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Kelsey Lilley

Associate Director, Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, USA

Kelsey Lilley is associate director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Her work focuses on emerging security threats and political developments across sub-Saharan Africa, in particular the Horn of Africa. Prior to the Atlantic Council, Lilley worked for the Society for International Development, where she offered operational and financial support to the membership-based international development organization. 

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From 2012-13, she lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she was a Princeton in Africa Fellow for the International Rescue Committee. While there, she contributed to proposals supporting more than 300,000 Somali, Eritrean, and South Sudanese refugees living in Ethiopia. Kelsey received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Davidson College.

Paola Maniga

Head of Development, Bruegel, Italy

Paola Maniga is Head of Development at Bruegel. She joined Bruegel in September 2014 with the mission to expand the Membership Programme and develop partnerships and new funding channels for Bruegel.

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She is also co-founder of The Brussels Binder, an online database of female policy experts aimed at improving gender diversity in policy debates. Before joining Bruegel, she was Secretary General of the European Association of Sugar Traders (ASSUC) and Trade Policy Adviser for the associations representing international trade in flowers (Union Fleurs) and EU imports of processed agriculture and fishery products (Frucom). Paola holds two master's degrees, in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics and in Management from Bocconi University and a Bachelor Degree in Economics and Management for Arts, Culture and Communication. She speaks Italian, English, Spanish, French. Her main interests include economics of international trade, social innovation and entrepreneurship. She also enjoys arts, painting and photography.

Valeria Maria Aruffo

Regional Manager, West Africa, EnergyNet, UK

As the regional manager for West and North Africa for EnergyNet, Valeria Aruffo currently works with governments across West and North Africa promoting investment into the energy, electricity, and infrastructure sectors with a clear focus on energy access and economic development in Africa through project implementation, climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building. 

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With an emphasis on North and West Africa development and regional cooperation, Aruffo has led high level investor’s summits promoting energy access around the world, most recently in Marrakech where she led the EnergyNet’s Africa Renewable Energy Forum (ARF), the officially labelled side event of COP22. Aruffo holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations from the University of Rome, two master’s degrees, one in the history of Africa and one in political studies from the EHESS in Paris.

Mandisa Melaphi

Program Coordinator of the African Heritage Research Project, Mandela Institute for Development Studies, South Africa

Based at the Mandela Institute for Development Studies, Mandisa is a professional in the development space, with over five years of experience in program strategy and policy advocacy. 

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 Her focus area has primarily been on interrogating socioeconomic policy as it relates to young people, with a recent transition into African heritage research for the purpose of mainstreaming African heritage into the continents’ governance and development frameworks and institutions. She is the program’s coordinator for the African heritage research study project at MINDS and does freelance program work for nonprofit organizations, corporate, and entrepreneurial outfits. She was previously at the Centre for Development and Enterprise where her focus area was the socioeconomic and socio-psychological development implications of the education and employment policies as they relate to young people’s development and preparedness for change and leadership. Mandisa holds degrees in both Philosophy and Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Lea Metke

Program Officer to the Director, French Institute of International Relations (Ifri), Germany

Lea Metke joined Ifri in 2014 as a project officer for the Study Committee on French–German Relations (Cerfa). She holds a master’s degree in European studies and a bachelor’s degree in European studies and applied foreign languages from Sorbonne University.

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She has been in charge of the partnership between Ifri and OCP Policy Center since 2014. The cooperation between both institutions aims at a large spectrum of research including regional and cross-sectional thematics and is based on two pillars: the organization of conferences and the publication of policy-oriented papers. Since January 2016, Metke is project officer to the director of Ifri, where she is particularly involved in activities with Ifri’s public and private partners and the development of Ifri’s think tank network. She teaches Franco–German relations: between reconciliation, partnership, and crisis at Sciences Po Paris.

Naakoshie Mills

African Union and Multilateral Affairs Officer, Department of State, USA

Naakoshie Mills works at US Department of State, where she is the desk officer for the U.S. Mission to the AU and coordinates non-Africa partner engagement for the Bureau of African Affairs. 

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Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 2015, Mills worked at Meridian International Center, promoting the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program as a program associate and intern coordinator. She has also worked on projects with the Transatlantic Inclusion Leadership Network, l’Agence Française de Développement, as well as fellowships in Africare, the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She holds a dual master’s degree from Columbia and Sciences Po Universities in international and public affairs. She is a 2013 Charles Rangel International Affairs Fellow and a 2012-2013 U.S. Fulbright Research Grantee. She is proficient in Spanish, Amharic, and French.

Kiron Neale

DPhil (PhD) Researcher, University of Oxford, Trinidad and Tobago

Kiron Neale is a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom working on his PhD that looks at residential solar energy transitions in Small Islands States.

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His work specifically explores the role of culture in energy transitions away from conventional fossil fuel usage and how this relates to residential solar energy policies and technologies. Prior to his current doctoral studies, Kiron completed Oxford’s MSc in Environmental Change and Management. He is a geography and environmental graduate of Trinidad’s University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and is also a student exchange alumni of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Professionally, Kiron has some policy experience having worked with the Environmental Policy and Planning Division as well as Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and industrial experience having worked in both ammonia and methanol production.

Mary-Jean Nleya

Visiting Researcher, Center for Socio-Legal Studies, Botswana

Mary-Jean Nleya is a freelance writer and was most recently the senior editor for the Harvard Africa Policy Journal. 

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She is currently a visiting researcher at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford particularly researching the media’s representation of Africa and the impact this has on the continent’s ability to attract foreign direct investment. She has a keen interest in the intersection between law, the media, and economic development. Previously, Mary-Jean was an intern, and later a contractor, at the International Criminal Court, The Hague. In 2015, she was selected as one of Africa’s 100 brightest young minds by Brightest Young Minds, South Africa. Mary-Jean is a One Young World Ambassador and holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a LL.B. (cum laude) from the University Of Pretoria, South Africa.

Soha Nouh Tarek

Journalist and Media Trainer, DW Akademie, Egypt

Soha Nouh Tarek is an Egyptian journalist who started her professional career nine years ago while she was studying at Faculty of Law (French section). 

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She started her career as a reporter in many local newspapers, and later started working in Gulf newspapers, where she gained experience and became specialized in writing political and cultural reports, as well as covering women and youth related issues. She started working for Deutsche Welle Akademie in 2014 as a journalistic trainer and a supervisor for a project entitled Women Voices. The project aims to prepare recently graduated professionals for a career in media. Soha has completed various courses in journalism and politics through global news agencies and universities, such as Reuters, International Center of Journalism in Washington, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Peace in Costa Rica.

Parfait Ouattara

CEO, TaxiJet, Ivory Coast

Parfait Ouattara is a young Ivorian who is passionate about technology. He is CEO of  TaxiJet.

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His first professional experience was with his own company. He has been working for some years on his application development company. This experience brought him to be recruited by the first audit and advisory firm in the world, the PWC, where he held the position of senior auditor IT. After four years of service as head of mission, he returned to his roots and his passion. So he joined the team at TaxiJet as CTO and CEO in April 2016, a company that was founded with friends in 2015 and which is the fruit of an idea nurtured since 2013.He first attended the University of Cocody, where his studies led to a postgraduate degree in mathematics and computer science.​​​​​​​

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