How can we leverage on the strength of Africans outside of Africa giving back? The African diaspora is a concept that recognizes a common identity and shared experience that transcends national, cultural and historical boundaries. Historically, it has been used a political tool to build solidarity amongst people of African descent. This panel will highlight the work several influential people and the ways in which they have used their influence abroad to connect with the diaspora.
Mayor’s Office on African Affairs: Executive Director,
Executive Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser, Washington, DC
Mamadou Samba was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in January 2015 as Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs. He also served as a Commissioner on the Washington, D.C, Commission on African Affairs appointed by former D.C. Mayor, Vincent Gray. As a Commissioner, Mamadou successfully advocated for resources, grant funding, and policy geared towards the African community. Prior to his appointment, Mamadou worked as a Capital Budget Analyst for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer where he was responsible for the formulation and execution of the District of Columbia’s $7 Billion Capital Improvement Plan.
In 2011 Mamadou was one of 6 out of nearly 100 candidates selected to join the Capital City Fellow program, a Mayoral initiative to attract and recruit graduate students to work for the District of Columbia. As a Fellow, he rotated among several agencies, including the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Department of General Services and the Mayor's Office on African Affairs, where he researched and compiled the city’s first-ever report detailing population growth of the African community since 1960, accomplishments, challenges and policy recommendations to bridge gaps in education, health, jobs, and capacity building.
As the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs, Mamadou’s accomplishments include: The establishment of the first ever, African Community Affiliates team within the Police Department to help address the public safety challenges stemming from fear of law enforcement, lack of understanding, language and cultural barriers; The establishment of EKO| African Diaspora Coding Academy that provides coding, web and mobile application training to African immigrants and bridge technology divides; produced and screened Diaspora in Dialogue, a film that promotes multicultural awareness and raises the visibility of the African community in Washington, D.C.; Launched the Young African ConneXions Summit in partnership with Howard University, President Obama’s YALI Fellows, to create a platform for exchange and collaboration on civic and community engagement; The commemoration of the Annual Nelson Mandela Day of Service to celebrate Mandela’s legacy with 67 minutes of community service.
Mamadou is a leading voice in the African diaspora and has been invited to speak at the White House, Andrews Airforce Base, U.S. Navy, African Union, United Nations, Moroccan American Network, United States Congress, University of South Carolina Aiken, World Bank, George Mason University, National College Democrat Annual Convention, and appeared on several local, national and international media platforms to discuss important topics relating to the African diaspora.
Mamadou is a Certified Public Manager from the George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Leadership. He is recipient of a Master of Public Administration degree from Kennesaw State University and a Bachelor of Political Science degree from the University of South Carolina Aiken. He is originally from Dakar, Senegal.
The Ubuntu Project: Founder
As a daughter of Eritrean immigrants who fled the country due to poor social and economic conditions, Rawan was determined to alleviate some of the harsh realities facing African communities. To exercise this passion of serving Africa, she started The Ubuntu Project (www.theubuntuproj.com), a mission driven organization dedicated to bridging the gap between creativity and compassion. The Ubuntu Project utilizes the One-for-One model: for every purchase made, a social cause in Africa is supported. All products by The Ubuntu Project are African themed, thus allowing Africans to represent their roots locally while empowering African communities globally. Through The Ubuntu Project, Rawan aims to foster hope and encouragement from within by supporting effective causes in Africa and inspiring young Africans to take an active role towards the betterment of their communities.
Rawan is a management consultant by day and a social entrepreneur by night. Aside from The Ubuntu Project, her management consulting career has allowed her to work in a variety of enterprise-wide initiatives, for Fortune 500 clients – including Toyota, Cisco, DirecTV, ATT, and BP – in a variety of industries and roles. In gaining this wealth of experience, Rawan is eager to utilize her skills for good.
Rawan graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles as Magna Cum Lade. In addition to that, Rawan participated in business programs at UCLA Anderson, UC Berkeley Haas Business School, and Yale School of Management.
SAMUEL M. GEBRU
Cambridge City Council: Candidate
Samuel M. Gebru is an Ethiopian American social entrepreneur, community organizer and consultant. He is a candidate for Cambridge City Council in the November 7, 2017 election.
A proud resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Samuel has demonstrated broad passion for and leadership in community organizing, policy work and advocacy on a range of issues. While at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), he launched Youth View Cambridge, the student-run television news magazine, and co-led the successful multicultural student campaign to recognize a Muslim holiday on the Cambridge Public Schools District’s official calendar. He has worked on municipal and state election campaigns and served as a legislative intern to Massachusetts State Senator Steven A. Tolman, the current president of Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
Samuel serves as founder and managing director of Black Lion Strategies, a consulting practice that works to strengthen U.S.-Ethiopia relations, and as executive producer of Boston Ethiopia Week, a new annual celebration of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Americans in the Boston area. He is frequently invited for local and international media appearances and speaking engagements on issues including the African immigrant community in Massachusetts, Ethiopian affairs and U.S.-Ethiopia policy.
Samuel founded and led the Ethiopian Global Initiative from 2006-2016. Based in the U.S., the nonprofit convened change makers in Ethiopia and abroad. The Initiative’s mission was to serve as a catalyst and connector, working to create an environment where passionate and innovative young leaders could discuss and seek solutions to Ethiopia’s most pressing challenges.
Samuel serves on the Board of Directors of the Cambridge Community Center, a multi-service organization and frontline resource for children, youth and families. Committed to supporting youth leadership, he launched the annual Samuel M. Gebru Leadership Award at CRLS, recognizing a graduating senior for broad experience in and passion for public service. He was previously board secretary of the CRLS Alumni Association and a board member of Africans in Boston, where he advocated on behalf of African immigrants in Massachusetts. Samuel served on the Artist Selection Committee for Cambridge’s Prince Hall Memorial, honoring Prince Hall, the noted African American scholar, abolitionist and founder of Black Freemasonry.
Samuel was previously appointed to serve as the first youth on the Executive Committee of the Cambridge Family Policy Council, an intergovernmental and multi-sector city board chaired by the Mayor that recommends policies on children, youth and families to the City Council. He helped develop the Council’s strategic plan, served on its Youth Involvement Subcommittee and participated in three delegations representing the city at conferences of the National League of Cities. He was part of the Youth Involvement Subcommittee’s widely endorsed campaign to lower the voting age in Cambridge’s municipal elections to 17. Although the effort failed in the Massachusetts Legislature, Samuel remains a consistent advocate for youth leadership and civic participation.
Samuel was born in Sudan to two Ethiopian parents and raised in Cambridge since moving with his mother in 1995 at age three. He is Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and multilingual. In his spare time, Samuel enjoys reading and writing, traveling and exploring new cuisines.
Addis Ideas: Founder
Mitu is a policy-focused Ethiopian-American who is passionate about building power in African communities. She is co-founder of Addis Ideas, a web platform that crowdsources African development solutions from African diaspora and nationals. Mitu also works in campaigns for an advocacy organization, where she manages national and state-level social media properties, and policy and candidate-focused digital campaigns. She has extensive experience in online communications and marketing, working for advocacy and major media organizations. Mitu graduated from Duke University in 2013 with a B.A. in Public Policy and Sociology.
Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics: Fellow
Tonika "Toni" Morgan is a Toronto-born, Boston-based strategist, educator and social entrepreneur. Her award-winning work in education access and accomplishments as a systems-level leader in North America's second largest affordable housing agency, Toronto Community Housing, positioned her as a trailblazer and thought leader in the social innovation space. Her work chiefly focuses on non-traditional student pathways and economic development for youth and adults of the African diaspora. Both her personal and professional work have been featured across multiple media platforms, including CNBC, Complex Magazine, Flare Magazine, London Guardian and the Boston Globe.
As an entrepreneur in arts education and tech, Toni is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of The Beat Academy, an incubator for digital music composers interested in working in the film, TV, VR, video games and music industries. To date, Beat Academy's alumni have secured opportunities with Nike, NBA All Star Weekend, Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Jay Z, to name a few.
Toni is a recent graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the 2016 recipient of the Kolajo Afolabi Award for Educational Justice. In addition, she was awarded the Education Entrepreneurship Fellowship at the Harvard Innovation Lab, where she explored business models at the intersection of race and intellectual property.
Today, Toni is the Visiting Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.