Washington, DC — The White House has named Ghanaian-American Deniece Laurent-Mantey as executive director of the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States.
“We are in a very exciting time. The council is an advisory council that is situated in the Department of State where we have 12 members on the council who will be putting together recommendations,” said Laurent-Mantey, in a WIN-TV “Let’s Talk,” interview with Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes. “[The council will offer] suggestions about how we can really engage the African diaspora community in the United States, and strengthen our relationship with young leaders, our partners on the African continent.”
READ: Swearing-in Ceremony and Inaugural Meeting of the President’s Advisory Council On African Diaspora Engagement in the United States
A Bronx, New York native and a graduate of Syracuse University and Howard University, Laurent-Mantey explained the council’s definition of the African diaspora.
“We’re defining it as African immigrants, those who immigrate from the continent to the United States, but also descendants of African slaves. So that includes African Americans as well,” she said. “It is an inclusive definition. We are also aligned with the African Union’s definition of diaspora, which is more inclusive.”
A longtime career diplomat, Laurent-Mantey previously served as a special advisor for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Implementation and Director for Africa at the National Security Council at the White House. Laurent-Mantey also served as special assistant to former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
Recognizing Africa as a key geopolitical player, President Joe Biden hosted 49 African Presidents, as well as the head of the African Union Commission for the U.S.-African Leaders Summit.
“When Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. Quite frankly, the whole world succeeds as well,” Biden said. At last year’s summit, the president announced plans to commit $55 billion in economic, security and health investment in Africa over the next three years, as well as name a special envoy to focus on those issues. Biden later named career diplomat Ambassador Johnnie Carson as Special Presidential Representative for U.S.-Africa Leaders.
The President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States consists of 12 members for the 2023-2025 term: Silvester Scott Beaman, chair; Mimi E. Alemayehou; Rosalind Brewer; Viola Davis; Helene D. Gayle; Patrick H. Gaspard; C.D. Glin; Osagie Imasogie; Almaz Negash; Chimenye J. Ogwumike; Ham K. Serunjogi; and Kevin Young.
“Great to see POTUS introduce an Advisory Council on African Diasporan Engagement,” said the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). “A meaningful step toward bringing members of the African Diaspora across the U.S. and Africa together to promote economic growth, trade and mutual understanding.”
Laurent-Mantey emphasized the council is dedicated to strengthening connections with the U.S. and Africa for members of the African diaspora.
“Whether it’s African immigrants or descendants of African slaves, African Americans, there’s been a huge amount of interest in making those connections with our partners and brothers and sisters on the continent. It’s an exciting opportunity for the U.S. Government to also play a role to see how we can bring together the diaspora and use the diaspora as a source of strength for our U.S. foreign policy,” she said. “This council will put forth recommendations for the Administration to really engage the diaspora across different sectors. This is the first time our African engagement has come to this level. The diaspora is a source of strength for this country.”
The executive director of the council also stressed the importance of collaboration across the African diaspora.
“We are in a place in our U.S.-Africa policy where we say we’re really focused on not just what we’re going to do in Africa, but what we’re going to do with Africa,” she said. “Partnership is critical and important and what we’re going to do with Africa is engage a large, interested, vibrant, smart Diaspora who also want to become a part of that.”
Austin R. Cooper, Jr., serves as the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc. The firm provides legislative, political and communications counsel in Washington, D.C., for governmental, nonprofit and for profit organizations. more>>