AAI’s 70th Anniversary Gala – Honoree Announcement

This year the Africa-America Institute (AAI) celebrates its 70th year of enriching the social fabric of humanity by connecting students and leaders across sectors, facilitating access to reliable information about Africa, and transforming the way we understand Africa and its worldwide diaspora (Global Africa). To mark this momentous milestone, AAI will be hosting its 70th Anniversary Gala – A celebration of our most prominent Alumni, our historic programs, partners and future direction.

During the evening’s celebrations, AAI will honor the trailblazing executive Debra Lee, and the pathbreaking Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. AAI’s 70th Anniversary Gala is set to take place on Tuesday, September 19th, 2023 at Cipriani 42nd St. New York City, NY.

Hosted by Hall of Fame Inducted Marketing Executive, Author, Entrepreneur and longtime AAI supporter Bozoma Saint John, the evening will also spotlight prominent AAI alumni – including H.E. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, AAI’s historic programs and partners in commemoration of seven decades of building a global bridge of understanding, education, communication and partnership. As one of AAI’s most distinguished Alumni, President Geingob received a Scholarship under AAI’s Southern African Student Program where he graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1970 and The New School with his Master of Arts in Political Science in 1974.

“For any institution to reach 70 years is a remarkable achievement and I am so exceptionally proud to be part of this journey” said Kofi Appenteng, AAI’s President. “For seven decades, AAI has stayed true to our purpose, and we will continue to carry the torch.”

“During this moment in history when connecting the diaspora is so important for the sustainability of progress on the continent. I can think of no better way to mark such an important milestone for such a significant organization than with a vibrant evening celebrating AAI’s rich history and looking ahead to its incredibly bright future – and the work still to be done,” said AAI Board Chair, Christal Jackson.

Secure your tickets and join us over the coming months as we highlight key events and individuals from our history and register now for more information on our 70th Anniversary Gala at www.aaiafrica.org

For more information on Sponsorship and Ticket Sales, please contact AAI’s Chief of Strategic Partnerships & Engagement, Jourden Warren at jwarren@aaionline.org or +1 (646) 645-7286

For more information about AAI’s 70th Anniversary Awards Gala and Ceremony, visit aaiafrica.org

Get social! For exclusive photos, updates and more follow us across social media: @aaiafrica

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The 2023 Honorees include:

Business Leadership Award – Debra Lee

BET CEO Emeritus, Author of “I AM DEBRA LEE” and founder of Leading Women Defined, Debra Lee will receive the 2023 Business Leadership Award recognizing her lifelong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity, fighting for representation – not only on-screen but in the boardroom – and to supporting the next generation of Black women leaders. Through her work, Lee has created spaces that further position Black men and women to climb industry ladders while providing a concrete example of what is possible, not only in the United States, but also across Africa and the globe. Lee served as CEO of Black Entertainment Television Networks from 2005-2018. Her 30+ year tenure at BET also extended to roles as General Counsel and COO. She is also the founder of Leading Women Defined and the co-founder of Monarch Collective—both organizations wholly dedicated to mentoring, supporting, and empowering both women and the BIPOC community at large.

Philanthropic Impact Award – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

AAI will recognize the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation with the Philanthropic Impact Award in acknowledgment of the profound impact the organization has made through its remarkable work on the African continent and commitment to localization in its grant making. The Foundation’s unwavering dedication to improving the lives of individuals and communities in Africa through its programs has been integral in addressing pressing social challenges while promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in real time. Peter Laugharn, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, will accept the Award on behalf of the Foundation. Under his leadership, the Foundation’s commitment to reaching 25% localization in its international grant making by the end of this year is leading the field where the current commitment is 25% by the end of 2030 under the ‘Grand Bargain.’

About the Annual Awards Gala

Since 1984, the AAI Awards Gala has been the most anticipated African-centered event in New York City. Held annually during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the AAI Gala convenes dignitaries—Heads of State, diplomats, domestic, and international government officials—philanthropists, business leaders, journalists, and scholars for a night showcasing the success of Africa and the Diaspora — Global Africa.

About AAI

The Africa-America Institute (AAI) is a 70-year-old institution with the mission of promoting enlightened engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue — a mission well placed to meet this moment of global racial reckoning. Among our principal co-founders were Horace Mann Bond and William Leo Hansberry, two pioneering African-American scholar activists whose work straddles the divide between African and African diaspora studies. AAI continues to embrace the philosophy of education for liberation that Bond and Hansberry espoused – a philosophy that affirms the humanity and cultivates the intellectual aspirations and excellence of all people.

AAI’s dual program focus has always been on improving education in and about Africa. Since its founding in 1953, over 23,000 Africans have received scholarships and fellowships from AAI. These Africans are now an esteemed network of alumni, many of whom are leaders and influencers across public, private, and governmental sectors in Africa and globally. Included in this network are current Heads of State, H.E. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia; H.E. Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; H.E. Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger; and H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa. Many of AAI’s alumni have left an indelible imprint, including the late 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Mathaai, and the late Barack Obama, Sr.

View last year’s 38th Annual Awards Gala

Hosted by Bozoma Saint John and Luvvie Ajayi Jones, and honoring H.E. Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, representing the People of the Republic of Botswana, with the National Achievement Award, Mahen Bonetti with the Ambassador for African Cinema Award, Dr. Solomon Assefa with the Science and Technology Leadership Award, and Betty Wambui Kibaara with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

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