Who We Are?

About the Society

The Africa Society is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan and diverse organization formed as a direct outgrowth of the National Summit on Africa, which launched in 1997 with grant support from the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. This initiative resulted in the largest mobilization of Africa-interested individuals in the history of the U.S., with delegations from every state and territory. After contemplating how best to meet the needs and demands of nearly 20,000 constituents, the Summit’s Board of Directors and Secretariat voted to establish an organization devoted to educating Americans of all backgrounds, ages and statuses about the continent of Africa. To meet this goal, The Africa Society was launched in January 2002 at an event sponsored by one of its primary partners, Discovery Communications, LLC. Since, the Society has developed a wide range of educational programs targeting every age group and academic level.

Serving as a combination think-tank and public education organization, The Africa Society is now building upon the momentum generated during the National Summit. By facilitating a paradigm shift, the Africa Society is working to ensure that Africa assumes its rightful place in the knowledge base of all Americans. As we highlight the richness and diversity of Africa, as well as the economic opportunities that it offers, we continue to acquaint Americans with the lifestyles and peoples of the 54 nations of Africa, thereby fostering goodwill and understanding. This not only benefits Africa; it engenders respect for and appreciation of the diverse backgrounds and cultures of African descendants in America

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In our eight years of existence, we have worked to reach our educational goals while simultaneously providing strategic and crucial information to policymakers and stakeholders in an effort to stimulate constructive action for socioeconomic growth in Africa. Our mission thus offers an exceptional channel for our youth and general public to engage fully and successfully in their local communities and the larger globalized world;a world that we hope will become progressively egalitarian, equitable, and peaceful.

The Africa Society is open to both Americans and continental Africans of all races, cultures, ages, and points of view.


The mission of The Africa Society is to be the premiere entity that engages and educates Americans about the countries comprising the continent of Africa and to create, through partnerships, a better understanding of its peoples, diverse cultures, histories and economies.

Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater (ret.) Board Chairman and CEO

Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater has enjoyed a celebrated career as a United States Foreign Service Officer who has led diplomatic efforts that helped change the course of world events. A native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Ambassador Bridgewater is a graduate of Walker-Grant High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Virginia State University, received a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati, and completed course work and advanced to candidacy for the PhD degree from the American University School of International Service, Washington, D.C. She holds honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Virginia State University, an honorary Doctor of Public Service from Morgan State University and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Mary Washington.

Ambassador Bridgewater’s overseas tours were in Belgium, The Bahamas, Jamaica, South Africa, Benin and Ghana. She has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and held other domestic assignments in the Department of State. She was the first African-American woman to serve as Principal Officer (Consul General) in Durban, South Africa. Additionally, she has the distinction of being the longest- serving U.S. diplomat in South Africa during the historic transition from apartheid to a non-racial government. As the political officer assigned to cover Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress in Pretoria, South Africa, a former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa said “Bridgewater established a degree of trust and confidence with Mr. Mandela and the ANC leadership that the U.S. had not previously enjoyed.”

At the height of the most recent civil war in Liberia, Ambassador Bridgewater was named the Department of State’s Special Coordinator for Peace in Liberia and spearheaded the efforts that led to a comprehensive peace agreement and democratic elections. Her extraordinary accomplishments and leadership abilities led President Bill Clinton to name her U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Benin; President George W. Bush to name her U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, and President Barack Obama named her as Ambassador to Jamaica.

Before joining the diplomatic corps, Ambassador Bridgewater was a university professor at Morgan State University and Bowie State University in Maryland, and Voorhees College in South Carolina. There is a consistent theme that appears throughout Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater’s professional life, and that is her role as both mediator and mentor. As a professor, she both intellectually challenged and encouraged her students who later distinguished themselves as states’ attorney general, judges, academicians and authors. As a Foreign Service Officer, she shared her vast experience with new officers, providing opportunities that challenged them and enabled them to excel professionally. She continues to encourage and mentor diversity students and others interested in careers in foreign affairs.

A tireless public servant, Ambassador Bridgewater has won numerous commendations for her contributions to international affairs and public policy, including two U.S. Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, the Charles Cobb Award for Trade Promotion, Department of State Superior Honor Awards and the Secretary of State’s Career Achievement Award. She received highest national honors accorded non- citizens from the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Ghana. Ambassador Bridgewater is a sought after speaker and is currently writing her memoirs, and those of her late grandfather Dr. B. H. Hester who pastored the Shiloh Baptist Church, Old Site, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Ambassador Bridgewater retired from active duty in the U.S. Diplomatic Service in November 2013 with the rank of Career Ambassador (equivalent to three-star general) after 34 years. She serves on several boards, including Simmons College of Kentucky and the World Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, the American Friends of Jamaica, Songhai Center, and engages in charitable undertakings at home and overseas. She was named Head of Delegation for the White House Security Governance Initiative for Kenya in 2014, and works part time for the Department of State and other U.S. government agencies.

In January 2016 Ambassador Bridgewater was named CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization which educates Americans, especially young people, about the African continent. She is married to the Rev. Dr. A. Russell Awkard, pastor of the New Zion Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky.

Youth Advisory Committee

Farha Tahir
Farha Tahir is Program Officer for the Horn of Africa unit at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), where she assists in advising governments, regional organizations, and civil society on how to strengthen governance and institution-building efforts. She is also a contributor to Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World publication. Farha previously served as project manager for the Vaccination Initiative at International Interfaith Peace Corps (IIPC) and as program coordinator and research associate for the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Farha completed both undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Wisconsin, where she cofounded EDGE Project, an organization that provides UW students with the opportunity to research, create, and implement development projects in Lingira, Uganda. Farha originally hails from Shorewood, Wisconsin.

Morgan McClain-McKinney
Morgan McClain-McKinney currently serves a Program Manager at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In this role, she provides oversight and guidance on program implementation, enhancing professional opportunities for young leaders in sub-Saharan Africa that have demonstrated excellence in government, business, and civic leadership. Morgan is passionate about empowering populations by developing and implementing sustainable solutions for economic growth and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining USAID, she spent time on Capitol Hill, as well as with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Morgan holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and currently serves as an Alumni Board of Visitors Member for the department. Morgan has published several articles on topics to include diversity and inclusion in Foreign Affairs, youth, trade and investment, and entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa having been featured in notable publications such as the American Foreign Service Journal, Ventures Africa Magazine, and the Diplomatic Courier. Morgan is a seasoned development professional, having served abroad at USAID Missions in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.

Terrence B. Tarver
Terrence B. Tarver is pursuing his Ph.D. Degree from Howard University in The African Studies Department focusing on International Policy in addition Terrence is a White House Intern on HBCUs at The United States Department of Education In this capacity he works with federal departments and agencies to assure HBCU access to federally- sponsored programs. His focus is on International Programs, Brother’s keeper Initiative and Stem Initiatives.

Prior to joining the White House Initiative in 2009 he served as Executive Director for one of the nation’s premier Opera Companies Opera Ebony, Terrence is a founding member of Africa Society Youth Advisory Committee under The National Summit on Africa. Tarver is a member of The Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and 100 Black Men Chapter of Greater Washington Area, and a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, Washington, DC Chapter.
Ms. Lydia Nylander
Ms. Lydia Nylander is a born and bred Londoner who uprooted and moved to Washington DC, over a decade ago. Lydia gained her Bachelors of Law at the University of London and has a Masters in International and Comparative Law from the George Washington University Law School. Since arriving in the US, Lydia has worked in various capacities in the non-profit and public policy arena. Prior to joining the Justice Department monitoring and compliance wing, Lydia was Director of Grants Management and Resource Development at the National Association of Consumer Advocates – the nation’s leading consumer advocacy organization. In this capacity, she oversaw the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance, $15 million dollar foreclosure defense project which provided legal representation to families facing foreclosure due to abusive subprime mortgages. She moved to the US as the first stop in her quest to crisscross the world, living and working globally.

A native of France and Côte d’Ivoire, Teddy grew up in Côte d’Ivoire and has a passion for private sector development, entrepreneurship and Sub-Saharan Africa. He is fluent English, French and Italian. Teddy is currently an associate at Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESPartners). Prior to joining ESPartners, Teddy worked for various multinationals and held a variety of positions in corporate finance, with increasing responsibility. In his last full time position, Teddy worked as a business analyst in the strategy and business development unit of a major consumer goods company in Beijing. Teddy earned a M.A in International Economics and International Relations from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University, as a Lindmor Fellow. At SAIS, Teddy majored in conflict management and focused its curriculum around post-conflict reconstruction and post-conflict economics. He also earned a B.A in Finance and economics at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) in Montreal.


Dr. Akua G. Asare M.D
A graduate of Case Western Reserve University with her Bachelors of Arts in International Studies, Akua G. Asare M.D went on to receive her Medical Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. After her Psychiatric Residency at The University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital where she was awarded the 2010 University of Miami / Jackson Memorial Hospital Psychiatry Residency Senior Research Award and the 2010 Bernard Goodman Award, she was chosen as the 2011 American Psychiatric Association’s Jeanne Spurlock Congressional Fellow. In this capacity she worked as the Health Legislative Fellow for senior Senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), addressing a diverse array of domestic and global health care issues.

Currently, Dr. Asare works at the American College of Cardiology in product development of Toolkits and mobile applications to address high priority clinical areas and integration of the ACC’s institutional offerings in the Quality Improvement for Institutions program. Her personal focus is on the linkages between health disparities including psychological/emotional and social and cultural/career/personal development and advancement among those in the African Diaspora. She serves in a diversity of roles and on a variety of civic and community boards including as the Chair for the D.C Commission on African Affairs and Co-Chair of the Montgomery County African-American Health Program’s Executive Committee’s Mental Health Collaborative.  She is also actively involved with various service and professional organizations focused on the development of the African community both here and on the continent she holds positions in the Africa Society Youth Advisory Committee and the Afropolitan Youth Association of Maryland as well as her church Nursing Ministry.

Adebo Ifesanya
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1973, Adebo Ifesanya moved back to his family’s homeland in Nigeria at the age of five years.  He grew up as many children in our global society, with interests in science fiction, watching cartoons, and playing outdoor games. Adebo was struck with the realization that while we generally break up our problems into many categories, such as corruption, violence, and social irresponsibility, the core of all of these issues may be narrowed to a lack of personal responsibility, integrity, and self-identity.  The truth about the way most kids view education is that they are pushed into learning rather than pulled.  In addition, they live and are surrounded by criminal and/or indiscipline lifestyles, which may appear hopelessly appealing. He is the founder of  We‘R’NextGeneration TM, whose vision is to ingrain these values in next generation that is kids today, by showing them how much they are capable of achieving through learning, no matter what area of knowledge they are passionate about, and to show kids practical ways to move ahead toward higher education and career paths which involve the areas of education that inspire them.

Chika Umeadi
Chika Umeadi is the Engagement Director at tiphub. Established in 2014, tiphub is a mentorship driven accelerator & start-up advisory that provides mentorship, community building and investments for seed stage technology ventures in Africa and the African Diaspora. Prior to tiphub, Chika worked at multiple start-ups in the United States and in Nigeria, mostly focused on using analytics to improve business operations. Before his startup adventures, he served as a City Year corps member in Washington DC, working at Hart and Spingarn High School.

Chinedu Enekwe
Chinedu Enekwe is co-founder and executive director of Tiphub Africa. At Tiphub Africa, Enekwe brings together communities, governments, organizations and businesses to find ways to use innovation to make the world better. Chinedu leverages his experience in development and project finance at the World Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation on the Power Africa initiative and managing the sub-Saharan African office of a middle market investment bank, to provide African innovators both small and large investment capital and advisement.

Giulia Pellegrini
Giulia Pellegrini is an Executive Director and Senior Economist for Sub-Saharan Africa in J.P.Morgan’s Global Emerging Market Research Group, based in London. She joined J.P. Morgan in 2010 splitting her time between the Johannesburg and London offices. Prior to that, Giulia worked at the World Bank as an economist on financial sector reform and private sector development issues in the Africa Region as well as an economist in the debt policy and strategy division of Nigeria’s Debt Management Office in Abuja. Giulia serves on the advisory committee of the Africa Debt Capital Markets Summit in London. Giulia holds masters degrees in Development Economics and in Econometrics from Oxford University, St Antony’s College and Birkbeck College as well as an undergraduate degree in Economics from the School of Oriental & African Studies.


Leonard Harrison Robinson, Jr.

April 21, 1943 – July 25, 2006


The late Leonard H. Robinson, Jr, founder of The Africa Society, had more than 30 years working and living experience in international affairs, with regional specialization in Africa and Asia. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1983-85, where he was responsible for the formulation of economic and commercial policies. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State from 1990-1993, he facilitated U.S. policies toward Central and West Africa. His other Africa-related assignments centered on Narcotics, Terrorism, Democracy and the Peace Corps (where he served as a volunteer, Associate Director for India and Director of Minority Recruitment for the U.S.). He also directed U.S. diplomatic initiatives to help in the resolution of the Liberia civil war.

Robinson spent six years as President of the U.S. African Development Foundation, which was established by Congress in 1981 to provide official assistance to community-based organizations and grassroots enterprises throughout Africa. During his tenure, annual Congressional appropriations increased from an initial $1 million to $17 million dollars. He also worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Battelle Memorial Institute.

A native of North Carolina, Robinson received his B.A. from Ohio State University and attended graduate school at the State University of New York, Binghamton. He later attended post graduate school at the American University in Washington, D.C., and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was the recipient of two honorary doctoral degrees.

As a scholar, Robinson was professor of African Studies at the University of Massachusetts, BA, and Senior Fellow at the University’s Center for Development and Democracy under the John W. McCormack Institute.

In 1997, Robinson founded the LHR International Group, Inc., a political policy consulting firm specializing in the analysis of U.S. foreign policy for the heads of state and foreign ministers of African and Asian nations. In 2001, he founded The Africa Society as a direct outgrowth of the historic National Summit on Africa. The Summit held a historic conference on Africa in Washington, D.C. from February 16-20, 2000, which involved the participation of several continental Africans and over 8,000 Americans from every state including President Bill Clinton. With a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Africa Society was established with the prime goal of educating all Americans about Africa.

Robinson was the author of several articles and publications and served on a number of boards. He has been listed in the Who’s Who in America publication since 1985.

Leonard H. Robinson, Jr. passed away on July 25, 2006 after a sudden complication caused by a kidney stone. He’s survived by his two daughters – Kemberley Robinson and Rani Robinson.

History: National Summit on Africa

In February 2000, the National Summit on Africa’s Dialogue and Celebration of Africa changed the face of American policy toward the continent. Never before had such a large community of people, representing every state in the union, come together in support of Africa. Six extraordinary regional summits and three policy forums were held in major cities throughout the country setting the stage for this significant gathering. The National Summit on Africa’s culminating event in Washington, D.C. brought together another 8,000 participants, delegates, and partners whose collective strength demonstrated to the world that Africa matters!

The National Summit on Africa was built upon a nationwide network and plans to maintain and expand this powerful network in the future. Since the historic meeting in Washington, the Summit’s constituency throughout the country has worked to get federal policymakers to implement specific sections of the National Policy Plan of Action, the first People’s Manifesto on U.S. policy vis-à-vis Africa. Through coordinated efforts, the Summit’s constituency has supported legislation that increased debt relief, expanded U.S.-Africa trade relations through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), combated AIDS through the World Bank-AIDS Prevention Trust Fund Act, and opposed political restrictions on U.N. funding for peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone.

As a dynamic, diverse, and inclusive organization, The Africa Society continues to pay close attention to sociopolitical developments and challenges on the African continent, and is determined to ensure that Africa remains a priority in the minds of American policymakers and the public.