AFRICA FORUM: CHALLENGES AND HOPE
March 28 & 29, 2008 (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
BIO SKETCHES OF SPEAKERS
(some bios are partial and to be completed)
(1) Ousmane Badiane, a national of Senegal, is IFPRI’s (International Food Policy Research Institute)
Africa Coordinator. He was formerly Lead Specialist for Food and Agricultural Policy for the Africa
Region at the World Bank. He worked at IFPRI from 1989 to 1997, when he led the institute's work on
market reforms and development, before joining the World Bank in 1998. He was also an adjunct
professor at Johns Hopkins' School of Advance International Studies from 1993 to 2003. Dr. Badiane
received a Masters degree and PhD in agricultural economics from the University of Kiel in Germany. Dr.
Badiane heads IFPRI's collaboration with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and
provides technical support in the areas of food policy research, capacity strengthening, and policy
(2) Rudy Bropleh, originally from Liberia, is currently Senior Pastor of Asbury United Methodist
Church (Shepherdstown, W.Va), and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Shepherd University. (further
details will be provided in the updated version)
(3) Charles Chuka, from Malawi, is currently a Senior Advisor to the Executive Director representing
22 (Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi,
Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania,
Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) of the 46 Sub-Saharan Africa countries in the Boards of the World
Bank Group. He joined the office of the Executive Director in October 2003 and his current primary
responsibilities include advising the Executive Director on Malawi, Mozambique, World Bank’s
development strategies and programs, the implementation of Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
Initiative, the policy and operational framework for IDA and on the finances of the World Bank.
Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Mr. Chuka was General Manager for Economic Services (1997-
2003) in the Reserve Bank of Malawi, which he joined in 1979 and served in various capacities and
departments. He has a Master of Philosophy in Monetary Economics from the University of Glasgow,
Scotland (1987) and a Bachelor of Social Science (Economics and Sociology) degree from the University
of Malawi (1979).
(4) Bob Downey: President, Spero Group; Managing Director, Tumai; BS Information Systems and
Business Administration, Shepherd University; 25 years experience Information Systems Management
and Process Improvement; 3 years experience US/South Africa non-profits, directing Africa field mission
work, and bottling industry; member of Central Chapel, Hedgesville, WV
(5) Diuto Esiobu, from Nigeria, is a tenured Microbiology and Biotechnology professor at Florida
Atlantic University in Florida. She received her doctoral and post doctoral training from the University of
Louvain, Belgium and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology respectively. Named the International
professor in 2007, Dr Esiobu has received several such awards for outstanding service to the American
Society for Microbiology and her efforts in promoting Microbiology and Biotechnology world-wide. She
volunteers numerous hours to advise governments of developing countries on research priorities as well
as in capacity building of a relevant workforce in Science and Technology in Africa. A passionate social
entrepreneur, Dr Esiobu has founded a couple of organizations for mentoring, training and promoting
wholesome transformation of human kind around the globe. She is one of the founding directors of
Heritage Africa – A network of over 1000 professional African Diaspora in the United States committed
to empowering Africans to make lasting impacts on their generation. She is also the Director of Legal
and structure of the African Christian Fellowship USA; whose members have donated over a million
dollars in kind through missions and material aide to at least 15 African countries in the past 30 years.
(6) Alysson Ford is Catholic Relief Services’ Regional Representative for West Africa, a
headquarters-based position that supports the agency’s work in 14 countries. Prior to this position, she
worked with CRS in Burkina Faso as the coordinator of the BRIGHT program, a $12.9 million project
supporting girls’ education by constructing, equipping, and supporting 132 primary schools and their
A graduate of Harvard University (AB 2000) and the University of London (MSc Development Studies,
2004), Ms. Ford started her international career in 2000, working as a researcher at the South Asia Human
Rights Documentation Center in New Delhi, India. The following year, she joined the Peace Corps,
serving as a community development volunteer in Cote d’Ivoire, where her projects included a girls’
primary school-enrollment campaign, an adult literacy course and a youth camp focused on health,
nutrition, leadership and HIV and AIDS. Expecting to spend two years in the Peace Corps, Ms. Ford’s
time was cut short by the outbreak of civil conflict, which forced an evacuation of all Peace Corps
volunteers in the country. Following the evacuation, she worked with Fondo Ecuatoriano Populorum
Progressio, one of the largest local NGOs in Ecuador, on an impact analysis of the microcredit operations
of one of its community partners.
(7) Cliff Gilchrest. He retired after 38 years as a middle school social studies teacher,
having developed a passionate interest in international relations during his career. Through programs with
Union Theological Seminary and a program, Cliff helped develop between Bath County, Virginia Public
Schools and the International Center at the University of Virginia when his family hosted
students from every continent and seven African countries. He has been a member of the Ethiopian
Partnership Committee of Shenandoah Presbytery since 1993 and the current chair of that committee.
(8) Larry J. Goodwin. He is the Field Organizing Coordinator at Bread for the World, a nationwide
Christian movement that seeks justice for the world's hungry people by lobbying our nation's decision
makers. He and his staff of eight organizers carry out Bread’s outreach and grassroots
mobilization across the U.S. to promote more just policies on hunger and poverty locally and globally.
Larry has twenty years experience in international public policy advocacy in Washington, DC. In
addition to his work at Bread for the World, he served with Africa Faith and Justice Network for 7
years, 5 years as Executive Director. His primary focus was on African farmers’ rights, the human right
to water, eco-agriculture and trade. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Larry spent 8 years in Uganda
and 2 years in Zimbabwe, working on human rights initiatives and small-scale rural development
projects. His experience was foundational to his organizing and public policy work. Larry has a Doctor
of Ministry degree from the Catholic University of America.
(9) Emmanuel N. Ike is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner. He is the
President of Accounting and Consulting Solutions, Inc, a consulting firm based in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. He graduated from Huntington University in Huntington Indiana with a B.S in Accounting
and Business Administration and obtained his Masters degree from Cleveland State University in
Accounting and Financial Information Systems. Before he founded his consulting firm, he served as
Senior Auditor with a Fortune 500 company and was a Partner in a local public accounting firm where he
served as VP Consulting. He is also an adjunct professor of accounting at Geneva College in Pittsburgh,
Mr Ike has served as Treasurer and Board Member on various nonprofit organizations and presently
serves as Missions Director for ACF Missions, Inc.
(10) Ann King-Grosh: She is currently the Mennonite Central Committee’s Representative for
Somalia, currently based in Pennsylvania. (further details will be provided in the updated version)
(11) Gerald LeMelle is the Executive Director of Africa Action. Africa Action is the oldest
organization in the United States whose mission is to change U.S. Africa relations to promote political,
economic and social justice in Africa. Prior to joining Africa Action in the fall of 2007, Gerald served as
the Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy at Amnesty International USA. Prior to working at Amnesty
International USA, Gerald served as the Director of African Affairs with the Phelps-Strokes Fund. Gerald
holds a J.D. from Georgetown University. He has appeared on radio and television numerous times and
has been published in newspapers across the country. He lived in Africa for ten years, primarily in Kenya
(12) Ryan McCannell works for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for
Africa as a Democracy and Governance Specialist. Before joining USAID, Ryan spent eight years at the
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), where he was responsible for designing and
managing democracy support programs in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Malawi,
South Africa, and the Central African Republic. In 2002-03, he served as NDI’s chief of party in Benin
and Togo, where he organized training for political parties prior to elections in those two countries.
Before NDI, he worked for the Academy for Educational Development (AED) as a democracy researcher
for USAID. His education includes a bachelor’s degree at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, a
year abroad at the Université du Bénin in Lomé, Togo, and a master’s in Geographic and Cartographic
Sciences at George Mason University.
(13) Mwiza Munthali, from Malawi, Public Outreach Director for TransAfrica Forum. For more than
two decades, Mwiza has worked to further TransAfrica Forum's outreach in the broader community.
Currently Mwiza directs the growth of the library, develops educational programs and events for the
organization, identifies research material, oversees publications, and directs volunteers and interns. He
maintains communication links with information specialists of various multilateral agencies, U.S.
government offices, and African and Caribbean embassies and organizations. Mwiza represents
TransAfrica Forum in public forums, meets with international visitors, and speaks to student groups.
Mwiza holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography with a concentration in international development
studies from the University of Iowa.
(14) Bob Rogers, President and CEO of Global Medical Services. He is a former Senior Marketing
Manager for the business partner alliances team in IBM’s Server and Storage Products Group at Charlotte,
North Carolina. He managed both line and staff functions during his 33 years at IBM, and has overseen
joint projects staffed with employees from IBM and IBM business partner companies. Bob is the founder
of World Alliances and GMD.
(15) Rev. Victor E. Sawyer was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He earned his Bachelors degree in
Accounting and his M. Div. from Howard University. He is an ordained Elder in the Baltimore
Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has led local and international VIM trips to
New Orleans, Louisianna, Pass Christian, Mississippi, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe,
Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa. He and his wife Sylvia have two adult children. The
Scripture that has guided his life and ministry is "The Lord is My Shepherd".
(16) Jeff Thindwa, from Malawi, joined the World Bank in January 2000 as a Senior Social
Development Specialist, and became coordinator of the Participation and Civic Engagement Team in
2004. His work involved promoting “demand-side approaches” to good governance through the use of
“social accountability” mechanisms. His team provided tools and training to public officials and civil
society organizations, and also conducted analytical research to improve the policy and institutional
environment for civic engagement. In September, 2007 he joined the Bank’s global Civil Society Team in
International Affairs Division, which, among other roles, provides institutional guidance to senior
management on the Bank’s engagement with civil society. Jeff worked in the NGO community for 17
years, his last appointment being as director of international programs for World Vision United Kingdom.
He studied law at the University of Malawi, political economy at the London School of Economics and
Political Sciences, and EEC law at the University of London, Kings College.
(17) Rhodes Woolly is the pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in Winchester,
Virginia. His interest in the global community is traced through undergraduate and graduate degrees in
International Studies. At Bethel he oversees the congregation's extensive missions work in Tanzania, The
Philippines, and India. This year alone over 30 Bethel members have
participated in global missions work in four different countries.