the children’s home), and Kate looks forward to raising her own daughter Carmen in the community that she too came of age in.