The Africa-America Institute Announces Change in Trustee Leadership

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September 15, 2021 — The Africa-America Institute (AAI) announces the first woman of African descent as Chair of Trustee Board.

Announced ahead of AAI’s 37th Annual Awards Gala, which is set to bestow the People of the Republic of Malawi with the National Achievement Award next Tuesday, September 21st, Christal Jackson is the organization’s first female board chair of African descent.

“I am delighted Christal Jackson has agreed to lead  the AAI Board and champion its efforts to deepen engagement between Africa and the great African diaspora in America.  As the COVID pandemic has demonstrated, never has it been more important to build on the strength and power of our historic relationships with African leaders to fulfill our mission to educate, train, and convene. Christal’s dedication to building sustainable wealth in communities for people of color as well as developing best practices in philanthropy make her an ideal leader for The Africa-America Institute at this exciting moment in its history,”  says outgoing chair Steven Pfeiffer, who has been a member of the AAI Board for twenty years, and chair for the last five. Steve is a former Managing Partner of Fulbright & Taworski LLP, now part of the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

Jackson takes over as AAI chair as the institute embarks on a series of  growing initiatives including the revitalization of AAI’s School Services Program, which works with schools to improve student outcomes by advocating for the infusion of quality content on Africa into school curricula.

The initiative is one of many programs developed and executed under AAI’s strategic plan over the last five years. Additional key programs include the Annual State of Education on Africa Conference, the African Diplomatic Orientation and Engagement Program, the Jim Ovia Foundation Leaders Scholarship, and the East African Development Bank Scholarship Program.

When asked how a seventy-year-old nonprofit sustains its brand during inevitable periods of transition, Mr. Appenteng remarks, “We are very fortunate to have a legacy and a deep bench of dedicated trustees to choose from for important leadership roles. That continues to be AAI’s secret to reinvention. It also helps to have great partners that support our cause.”

Jackson remarked on her election to Chair of the Board, “I’m honored to help usher in a new era of impact for the Africa-America Institute. As the late Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, “we are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business.” Those words ring true now more than ever. It is critical that the African diaspora continue to play a leadership role in global efforts to elevate, connect and inspire future generations to continue making meaningful contributions to the world.”

​​​​​​​Additional changes in Trustee Leadership include the election of dual Vice Chairs, Rebecca Lowell Edwards, Chief Communications Officer at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Bob McCarthy, a partner at Dentons US LLP.

The Africa-America Insitute

Founded in 1953, AAI is dedicated to promoting enlightened engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue. AAI’s principal co-founders, Horace Mann Bond and William Leo Hansberry, were pioneering African-American scholar-activists whose work straddles the divide between African and African diaspora studies. AAI continues to embrace the philosophy of education that Bond and Hansberry espoused – a philosophy that affirms the humanity and cultivates the intellectual aspirations and excellence of all people.

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