Photo of Susan Cook
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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Raenette Gottardo
Executive Director, South Africa Office

Raenette Taljaard is the Executive Director of the Harvard University Center for African Studies, South Africa Office. A Member of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa (1999-2005) and a former Commissioner of the Electoral Commission of the Republic of South Africa (2011-2015), Raenette also served as Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation (2006-2009) She is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a Yale World Fellow, and a ALI Aspen Institute Fellow. Her first book ‘Up in Arms’ (2012) was published by Jacana. Raenette taught Public Policy and International Relations at the University of Cape Town from 2010-2015. She has a BA (Law) and an MA from the University of Johannesburg, and a MSc from the London School of Economics.

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Margie Jenkins
Executive Assistant

Margie Jenkins coordinates the Center’s events as well as provides assistance to the Executive Director.  She brings over 30 years’ experience as a senior administrator in independent schools to our team. Having served as Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life at schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Virginia, she brings a great deal of experience in planning and coordinating programs and events.  Margie holds a B.S. from Northwestern University and completed graduate studies in education at UMass Amherst and Fairfield University.

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Maggie Lopes
Associate Director

Maggie Lopes is the Associate Director for the Center for African Studies. She currently oversees the Center’s operations, including finances, project planning and human resource management. 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 MSc 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
Financial Associate

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.

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Lerato Motaung
Project Manager, South Africa Office

Lerato Motaung is the project manager at Harvard University’s Center for African Studies Johannesburg Office. Lerato is an experienced sustainability specialist and corporate executive who has worked in both corporate South Africa and civil society organizations. Lerato studied at Johnson C. Smith University in the United States where she qualified in Political Science and Governance. In her career she has served as a non-executive director of Sci-bono Discovery Centre and the Maths Centre for Professional Teachers. She was also a trustee of the Letsema Sizwe and Letsema Khanyisa Black Economic Empowerment Employee Benefit Trusts. Upon her return to South Africa from the United Stated, Lerato recently launched Civics Academy, South Africa’s new civic education initiative in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela and Hanns Seidel Foundations which aims to facilitate young people’s constructive involvement in democracy.

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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.

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Tricia Reinken
Communications Officer

Tricia Reinken serves as the Communications Officer for the Center for African Studies. In this role, she assists in the management of various communications platforms, including website updates, oversight of the social media strategy, and marketing material creation. Tricia holds a Bachelor’s degree from Bentley University in Media & Culture and Business Studies.

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Rosaline Salifu
Events and Fellows Officer

Rosaline Salifu serves as the Events and Fellows Officer for the Center for African Studies. Coming from Ghana, West Africa, Rosaline studied International Development at Brandeis University and has extensive experience in student events programing. Prior to coming to the US, Rosaline lived and worked in Japan and Ghana coordinating and managing educational programs for students and international trainees. With interests in educational events management and international students counseling, we are thrilled to have Rosaline coordinating all Center affiliated events and programs.

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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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Nehemiah Muhikira

Nehemiah Muhikira is serving as a CAS summer intern as a library assistant for sub-Saharan collection in the Widener Library. He directly assists Bassey Irele, Librarian for Sub-Saharan Africa. Nehemiah was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but spent most of his childhood in Rwanda. Due to his upbringing, Nehemiah has been able to learn many languages from African to Middle Eastern and European languages. He is currently enrolled at Roxbury Community College in preparation for an ultimate goal to continue on to a four-year college for further studies in political science. He is also pursuing his love of track and field as a 100m, 200m and 4x100m sprinter. 

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Shae Omonijo
Knowledge Management Intern

Shae Omonijo serves as the Knowledge Management Intern for the Center for African Studies. Working under the direction of the Associate Director, she oversees data collection efforts pertaining to all Africa-related activities at Harvard University (both on campus and abroad). In addition, Shae is a Research Assistant to Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong studying the formation of Independent African nation-states.  Shae is an undergraduate at the University of Chicago pursuing a double major in Political Science and Public Policy.