Africa’s Two Female Heads of State to Accept Distinguished Awards at The Africa-America Institute’s 28th Annual Awards Gala

Sandra Appiah September 17, 2012

NEW YORK, September 12 — The Africa-America Institute, a leading New York-based international education and policy organization, will honor Africa’s two female heads of state at its 28th Annual Awards Dinner Gala on Wednesday, September 26, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. AAI is dedicated to advancing education and professional training for Africans, and promoting engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue.

Africa’s Two Female Heads of State to Accept Distinguished Awards at The Africa-America Institute’s 28th Annual Awards Gala

Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Republic of Liberia will accept the AAI African National Achievement Award for Literacy to Support Life Skills; and Her Excellency President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi will receive the AAI Award for Championing Women’s Rights and Business Leadership. Maurice Tempelsman, former member and chair of the AAI Board of Trustees and chairman of the Board of Directors of Lazare Kaplan International, will receive the AAI Distinguished Trustee Award for his decades of support to AAI and service as a member of the AAI Board of Trustees.

The theme of this year’s Awards Gala is “Jobs for Africa’s Future”. Held annually during the opening week of the United Nations General Assembly, distinguished U.S. and African leaders and top diplomats will gather for the most high profile Africa-focused event in New York City. Among the Awards Gala’s major corporate sponsors are Chevron and Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.

“It is an honor for AAI to recognize Africa’s two female heads of state — Liberian President Sirleaf and Malawian President Banda — for their commitment to private sector development, and especially their razor-sharp focus on equipping women and girls with the tools to exert economic power and realize their potential as drivers of sustainable economic growth and broad based wellbeing in Africa,” said Mora McLean, AAI President and CEO.

The black-tie event will also recognize AAI Alumni who are leading African leaders for their contributions to Africa and the world. Dr. Thelma Awori, Former Assistant Secretary General and Director of Regional Bureau for Africa at United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Founding Chair and Co-President of the Sirleaf Market Women's Fund, will receive the AAI 2012 Distinguished Alumna Award.  Nik Amarteifio, CEO & Chairman of Equatorial Cross Acquisitions Ltd , Lead Director of the Central Bank of Ghana and Chairman of Dannex Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Ghana Agro Foods Company, and Omni Media and owner of Citi FM Radio and The Globe newspaper of Ghana will receive the AAI 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Today, AAI counts more than 23,000 alumni, including Wangari Maathai, the late Kenyan environmental and women’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate; Prime Minister H.E. Nahas Angula of Namibia; and President Alassane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire. “We pay tribute to our distinguished alumni for playing leading roles in addressing some of the world’s most intractable challenges, and improving the lives of people in Africa,” said McLean of the annual awards.

McLean will step down as CEO and President of AAI after 16 years of outstanding service at the end of September to become a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University Center for African Studies. “Under Mora’s leadership, AAI diversified its portfolio and reestablished contact with members of its multigenerational, transnational African alumni network,” said Kofi Appenteng, Chair of the AAI Board of Trustees. “We know that she will remain an advocate of AAI’s mission and wish her every success in fulfilling her desire to explore new opportunities.”

“It has been an extraordinary journey, and I feel privileged to have served and to now pass the baton to my successor to take AAI to the next level,” said McLean. Amini Kajunju, former CEO of New York-based Workshop in Business Opportunities, will succeed McLean as AAI President and CEO effective October 1, 2012.

To delve deeper into the gala theme “Jobs for Africa’s Future”, AAI will co-host the 2012 Africa Business Investors Conference with UN Women, the African Women’s Development Fund and the African Business Roundtable on Thursday, September 27 in New York. The one-day conference, an exclusive high-powered networking and dialogue with African heads of state and U.S. and African leaders, will highlight Africa's emerging market potential, innovative solutions for private sector development, and the pivotal role of African women as powerful drivers of African economic development.

Conference keynote speakers will include: His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President, Republic of Ghana; Her Excellency Joyce Banda, President, Republic of Malawi; His Excellency Michael Chilufya Sata, President, Republic of Zambia; The Honorable Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women; The Honorable Cherie Blair QC, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; Florizelle Lizer, United States Trade Representative for Africa; Danielle Walker, Director, Africa Business Initiative, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Dr. Thelma Awori, Founding Chair and Co-President, Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, among others.

For table and ticket reservations and additional information, please visit; email,; or call (888) 483-0653. Business conference attendees must purchase a gala ticket to attend this exclusive opportunity, which is available on a first come, first serve basis.

Last Edited by: Updated: February 25, 2014


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