Speaker Bios

Keynote Speakers

tejucoleTeju Cole

Teju Cole is an author, art historian, street photographer as well as a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College. Although Mr. Cole was born in the United States to Nigerian parents and currently lives in Brooklyn, he was raised in Nigeria. His two books, Every Day is for the Thief and Open City, are widely acclaimed. Open City won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, and the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The novel was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature. Mr. Cole also contributes regularly to numerous publications including the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Granta, Aperture, Transition and A Public Space. He is also known for his Twitter project, “small fates”.


cheikh tidiane gadioCheikh Tidiane Gadio

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio is a Senegalese diplomat who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000 to 2009 as well as a presidential candidate for the MPC party in the 2012 presidential election. During his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was praised by former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade as the “best foreign minister in Africa.” Mr. Gadio played a critical role in revitalizing Senegalese diplomacy through the mediation of crises in the Darfur region as well as in Mauritania and Chad.




Student Speakers

Paul Lorem

Paul Lorem is a 21-year-old sophomore at Yale University. He is from South Sudan but grew up in Kenya. Paul was 6 years old when his parents dropped him off in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya. His parents returned to their home village in South Sudan and eventually passed away. He was then raised in the refugee camp by a sub-section of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” who stressed education as the means to a better life. With the help of the “Lost Boys”, Paul excelled in primary school. Consequently, he was admitted to Alliance High School (arguably the best high school in Kenya) near Nairobi. After three years at Alliance, he joined African Leadership Academy for two years before matriculating to Yale University.

Eddy Gicheru Oketch

Born in a poor family of nine kids in one of the most remote villages in Migori District of Kenya, the joyous self-described street kid has risen against all odds to a notable young servant African leader. At only 17 in early 2008 when Kenya was engulfed in grievous psot-elections violence, Eddy took to action and founded White Fingers Peace Initiative (Wifipe). The organzation sought to eradicate negative ethnciity, foster peace restoration, healing and reconciliation. He has then since worked to grow the organization into the current Peace for Africa and Economic Development (PAD), a national non-profit that helps young people in the grasoots start their own income-generating community enterprises as a way of addressing the root cause of African conflicts – economic poverty among the young population. PAD Has established 20 influential youth groups, income-generation projects. Eddy is currently a rising Mathematics and Economics major at Trinity College. He is also a Global Changemaker with the Brtiish Council and was a panel discussion leader in the May 2013 G8 summit.

Winnie Imbuchi 

Winnie Atieno Imbuchi is an emerging African-renaissance leader, entrepreneur, and social activist. She is currently an Honours scholar at the renowned James- Madison College of Public Policy, a collegiate of the Michigan State University in the USA pursuing a double major in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy(PTCD) and Comparative Cultures and Politics (CCP) with a dual specialization on Africa and Political Economics. She is currently the President-elect of the African Students Union – Michigan State University, member of the British Council Global Changemakers organisation, and sits on the African Leadership Academy alumni board. She has received several local and national honours and accolades including Shell Company, Kenya excellence award for overall top female student in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education 2004,The inaugural Pricewaterhousecoopers Student of the Year award for leadership, excellence and teamwork at Alliance Girls High School (2007).


Dr. Kechi Achebe, MD, MPH 

Dr. Kechi Achebe is the Director for the Office of Health & HIV/AIDS, Africare. Dr. Achebe has more than 18 years of experience in international development, research, and program implementation. For the last 20 years, she has dedicated her life to international health development, with a major focus on African countries. Her research has focused on the health disparities among the low income, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS and related infections in the developing world.

In 2004, she joined Africare to help broaden its health & HIV/AIDS portfolio and develop a set of core activities in service delivery and infectious diseases under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Since then, she has spearheaded the expansion of Africare’s health portfolio from an annual budget of less than $ 5 million to a current annual budget of over $50 million. Africare has also become a household name in several nations on the continent of Africa – in the areas of health system strengthening, HIV treatment , care and support, malaria control and elimination, and in maternal, neonatal and child health.

Dr. Achebe also serves as the project Director and the principle investigator for Africare’s PEPFAR- funded comprehensive HIV/AIDS projects in South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Prior to joining Africare, She served in various capacities with Pathfinder International, BASICS II and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Dr. Achebe earned an MD at the University of Benin in Nigeria, and received an MPH in International Health (with emphasis in Infectious and non-communicable diseases) from Boston University School of Public Health. A licensed medical practitioner, she was awarded a certificate in Finance and Management in International Health by Boston University, and she completed a research fellowship in Infectious disease epidemiology at the Boston Medical Center, in Massachusetts.

Dr. Achebe is a fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She serves as an advisory board member of the International Institute of Health Technology Development (IIHTD), a member of the Civil Society (CS) advisory team to the CS board of UNITAID, and is also a member of various professional groups, including STOP-TB/WHO, American Public Health Association (APHA), Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC), to name a few.

Semhar Araia 

Semhar Araia is the founder and executive director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN), an organization whose mission is to develop and support the next generation of African diaspora women focused on African affairs. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, teaching on conflict & peace in the Horn of Africa. Prior to that, Semhar worked for US Congress, the Obama-Biden Transition Team, Nelson Mandela’s organization The Elders, and the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace process. With over ten years experience working as a lawyer and policy advocate, Semhar primarily focuses on the Horn of Africa, US-Africa foreign policy, humanitarian affairs, conflict resolution and international development.

Semhar is a White House Champion of Change and African Union Diaspora Awadee of the Year, recognized for her outstanding contributions in the Africa diaspora community. She has lived, worked in and visited 24 countries and is one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Women in Foreign Policy on Twitter. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Saint Thomas and her juris doctor from Marquette University Law School. Semhar was born in New York City to Eritrean immigrant parents and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota

George Sibotshiwe


George Sibotshiwe is a political strategist and advisor with several years experience working in Africa. Having served his country Zimbabwe as a political activist working as a Spokesperson and International Relations Advisor to the President of the Movement for Democratic Change, George built an extensive network in Africa giving him a unique perspective on political developments in general and political risk for investors. He is a firm believer in Africa’s development potential and need for improvement in her governance and democratic culture . For this reason George works with the African Democratic Institute to enhance young and fledgling democracies in Africa.

Richard Skolnik

Richard Skolnik is a Lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health, where he teaches Global Health courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Richard has 40 years of experience in development and global health work. He spent 25 years at the World Bank, retiring as the Director for Health and Education for the South Asia Region. At the World Bank, Richard had earlier worked on education in West Africa and on Health in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and West Africa. After leaving the World Bank, Richard was the Executive Director of the Harvard PEPFAR program, Vice President for International Programs at PRB, and the Director of the Center for Global Health at The George Washington University, where he taught undergraduate global health courses for 9 years. Richard was deeply involved in the establishment of STOP TB, led a number of international evaluations, and served on a variety of WHO working groups and on the Technical Review Panel of the Global Fund. Richard is the author of the undergraduate textbook, Global Health 101.

Sophia Bekele


Sophia Bekele is an Ethiopian authority of global technology and business. With her extensive academic and work experience in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, with Blue Chip organizations as well as an entrepreneur, Sophia has made significant inroads in the technology and business sectors. She is well-known for her efforts in mainstreaming technology for development and encourage private sector participation in development work in emerging economies – particularly in Africa.

Bekele globetrots with her work, is passionate about issues of emerging economies and the use of ICT and Internet and the policies governing them that which could determine the gap in the Digital Divide as well as the use of Digital Dividend to society which has caused her to set up the current DotConnectAfrica Trust. She is the founder and CEO of CBS International and affiliate SbCommunications and Executive Director and Founder of DotConnectAfrica Trust and DotConnectAfrica Registry, which is well known for its six year successful global campaign for the .Africa Top Level Domain Name.

Sophia finds time outside her career for involvement in public service. She has served as adviser to various UN agencies including the UNECA, UNGAID, and UNPAN, the alumni board of directors of Golden Gate University, the Internet Society for San Francisco Bay, of which she is a co-founder and an executive board member, various Rotary Clubs, the Board of Director of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association to mention few important organizations.

Ms. Bekele holds an MBA in Management of Information Systems (MIS) from Golden Gate University, San Francisco and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computing and Business Information Systems, at San Francisco State University. She is also a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Control Specialist (CCS), Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), as well as a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow (PHF). Her full online biography can be found at www.sophiabekele.com

David Simon

David J. Simon is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Yale University, as well as the Associate Director of Yale’s Genocide Studies Program and the Director of that program’s Rwandan Genocide Project. He also serves on the Yale Council for African Studies, including as the interim Director of Graduate Study for 2012-13. He has served as a consultant for the United Nations Office of the Special Assistant to Prevent Genocide since 2010.

Dr. Simon’s work addresses international efforts to prevent mass atrocities, as well as the political challenges of post-conflict situations, particularly in Africa. He graduated from Princeton University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in public policy. He earned his doctorate in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. Prior to coming to Yale, he held a post-graduate fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dr. Sharon T Freeman 

Dr. Sharon T. Freeman is the President & CEO of  the All American Small Business Exporters (AASBEA) as well as a successful entrepreneur focusing on the intersection of social change and business development. Renowed for her research and background as a social scientist, she has worked with development institutions, foreign nations, the U.S. government and businesses across the globe.

Since establishing her flagship company Lark-Horton Global Consulting, in Hong Kong in 1985, and AASBEA in 1996, she has worked on development projects in more than 100 countries from the South Pacific, to Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.

Dr. Freeman lived and worked in Hong Kong for 12 years and previously served in the U.S. Diplomatic Service. She has published 14 books since 1999. She has also been appointed to the boards of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the EXIM Bank, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Energy.

Sanmi Akinmulero 

Sanmi Akinmulero is the chairman and president of Global Solution International as well as the president of OCMAS International Consulting Group. He has served as the president and CEO of the African Chamber of Commerce in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area since 1997. He is a former board member of the Dallas/Forth-Worth International Apartment and the former president of the Nigeria-U.S. Council. He received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Federal Government Technical College in Ondo State, Nigeria and studied Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of North Texas, Denton.

Tsitsi Masiyiwa 

Capernaum Trust

Tsitsi Masiyiwa is the executive chairperson of the Higher Life Foundation. Through her role, she oversees five Trusts with operations in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho. Alongside her husband, Strive Masiyiwa, they founded these Trusts by identifying the drastic developmental and social needs of African communities in which their telecommunications network Econet Wireless International operates.

Their Capernaum Trust has assisted over 40,000 orphaned and disadvantaged children in Africa through scholarships, spiritual, social and life skills training, food packages and medical assistance. In addition, the Higher Life Foundation recently established the Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship, a $6.5 million dollar scholarship fund that sends African students to attend the Morehouse College in the US. Ambassador Andrew Young is the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, who is internationally recognized for the vital role in the Civil Rights Movement and international peacekeeping efforts.

Masiyiwa also chairs the board of National Health Care Trust of Zimbabwe which offers scholarships to medical students at the Zimbabwe College of Sciences. In a direct effort to improve the quality of education medical students received the Trust in 2011, partnered with the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) to set up of a Virtual Learning Centre at the University of Zimbabwe.

Masiyiwa also demonstrates a passion for gospel and serves as a deaconess and evangelist. She is also a mother of six children.

Zachary Obinna Enumah, M.A. 
Zachary is a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States, and he holds both a B.A. and M.A. in African Studies from Yale University. He has conducted extensive research in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania on healthcare, traditional medicine, and refugee/IDP populations. His interests rest at the intersection among the political, economic, and social factors that influence healthcare delivery and medical care, specifically among vulnerable populations in conflict and post-conflict settings. His current writings include a right to health awareness assessment among returned IDPs in Gulu District, Uganda and a healthcare attitudes assessment with Congolese refugees in Nyarugusu refugee camp, Kigoma, Tanzania, where he spent the winter of 2011/2012 conducting research.


Nadir Bouhmouch 

Nadir Bouhmouch, a filmmaker, human rights activist and film/global justice student at San Diego State University. He is the co-founder of the Guerrilla Cinema movement, campaigning against filmmaking regulations in Morocco which he sees as a constraint on freedom of expression. Nadir directed, produced and wrote “My Makhzen & Me” (2011). This was the first film to cover a Moroccan oppositional movement and confront the regime so directly and for this, it went down as a landmark in Moroccan cinema. He has recently released his first feature documentary on Moroccan women’s rights: “475.”

Ted Alemayehu 

Ted Alemayhu is the founder and current chairman of U.S Doctors for Africa (USDFA). USDFA is an organization dedicated to mobilizing healthcare workers to fulfill the short-term medical needs throughout Africa, while working to develop sustainable, long-term public health systems across the continent. Alemayhu has a background in business and accounting and is passionate about bridging the healthcare disparities in Africa. He has received many prestigious awards including the 2007 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award and has been recognized by African heads of states, members of U.S congress, U.S senators, the World Bank, the IMF, former UN Secratory General Kofi Annan, as well many other heads of corporations and foundations.

2 Responses

  1. Re-imagining Africa: a closer look at Autonomy, Identity and Perspective – CBSegroup

    […] Sophia Bekele is an Ethiopian authority of global technology and business. With her extensive academic and work experience in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, with Blue Chip organizations as well as an entrepreneur, Sophia has made significant inroads in the technology and business sectors. She is well-known for her efforts in mainstreaming technology for development and encourage private sector participation in development work in emerging economies – particularly in Africa. Read More […]

  2. Re-imagining Africa: a closer look at Autonomy, Identity and Perspective – CBSegroup

    […] She is quoted as “Sophia Bekele is an Ethiopian authority of global technology and business. With her extensive academic and work experience in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, with Blue Chip organizations as well as an entrepreneur. Sophia has made significant inroads in the technology and business sectors.  She is well-known for her efforts in mainstreaming technology for development and encourage private sector participation in development work in emerging economies – particularly in Africa”  Read More […]

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