Obenewa Amponsah will lead operations for the Harvard University Center for African Studies office in Johannesburg, South Africa.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Harvard University Center for African Studies has appointed Y. Obenewa Amponsah as the Executive Director of the Harvard Center for African Studies in South Africa (CAS). In this role, Amponsah will be responsible for strategic and operational management of the Center’s flagship Africa office, including developing the programmatic agenda.
Additionally, Amponsah will steward the implementation of a year-round calendar of public events taking place in South Africa and the Continent, including conferences, lectures, workshops, film screenings and art exhibitions. Amponsah will lead the Center’s efforts to establish and maintain partner and community relations across Africa, in addition to promoting collaborative initiatives with institutions and universities.
Previously, Amponsah served as the CEO of the Steve Biko Foundation (SBF) – a community development organization inspired by the legacy of the late anti-apartheid activist, Stephen Biko. During her tenure with SBF, Amponsah oversaw international programming and fundraising for the organization. She played an integral role in the conceptualization and establishment of the Steve Biko Centre, a national legacy project located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Inspired by her own upbringing, Amponsah 's personal and professional interests focus on fostering pan-African solutions to advance development in Africa and the Diaspora. “With the Center for African Studies’ emphasis on streamlining knowledge-sharing channels between African scholars and the Harvard Community, Obenewa’s expertise will position the center’s first Continental office to reach new audiences,” said Professor Emmanual Akyeampong, Faculty Director of the Center for African Studies.
The Center for African Studies South Africa office will formally open in June 2017. The office will serve as a regional research hub for Harvard faculty, alumni and students in Africa and as a platform for community engagement and relationship building. It will also serve as an intellectual hub for the study of theory from the Southern Hemisphere and the field of African Studies. The office will facilitate cross-sector engagements among and between scholars, students, and groups focusing on Africa-related knowledge at Harvard University and in the broader African community.
Amponsah will also contribute expertise in governance and development, having formerly served as a Senior Consultant with GoodWorks International, a business development and government relations firm; and as the Administrator of the African Presidential Archives & Research Centre. Of Ghanaian descent, she was born and raised in the Washington DC area. She holds an undergraduate degree from Boston University and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.