Photo of Caroline M. Elkins
Caroline M. Elkins
Oppenheimer Faculty Director of the Center for African Studies; Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies (FAS)

Professor Caroline Elkins is the Oppenheimer Faculty Director of the Harvard University Center for African Studies. Professor Elkins was appointed Faculty Chair of the Committee on African Studies in 2009. She then oversaw the transformation of the Committee into a Center with a vastly expanded program and staff, and became the Center’s Founding Director in 2014. Elkins, Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, specializes in the history of colonialism in Africa, and is the author of Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 and is currently being adapted as a feature film.

Photo of John M. Mugane
John M. Mugane
Director of the African Language Program; Professor of the Practice of African Languages and Cultures (FAS), Director of the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program

John M. Mugane is the Director of the African Language program in the Department of African and African American Studies. He is a linguist specializing in African languages and is the Professor of the Practice of African Languages and Cultures at Harvard University. Mugane has been the Director of the language program since 2003 developing the teaching of African languages and cultures. Mugane received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Arizona, Tucson (1997) and his M.A. in Linguistics from Ohio University (1991). A graduate of Kenyatta University in Kenya, B.Ed. in Languages, Literature, and Linguistics (1987), he also earned an M.A. in International Affairs, African Studies (1991) at Ohio University. Mugane’s current projects include the Africa’s Sources of Knowledge Digital Library (ASK-DL) and the Enhanced Language Instruction for African Studies (ELIAS).  Download CV.

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Susan Cook
Executive Director

Sue Cook is the Executive Director of the Harvard University Center for African Studies. Trained as a linguistic anthropologist and comparative genocide scholar, Sue has worked extensively in South Africa (with the Royal Bafokeng Nation), Cambodia (with the Cambodian Genocide Program), Botswana, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. She has held academic appointments at Yale, Brown, and the University of Pretoria. Her interests include mine-community relations in Africa, traditional leadership, urban language varieties, and sports and development. She is the author of The Business of Being Bafokeng: Corporatization in a Tribal Authority in South Africa, Performing Royalty in Contemporary Africa (with Rebecca Hardin) and Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda: New Perspectives (ed.).

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Andrew Iliff
Special Projects Manager

Andrew Iliff is the Center’s Special Projects Manager, and coordinates some of our major new initiatives. Andrew originates from Zimbabwe and most recently worked as the Research and Advocacy Officer for the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation in Harare. He graduated from Harvard College with a BA in Social Studies and African Studies before he went on to earn a JD and an MA in African Studies from Yale University. 

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Margie Jenkins
Executive Assistant

Margie Jenkins is the Executive Assistant for Professor Elkins. She brings almost 30 years of experience as a senior administrator in independent schools to our team. She was most recently Dean of Students at Cheshire Academy. Margie holds a B.S. from Northwestern University and completed graduate studies in education at UMass Amherst and Fairfield University.

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Erin Linn
Communications & Events Officer

Erin Linn is Communications Officer for the Center for African Studies. A trained heritage professional, with an M.A. in Archaeology from University College London, and an M.A. in Cultural Heritage from Deakin University Australia, she has worked at the Museum of London as well as on heritage management projects in Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. Erin’s most recent appointment was with the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research as an Administrative Assistant.

Photo of Maggie Lopes
Maggie Lopes
Associate Director

Maggie Lopes is the Associate Director for the Center for African Studies. She assists in overseeing all Center projects and programs, knowledge management systems, and manages the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program. Maggie worked for the Namibian Ministry of Education on information and communication technology (ICT) programs, and later, as the Namibia Country Director for WorldTeach. She was subsequently appointed as WorldTeach’s Director of Programs, overseeing programs in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific Islands. Maggie holds an M.A. in Development Management from the London School of Economics and a B.S. in International Business and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.

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Candace Lowe
Finance/Staff Assistant

As the Finance/Staff Assistant, Candace oversees the Center’s financial processing as well as providing essential administrative support to the team.  She comes to the Center with 15 years of office management experience in the financial and non-profit academic sectors.  Born in Barbados and raised in Cambridge, Candace is a longtime resident of the city.  She studied liberal arts at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Photo of Nthatisi Quella
Nthatisi Quella
Student Support & Outreach Officer

Nthatisi Quella is the Center for African Studies’ Student Support Officer. Originally from Lesotho, Nthatisi has a decade’s worth of experience in secondary and higher education in Africa, student programming, and evaluation. Nthatisi is responsible for the administration of the Center’s student grants, internship programs, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, and student group support. She holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the National University of Lesotho, and a Master of Education and Curriculum Development degree from the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Education in Johannesburg.

Photo of Brendan Gerety
Brendan Gerety
Intern, Communications

Brendan Gerety is Communications Intern for the Center for African Studies. He assists in developing marketing materials and conducting research for new initiatives. Brendan is studying Management and Marketing at Bentley University. Working at the Center for the past two year has peaked his interest in African Studies. He hopes to expand his global knowledge in his future academic career through studying abroad and international coursework.


Photo of Natasha  Koverola Commissiong
Natasha  Koverola Commissiong
Intern, Program Assistant

Natasha Koverola Commissiong is Program Assistant for the Center for African Studies. She assists in the implementation of a wide range of Center projects and grants. Natasha served as a research assistant for a telemedicine project in Lesotho and for a girls literacy project in Malawi as well as Afro-Brazilian youth education advocacy in Brazil. She will begin her graduate studies in Anthropology and Development at the London School of Economics in September 2015 and holds a B.A. in International Relations and Ethnic Studies from the University of Southern California.