our team

Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director - has over a decade of experience in human rights advocacy, pro-democracy and research work on Africa, including at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Freedom House, National Endowment for Democracy, Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa, and UNESCO. Mr. Smith has planned and conducted human rights and civil society assessment missions to several African countries and has published extensively on US-Africa policy and human rights issues for major international publications. He frequently appears in media outlets as an expert commentator, including on CNN, NPR, MSNBC and the BBC.

Joe Trippi, Senior Advisor - heralded on the cover of The New Republic as the man who “reinvented campaigning,” Joe Trippi has been at the forefront of movement politics for nearly 30 years. Trippi began his political career working on Edward M. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1980 and has worked on numerous presidential, gubernatorial, senate, and congressional campaigns in the United State and around the world since. In 2008,Trippi helped Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change receive the most votes, and helped garner international media attention to Robert Mugabe’s democratic subversion and violence which led to a ‘unity’ government and Tsvangarai becoming Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. In 2010, Trippi was a senior strategist and media consultant in Jerry Brown’s successful run for California Governor. He is the author of "The Revolution will not be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything," which chronicles his revolutionary use of the internet in political campaigning.

Christopher Harvin, Senior Advisor -  is a founding Partner at Sanitas International, a global strategic communication, public affairs, digital media and political advisory firm based in Washington DC. He was recognized as one of the top public relations practitioners under 40 by PRWeek in 2013, has served the White House and has held senior communications and public affairs positions with U.S. Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Congress and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Having worked in almost 70 countries and on 6 continents, Mr. Harvin has provided political and communications counsel and support around the world to include U.S. Presidential, Senate and Congressional campaigns, international corporations, opposition candidates and their parties, and dozens foreign heads of state and sovereign governments.

Advisory board

Amadou Janneh is a former Minister of Information and Communication in The Gambia. In 2011 he was sentenced to life in prison for treason after distributing t-shirts with the slogan "End Dictatorship Now." After worldwide protests, including from Amnesty International, Janneh was pardoned and later settled in the United States. As coordinator of Coalition for Change-Gambia (CCG), he continues to be a leading advocate for democracy and human rights in West Africa.

Dapo Olorunyomi is currently publisher and editor-in-chief of the Nigerian multimedia platform, Premium Times. Prior to this, he served as policy director and chief of staff at Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). His work as editor during the years of military dictatorship in Nigeria earned him the 1995 International Editor of the Year Award, presented by World Press Review, the 1996 PEN Center (West) Freedom to Write Award, the 1996 Press Freedom Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) New York and a Hellman Hemmett grant from Human Rights Watch.

Dr. Frannie Léautier is co-founding partner and chairperson of Mkoba Private Equity Fund. She has worked extensively in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, as well as in 49 different countries throughout Africa. Most recently, she was the Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) based in Harare, Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2013.

John Githongo is the CEO of Inuka, a Kenyan NGO that promotes good governance and anti-corruption. He is a past Chairman of the Africa Institute for Governing with Integrity, the Africa Center for Open Governance (AFRICOG), and served as a Commissioner of the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI). Previously, he was Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of governance and ethics. He remains a weekly columnist for the Star newspaper and occasionally writes for international press outlets such as the Guardian. In 2011, Mr. Githongo was selected as one of the world’s 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine and one of the world’s top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy. In October 2013 he was awarded the OXI! Award by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation that marks heroism and the defense of freedom. In 2015, he was appointed the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at Stanford University and was awarded the prestigious University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law Prize for international Integrity. Mr. Githongo is also a Senior Advisor to the Office of the President of South Sudan.