K. Riva Levinson is a sought-after political and business strategist solving challenges for clients across governments and continents. While global in her reach, Riva’s passion lies in Sub-Saharan Africa where she has traveled and worked for 32 years on projects ranging from political risk to election strategy. Notable achievements include advising former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female president, since 1997 through her two terms in office; and counselling Joyce Banda, former president of Malawi, during her period of exile.
Riva began her career as an operative in the late 1980s at Washington’s first bipartisan lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly. In this capacity, Riva was on the front-lines during some of the world’s pivotal moments in history, including Angola during the tentative peace in the early 1990s; South Africa at the end of apartheid; and Iraq immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Riva later became Managing Director for BKSH & Associates, a subsidiary of Young & Rubicam. In 2006, Riva founded KRL International LLC, a consulting firm specializing in emerging markets and based in Washington, DC. She has managed projects of consequence in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe.
Riva is a contributor to The Hill, one of Washington, DC’s leading publications on policy and politics, writing on Africa, democracy and development, and is the author of the award-winning memoir, “Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President,” chronicling her career alongside her relationship with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Riva has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” CNN and MSNBC.
In addition to her work at KRL, Riva serves on the advisory council of Last Mile Health, a non-profit healthcare provider dedicated to saving lives in the world’s most remote communities, and on the board of directors of Invest Africa, a membership organization interested in stimulating investment, economic growth, employment and poverty reduction in Africa.
Riva holds a bachelor’s in economics and international affairs from Tufts University and a master’s in security studies from Georgetown University. She is married with two adult children.