RECENT SPEAKERS

Dr. Robin L. Garrell

President, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York

Dr. Robin L. Garrell became president of The Graduate Center, City University of New York on August 1, 2020. A distinguished scientist and academic leader committed to public higher education, Dr. Garrell continues the line from the Graduate Center’s first president, Mina Rees, another renowned STEM scholar.

Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

Former President of Mauritius

Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was the first female president of Mauritius, serving from 2015 to 2018. Prior to the presidency, she was the Managing Director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation as well as Professor of Organic Chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius. From 2001, she served successively as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Pro Vice Chancellor (2004-2010). She has also worked at the Mauritius Research Council as Manager for Research (1995-1997).

Kathryn Wylde

President & CEO, Partnership for New York City

Kathryn Wylde is President and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City, the city’s leading business organization. Its mission is to work with government, labor, and the civic sector to build a stronger New York, with a focus on education, infrastructure and the economy.

Dr. Fred Olayele

Chair of the Board, Economic Club of Africa in New York

Dr. Fred Olayele’s diverse career spans academia, government, finance, and international development. A distinguished economist and public policy expert, his research interests and practice areas cover trade policy, innovation, FDI, urban policy, political economy, and inclusive development. He has published and shared best practices in these areas at numerous conferences and institutions around the world. He has consulted widely and advised many public and private organizations in Canada, United States, and Africa. Previously, he was Chief Economist and Senior Vice President with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he oversaw a wide range of economic research and policy initiatives. Prior to that, he held several economic policy positions and advised the Canadian provincial governments of British Columbia and Saskatchewan across the FDI, economic development, and energy policy domains.

Dr. Witney Schneidman

Senior International Advisor for Africa Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC, United States

Dr. Witney Schneidman is a senior international advisor for Africa at Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC, where he has been since 2012. At Covington, Dr. Schneidman works with international and African companies to mitigate risk, resolve disputes and help companies align their commercial objectives with the economic development objectives of African countries. He also works with a number of NGOs on a pro-bono basis who are seeking to enhance their activities on the continent.  Prior to joining Covington, for eleven years he was president of Schneidman & Associates International which did similar type of work.

Ambassador Charles A. Ray

Chair, Africa Program, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia

Ambassador Charles A. Ray, a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Africa Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Zimbabwe. In addition, he was the first U.S. Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, opening the Consulate General there in 1998.

Pradip Madan

Managing Partner, Great North Ventures Silicon Valley, California, United States

Pradip Madan is a Silicon Valley tech executive with a long history of success at both Fortune 100 companies and startups, and has been part of several seminal moments of tech and venture history.

Dr. Lourdes S. Casanova

Academic Director, Emerging Markets Institute Cornell University, New York, United States

Dr. Lourdes S. Casanova is an academic, author and currently a Senior Lecturer of Management at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management and Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director of the Emerging Markets Institute. Before her appointment to Johnson School, Dr. Casanova was a lecturer in the Strategy Department at INSEAD. She specializes in international business with a focus on Latin America and multinationals from emerging markets. In 2014 and 2015, Dr. Casanova was appointed as one of the 50 most influential Iberoamerican intellectuals by Esglobal. Also, she is member of the Boyce Thompson Institute.

Tunde Fafunwa

Managing Director, Kitskoo & Member, African Union, Digital Transformation Strategy

Technology continues to change the world we live in. Tunde’s mission is to create globally inclusive technology platforms that improve lives and build community.

Dr. Marit Kitaw

Interim Director, African Minerals Development Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Dr. Marit Kitaw is the Interim Director of the Africa Union’s African Minerals Development Center (AMDC), dedicated to minerals for sustainable development in Africa, through implementing the Africa Mining Vision (AMV). She was previously an Economist at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, where she became a strong advocate of developmental mining. Prior to that, she was one of the founding members of the AMDC.

Modibo I. Toure

Special Envoy on Shareholder Relations to the President of the African Development Bank; Former Malian Minister of Telecommunications; & Board Director, Economic Club of Africa in New York.

Modibo Toure has extensive experience in high-level government relations, development diplomacy, sensitive and complex negotiations and dialogue with national and regional entities, and building partnerships with both public and private sector institutions. In October 2018, he was appointed as Special Envoy of the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in charge of Shareholder Relations.

Joshua Soloway

Partner, Barton LLP, New York, United States

Partner at Barton LLP law firm in New York City, Joshua Soloway draws on his experience and expertise as an entrepreneur, investment banker, and corporate finance attorney to provide clients with a multifaceted perspective. His practice focuses on advising middle-market, growth stage, and multinational companies and investors across a wide range of industries. Earlier in his career, Mr. Soloway founded a boutique Wall Street law firm that represented international investors and issuers on US capital markets activities. He is a frequent speaker on international business, startup and venture finance, energy, and impact investing.

Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych

Founder and Chairman, AfricaGlobal Schaffer

Dr. Nedelcovych is the Founder and Chairman of AfricaGlobal Schaffer (AfGS), a strategic consulting firm focused on project development, project finance, trade facilitation, and public-private partnerships in developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa. AfGS is a project developer and boutique consulting firm that provides advisory services to a number of corporations with interests in agro-industry, renewable power, oil and gas, and major infrastructure investments. AfGS has also provided advisory and consulting services to a number of African governments, US government agencies, and international financial institutions. Dr. Nedelcovych has a long and illustrious career sitting on the Boards of several commercial banks in Africa, including previously on Afriland Bank Cameroon, and presently the Vista Bank Group in Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso, and Vista Bank Guinea. He has been on the Board of Moodai International Bank (in formation) since inception.

Karen Bhatia

Faculty, Stanford University

Karen Bhatia is a strategic leader working at the intersection of business, law, and policy. Karen’s expertise is in using technology and entrepreneurship as tools to create equitable opportunities and systemic change. She is joining Stanford University’s faculty teaching a course in the Stanford in NYC program on Business Innovation, Technology and Social Change. 

Dr. Bartholomew Armah

Acting Director, Macroeconomics and Governance, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Dr. Bartholomew Armah joined the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) following his tenure as a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (USA).

Ambassador Johanna Svanikier

Founder & President, Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation, Accra, Ghana

Ambassador Johanna Svanikier is Founder, President and CEO of the Heritage and  Cultural Society of Africa Foundation, HACSA-USA and HACSA-Caribbean. The HACSA  Foundation is an NGO, non-profit, social enterprise with a mission to preserve, advocate  for and promote the use of African heritage and culture for social and economic progress  and community development in Africa and the Diaspora. In March 2017, Ambassador  Svanikier organised the hugely influential African Diaspora Homecoming Conference to  celebrate Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary in a memorable and meaningful way.  This seminal event inspired “the Year of Return” and was followed by the HACSA Sankofa  Summit 2019, which symbolically commemorated 400 years since the transatlantic slave  trade began.

Eric A. Clement

SVP, Fund Manager, Social Impact & Sustainability Investments, RXR, New York

Eric A. Clement oversees the social impact and sustainability portfolios at RXR. He is principally responsible for defining the portfolio’s strategic vision and investment strategy, delivering against the dual mandate of attractive returns and tangible ESG outcomes.

Jaclyn Kelly

Director, NYC Labor Market Information Service (LMIS), Center for Urban Research, The CUNY Graduate Center, New York

Jaclyn Kelly joined the New York City Labor Market Information Service (LMIS) in the Center for Urban Research in 2017 and was appointed Director in 2020 after serving the organization as Deputy/ Interim Director and in a research leadership capacity. She is passionate about conducting research that promotes strong outcomes for mission-driven organizations and their clients, and has over two decades of experience working to achieve that.

Dr. Akolisa Ufodike

Assistant Professor, York University, Canada

Dr. Akolisa Ufodike is an assistant professor in the School of Administrative Studies where he teaches auditing. He is also appointed to the graduate program in public policy, administration and law and teaches public sector finance at the graduate level.

Amaha Kassa

Executive Director, African Communities Together, New York

Amaha Kassa is the founder and Executive Director of African Communities Together. Amaha has 25 years of professional experience as a labor and community organizer, nonprofit director, and social entrepreneur.

Dr. You Zheng

Senior Research Associate, NYC Labor Market Information Service (LMIS), Center for Urban Research, The CUNY Graduate Center, New York

Dr. You Zheng, Senior Research Associate, joined the New York City Labor Market Information Service (LMIS) in the Center for Urban Research in 2018. She brings her research experience, along with methodological expertise in quantitative design and analysis, to her work at LMIS and leverages skills from her Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology to lead many of LMIS’s quantitative analyses, particularly those that involve large datasets such as American Community Survey (ACS) and wage record data from the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).

Daniel Clark

Director of Business Development, New York City Economic Development Corporation

Daniel Clark serves as VP & Director of Business Development at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he oversees business attraction, retention, and expansion for the City of New York. He has worked with hundreds of companies to relocate or expand to NYC, with the mission of creating good paying jobs for New Yorkers and helping NYC’s innovation economy grow.

Fergus Maclaren

Director of Knowledge Mobilization, Economic Innovation Institute for Africa, Canada

Fergus Maclaren is a sustainable tourism and cultural heritage management professional with 25 years of experience consulting in Canada and internationally. As Principal of MAC-DUFF Tourism | Heritage | Planning, his work includes a broad range of tourism planning, destination management and community development.

Dr. Aloysius Ordu

Director, Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institution

Dr. Aloysius Uche Ordu is a senior fellow and director of the Africa Growth Initiative in the Global Economy and Development program. Prior to taking up his appointment at Brookings, he was managing partner at Omapu Associates LLC, a boutique advisory services and consulting firm. He was previously vice president at the African Development Bank. Before his appointment as vice president, he was regional director for Eastern Africa (covering Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Uganda).

Dr. David Luke

Coordinator, African Trade Policy Centre, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Dr. Luke has over thirty years’ substantive experience in trade policy, regional economic integration, and private sector response – from an extensive career at field, country, regional, and global levels; and in university teaching and research.

Dara Erck

Director, Economic Club of Africa in New York

With 20+ years of experience throughout the African continent, Dara Erck is a global health strategy specialist who believes in the strength of partnerships and innovative thinking for maximum impact. She was previously a consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Global Health R&D Advocacy, and a Senior Advisor to Panorama, focusing on vaccines and implementation strategies. Ms. Erck is also a Senior Advisor to Made By Dyslexia (MBD), a nonprofit launched by Richard Branson. Prior to MBD, she served as Vice President, External Affairs at Aeras, a product development partnership focused on developing a tuberculosis vaccine. A graduate of Columbia University in New York, in addition to working in global health, Dara is passionate about government reform and democratization. 

Wale Shonibare

Director, Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulation, African Development Bank, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Wale Shonibare has over three decades experience spanning Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa in Investment Banking and Consulting. Wale joined the African Development Bank in 2017 as the inaugural Director of Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulation. This team has established itself as a leading transactions team across Africa, having undertaken several Mandated Lead Arranger roles and launched well-acclaimed flagship initiatives to improve the enabling environment for private sector investment in the energy sector.

Jeffrey Lee

Principal, Capalino, New York, United States

Jeffrey Lee is a Principal at Capalino, where he provides strategic guidance to start ups, growth stage, and established companies looking to enter a new market or grow their operations. His expertise in economic development initiatives and tax incentives is valuable to companies looking to identify and unlock growth opportunities and navigate the challenges of a complex and rapidly changing business landscape.

Dr. Ed Mabaya

Research Professor, Global Development, Cornell University, New York, United States

Dr. Ed Mabaya is a Research Professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University where his teaching, research, and outreach work focuses on economic development in Africa. He is a scholar and development practitioner with more than two decades of experience working on development, agribusiness value chains, and food security issues with a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. From 2018 through June 2020, he was the Division Manager of Agribusiness Development at the African Development Bank where he managed continent-wide investments, partnerships, and research in support of the Feed Africa strategy. He is a public speaker who has presented several keynote talks.

Wayne Keast

Co-founder and Managing Partner, Inspired Evolution, Cape Town, South Africa

Wayne Keast is co-founder and Managing Partner at Inspired Evolution, where he is responsible for guiding the firm’s strategic vision and strategy. He brings more than 30 years of finance and business building experience and more than 20 years of international private equity with a demonstrated track record on both renewable infrastructure projects and technology-based growth equity companies.

Jacques Prescott

Founding Partner and Chief Sustainability & ESG Officer, CarbonConnect, Quebec, Canada

Jacques Prescott is Chief Sustainability and ESG officer for CarbonConnect. Jacques advises companies and governments in their strategic planning and analyzes the sustainability of policies and programs. As an expert advisor for UNDP, FAO, IUCN, EU and OIF, he worked in dozens of countries in Africa. He coordinated a number of national biodiversity strategies as well as Quebec’s and Algeria’s first sustainable development strategies. He is the author of several articles and international methodology guidebooks on biodiversity and sustainable development planning. Jacques is Associate Professor and Chair in eco-consulting at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi.

Ainos Ngadya

Founding Chairman & Entrepreneur in Residence, New Sahara Ventures Pty Ltd, Harare, Zimbabwe

Ainos Ngadya is the founding Chairman and Entrepreneur in Residence at New Sahara Ventures, Africa’s leading commercial and industrial solar and energy storage solutions firm providing financing, asset management, turn-key engineering, procurement and construction, and operations and maintenance support with a pipeline portfolio of over 70MW and solid footprints in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Canada.