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The Africa-America Institute Names New President and CEO, Sets New Strategic Direction for Organization
NEW YORK, October 1, 2012 – The Africa-America Institute today announced the appointment of Amini Kajunju to the position of President and CEO of the New York-based international organization dedicated to advancing education and professional training for Africans, and promoting engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue. Kajunju, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the first African ever to serve at the helm of the oldest nonprofit organization of its kind in the United States.
As President and CEO, Kajunju will lead in transforming the nearly 60-year-old education and policy organization into an innovative, vital hub of African talent, a convening forum for leading thought leaders and scholars on issues related to Africa, and a repository of extensive history, research and information on the continent. She succeeds Mora McLean, who is stepping down after 16 years of outstanding leadership, and assumes the role of AAI President and CEO on October 1.
Kajunju will be responsible for driving a new strategic vision and direction for AAI’s programming and strengthening its engagement with 23,000 AAI alumni and partners in Africa and the United States. Prominent AAI alumni include Wangari Maathai, the late Kenyan environmental and women’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate; Namibia’s Prime Minister H.E. Nahas Angula; and President Alassane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire.
With 20 years of experience in entrepreneurial and economic development, Kajunju served most recently as CEO of Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO), a New York-based nonprofit small business development service provider serving New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, where she bolstered the organization’s programming and served more entrepreneurs than any other institution of a similar size in New York City. Kajunju previously served in program positions at the International Executive Service Corps and Social Science Research Council and interned at the Center for Humanitarian Outreach & Intercultural Exchange, and The Carter Presidential Center. She is a founding member and Vice-President of the Board of ANGELAFRICA, a nonprofit organization whose mission seeks to build a network of business and professional leaders and promote economic growth in Africa.
“Amini Kajunju is an entrepreneurial and tech-savvy leader who brings to AAI a proven record of working with nonprofit organizations to ignite innovation and achieve measurable results,” said Kofi Appenteng, Chairman of AAI’s Board of Directors. “Her energy, vision, and deep experience will position AAI to be a leader in investing in African professionals to increase the continent’s global competitiveness and economic success. The Board believes she is the right leader at the right time.”
Leading a new direction for AAI
Kajunju will lead in setting a new vision and direction for AAI. Since its founding in 1953, AAI has historically enabled some 23,000 Africans to obtain scholarships to earn advanced academic degrees and receive professional and leadership training within and outside Africa. About 90 percent of AAI alumni live and work in Africa and are today’s leaders and managers in government, nonprofit organizations and the private sector, significantly contributing to the continent’s development. AAI currently has a presence in 52 African countries.
“AAI has a rich history and a solid record of accomplishment that I seek to build on,” said Kajunju. “I’m honored to serve as AAI’s President and CEO and look forward to implementing a new vision to take the organization to a new level.”
Kajunju earned her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University’s David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and a master’s degree from the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
About The Africa-America Institute (AAI): Since 1953, AAI has worked to educate and train African leaders and professionals and foster understanding between Africa and the United States. Today, AAI counts more than 23,000 alumni, including Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai, Namibian Prime Minister H.E. Nahas Angula, and the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Dr. Firmino Mucavele.